The world is in the grips of a coronavirus epidemic unlike anything seen since the outbreak of SARS in 2002. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected 92,314 people since last December and killed at least 3,131.
The virus, which first appeared in China’s Hubei Province, is now rapidly spreading through Europe and the Middle East at alarming rates.
Large outbreaks of COVID-19 in Italy, Iran and South Korea have prompted many to link the epidemic to biblical prophecies of the end times.
Militant Christians and biblical hardliners have flooded social media with claims the coronavirus is harbinger of the Apocalypse.
John Angelbeck tweeted: “Coronavirus? Hurricane Katrina? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Pal.
“Just read the Book of Revelation. Repent of your sins before it’s too late.
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“I do care about you (and those who think like you do. And those who don’t)”
Another Twitter user said: “‘Beginning of Sorrows’ – Matthew 24:3-8’
“Australian Wildfires… Coronavirus… earthquakes in odd places…increased rage/murders worldwide … massive hunger increases…
“And there are those that laugh at the Book of Revelation… #jesusiscoming”
But where are these outrageous claims about biblical prophecy coming from?
Many Christians believe the end of the world was prophesied in the last chapters of the Bible, the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation details the cataclysmic events that will unfold before the Second Coming of Christ.
One of these events will be the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of which is believed to be represented by the coronavirus.
It is imperative that each of us takes heed while there is still time
Gerald Flurry and Wayne Turgeon
The Four Horsemen are typically represented as Death, War, Famine and Pestilence or Plague.
Evangelists Gerald Flurry and Wayne Turgeon of The Trumpet said: “We have already examined the first three horsemen: The first is religious deception, next is war, then famine.
“With the fourth, pestilence, these horsemen represent the final, end-time culmination of the most traumatic problems endured by a rebellious mankind.
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“They picture one of the most ominous scenarios ever. It is imperative that each of us takes heed while there is still time.”
Conspiracy theorists have claimed online the coronavirus represents the Pale Horse and its rider.
Charity Mukuba tweeted: “The rider of this pale horse has been released on earth today.
“We can already see the plagues of LOCUSTS and pestilences like CORONAVIRUS that have brought death. Locusts have brought famine #RepentAndPrepare”
John the Apostle wrote in Revelation 6: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
“And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
There is however no evidence to suggest the coronavirus is in any way a biblical portent of doom.
Instead, COVID-19 is triggered by a pathogen belonging to a family of viruses responsible for past epidemics.
Between 2002 and 2003, for instance, a coronavirus strain infected more than 8,000 people with SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Then in 2012, a different strain of coronavirus was responsible for the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome or MERS.
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