Australia in Pandemic Panic

An empty shelf usually stocked with tissue is seen at a supermarket in Melbourne on March 5.
WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

Australia in Pandemic Panic

A glimpse into our terrified future

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, we are all getting a front-row seat to an unusual spectacle: panic—sheer panic.

The worry has manifest itself here in Australia in the form of hoarding. And hoarding one thing in particular—toilet paper. The essential three-ply is being stripped off shelves by panicked buyers who fear being left without as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.

The shelves of Woolworths, Coles and other grocery stores are empty, with buyers greedily filling their trollies as soon as new stock arrives. Some stores are implementing four-pack limits in an attempt to make the stock last.

Then there are the opportunists. Journalists bailed up one man trying to sell a box of toilet paper for $2,000 outside one store. Others have taken to setting up roadside stalls, selling the toilet paper by the roll. Others are selling the hot commodity on Gumtree, eBay and other sites.

All this despite the Australian government calling for rational heads to prevail. Australia manufactures its own toilet paper stock. It won’t be affected by import restrictions. Production at many factories is already up 30 percent to meet the new demand.

But it is not enough to stop the panicked response. Other stock is running out as well. I’m currently blowing my nose with the most luxurious tissues I’ve ever seen, simply because my wife was unable to find anything cheaper.

While there may be a humorous element to this scenario, there is also a dark side. If this is how people react to a small-scale crisis, how will they react to something worse? This isn’t to say coronavirus isn’t an issue. It is—a big one. However, God promises that in the end time tens of millions of people will be killed by pestilence! By comparison, the coronavirus is most definitely small-scale.

Notice that even the panic we are starting to see is prophesied for the end time.

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” (Leviticus 26:14-16)

Note the wording: God appoints terror, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “dismay, sudden terror or ruin, alarm.” And note what comes directly after that. God promises multiple diseases: consumption and the burning ague and a consuming of the eyes.

All this because the people have strayed from God and refuse to keep His law. God will send these things to wake up mankind. And prophecy shows it will take much more than coronavirus to get people to turn to Him. The current selfish and self-centered response to diseases proves it!

The book of Revelation describes the infamous four horsemen of the apocalypse. “I looked, and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him …” (Revelation 6:8; International Standard Version). This symbolizes catastrophic disease epidemics. The passage says that these four horsemen will claim “the fourth part of the earth.” With a population of 7.8 billion people on Earth right now, that means nearly 2 billion people.

This will be measured destruction—meted out by a loving God. It will not be indiscriminate. God is punishing in love.

Consider the current toilet paper fiasco. If people are reacting with hoarding today, what will be the response when the crises intensify to the level mentioned above? Will stockpiles of toilet paper help to save man from God’s righteous rebuke?

Hoarding is not the answer! Repentance and humility is.

God foretold that people would panic. He prophesied that He would appoint terror over them. But even then, God promises a way of escape to those who heed His warning before the Great Tribulation, the worst suffering mankind has ever experienced. Yet even those dark days will be brief. Mankind will be brought to repentance through this terrible time.

But what about today? Is our solution to the current crisis to stockpile on the essentials and hope for the best? Or will we respond the way God yearns for us to? To turn back to Him in real repentance and humility. God promises incredible blessings, including protection from the coming calamity, if we respond today.

The lead article in the April 2020 Trumpet magazine will tell you more about coronavirus and its role in Bible prophecy. In it, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry highlighted the fact that it pains God to know that the suffering is about to get much worse. But it will ultimately reap great fruits. Mr. Flurry wrote, “The world, with its horrific diseases and countless other troubles, will soon be replaced. At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will accomplish what the most brilliant doctors, scientists and other experts have utterly failed to do: He will bring lasting peace and perfect health to all men, women and children.”