by Michael Burkert


Recently, the German Health Ministry issued a nation-wide bulletin, regarding the threat of H5N1, the dreaded Avian Influenza. The reason the Germans have mobilized their efforts to contain this potential plague is because a number of birds have been found in Germany, dead from H5N1.


The German Army has been deployed to watch the border crossing points and to enforce a total ban on poultry and poultry product imports into the Fatherland. They are intent on nobody entering Germany with any form of poultry. The Germans are serious about this ban on bird imports by other countries. Severe penalties have been announced for any violation.


The Germans are determined to do everything possible to avoid an epidemic. Now that the disease has been discovered in southeast France not far from the German frontier, the fear factor has ratcheted up even more. Avian Influenza may destroy much of the French poultry industry, Europe’s largest producer.


In the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus Christ warned us of coming pestilences that would strike down countless people in the end time right before the time that Jesus would return to earth and establish the Kingdom of God. Matthew 24:7 “For nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and PESTILENCES [my emphasis] and earthquakes, in diverse places.”


So what is the real threat behind H5N1, the Avian Influenza or “bird flu”?  The threat is a potential disaster for Europe and the world. US Forces in Europe have also been alerted to the dangers this disease poses. An official bulletin warned all US personnel to avoid birds. We’ve been provided with a special telephone number to call if we discover any dead birds.


To date the virus has only killed birds on a mass scale. Chickens are particularly susceptible to the virus. As to people, about 100 around the world have died so far from H5N1. Most all have had unprotected contact with infected birds, either on poultry farms or in processing plants. The threat, which has not yet developed, is that the virus will mutate and thus become communicable amongst humans.


H5N1 has already mutated to the point where it has jumped species, and is able to infect and kill mammals. It’s already killed hogs, tigers, leopards and even domestic house cats. In the case of domestic cats, the disease has already proven that it can spread from cat to cat. This is not an encouraging development.


If the disease eventually mutates to the point where it becomes possible to spread from human to human the world may see a pandemic of epic proportions. It’s been many years since the world suffered a disease of pandemic proportions that killed millions. The last one was the Spanish Influenza that struck in 1918. In six months, it killed more people than four years of all-out World War! Some scientists believe we are overdue for another such event.


The Spanish Influenza most likely brought World War I to a conclusion much quicker than had the disease not have broken out. The Germans experienced so many sick and dying soldiers they had to end the war! Prior to the Armistice the Reichsbahn (German National Railroad) had suffered so many sick and dead locomotive engineers, firemen and other essential railroad workers, German Army logistics broke down and the Germans became incapable of moving ammunition, food and medical supplies to the Western Front.


Certainly, the allies had their share of infected troops as well, but the pandemic hit the Germans extremely hard in late September and early October 1918! The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, thus ending the Muese-Argonne Offensive which was still in progress, and ultimately the war.


Disease pandemics have altered the course of history in the past, many times. Will H5N1 be the successor to the Spanish Influenza and alter our world beyond our ability to comprehend? This is one possibility. The disease might, even decide the current War with Islam.


Scientists’ estimates of the affects of a worldwide pandemic vary widely. Some believe the disease might kill only a few million people. Others speculate that the death toll could be as high as 142 million. A few believe that the disease might kill or incapacitate 40% of the world’s population! Many scientists fear that highly pathogenic H5N1 is bound to mutate and only time stands in the way of a worldwide MASSIVE influenza pandemic.


Here’s what we know about the H5N1 Avian Influenza: The disease was first identified around the time of the American Civil War. For most of the time that it’s existed, it only affected wild birds. The effect on domestic poultry was minimal.


That all changed in 1997, when the flu began to kill chickens in Hong Kong and China. It infected and killed its first human victim, a poultry producer in Hong Kong. By 2003, the virus had jumped the species barrier to other mammals. Tigers in Thailand, pigs, mice and domestic cats began to suffer from the disease in Asia.


Human infections remain rare. Most all have been thoroughly documented in the countries where infections and deaths have occurred. Unfortunately, the H5N1 virus is extremely pathogenic and deadly. Despite the attention it’s received by the scientific community very little is known about the disease. What is known however, is that H5N1 has acquired all of the properties necessary to create a pandemic except for one. It can’t readily spread from one human to another.


It is difficult if not impossible, to know if or when a virus such as H5N1 might acquire the capability to spread easily between humans. Scientists simply don’t know whether or not the virus will eventually mutate and create the feared results.


As we move further into End Times predicted in your Bible, certain events are going to happen. Throughout the history of the world, armies have spread disease wherever they marched. We are today, a world at war. A major war in the Middle East could erupt at any time. The recent “cartoon wars” that raged in the Muslim lands killed many innocent people. The bombing of the Grand Mosque of Samara, the Al Askariya Shrine was an attempt by Al Qaeda to cast Iraq into CIVIL WAR. Al Qaeda seeks to rob the world of peace. A combination of cartoon wars, shrine destruction and who knows what’s next, could plunge the entire Middle East into a massive war of attrition. Disease, always the ally of war will also result.


If such a sectarian conflict breaks out in Iraq, nobody will be able to stop it. If war between Sunnis and Shi’ites is instigated successfully it’s likely that the conflict will spill over to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and possibly Turkey. If Turkey becomes involved; NATO has no choice but to come to Turkey’s aid. France might opt out, but it’s unlikely that the rest of NATO would. A war situation that involves even more rapid movement of men and equipment will only further the spread of infectious diseases.


An interesting article regarding extreme pathogens was recently published in the “Times of London.” The scientific community is becoming alarmed at the rate that diseases thought only to affect animals, have begun to jump the species barrier and infect humans. At least one new disease is jumping the species barrier every year. This exposes people to more emerging germs than ever before.


While it’s not known whether the rate at which diseases are jumping the species barrier is accelerating, Dr. Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh said that it was impossible that human beings had been exposed to so many new pathogens so quickly throughout most of history.


Dr. Woolhouse further stated, “Either many of these pathogens will not persist in humans, OR THERE IS SOMETHING VERY UNUSUAL ABOUT THE PRESENT TIME.”


In the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus Christ warned us that just prior to His return to earth we would be living in tumultuous and perilous times. He stated, “For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of time, nor shall ever be.” (Matthew 24:21).


Scientists will no doubt work diligently at finding a “cure” for such diseases as AIDS, SARS and now H5N1, but never seek a cure for the root cause of any disease. Much of the pestilences our world will suffer during the Tribulation will be brought upon man by himself! The Olivet Prophecy was not intended to be anything but a WARNING about the times we have now entered. Dr. Woolhouse is correct in his statement regarding “something unusual about the present time.”

My European neighbors, friends and associates in the U.S. military all agree that there is an atmosphere of the unknown in Europe today. The renewed aggression of Conquering Islam directly threatens the European Union, and more and more everyday people are beginning to take notice. The fear factor is beginning to grow amongst Europeans as well as American expatriates.


A void exists in the social fabric of Europe and specifically in Germany. The Church of Rome will soon fill this void. The fact that Pope Benedict is a German has strengthened the Roman church in Germany more in the past few months, than Germans have seen in half a century! The significance of a German sitting on the Roman throne is beyond description.


Jesus Christ promised us, during His description of the Tribulation, that, “And except those days should be shortened there should be no flesh saved: but for the Elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22) The Eternal God will directly intervene to stop the destruction and killing and thus bring the Tribulation to a close.


The Eternal can and will protect those He chooses to protect from harm, during the perilous times we will soon face. Yet we should all be prepared. Now is the time to intensely abide by the Commandments. Now is the time to put petty bickering aside once and for all. Now is the time to remember what our Savior said in Mark 11:26, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive YOUR trespasses.”

Man will never eliminate pestilence. Our only hope for salvation and freedom form disease and pestilence is the glorious Kingdom of God. Only in the Wonderful World Tomorrow will we finally have peace, tranquility and an end to human jealousy, lust and greed, racism, tribalism and vanity.


No wonder Christ commands His people to pray each day, “Thy Kingdom Come – thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

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Further reading and Resources: Article: 
Bird Flu Article:  Influenza Virus A (Bird Flu)
U.S. Government's avian influenza information website
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control