MERS Outbreak: Is the Pale Horse Beginning?

The MERS virus has been diagnosed in the United States for the first time. What does prophecy reveal about disease epidemics and how can we protect ourselves?

Perhaps lost in the many big news items that have dominated the headlines in the past week is the news that broke on May 2, 2014. A number of news outlets reported that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has officially spread to the United States. MERS is a coronavirus that causes extremely severe respiratory distress and apparently began in Saudi Arabia. The head of the World Health Organization has called it “a threat to the entire world.”

The MERS onset comes on the heels of another Ebola virus outbreak in Africa. The recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea has claimed 81 lives and has reached the Guinean capital city of Conakry, a city of over 2 million inhabitants (which also happens to have an international airport). Ebola is considered to be one of the most deadly viruses on earth, with a death rate that can reach 90 percent.

Antibiotics and “superbugs”

Just as troubling as the growing fear of viral outbreaks is the problem with antibiotics. Antibiotics, which generally became available around the time of World War II, have been one of the most important medical advances in the history of humanity, giving doctors the ability to perform thousands of different types of life-saving operations. Prior to the widespread use of antibiotics, operations were possible but the patient often succumbed to postoperative infections.

The problem with antibiotics today is that their use, or rather overuse, appears to have helped create a variety of superbugs that are resistant to the drugs. In 2013 The Guardian reported that Britain’s most senior medical adviser warned Parliament that “drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack.”

Indeed, MRSA, a dangerous staph infection resistant to antibiotics, has now spread well beyond hospitals into communities and can be very hard to eradicate. MRSA is appearing in public places such as prisons, schools and athletic facilities.

The ride of the pale horse

Is the world on the verge of a new and terrible time of illness and disease? Bible prophecy reveals that a time of major disease epidemics is coming. In Revelation 6 we read of the infamous four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The four horsemen symbolize negative trends that have plagued humanity for thousands of years, but that will intensify in the time period immediately preceding Jesus Christ’s return to earth.

Disease epidemics will be just one punishment that will come on humanity for its sins and rejection of God. Revelation 6:8 reveals the fourth of these horsemen, one who rides “a pale horse.” The word “pale” means a green or yellowish pale color (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). As is the case with the previous horses, there is a connection between this color and what follows. Notice the results of the ride of this horse: “I looked, and there was a pale-colored horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades followed close behind. They were given authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill by means of war, famine, disease, and wild animals” (Good News Translation). The result of this horseman’s ride is mass human death―one cause being disease and pestilence as Jesus revealed in the Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24:7).

Prepare now

Disease epidemics will be just one punishment that will come on humanity for its sins and rejection of God. Though we should always be wise and practice the laws of healthful living, there will be no physical way to protect ourselves and our family when the fourth horseman rides in full force.

The only thing we can do is repent of our personal sins and turn to God in obedience now. Turning to God is the only way to be protected from the end-time troubles that are coming upon this world.

Jesus Christ tells us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, emphasis added).

Right now these diseases are growing—but are still mostly under control. There is still time for you to clean up your life and prepare for the times of trouble to come.

But the time grows shorter by the day.

To learn more about the significance of the four mysterious horsemen of Revelation 6, read our article “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: What Are They?” To learn how to begin changing your life in preparation for this coming time, request our free booklet Change Your Life!

About the Author

M. Noland Morris

M. Noland Morris holds a Ph.D. in history. He teaches history on the high school and college level in Texas.