Timing the 'Birth Pangs'
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, while looking over the temple from the Mount of Olives, He predicted both its destruction and the Jewish nation’s.
Shocked, His disciples got Him alone and asked, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 NAS)
The apostles then asked three all-important questions:
(1) When will these things happen?
(2) What will be the sign of Christ’s Second Coming?
(3) What will be the sign of the end of the age?
This refers to the time of Gentile rule over the world ending and the establishment of the promised world Kingdom to Israel over which the Messiah Jesus, as the Son of David, will rule.
Jesus answers questions #2 and #3 in Matthew’s account. He answers question #1 in Luke’s account in chapter 21:12-24
Jesus gives a complete scenario of the signs of the end that would all begin to happen in one time frame – in concert with each other.
The key that would make the ‘signs’ unique is that they would all begin to occur together in the same era. The other key that would make these ‘signs’ unique and recognizable is that they would develop like “birth pangs”.
After Jesus enumerates the signs, He says of them, “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matt. 24:8)
Now here are the signs he called 'birth pangs':
No. 1 The Church would depart from the truth and false christs and false prophets would arise. He warned that MANY in the Church would be deceived. This has already happened -- big time.
Most mainline Churches do not hold to Divine verbal inspiration of the Bible. Many have ‘air conditioned hell’ and redefined sin to be ‘politically correct’ today.
For instance, the clear Biblical teaching against homosexuality is now being ‘redefined’. In defiance of God’s teaching in 1 & 2 Timothy, women are now being ordained as Pastors and Priests.
Jesus is no longer the only one who can bring us forgiveness of sin through His death in our place. He is now a great teacher among many other religious leaders who can show us how to work our way to heaven.
Various suicide cults of this generation, from the People’s Temple to the Branch Davidians to the Hale-Bopp cult, shared the same characteristic. They all had a false christ, or false messiah figure. But worse is coming.
No. 2 Jesus warned of wars and rumors of wars, but He said, “See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.”
The 20th century was marked by three significant events that shaped its course. WW1, WW2 and the Cold War. Both World Wars involved virtually every nation on earth in an orgy of destruction that killed tens of millions.
The Cold War endured for forty years, without either side firing a shot in anger. The ultimate rumor of war! Historians have already named the 20th Century the century of war.
But the end, as Jesus predicted, was not yet.
No. 3 Along with war, Jesus warned that “nation will rise against nation …” The word ‘nation’ is translated from the Greek word 'ethnos' which literally means ethnic groups or tribes. Ethnic unrest and tribal warfare has killed uncounted millions in this generation.
There are ethnic wars within the same nations. One of the most shocking examples of ethnic hatred is the case of the Kurds. They are Muslim, yet they are scattered along the borders of the fellow Muslim nations of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran – and hated by all.
No. 4 Jesus predicted that “kingdom will rise against kingdom …” The word ‘kingdom’ comes from the Greek word 'basliea', which means a literal nation in our modern understanding of the word. There has been such warfare between nations that mankind is trying to do away with nations.
The Antichrist will seize upon this yearning and establish a one-world government over which he will rule. But it wont bring peace; it will bring total destruction.
No. 5 Jesus predicted “in various places there will be famine …” According to the world experts, the Age of Famines began in 1975. There are famines raging someplace in the world at all times now.
No. 6 Jesus predicted in Luke’s account, “There will be great earthquakes …” AP News reported on October 9th that there were only 10 major earthquakes from the decades of 1920 through 1980 – a period of 70 years.
But there have been 13 major earthquakes in the last 15 years. These refer only to the monster quakes that have caused great destruction and loss of life. More will be said in a moment on this.
No. 7 Jesus predicted, “there will be … plagues …” Diseases once believed eradicted from the earth by antibiotics have now developed immunity to virtually every drug we have. Now we have super-strains of them.
Because of the rapid mobility of travel, a dangerous infectious disease any place on earth can become a pandemic over night – killing millions.
New strains of viruses that have trans-mutated from the animal kingdom to man now make pandemics of unimaginable horror possible. The latest is a bird flu in Viet Nam named H5N1 that the World Health Organization says could kill 150 million people worldwide.
No. 8 Super Storms from celestial influence on the earth’s climate. The last “birth pang” Jesus predicted is, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
I commented on these verses a couple of weeks ago. NASA has verified that the sun is getting brighter and hotter. This is having a dramatic effect on the rise of overall temperature on the earth. And that is causing the ocean belt around the equator to particularly heat up and cause more frequent and powerful storms – as we have definitely seen this hurricane/typhoon season.
Again, of all these things, the Lord said, “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” Taken together and read in context, the Lord outlined, in advance, an exact history of the world as it has progressed since Israel took its place among the modern nations of the world in 1948.
This generation has witnessed more than the beginning of the birth pangs. They've gone past the beginning. To quote Winston Churchill, "this may not be the end, or the beginning of the end. But it is certainly the end of the beginning."