Popular pastor David Jeremiah weighed in on the question of whether COVID-19 is mentioned in biblical prophecy and stressed that no matter how devastating it gets, “the coronavirus is not a big deal to God.”
“Is there a connection between COVID-19 and the End Times?” Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, began in his Sunday sermon. “Are we living in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ? Is all that is happening to us at this moment a sign that the world is coming to an end? How do we know if the coronavirus is a sign?”
The founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries defined a “biblical sign” as an “event or a symbol or an object or a place, or a person whose existence indicates something important on God's plan for the future.”
“Jesus said in the future there are going to be signs,” he said, adding that Jesus also said no one knows the “day or hour” of His return.
“If someone tells you they know when Jesus is coming back, you can tell them absolutely that’s not possible,” he said.
Jesus does identify six signs that “let us know if we’re in that time,” Jeremiah said, including deception by false Christs; disputes and warfare among nations; deliverance of believers to tribulation; the defection of false believers; and the declaration of the Gospel to the whole world.
“Is this a sign of the Second Coming of Christ? I cannot say with any sense of certainty that it is. But neither can I say with any certainty that it is not. It could be the early evidence of number three on Jesus' sign list, the coming of pestilence,” he said.
Jesus refers to what will happen at the end of the age as a “pestilence” (Luke 21:11).
Merriam Webster defines pestilence as a “contagion or infectious epidemic that is virulent and devastating.”
“That's a pretty good description of what's going on right now,” Jeremiah said.
“Jesus said this pestilence would arrive like ‘birth pains,’” he continued. “This means that it will increase in frequency and intensity in the time leading up to His return. This means that as the end approaches, we should expect infectious disease outbreaks to occur more frequently, impact more people, and be more deadly. This is what the coronavirus threatens to do.”
There are more than 451,300 diagnosed cases globally of COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Some 20,500 have died worldwide and over 112,900 have recovered.
In the U.S., more than 60,100 people have been diagnosed with the virus and 827 people have died as of Wednesday afternoon.
The coronavirus is “probably” not the pestilence Jesus was referring to, Jeremiah clarified, as it does not “perfectly qualify as a prophetic sign.”
“I could not stand here and say to you and have any confidence in saying that this is the fulfillment of number three on Jesus sign list of Matthew 24,” he said. “But it surely is a picture of it, isn't it? It surely does remind us that such signs exist, and such things will happen.”
However, the virus is none-the-less a sign, he explained, adding, “Not so much perhaps as a sign of the future but a sign for today. A reminder of things we too easily forget.”
The coronavirus teaches us the vulnerability of everyone; the credibility of the Bible; the uncertainty of life; the scarcity of hope; and finally, the sufficiency of Jesus, the bestselling author said.
“Jesus doesn't just overcome the event. He overcomes the environment where the event happens,” he explained. “In these challenging days, we cannot forget what Jesus told us in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, that His grace is sufficient for us. You will find that out during these days, if you haven't found it out already. The sufficiency of Jesus Christ for those who have put their trust in Him will be on display everywhere.”
He concluded, “How uncertain and how precious are our days? I hope we can all use some of this required quiet time to reflect on our lives and give thanks for God’s grace.”
In an interview with Megan West of My Faith Votes on Monday, Jeremiah told listeners that amid anxiety and uncertainty, “God is a breath away,” adding, “There aren’t any surprises for God. He didn’t get surprised by any of this.”
Jeremiah also stressed the importance of controlling what goes into one’s mind. “If you want to be depressed, if you want to be overwhelmed, you can do that by spending hours watching the reports,” he said.
While it’s important to be informed, Jeremiah recommended listening to one condensed report a day instead of inundating oneself with negativity.
“This is not the end of the world. Step back, take a deep breath, and get into the Word of God and be reminded that God is in control,” he said.
When tempted to focus on the negative, the pastor recommended focusing instead on blessings. “We can take a moment and count our blessings and ask God to hear our gratitude for all that He does for us,” he said.
“I want to encourage everybody to not let fear become a greater problem than the coronavirus, but trust God,” he concluded. “The coronavirus is not a big deal to God. He’s able to control this and take in, and we’re going to come through this better than we were when we came in. In the meantime, we have to be calm and ask Him to give us peace.”