JERUSALEM, Israel – Religious leaders from Israel to Iran say the deadly coronavirus outbreak is a sign that the Messiah is coming soon and is a message to humanity to turn hearts back to God.
Right-wing Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said in a YouTube video on Monday that the world is inching closer to “the days of the Messiah” and the pandemic would bring about the closer observance of God’s laws like honoring Shabbat.
“The Jewish people live, we are waking up, opening our eyes, stopping all the nonsense we do, and really drawing closer to Shabbat,” he said.
“Maybe the Muslims will tell us to build the Temple,” Eliyahu suggested, an event believed by Christians and Jews to bring about the coming of the Messiah.
Another right-wing Orthodox rabbi named Shlomo Aviner said on Sunday that the deadly pandemic is punishment for humanity drawing away from God.
“In our days, man thinks he is God, that he is the master and can decide what is good and bad, something which is called moral relativism or postmodernism,” wrote Aviner on the Kipa News site.
“If this is the case, that mankind is proud, mankind knows everything, understands everything, let us see you fight the smallest of God’s creations. This creation is called corona, a crown,” he continued.
Coronavirus gets its name because it has a fatty outer layer arranged in a way that looks like a crown under the microscope.
“We must restore the crown to God,” Aviner said.
Muslim leaders also believe the pandemic is a sign that the end of the world is close.
A top conservative Iranian cleric named Ali Reza Banahyan said the virus will bring about the return of the Shiite messiah called the “Mahdi.” Some Shiites believe the Mahdi – also known as “The Twelfth Imam” - will return during a time of great upheaval in the earth.
Saudi Sheikh Saleh Al-Maghamsi said in a television program that the virus is a message that Judgement Day is near.
Meanwhile, Messianic pastors in Israel have called for a nationwide time of prayer on Wednesday from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET in response to the virus.
“We believe that during this pandemic, God is calling on mankind to call out to Him,” they said in a statement.
They are praying for repentance, that the world turns to Jesus, wisdom for leaders, and that no one dies from the coronavirus in Israel.
“Our prayers are like incense that rises before God and beckons Him to intervene in what is going on around us,” they said.
As of Wednesday morning, 427 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus but no one has died.