“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.”[Jesus Christ — Matthew 24:6-8]
Among the most bizarre of medical phenomenons, a surprise child birth has to be at the top of the list. It is difficult to believe that a mother can conceive, carry a child to term, and give birth without any knowledge that she was pregnant to begin with. As rare as it may be, however, it does happen.
Putting those rare exceptions aside, the normal maternal process is consistent and predictable. Following the formation of new life at conception, there typically is a 40 week gestational period marked by significant changes to the mother’s body. At full term, the mother will begin to experience labor pains, which is the primary sign that the baby’s arrival is imminent. The increased frequency and intensity of the mother’s contractions become the final key indicators before delivery.
In others words, a family typically has plenty of time to prepare and at least some warning after labor begins that the baby is coming. That is why we say that a mother is expecting. It is a progressive process marked by clear signs that normally cannot be missed.
Interestingly enough, labor is one of the most common analogies found in the Scriptures to describe the visible signs leading up to the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the end of the age. Jesus compares specific, observable signs in the last days to the beginning of birth pains, which can only mean one thing.
Jesus wants his followers to live in expectation and anticipation of His coming, and He graciously has told us in advance what to look for so that we won’t miss the most important day in history!
Over the next few weeks, my goal is to unpack these signs of the times — these labor pains — to determine what we should expect to see in the last days before the return of Jesus. I will attempt to answer the following questions …
- For whom are the signs meant?
- Why should believers be paying attention?
- How can we know we are living in the last days?
- Have the beginning of birth pains already begun?
- What is the sign of the end of the age?
- What is the sign of the coming of Jesus?
- How should we interpret current events in light of these signs?
- What is the great tribulation?
- Who will be alive on the earth during the great tribulation?
- What should be our primary objective in these last days?
As we navigate key passages in both the Old and New Testament, we will see the importance of being observant, vigilant, and expectant in these last days.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. “[Romans 8:22-23]