A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matt. 24:7-8).
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains (Mark 13:8).
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:10-11).
The Greek word translated “birth pains” or “birth pangs” is also translated “travail” and “sorrows.” This is the reason why some scholars call the first half of Daniel’s 70th week “the beginning of sorrows.” They say the signs Jesus was talking about in the above verses were meant to indicate that the 70th week has begun. The name for the second half is the Great Tribulation. It begins with the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15-21).
Here’s the rationale for their position. The disciples were asking for signs of the end of the age. Since the 69th week of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy was at an end, they wanted to know how to recognize the beginning of the 70th Week. Jesus had just told them the temple was going to be torn down (Matt. 24:2), so there was obviously going to be a delay, because a Temple is required during the 70th week to complete the prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27).
Many of these scholars are also pre-trib, and don’t believe the Church will be here when the 70th Week begins. Therefore, the events we’re seeing in the world today can’t be the birth pangs referenced in the verses above, because Daniel’s 70th week has not begun. This is obvious from the facts that Israel has not reinstated it’s national covenant with God and there is no Temple there, both of which are required to fulfill the 70th week.
They also say the great signs from Heaven (not in the heavens) in Luke 21:11 refer to two specific supernatural events. One is the blackened sun and blood red moon of Rev. 6:12, and the other is the sun and moon both going dark, with the stars falling from the sky in Matt. 24:29. They say Rev. 6:12 will be a sign from Heaven that the 70th Week has begun and Matt. 24:29 is the sign that will mark it’s end.
I agree with that interpretation of Luke 21:11. But I’ve never been fully persuaded that none of the birth pangs can begin before the 70th Week, because birth pangs begin in a mild and infrequent way and then escalate in both intensity and frequency over time. To me the events we’re currently experiencing fit the Lord’s description of birth pangs and are getting pretty frequent and pretty intense.
Also, I see Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38 as part of the birth pangs, and I’m not convinced that they have to happen during the 70th Week. In fact, I believe Ezekiel 38 will be the last of these three and will lead the world directly into the 70th week because it’s the one that awakens Israel to God’s presence (Ezekiel 39:22) and ignites their desire for a temple.
This is the point at which Israel’s hardening will be relaxed (Romans 11:25). It’s also when God will turn His attention back to Israel to build a temple there (Acts 15:16-18) in order to fulfill the 70 Weeks prophecy. I’ve previously expressed my opinion that both Romans 11:25 and Acts 15:16-18 require the prior removal (rapture) of the Church.
In summary then, I believe we are currently seeing the birth pangs Jesus mentioned and, while some are more advanced than others, all are in some stage of reaching the frequency and intensity required to trigger the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th Week. With that, lets take a look at current events I believe to be in the category of birth pangs so you can decide if you agree.
Nation Will Rise Against Nation, And Kingdom Against Kingdom.
We see the problems Israel is having with its neighbors, the Syrian revolution, the growing but as yet ineffective coalition against the Islamic State, the Ukraine / Russia conflict, and the fighting in several African countries as signs that nations are rising against nations. But did you know that according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the world as a whole has been getting incrementally less peaceful every year since 2007? The IEP monitors 162 countries around the world and currently only 11 of them are totally free from internal or external armed conflict. In other words all but 11 of these 162 countries are either attacking someone or they’re being attacked by someone. Granted, most of these involve separatist or revolutionary movements, or terrorists, but if this seems to you like the whole world must be at war, you’re not far off.
Earthquakes In Various Places
Just about everyone has finally admitted that earthquakes have been steadily increasing in recent years. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. The average rate of big earthquakes – those larger than magnitude 7 – has been 10 per year since 1979, the study reports. That rate rose to 12.5 per year starting in 1992, and then jumped to 16.7 per year starting in 2010 – a 65 percent increase compared to the rate since 1979. This increase accelerated in the first three months of 2014 to more than double the average since 1979, the researchers report.
“We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” said the lead study author, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that about one out of every eight people in the world is chronically undernourished. It also adds that the world produces enough food overall to meet everyone’s needs but many people either live in places where it’s hard to grow food or they don’t earn enough to buy as much as they need. In some parts of the world people can no longer assume when they get up in the morning that they will get even one decent meal before night time.
With food prices rising much faster than incomes, more and more people are finding themselves unable to obtain adequate amounts of decent food even in so-called developed countries. This will continue to get worse until the Bible says it will take everything an average person earns in a day just to get enough food for that day.
The dictionary defines pestilence as a deadly or virulent epidemic disease. For the past few years we’ve had to deal with diseases that fit this definition on a regular basis. So far all of them have been brought under control one way or another. Currently it’s the Ebola virus that has everyone’s attention. Worst case scenarios abound with some experts saying it’s already too late to stop it, and predicting over 1 million deaths in the next 6 months. Others say the scare tactics being used in reporting on it are mostly just that and as in previous years the pandemic everyone is so afraid of will not materialize.
But Jesus said pestilence in various places will be one of the birth pangs. I think it’s too early to tell whether Ebola will fulfill His prophecy on a broad scale or not, but if it doesn’t something else will. One thing is certain. People in the places where Ebola is on the loose are experiencing pestilence to a degree previously unknown, and if it does become more widespread it could be a catastrophic fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy.
What Does All This Mean?
In summary, of the four categories Jesus mentioned, conflict between nations and earthquakes in various places seem to be advancing steadily with famine and pestilence still in more moderate stages. This tells us things will at least continue to get worse in those categories.
Then, just at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week there will be a brief pause where to the unsuspecting world it will look as if peace has finally come. I believe this will follow Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38 which will be the last of the birth pangs before the 70th Week begins. The covenant that will be enforced by the anti-Christ (Daniel 9:27) will convince the world that war in the Middle East is a thing of the past. Paul said this will be the most dangerous sign because it will cause unbelievers to be caught totally unawares.
While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thes. 5:3).
The labor pains will begin again and this time there will be no let up until the birth of the Messianic Age. Three cycles of judgments known as the time of God’s Wrath will come, and by the time they’re over the world as we know it will lie in shambles with at least half of its inhabitants dead. Jesus called the last of these three cycles the worst time of judgment in human history, never seen before and never to be seen again (Matt. 24:21).
God told Jeremiah His goal in these judgments is to completely destroy all the nations among which His people have been scattered, and to discipline Israel in preparation for the coming kingdom (Jeremiah 30:11).
Paul said Jesus will rescue the Church from both the time and place of these judgments (1 Thes. 1:10) because we are not appointed to suffer wrath (1 Thes 5:9). Here’s how that will happen.
On a day no one could have predicted in advance we’ll hear the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God (1 Thes. 4:16-17). Before either of these sounds can register in our minds, we’ll be standing before the Lord, ready for our journey to His Father’s house where He’s been preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3). Our time on earth will have ended, and our time in eternity will have begun. We’ll finally be home. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 10-04-14