Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, suggested the new coronavirus might be a sign of the end times and stressed the importance of making “sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes.”
In an op-ed, Lotz, founder of AnGel Ministries, said the coronavirus has “created national fear in a way I have not witnessed in my lifetime.”
“As of this writing, ball games are being canceled; theaters are shutting down; schools are closing; travel is restricted, and the stock market is on a crazy, wild rollercoaster ride. It’s almost as though our nation is being attacked by an invisible enemy seeking to destroy us,” she wrote.
Lotz said that while she is at risk for the disease due to her age and recent struggles with cancer, she is “more concerned about the fear the coronavirus has provoked than I am of the virus itself. We seem to be caught up in a national panic.”
The evangelist pointed out that Jesus warned that at the end of time, there would be “pestilences,” adding: In the last few years, we have endured SARS, the swine flu, ebola, avian flu, MERS, West Nile virus and now the coronavirus.”
“Could COVID-19 be one more sign that our redemption is drawing near? Is the end in sight? Is Jesus coming … soon? If so, is fear the proper response?”
Citing the example of the prophet Isaiah, Lotz said prayer should be the response in times like these.
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"This is a time to pray for ourselves, our families, our nation, and all those worldwide whose lives are being devastated by the death and disruption this disease is causing,” she said. “You and I need to make sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes. And then join me in helping someone else get right with God.”
“Let’s pull out all the stops as we tell others that it’s possible to have peace in the midst of the storm and confident hope for tomorrow, claiming Jesus’ promise, Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” she concluded.
The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread around the world. As of Friday morning, the number of cases has topped 209,800 in 166 countries and territories with 8,778 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, and the U.S. has declared a national emergency.
In 2010, 41% of respondents to a survey told Pew Research Center that they expected Jesus to return by 2050. Recently, several Christian leaders have weighed in on whether the coronavirus is a sign of the end times.
In January, theologian Al Mohler noted that Revelation 6:7-8 reads: “When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked and behold a pale horse, and the name of him who sat on it was Death and Hades followed with him.”
“That fourth horseman has often been associated with plague, with illness, with a violent death by means of this kind of disease, which we now identify primarily with deadly viruses spreading across the human population,” he explained.
According to Mohler, “All of this presented in Scripture as aspects of God's judgment, not only in the past, but a warning of an apocalyptic future in which God's judgment is going to be poured out on humanity in horrifying ways.”
The theologian said that beyond the issue of public health, Christians need to “understand the deep biblical and theological overtones to all of this.”
“Eventually there is going to come a plague that will not be stopped, for which no antidote will be found, for which no vaccine will be effective. It is because that plague is going to come as an act of God's judgment upon humanity. And Christians know in this case as in every other, there is no safe place to be but in Christ,” he wrote.
Michael Brown, host of the Christian radio show “The Line of Fire,” based in Charlotte, North Carolina, also said coronavirus is not a sign of the end times, but a prime opportunity for believers to reflect on what's to come.
“I see this as a trial run to see how we respond to calamity and hardship,” he told The Washington Post. “If we’re shaken now, how are we going to react when it really gets wild?”
Evangelical pastor Max Lucado told The Christian Post that COVID-19 “could be” a sign of the end times and encouraged Christians to “keep our Bibles and hearts open” more than ever before.
“We have situations like this in history and it will happen again," he said. "I don’t know if this is an indication that we’re near the end of the world as we know it, but it could be. Nobody knows. But it’s a reminder to us to turn our hearts to the Lord and keep praying.”