4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
In the passage above, Jesus begins answering the question, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” by giving a very broad overview of things that will occur (indicators) leading up to His return. Above are verses 4-14 which represent the broad overview. Then in verse 15 He backtracks and gets specific with regard to things that will happen. Jesus compares the indicators He describes to the sorrows of a woman leading up to child birth AKA “birth pain.” Birth pains (so I am told) are very unpleasant and increase in frequency and intensity before a new birth. In other words, things get worse and there is less time for recovery between sufferings; but this leads to celebration and new life. From the verses above I have listed out the birth pains or indicators which will increase in intensity and frequency leading up to the end of the age and the return of Jesus:
- Many will come saying “I am the Christ” misleading many
- Wars and rumors of wars; Nation will rise against nation and Kingdom against kingdom
- Famines and earthquakes
- Followers delivered to tribulation
This is a consolidated list that could be divided up more; but for our purposes right now, I will go with this broad and four point list. Let’s take a brief look at each category by defining it and then I will give commentary as to whether or not it has measurably increased in intensity and frequency.
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “Christ” means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” Pretty much every religion has their anointed one. However, Jesus says many will come “in My name;” I take this to mean many will come claiming to be the second coming of Jesus and will mislead many people. Certainly this has already happened and it is probably hard to gage whether or not it is increasing. It is reasonable to suggest that as the birth pains increase and conditions deteriorate and get more chaotic, people will be more susceptible to this sort of claim as they look for something to cling on to in order to provide hope. The anti-Christ will come performing miracles and lead many people astray. I don’t believe true Christians are so easily mislead by false Christs, but Jesus does give the warning to “see to it that no one misleads you.”
You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…. nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
At first glance you might think this is repetitious; three ways of describing the same concept. It is true in the sense that they all describe unrest or conflict; but a study of the Greek language indicates that it is describing three distinct types of conflict:
- “Wars and rumors of wars” is the traditional war we think of today. One country defined by geography and borders declaring war on another country.
- Second, “nation will rise against nation.” The Greek word translated “nation” is actually “ethnos.” A better translation would be “ethnic group will rise against ethnic group” or “race will rise against race.” This tension is obviously heightening in America today, but also in Europe and other regions of the world. Israel and her neighbors have always experienced racial tensions.
- Finally, “kingdom will rise against kingdom.” The Greek word used here which is translated “kingdom” is basileia. Here is the definition for basileia in the Blue Letter Bible Greek Lexicon, “royal power, kingship, dominion, rule / not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom.” In other words, what is being described is a struggle to rule. These struggles most often happens within nations.
A simple viewing of the news is pretty convincing evidence that we are currently in the title wave of this race vs race birth pain. Regarding war, I recently read a statistic from the 1980’s that stated one out of every four nations in the world was engaged in war on some level. Ramp it up to the present, where I read a statistic stating that only ten nations in the world are not engaged in war at some level. Let me copy and paste another quote that you have likely heard before:
“SINCE THE END of the Second World War in 1945 there have been some 250 major wars in which over 50 million people have been killed, tens of millions made homeless, and countless millions injured and bereaved. In the history of warfare the twentieth century stands out as the bloodiest and most brutal – three times more people have been killed in wars in the last ninety years than in all the previous five hundred.” (http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/st_war_peace.html 8/9/2016)
A state of chaos, conflict, natural disasters will leave people looking for answers (in all the wrong places).
In various places there will be famines and earthquakes
Famines and earthquakes (natural disasters) will increase around the world; in other words, not isolated to one area. This is one of those topics where it seems you can find statistics to back up your position, whatever that position is. I have been subject to people who suggest that there is no increase in earthquakes, only we have better equipment to detect them today. Moreover, people say there have always been famines, and today is no different than any other time in history. Then there are those who can show you graphs beginning hundreds of years ago which show a steady increase in earthquakes with a very sharp increase in recent years. I can’t speak for everyone, but it certainly seems to me that natural disasters are on a tremendous increase! From earthquakes, to tsunamis, to famines / droughts, to tornadoes, to hurricanes, to hail storms, to flooding, to mud slides, to sink holes, it certainly seems to me like there is hyperactivity when it comes to natural disasters. I would say we are certainly experiencing birth pains in this category as well. I part with my conservative political pals on this note – I am a big believer that “climate change” is occurring. However, I don’t believe recycling or increased taxation will stop it.
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
Then…. great persecution will occur. I take the “then” to indicate this will take place chronologically after the other birth pains. The word “then” was not an addition to make it easier to read in the English language: “then they shall deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated by all the nations because of my name.” (Young’s Literal Translation) This appears to be the Great Tribulation. Jesus was speaking to people (the Apostles) who would all be persecuted and most to the point of death. The Jews were suffering persecution when Jesus came on the scene. When you read the epistles (New Testament books that were letters to individual churches) it is obvious that the churches back then were suffering persecution to an enormous degree! Ask the Christian churches in Turkey, Iran, Syria, etc… if they suffer persecution that sounds like the description in this verse “they will kill you, you will be hated.” What makes this different and I believe why it is put in the birth pains is because right before Jesus returns…. three and one half years before He returns, it increases drastically and on a world wide scale! This persecution begins when the abomination of desolation occurs in the Temple. We will get into the abomination of desolation in more detail later as well as the great tribulation, but here is what Jesus says in this broad overview portion of His response: “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” When persecution is that severe, this will be an unfortunate side effect. The word “fall away” has often been interpreted that people would “fall away from the faith” in other words, lose their salvation. I don’t believe this to be the case. First, I don’t believe you can lose your salvation; I don’t think “eternal life” can be lost. The Greek word here is defined this way in the Blue Letter Bible Lexicon (from this point forward referred to as the BLB): “To put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall.” I think this means one of two things: the severe persecution will cause weaker Christians to succumb and “rat out” their brothers and sisters in the Lord under immense pressure. Or, non-believing people who attend will “name names” in order to survive in the “new world order.”
In conclusion, based on verses 9-14, it looks to me like chaos is what ushers in this entire chain of events and clears the way for anti-Christ. Chaos caused by steadily increasing natural disasters that wreak havoc on economies; increasing conflict in the form of wars, racial strife and governments being overthrown. The systems in place that took care of things like: natural disasters, and racial riots will be disabled by increasing disorder and the demand being too high. This will lead to people looking for a man-made solution; looking for a spiritual and political leader to get us out of this mess! I think we are ripe for this right now. We have increasing violence, increasing hatred toward authority (police and military); and combine that with an increasing hate and intolerance toward Christians and Jews and the table seems to be set for exactly what Jesus predicted! Is it that farfetched to suggest that a world leader who promised peace could capture the allegiance of the West, the West which really seems to be losing a belly for the fight right now… a leader who is able to forge a peace treaty between Israel and the other nations in the Middle East? Then, how much of a stretch is it to suggest that this leader could turn the forces that exist today on Jews and Christians blaming them for the current world situation and trigger incredible violence toward the two? Is it unbelievable based on what we have seen in the world recently, to suggest that a great part of the population of the world would put up with mass beheadings, and genocide?
Time for discussion and commentary, who is first? Let me close this portion with this passage, because the point is to be informed; not afraid: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Jesus in Matthew 28:20b)