Pastors Jack Hibbs & Don Stewart

COVID-19 and Biblical Prophecy
COVID-19 and Biblical Prophecy

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Pastors Jack Hibbs and Don Stewart Discuss the COVID-19 Pandemic and Bible Prophecy

Following are excerpts from an online discussion correlating Bible prophecy and the COVID-19 pandemic during the April 15, 2020, edition of Happening Now: Bible Prophecy in Perspective. The speakers are Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hill, CA, and Don Stewart, an internationally recognized apologist and speaker and prolific author.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I [Jesus] wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 23:37-39, 24:1-3

Jack HibbsJack Hibbs: The disciples are asking three questions: When will these things be? What will be the sign of Jesus’ coming? What will be the sign of the end of the age? Jesus then began to articulate the beloved Olivet Discourse, an outline of what the end of the world as we know it will look like. This is important because many people are writing and calling us about the COVID-19 pandemic, tempted to panic: Is this the end of the world? Is this the mark of the beast? What do we do? You do not need to panic … or believe that this is the end of the world. It’s none of those things. Do Don and I believe that Jesus could come back tonight? Absolutely. But what are we looking at needs to be unpacked carefully, biblically based … [without] hype.

The Pandemic on the Church and Spread of the Gospel

Jack: Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” We know that in the Book of Revelation, that will happen. Revelation 14:6-7a adds: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come.” But 2,000 years ago, … Jesus gave a commission to the Church. He sent the Church out to preach the Gospel, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19a) That’s our job. What’s the will of God for my life? Preach the Gospel. Tell everybody you know. God allowed you to know people to give them the Gospel. That’s what the Christian does. So on the worldly side, a bug gets out and goes around the globe, forcing the Church and the world to [stay home]. It’s so sad we’re not at church, we think. I understand that, but I cannot say it’s sad anymore. A church of 10 people, for example, [may be] able to take their smart device and switch the camera around, record their pastor teaching, and upload the sermon all around the world. Churches have been doing this regardless of size or finances. Everything got leveled. The Church was reduced to an extreme basic to do what—to hide? No, God didn’t silence us. The exact opposite happened. God used this virus to pull the Church away from all of its distractions, all of the other plans we had. What do we do now? Preach the Gospel 24/7.

Doesn’t it excite you to think that God has put the Church [back] in the home where it started 2,000 years ago? What if the Church was not reaching its mandate according to God’s timepiece, and the Lord wants to get things going? [What if] He utilizes this pandemic to get the Church to go online around the world to get the Word out—not to build buildings or have another church plant or worship service. And it’s happening now.

Don StewartDon Stewart: Not only that, but church services are getting record viewership. Tiny churches are reaching thousands because of the [available] technology. On His Channel (hischannel.com), our servers are overfilled by 125% capacity; the Gospel’s getting into places you would never expect it to be. People are hearing it—literally—worldwide, in a way that wouldn’t have happened [without] the coronavirus.

We live in such a wonderful time. In the old days, we used to have to travel to places and talk to an audience face to face. Now we can reach literally the whole world because of technology. I’ve been speaking to all these “invisible” churches recently, and it’ll be good to see [people’s] faces again. But until that time, great things are happening.

Jack: You cannot tell me God is not in this. I was personally told (by a senior White House person) that the U.S. government was able to monitor the download of Bible apps, and they were able to count how much Christian programming was being watched in a particular nation where [following] Jesus is illegal, and yet the population is starving and scared. In that nation right now, its religious leadership cannot control its population’s appetite for Jesus and the Bible. It’s so huge that the U.S. intelligence agencies were able to monitor it. Jesus is coming back.

Don: On my website, educatingourworld.com, I have placed 58 of my books covering 11 different topics. They’re all there for free download for anybody, worldwide, who wants them. God does want us to know the future; He has a track record of already [fulfilling] prophecies. There are prophecies being fulfilled right now. People need to know this. We want the Gospel to get out because … we see [the end times] getting closer and closer.

Jack: The Word of God brings us hope at this time. None of this pandemic is outside of God’s hand. God’s got this. You don’t need to worry or panic. A lot of you are concerned and worried, and you don’t need to be. You need to trust the Lord. A lot of us, as believers, have been taught that the Lord is coming back—that the end times scenario is coming. Now we’re in an indicator. COVID-19 falls under the category of pestilence. Is this pestilence what Matthew 24, Luke 17, or Mark 13 talk about? I don’t think [so]. I think those [signs] will happen during the Tribulation period. But the pandemic is a precursor, setting the stage. It’s getting you to wake up. I do believe, now more than ever, that God in His infinite mercy has stopped the Church from its busyness—being Martha—and caused us to sit at His feet [like Martha’s sister Mary] and pump out the Gospel. Jesus is coming back any time now. I don’t know when. But I look around and see the times and the seasons.

Jesus Christ is prophesied in Scripture from cover to cover. It’s all about Him. He would die on the cross for your sins and mine because God had to die for us. A good man couldn’t die for us because we couldn’t find a good man. There is no good man—all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So God sent His Son Jesus, born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, who lived a sinless life because He was God in humanity. And He fulfilled the Law of God because you and I can’t. And then after fulfilling the Law, Jesus stepped into our place and was punished on the cross for us. Jesus took what was due to you and I so that God’s justice and judgment could be satisfied. And then to ensure your salvation, on the third day Jesus rose from the dead to not only be the sacrifice but our priest, attorney, provider—the “everything” for us. Trust Christ. It’s not belonging to a church or being a member of any organization. It’s not being baptized in water or giving money. It’s putting your faith in Christ as Lord and Savior; He’ll forgive you of your sins because He’s God, the Redeemer. Trust Him.

Current Events in the Background: Laying the Groundwork for the End Times

Don: I do a program everyday Monday through Friday called Breaking News on HisChannel. We look for one hour at the news headlines of the day [in light of] Bible prophecy. One of the things I’ve discovered recently, because everyone’s been talking about COVID-19, is that there are other things going on in the background—that have something to do with Last Days’ prophecies—that many people are [not hearing about] because all of us are focused on the virus. We need to be aware of these: globalism, the end of the European Union, Russia and Turkey fighting over Libya, the role of China and the U.S. in end times, and worldwide government overreach. These subjects are going to linger [past the pandemic], but they’re happening right now.

Globalism

Don: Gordon Brown, a former United Kingdom prime minister, “has urged world leaders to create a temporary form of global government to tackle the twin medical and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a March 26 story in The (UK) Guardian. He gave no indication of who would appoint the leaders, how long they would serve, and what their powers would be. Don’t we read something about that in the Bible?

Jack: We not only read about that in the Bible in Revelation 13, but also in the Book of Daniel and other places. The need and desire for a man to lead them seems to be Europe’s cry—it’s no secret. Other portions of the world are doomed to dictators, but Europe has always tried to embrace a dictator.

Don: Anybody who has the answers [for the pandemic could become this dictator]. But this tells us that the world is hungry for leadership … and the Bible warns us about it. In 1 John 2:18, John says, Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. There is a final Antichrist who will come, whom the Bible calls by a variety of names. He’s called the first “beast” in Revelation 13; he’s called the “man of sin,” the “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2. He’s got many names, but the bottom line is he’s going to be the person impersonating or doing a parody of Jesus Christ. He will be “anti” what Jesus stood for. He will go into the Temple and actually claim to be God. And there will be an image of him placed in the Temple; he and his cohort, the false prophet, will have the capacity to bring this image to life, and people will think, This is it, he has all the answers. That person’s coming.

The End of the European Union (EU)

Don: I see stories every day saying that the EU has failed Europe over the coronavirus. The EU is a compilation of nations that have been “going together” for 40-50 years. It’s supposed to be the be-all and end-all, the largest economic block anywhere, as I understand it. [Now’s] the time when it should really come to the forefront and be something, and it’s not. Spain and Italy, particularly Italy, have been hurt really bad by COVID-19. Italy was reaching out [unsuccessfully] to some of its partners in the EU.

Daniel Chapter 2 talks about this … last 10-nation confederation, iron mixed with clay, which does not adhere. It’s going to be a confederation of 10 different countries in a revived Roman Empire. But they won’t get along. The leadership won’t get along with the people [because] every country has its own history and traditions. You can’t throw them all into one big mix. You find out it’s not one for all and all for one, it’s everybody for themselves. What’s happened now with COVID-19 is that [the EU countries] are closing their borders. It’s very interesting that what we see in reality doesn’t match what was supposedly so wonderful on paper—this great economic community. Story after story say the EU is falling apart. And that’s necessary—it’s got to be down to 10 nations [to match prophecy].

Jack: Daniel 2:44 states: And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. It’s just thrilling to realize that what we’re looking at on the world scene during this pandemic is a huge exposure of the lack of leadership.

Don: COVID-19 is bringing to the world things that the Bible predicts are going to happen at the time of the end, the need for some type of global committee (actually two people: the Antichrist and the false prophet). Then the EU has to be whittled down to [just] 10 nations. It seems this [pandemic] might be the thing that dissolves it. And it’ll have to be put back together again with 10 different nations that arise out of the ashes like the phoenix.

Jack: I always found it interesting that way back, Pastor Chuck Smith pointed out that the EU went out of its way to make sure that God was not referenced in its constitution. It’s a godless government and has proved itself to be fruitless.

Don: This could be the end of the euro. Do you think the next currency will be digital?

Jack: Why am I so sure it’s going to be a digital currency? We’ve been hearing the arguments in the COVID-19 debate that paper currency is one of the filthiest modes of transportation of germs, sickness, and disease. And the world has been talking very boldly about a cashless or digitized economy.

The Role of Libya in the End Times

Don: Russia and Turkey made the headlines—they’re fighting over the country of Libya, over who’s going to be in charge [of it]. Russia is supporting a [military] general from eastern Libya who wants to take over the country. Turkey is supporting the government that was established in 2011 by the UN because Libya has a great location with the Mediterranean coastline and oil rigs. And Libya is the key. It’s the one country that needs to put together an army for the Ezekiel 38-39 invasion. They haven’t been able to do it [yet]. Now you have two opposing forces [there]—two of the ones at the forefront of Ezekiel 38-39. Will we see some type of agreement or treaty being made where Libya now is run by [these] two nations?

Jack: In the Last Days, the Bible tells us Russia will have a coalition of nations, and they’re named. [Our audience] might be thinking, Why did Don [just] pull [the topic of] Libya out of the [clear blue] sky a moment ago? Because Libya is mentioned in Ezekiel 38. Ezekiel not only foretold that Israel would come together as a nation in the Last Days, but he described graphically how that would happen. The last thing God would do for them was put His Spirit or life in them. Today, it’s significant. We’ve got everything just right regarding Israel—except the Spirit. Most Israelis today don’t believe in the existence of God, or if they do, they refuse to bow their knees to Him. They’re angry at God or say that He does not exist. They are not looking at God right now.

But something’s going to happen. There’s an event that takes place in Ezekiel 36-38 … that … involves Libya. Libya has got to be strong and viable enough to be involved in the invasion [of Israel] coming from the west. Russia is said to be coming out of the north. All that’s laid out in the Bible—that’s why it’s so important. We don’t see that taking place if Europe and the U.S. have their act together. If Europe and the U.S. are strong, then Russia and that coalition aren’t going to do anything about [Libya]. At times like this, when America is certainly preoccupied with survival right now, and Europe is just befuddled, it’s a prime time for Russia [to move in].

Don: To finish Ezekiel 38-39, this is a battle that was predicted some 2,650 years ago. The names of the countries are given their ancient names. Put is the name of Libya. We put the modern countries on the map where these ancient names were, and we find the main countries are Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, and Northern Sudan—the main ones that are going to be part of this invasion [of Israel]. It’s interesting that Libya is the one country needed to complete the circle, [with] a government working well enough [to] put an army together and be part of the invasion. They can’t right now.

Jack: Does that army have to be Libyan soldiers?

Don: They could be Russian and Turkish soldiers [coming from that direction]. There are currently Russian and Turkish soldiers there now. The stage is being set.

Jack: It makes perfect sense because Russia is so desperate, so needful of what others have. …. Israel is a [like a shopping] mall for Russia. It’s got the oil, the natural gas, the technology, the genius, the brilliance. In the natural eye, the Bible tells us that God’s going to put a thought into the mind of the leader of Russia … to move against Israel.

The U.S. and China in the End Times

Don: These two nations, the biggest powers in the world now, are not players as far as the Bible is concerned in the Last Days. The U.S. has to put its efforts on China right now. So, for some reason, they’re going to become entangled with each other to the place they’re distracted [from] anything else going on in the world; they’re probably not [going to be able] to be a player anywhere else. We don’t know how this is going to play out. But here’s what we do know: the focus of the world will be in the Middle East and Western Europe. It won’t be in the Pacific Rim, so the U.S. and China will somehow keep each other busy.

Now the good news is that there are 100 million-plus Christians in China. Only in eternity are we going to find out how many other people came to faith in Christ through these very brave Christians during this pandemic, who got to witness and preach the Gospel to them. So we’re thankful for them being there. God bless them. We can’t say enough good things about them—it’s a very tough situation for them.

Don: We’re seeing government overreach worldwide. The Bible talks about a world where there’s total control by the powers that be. It doesn’t seem there will be much freedom at the time of the end, so we’re expecting this.

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