Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | April 22, 2020

Plague, Pestilence, & Pandemic

(4 Minute Read. 4/22/2020)

Did you hear about the country whose death rate from a plague was so high that 70,000 men died in only three days?

It happened around 3,000 years ago in Israel during the reign of King David.
So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.
(2 Samuel 24:15)

Whether called pestilence and plague in Bible times or pandemic in recent centuries, staggering disease and death are not new to mankind. It may feel unprecedented to us as countries all over the world are still struggling to overcome the Wuhan virus with millions of people sick or dead.

As of April 21, 2020, over 177,000 have died worldwide from the Wuhan virus (also called the China virus, coronavirus, or COVID-19) with over 2.5 million infections. In the United States, over 824,000 have been infected with over 45,000 deaths. Has the world ever seen worse? Read on to find out.
(Click Wuhan Virus Stats for the latest figures on the virus from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Global Dashboard.)

My own state has over 32,000 cases and 2,700 deaths. The county in which I live has over 6,300 cases and 510 deaths.

Countries are struggling with serious health concerns and debilitating economic issues that are without compare over the last hundred years. But they are not unprecedented in history.

Historical Perspective

Scripture asserts,
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
(Proverbs 3:13)

Knowledge of past tragedies and pandemics can give perspective on the current Chinese pestilence and offer hope for the future. Some of these catastrophes have inflicted a far greater toll on humanity than the Wuhan virus.

Here are large American-death-toll events from U.S. history for comparison with the current Wuhan virus death toll in the USA of over 45,000:
Revolutionary War (1775-83) – 23,000+ deaths
Civil War (1861-65) – 750,000 deaths
World War I (1914-18) – 116,000+ deaths
Spanish Flu (1918-19) – 675,000 deaths
World War II (1941-45) – 400,000+ deaths
Korean War (1951-53) – 36,000+ deaths
Vietnam War (1964-75) – 58,000+ deaths

Here are the most recent annual Centers for Disease Control stats on leading causes of death in the US in 2017 for comparison with the current Wuhan virus death toll in the USA of over 45,000:
Heart disease – 647,457 deaths
Cancer – 599,108 deaths
Accidents – 169,936 deaths
Chronic lower respiratory diseases – 160,201 deaths
Stroke – 146,383 deaths
Alzheimer’s disease – 121,404 deaths
Diabetes – 83,564 deaths
Influenza and Pneumonia – 55,672 deaths
Kidney disease – 50,633 deaths
Suicide – 47,173 deaths

These figures are all dwarfed by the holocaust reported by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports killing unborn babies. For the US, the Guttmacher Institute reported over 1,000,000 abortions in 2011, 926,000 abortions in 2014, and 862,000 abortions in 2017. Since abortion became legal in the U.S. almost 50 years ago in 1973, an estimated 55 million unborn babies have been killed.
(NBC News, Number of abortions in U.S. drops, Sept. 18, 2019)


The Bubonic Plague or Black Death started in 1331 in China where millions died. It spread to the Middle East and Europe via fleas in caravans and rats on ships, reaching Constantinople in 1347, Italy in 1348, and Jerusalem in 1349. The Bubonic Plague exploded throughout Europe, killing 75 million people.

In 1360-63 it devastated London — 20 percent of the population died. The death toll in Ireland and Great Britain reached nearly 3 million.

Isaac Newton in 1689

The Plague again swept across Europe and the East in the 1600s, killing millions.

When the Great Plague once more reached England in 1665, Isaac Newton (1643–1727) was studying at Cambridge University. He left Cambridge and practiced “staying home” and “physical distancing” at his mother’s rural home in Lincolnshire for two years.

Scientifically, this “sheltering in place” was the most productive time of Isaac Newton’s life. During this period of isolation, he developed calculus and formulated the laws of motion, gravity, and optics. Newton redeemed the time (Ephesians 5:16) as he laid the foundations of modern science while distancing himself from the Plague.


The Spanish Flu global pandemic of 1918-19 killed more than 50 million people worldwide including 675,000 in the USA. Today’s world population is four times what it was for the Spanish Flu, so today that would be equivalent to 200 million deaths worldwide and about 2.7 million deaths in the U.S. That is far in excess of even the worst estimates for the Wuhan virus.

During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, doctors discovered that fresh outdoor air and sunlight helped cure flu patients. And they used face masks to prevent spread of the flu. These three factors could be important in dealing with the Wuhan virus today.
See Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic for more details on lessons learned 100 years ago on how to handle a pandemic.

Starting in 2009, during the first year of the H1N1 flu virus, the CDC estimated that the United States had 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths due to the H1N1 virus. Worldwide, the CDC estimated 151,700-575,400 people died from H1N1 in its first year of circulation.

Each year since 2010, 12,000-61,000 Americans have died from the flu. Last year (2019) 55,000 Americans died from the flu. (Click Coronavirus vs. Flu for charts comparing the Wuhan virus with the flu.)

Global Death

The worst human disaster ever was the worldwide Great Flood that God sent in the days of Noah some 4,500 years ago in which all but eight humans died. Click How Many Died in Noah’s Flood? for a Biblically-based mathematical estimate of the number of people who died in Noah’s Flood.

Noah and his family were essentially “quarantined” on the Ark for over a year. Sadly, we don’t have accounts of how they handled their isolation together on the Ark for such an extended time period. Detailed knowledge of how they managed it could potentially give their present-day descendants ideas for handling today’s “stay at home” orders.

Some of the past human tragedies have dwarfed today’s China virus. By God’s mercy I believe we will endure again through faith in the Great Creator and wise decisions.

Continue to implore the Great Creator to flood our nation and world with His mercy. Beg Him to heal our peoples and lands. The principle Yahweh told Solomon almost 3,000 years ago about humbling, praying, and repenting could help nations today:
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Questions to Ponder

1. What historical personage inspires you by their response to a time of great trial or tragedy?
2. What Scripture strengthens you to honor Christ in today’s challenging China virus crisis?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

Read the prequels:
1. The Eden Virus
2. Why the Virus?
3. Handling Virus Fears

Read the sequels:
5. Virus and the Bible
6. Virus Defenses
(with video)
7. Virus Prayers
8. Kepler Gives a Virus Briefing
9. Virus Stimulus Package

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday April 22, 2020 A.D.

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

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  1. Bill, Appreciate the stats & perspective. The “After Eden” dude is wearing your old workout gear.


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