In an interview with Pastor Greg Laurie of the California megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he reads two books each morning — the Bible and the day's intelligence report about threats to Americans at home and around the world. Juxtaposing the two, he shared, is difficult.
“I manage to synthesize them … knowing that the Lord gives me the capacity to work, to be diligent,” Pompeo said in the pre-recorded interview that was featured Sunday. “I hope He’ll give me the wisdom and the perseverance to meet these challenges head-on in a way that protects the American people.”
The secretary of state said he goes back to that most important book every day “and remind myself that the Lord is looking out over this world … The Lord is watching us.”
He said whenever he’s stressed or preparing for a meeting, he’s confident that the Lord is watching over everyone in the room.
In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Laurie addressed the question: “Is coronavirus a sign of the End Times?”
We can feel the fear, the anxiety and the stress, he said. All the news stories are about COVID-19, and new words have entered our vocabulary: pandemic, sheltering in place, self-isolation, social distancing, community spread, herd immunity … and plagues.
Plagues, Laurie said, will increase when the End is near, according to the Bible.
To suggest that God expects believers to know when the time is near, the pastor read Matthew 16:1-3, which reads, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.’”
He quoted a recent national poll: “A stunning 43 percent of poll respondents said they believe the coronavirus and resulting economic meltdown is a wake-up call for us to turn back to faith in God.”
It is a wake-up call, he stressed.
Laurie cautioned against listening to those who claim they know the exact time, quoting Luke 21:8-11, which reads, “He replied: ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.’ Then he said to them: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.’”
Over the last 40 years, the pastor pointed out, COVID-19 is the sixth infectious plague unleashed on the planet.
As we can see these things beginning to happen, we have two options: “You can freak out ... or you can look up,” he said.
He explained what could be the order of events of the End Times.
The next event on the prophetic calendar is the Rapture, he said, explaining that it is when Christ descends from Heaven and we are caught up to meet Him in the air.
And after “some time,” the devil will appear as a very persuasive, charismatic leader of the world with a peace plan “that works for three and a half years.” And around mid-way during these seven years, called the Tribulation Period, the anti-Christian will show his true colors. “And he forces people to take his mark.”
That’s when the judgment of God begins to come and builds up until the final battle of humanity, known as the Battle of Armageddon, the pastor said. “And as the world is at war, the Second Coming takes place." That’s when Jesus will establish His Kingdom, which will be the beginning of the Millennium, a thousand-year reign of Christ. After that, the Heaven and the earth will become one.
However, Laurie cautioned, “We should not be looking for the anti-Christ, we should be looking for Jesus Christ.”
He quoted C.S. Lewis as once saying, “A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.”
As many churches have been livestreaming their services online as large physical gatherings are temporarily halted due to government-issued social distancing orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Laurie said in mid-April that the move to digital means of worship might portend a Great Awakening.
The pastor wrote in an op-ed published in Newsweek that he and his team were pleasantly surprised to see that their first week of shifting services to online-only drew over 250,000 viewers and has been growing ever since.
"Last week, we had over a million people tune in for church. These are people literally from all around the world, from every age and background, who are missing church. So, to the best of our ability, we are bringing church to them. What’s more, hundreds of thousands of them are people whom marketers would refer to as the 'target demographic' between the ages of 18 and 34."