End Times scholar answers: Is COVID-19 part of biblical prophecy?

A couple look at a mural by artist Lionel Stanhope depicting the painting 'The Supper at Emmaus' by Italian painter Caravaggio with the addition of blue nitrile gloves in south London on May 6, 2020 as life continues under a nationwide lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A couple look at a mural by artist Lionel Stanhope depicting the painting 'The Supper at Emmaus' by Italian painter Caravaggio with the addition of blue nitrile gloves in south London on May 6, 2020 as life continues under a nationwide lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. | AFP via Getty Images/ISABEL INFANTES

A biblical scholar said the new coronavirus outbreak is a precursor to End Times prophecies, warning that the pandemic is a “very serious foreshadowing” of what’s to come. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Mark Hitchcock, author of over 30 books related to biblical End Times prophecies, said Scripture is clear that “there will be plagues in the End Times.” He cited Luke 2:11, Revelation 6:8, and the prophecy of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, where the fourth rider kills one-fourth of the Earth's population with pestilence and the “wild beasts of the earth.”

“In fact, Scripture tells us these plagues will kill 25% of the people in the world. It’s literally going to be biblical proportions,” the Dallas Theological Seminary professor said. 

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While he doesn’t believe COVID-19 is one of the plagues mentioned in the Bible — those, he said, are going to happen during the tribulation in the future — he does view the pandemic as a vivid “preview of what’s coming.” 

“It’s a wake-up call for people to come to Christ in light of what's coming in the future, which is going to be far worse,” he said. “It’s a very serious foreshadowing of what’s to come.

“I think it reveals the globalism of today. One person in China got this sometime in the fall and now it's in some 190 countries. It’s also a picture of how small our world is today and how things are set up for the world ruler, the Antichrist, who is coming. I see just a lot of foreshadows and previews in the coronavirus, but I don't see this as a fulfillment of a specific prophecy.”

Still, Hitchcock, who also serves as the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, said he believes the End Times are drawing nearer due to the fulfillment of several key events.

“So many things are happening in our world today: Israel is back in their land, the Middle East is constantly in turmoil, globalism is occurring — all of these things are signposts and point to what the Bible predicts about the soon coming of Christ,” he said. “We don’t know when He’s coming; it could be today, it could be five years from now.

“But I do think it should create within us a sense of urgency to be right with God and to tell others the Good News so that they, too, can be right with God.”

Hitchcock’s latest book Corona Crisis: Plagues, Pandemics, and the Coming Apocalypseaddresses how the coronavirus outbreak is related to End Times biblical prophecies about plagues, pestilences and pandemics. 

The pandemic, the pastor told CP, has, like never before, “unmasked for us just how fragile and fleeting life really is.”

“People are saying, ‘Things now are so uncertain.’ Well, the idea of certainty and control that we think we have is really an illusion,” he said. “We think things are certain; we think we have some degree of control. But in times like these, the mask is pulled away, revealing to us that things aren't ever certain, and we really don't have control.”

While the thought of the End Times can seem “scary” for some, Hitchcock stressed that “God didn't give us Bible prophecy to scare us but to prepare us. He didn't tell us about these things to make us anxious, but to make us aware.”

The Bible is very specific about what will happen before the End Times, he added, and it’s the “job of the Christian to be aware of these things.”

“To me, the fact that things are unfolding the way the Bible said they're going to unfold gives me great confidence that God is in control and He's in Heaven, and things are working out according to His plan,” he said. “It's comforting that God told us what's going happen and it's happening. This is how we can know He is in control in the midst of all of these things.”

The role of Christians amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Showdown with Iranauthor said, is to love those around them by following government guidelines regarding the pandemic and “be on the lookout” for those who need extra support and encouragement. 

But more importantly, he said, it’s a time to “proclaim the Gospel.”

“I think there's an openness right now. It’s the perfect time for the Church to be getting the Gospel out in unique ways. Churches need to be leveraging what's happening for the sake of the Gospel.”

In times of chaos, it’s important to remember that “Heaven has an occupied throne,” Hitchcock said. 

“We need to look up and gain that perspective when things are happening down here on the Earth. Christ is going to come back someday, and He's going to make this world new," he added. "We’re going to live in the Messianic Kingdom. Eternity is before us.

“Yes, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but the hope we have is that God is going to bring things to culmination. Our job in the meantime is to be faithful to Him in the mundane, in the routine of life, just to live lives that are pleasing to God. I think that’s God’s calling upon us in these times in which we live.”

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