Steven Collins
July 27, 2007
When Jesus was asked about the signs that would indicate his return was near, he included “pestilences” as one of those signs (Matthew 24:7). The world has always had sickness and disease, so what is it about “pestilences” that would fulfill this prophecy? Logically, pestilences (diseases, plagues, etc.) would either have to be more widespread on the globe or there could be new types of pestilences or the resurgence of old diseases.
AIDS is an example of a new type of pestilence as it has become a global killer in only the last few decades. AIDS, because of its lethality, receives much attention as a global and spreading plague. However, there is an old pestilence which is now resurgent throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is malaria. This disease was all but wiped out (we thought) due to medical and hygienic practices as well as anti-mosquito programs. The cover story in the July 2007 issue of National Geographic is “Malaria: Stopping a Global Killer.” Until I read that article (which I recommend to you), I did not realize the extent of malaria’s current role as a global pestilence. Consider this quote on page 41 of the National Geographic article:
    “…malaria now affects more people than ever before. Its endemic to 106 nations, threatening half the world’s
     population. In recent years, the parasite has grown so entrenched and has developed resistance to so many
     drugs that the most potent strains can scarcely be contained. This year malaria will strike up to a half billion
     people. At least a million will die…the vast majority of them living in Africa.” [Emphasis added.]
Did you realize malaria was that widespread? I didn’t. For those of us living in the world’s temperate zones where malaria is not a threat, it is easy to forget that vast sections of humanity already live with the constant threat of “pestilence” from malarial infections. Just because we do not have a “pestilence” in our home town does not mean that the prophecy of Matthew 24:7 is not being fulfilled. Indeed, consider this quote from pages 41-42 of the above article.
    “:…several distinctly unprosperous regions [of the globe] have reached the brink of total malarial collapse…
    An African youth can be happily playing soccer in the morning and dead of falciparum malaria [an especially
    virulent strain] that night. Falciparum is a major reason nearly 20 percent of all Zambian babies do not live to
    see their fifth birthday. There are times when it seems that everyone in Zambia is debilitated to some degree
    by malaria…”
Zambia is hardly the only nation so afflicted. Malaria is a widespread infection throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and  in some South American regions. Although eradicated in the USA, this article notes that it was the threat of malaria which led to the founding of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1946.
Malaria is a very old pestilence. It could be the greatest of all pestilences which have affected mankind. The National Geographic article stated on page 46 that: “Some scientists believe that one out of every two people who have ever lived have died of malaria.” Malaria is once again a pestilence affecting large sections of the earth, and its drug-resistant forms make it more deadly than ever. In the comfortable nations of the Western world, we pay little attention to malaria. However, for many nations in the tropics and subtropics, malaria is already fulfilling Matthew 24:7’s prophecy about “pestilences” in the latter days. Due to the reasons detailed in the above article, this pestilence is going to get worse in the future.