South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on the street to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Gangnam district in Seoul on March 5, 2020. South Korea’s total number of novel coronavirus cases — the largest outside China, where the disease first emerged — approached 6,000 on March 5 as authorities reported 145 new infections. | JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images
Experts on end times prophecies in the Bible have noticed an increased interest in the topic during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chosen People Ministries held a webcast Wednesday morning titled “Pandemics, Prophecy, and the Middle East,” which examined how pastors view the end times and modern events.
The focus was on a LifeWay Research study which found that a large number of pastors from evangelical and historically African American churches viewed current events as signs of the end times.
Joel Rosenberg, bestselling author and chairman and founder of The Joshua Fund, said during the webcast that he believed there was “growing interest” in the topic among pastors.
Rosenberg noted that the survey for the LifeWay report came before the coronavirus pandemic had gone far beyond the Chinese province of Wuhan.
“I actually think that if we took this survey, you know, a week from now, a month from now, I think we would see these numbers actually grow,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg explained that he had expected the number of pastors who viewed end times prophecy as applying to modern events as being “lower” and was “encouraged” by the fact that it was higher.
“I do think there has been a tendency in the last 30 or 40 years for some in American evangelicalism to not talk about Bible prophecy,” he said.
Rosenberg attributed this to the topic being “controversial” as well as some believing its “crazy,” as “there have been so many people sensationalizing Bible prophecy and jumping on every headline” as evidence that the end is near.
“There are multiple geopolitical, economic, and other social implications of the crisis we’re going through right now with the COVID-19,” continued Rosenberg. “And I think, what you’re seeing is an increase in interest and we have to be careful how we teach this.”
Darrell Bock, a professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas, also touched on the increased interest in end times prophecy during the webcast.
“We did this poll before the pandemic really reared its head,” Bock said. “These questions were asked as the reports of the plague were coming out of China and hadn’t even really hit Europe yet.”
“So these numbers do not reflect the reality we find ourselves in and I agree with Joel. If we were to re-ask these questions, we would see them be even higher in light of what’s going on.”
Earlier this month, LifeWay released a report which examined how evangelical and historically black denominations viewed end times prophecies and modern events.
The study drew from a sample of 1,000 pastors from evangelical and historically black denominations, conducted Jan. 24 to Feb. 11 and with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.
LifeWay found that nearly nine out of 10 surveyed pastors viewed the end times prophecies of the Bible as being showcased in current events.
This included around 83 percent of respondents believing that Jesus was referring to current events when discussing the rise of false prophets and false teachings, traditional morals becoming less accepted (79 percent), wars and national conflicts (78 percent), earthquakes and other natural disasters (76 percent), and people leaving Christianity (75 percent).
The survey also found that 56 percent of surveyed pastors believed Jesus would return within their lifetime, versus 20 percent who did not believe it would happen in their lifetime.
“There are details of Christ’s return and His reign that scholars disagree on,” said Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research, in a statement released April 7.
“However, the vast majority of pastors believe certain current events correspond with prophesies Jesus Himself gave about things that would occur right before He returns.”