By Howard Green
Everywhere you look there are recurring themes in newspapers, blogs, and world news outlets for weeks now. Ebola, ISIS, and natural disasters dominate media outlet headlines. At first glance we may look at these matters and conclude: “Disease and war have always been with us.” That is a true statement. I would suggest when we look at these same issues through the lens of God’s word, we will see an apparent increase in frequency and progression that remind us of Jesus’ words of warning. One look around at the world today and we will see that birth pains are increasing.
Luke 21:10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
As believers we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and the Bible for guidance, wisdom, and direction. When we look around us and see events unfolding as they are now….it becomes apparent that this world is heading toward a climax and it’s not business as usual. I want to take a closer look at the way and frequency events are unfolding, but want to first address one issue that always comes up when dealing with Bible prophecy:
Whenever the end times are mentioned in light of geopolitical events, some folks including believers get nervous. Because there have been abuses of end time teaching……a knee jerk reaction takes place and some prefer not to go anywhere near the subject of prophecy. I understand abuses and sensationalism have infiltrated some prophecy teaching. That is a direct result of not having the study of eschatology rooted in scripture. The opposite becomes true: Ridiculous claims, date setting, ‘hidden codes’, and personal interpretation becomes paramount and scripture is often miss-applied in an attempt to substantiate erroneous teaching. There are many godly prophecy teachers who love the word of God and teach with clarity and authenticity. There is a healthy percentage of the Bible focussed on prophecy and in particular….the events just prior to the Lord’s return. Since that is the case, we must not ignore what the word says about end time events. When end time teaching is rooted in scripture, the point becomes clear: Bible prophecy is by no means a diversion as some sadly say, rather…it points directly to Jesus’ words regarding the great commission, the task at hand, and His soon return. Peter addresses apathy regarding Christ’s return:
2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Now let’s take a look at recent events in light of Jesus’ words of warning about conditions prior to His return. The Lord mentions conditions in the last days and uses a very descriptive term. When the Lord used the term “birth pains” to describe end time conditions it leaves nothing to question. In fact, by calling these events birth pains, he discredits any attempt to classify them as routinely occurring conditions. War, pestilence, famine, and earthquakes have always been part of this fallen world but here is the stark difference between now and the rest of recorded history.
These events are increasing in scope, intensity, and frequency just as labor pains come upon a woman in labor.
I won’t recount the rapid acceleration of these events in the last century because their increase has been well documented by numerous Bible prophecy teachers. I do want to key in on several birth pain events that have made headlines more and more in recent months.
Pestilence: It’s one of the birth pains mentioned in the Bible. Ebola has captured the world’s attention and it is worth noting that the confirmed cases are multiplying in just the past few days. There are so many conflicting reports that it is becoming difficult to separate fact from fiction. What we do know is that west Africa is reeling from Ebola and there are 1 million people quarantined in just Sierra Leone at the time of this article. We also know now that America isn’t exempt from the threat posed by ebola. World wide travel, open borders, and a few lapses in screening have brought ebola here. Only time will tell if this disease can be contained before the CDC’s worst case scenario of 1.4 million deaths might become reality.
Earthquakes: Fukushima 6.6 magnitude quake, 2010 Chile quake magnitude 8.8, 2014 Chile quake magnitude 8.2, 2004 Indonesian quake magnitude est. 9.2 (3rd strongest recorded) and resulting tsunami killed over 230,000 people. Haiti earthquake of 2010 was a 7.0 magnitude and killed an estimated 160,000-200,000 people. Earthquakes have always been a part of life, but the crescendo of their frequency and magnitude has been a mark of seismic activity in our time. Even places such as Oklahoma and Kansas have had ‘swarms’ of earthquakes in just the last few years.
Wars, rumors and kingdom against kingdom: Very little time has gone by where human history hasn’t been marked by the scourge of war. War has always been with us, but again in just the last century we have suffered losses in the tens of millions of people. It is estimated that nearly 230 million people died as a direct or related result of war in the 20th century. If this century continues on the path it is on, we will see the same sadness repeated again. Even with all of our advances in healthcare, information technology, and standards of living…..the condition of the human heart remains the same if left unchecked without God: wretched and depraved.
Added to the reality of war, we have an increasing level of radical ideology fueled by blind hatred. Terrorism and jihadists have multiplied drastically and conditions deteriorate as their numbers increase. What’s more….sovereign territories and even whole nations are threatened by the rapid advances of ISIS and other terrorist organizations bent on world domination. Add the rapidly expanding military of Communist China and the recent belligerent activity of Russia and there is no doubt that there is a marked increase of wars & rumors of war in recent months and years.
Famine: So many ministries work around the clock to help with the hunger that plagues many parts of the world. Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion Intl., and many others are reaching out to impoverished people in need. The US, Europe, Australia, and other governments try to make a dent in what seems to be a problem that won’t go away. East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America are full of hungry people and despite all of the humanitarian aid…..famine is getting worse and more frequent in many areas. Why can’t we wipe out hunger? I don’t know, but I know this world is broken. Government greed, warlords, and conflict all have taken their toll and Jesus told us that famine would increase in scope and intensity….as birth pains do, before His return.
Birth pains are everywhere now. The recent ebola outbreak is another sad reminder that this world is running headlong toward a climax. Jesus is coming soon and the increase in the events mentioned above is evidence of that fact.
As Christians, how should we respond to the unfolding events around us? Each of us will have different ways we respond, but one defining characteristic is that we are not alarmed and have peace because of who we belong to. No matter what the future holds, we know that we are secure in the Lord. War, terrorism, famine, disease, earthquakes will all increase and this world will continue toward it’s judgement.
We have the word of God to share, the gospel to share, and our testimony to share. We don’t need to have all of the answers regarding the birth pains that are increasing in recent months…..we do know the one who knows the future. I have noticed a weariness and numbness on the faces of many people and I can’t help to think it is a result of having no hope.
Since we know people are looking for answers and hope: isn’t this an opportunity to tell them about Jesus?
We can give of our resources to those suffering so much. There are many ways to give. We can give financially to relief efforts and there are some wonderful ministries that help the hurting in Jesus name. We can give compassion and friendship to people who have little hope in the midst of uncertain times. We can give of our time and there is no limit to this gift. We can volunteer to assist relief efforts that send help. One of the best uses of our time in light of helping in Jesus’ name…is the time we spend in prayer. We have access to the Lord’s throne through prayer. What an opportunity to come before Him and remember the needs of others.
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The birth pains we are beginning to see aren’t without purpose, we need to remember they are signs that Jesus is coming back soon. We have very little time to work with. It should be no surprise to any believer that the upheaval in the world will only increase in the last days. We will continue to see these events increase in frequency and severity going forward now, just as birth pains progress. We don’t know when the rapture of the church will take place, but we know it is imminent. With that in mind, let’s share the hope we have in the Lord with people while there is still time.
One look at the condition of the world right now makes it evident: Birth pains are increasing.