God’s Word informs us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jer. 17:9)? This is why the book of Revelation foretells a time when after one third of mankind is killed in war, those who remain will refuse to “repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20–21).
It is easy to be incredulous when reading this prophecy because we want to believe that such a sobering moment for mankind would encourage people to become the best version of themselves for the betterment of society. After all, this is what we as Americans do in times of crisis … right? Surely this prophecy is not reflective of the heart of “Christian” America?!
Wrong! We may have a stronger humanitarian spirit than most countries, but we are just as enslaved to our guilty pleasures as any other country. Faced with an invisible enemy that has cratered our economy and threatens to kill untold numbers across our nation and around the world, we in America are responding in much the same way as those we read about in the book of Revelation.
“Why Witchcraft Is on the Rise” appeared in the Atlantic’s March 2020 issue. According to the article, interest in witchcraft spiked after the election of Donald Trump and alongside the #MeToo movement. Moreover, The Atlantic reports:
The latest witch renaissance coincides with a growing fascination with astrology, crystals, and tarot, which, like magic, practitioners consider ways to tap into unseen, unconventional sources of power—and which can be especially appealing for people who feel disenfranchised or who have grown weary of trying to enact change by working within the system. … “The more frustrated people get, they do often turn to witchcraft, because they’re like, ‘Well, the usual channels are just not working, so let’s see what else is out there,’” Grossman told me. “Whenever there are events that really shake the foundations of society”—the American Civil War, turmoil in prerevolutionary Russia, the rise of Weimar Germany, England’s postwar reconstruction—“people absolutely turn towards the occult.”
Protection spells and rituals have become a popular way of addressing COVID-19. Dr. Cyndi Brannen, a psychologist dedicated to Hekate—the Greek goddess of witchcraft, magic, and necromancy—writes, “Our work for banishing, protection and healing involves both the mainstream practices, like social distancing and hand washing, and the deeper work of our witchcraft.” Likewise, Willow Rose reminds her readers, “If you work with gods/goddesses, spirits, daemons, or animal allies, now is the time to call them to your purpose.”
The Greek word translated “sorceries” in Revelation 9:21 is pharmakeia, from which we get the English word “pharmacy.” Drugs and Occult practices are often inextricably linked. Thus, we could also read this verse to mean that people refused to repent of their drugs.
Marijuana sales have soared in this pandemic. When Americans raced to stock up on supplies, many rushed to buy enough cannabis products to last them through the weeks, and possibly months, of hunkering down at home. However, many states have deemed marijuana dispensaries essential businesses. When the mayor of Denver included liquor stores and recreational marijuana shops among the non-essential businesses he ordered to close for three weeks, there was such an outcry that the city reversed the ban a few hours later. Even in the midst of an infectious respiratory pandemic where smokers are at significantly higher risk of dying, people want to smoke their drugs.
American idols may look different from the statues worshipped in many other countries, but they command the same level of pre-eminence in our lives. Perhaps the most pervasive American idol is entertainment. Not coincidentally, online gaming almost immediately rose 75% amid the coronavirus outbreak. Likewise, video streaming has skyrocketed. HBO has experienced a 40% spike in streaming, and Netflix traffic has hit an all-time high that threatens to overwhelm national bandwidth capacities.
Even as Governor Andrew Cuomo declared in New York that no life is “expendable” or “disposable,” the New York Times editorial board published an article titled “Make Abortion More Available During the Pandemic—Not Less.” Likewise, a joint statement with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argues that abortion procedures should not be considered elective operations and claims, “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care.” Some lawmakers also sought to include Planned Parenthood funding in the federal government’s economic relief bill.
There has been an ongoing battle throughout this pandemic over whether to consider abortion clinics essential services. Lawsuits have been filed by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep clinics opened, and a District Court judge has ruled, “Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure.”
As the country seeks to save life with one hand, it continues to terminate life with its other hand. However, the murderous spirit within America is not limited to abortion. Even a global pandemic has failed to prevent American mass shootings. During a time when Baltimore officials were asking people to remain indoors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, a gunman shot seven people in the Madison Park neighborhood. Officials condemned the continuing gun violence with Baltimore’s mayor imploring, “We can not [sic] clog up our hospitals or their beds with people who are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those beds for people who might be infected with the coronavirus. Put down the guns.”
Responding to the coronavirus, a Las Vegas strip club began offering “XXX nude hand sanitizer wrestling” and a drive-thru option for customers practicing social distancing. In Portland the statewide lockdown prompted a strip club to offer food delivery services by topless strippers. And an exclusive strip club in New York City is offering free virtual reality dances from their performers during the quarantine.
Online, Pornhub—the leading adult entertainment platform—is experiencing a surge in viewership, having offered free premium memberships to help people pass the time while quarantined. And the pornography website IsMyGirl.com has targeted over 500,000 McDonalds employees who are experiencing a loss due to the coronavirus. These workers are being offered the opportunity to earn upwards of $100,000 a year to participate in pornographic content.
Moreover, coronavirus-themed pornography is going viral on streaming websites. Commenting on the trend, porn actress Spicy speculates, “I think people are attracted to COVID-19-themed porn the same way people who are scared of their shadow are attached to horror movies: We are all searching for things that make us come alive. COVID-19 is something that brings fear and mystery to pretty much everyone in the world right now.”
People are stealing toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks from people’s cars, grocery stores, hotels, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, people are not merely taking two or three extra items but “actual thefts of those products.” People are even stealing respirator masks and other essential protective equipment from lobbies and high traffic areas. In some hospitals nurses are now routinely counting blue surgical masks at the top of each shift to protect against theft, and items like hand sanitizer are being removed from common areas.
On another front the Federal Trade Commission warns that “scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus.” They are setting up websites to sell bogus products and are using fake e-mails, texts, and social media posts to steal people’s money and personal information. Even cattle ranchers are being warned to be on high alert for theft and scams during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Scott Williamson with the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, “Economic and industry distress always increases the number of desperate people that will take fraudulent, dishonorable and criminal actions.”
Something needs to change! There are always some who seek the greater good in times of crisis but far more who become self-centered. More often than not, mankind’s fallen nature becomes increasingly obstinate in times of difficulty, and we in America are no exception. National crises have a way of revealing the moral fabric of a nation and exposing the true hearts of the people. It is in these moments that we learn what matters most to us and where our true confident rests.
Our national crisis is still only beginning. The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths have not yet reached their peak, nor has its ensuing disruption to our society. As such, we are still determining our response. When we arrive at the other side of this pandemic, what will be said about our reaction? How will we be changed? Will we respond like those in Revelation 9:20–21, being undeterred and further entrenched in our rebellion against God’s moral commands, or will we heed God’s call in 2 Chronicles 7:13–14 to humble ourselves and to seek the Lord?
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39. Higgins-Dunn, Noah. “People Are Stealing Masks and Other Medical Equipment from Hospitals, New York Gov. Cuomo Says.” CNBC News, March 6, 2020, 2:15 p.m., EST. Last updated March 6, 2020, 5:02 p.m., EST. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/06/people-are-stealing-face-masks-from-local-hospitals-gov-cuomo-says.html.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.