Hurricanes like Irma, flooding as from Harvey, earthquakes like the 8.1 in Mexico, massive monsoons like those in India, insane heat waves as Europe experienced recently and fires like the ones covering the American West – the earth is building up to a grand crescendo, one that doesn’t bring the audience of the planet to their feet in applause but rather sends them to their knees to say, “Jesus is Lord.”
And with these events, we’re just getting started.
The Divine Maestro is merely beginning to signal the start of the fourth movement, if He is signaling at all.
I don’t write this to say that the array of current disasters are end-time events, but rather, in the midst of them, to say it’s going to be like this – just worse.
Hearing reports like “Record Rainfall with Hurricane Harvey,” “Unprecedented Flooding,” “Hurricane Irma is the Most Powerful Hurricane to Make Landfall in the United States,” “Largest Earthquake in Mexico in a Century,” “Scientists Have Never Seen 3 Powerful Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin,” or “Hurricane Irma Leaves Caribbean Islands Uninhabitable” at least cause us to think we may be living in a “Left Behind” movie. And such feeling should stir our hearts in that way. The Bible’s timeline of end-time events tells of periods of a concentrated number of disastrous events. As the present age in which we now live conclude, there will be a time Jesus called the “birth pains.” This is described in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Here are Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 24″
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 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. [Matthew 24:3-8 (NIV)]
Luke adds to this list “diseases.” I also believe from other descriptions of this time in Scripture we can understand earthquakes not to be the only natural disasters.
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Now, these events listed here happened in Jesus’ day. They have happened throughout all of history, but in this “birth pain” time they will occur at their greatest intensity and universality, meaning they will be happening all over the world simultaneously, and the natural disasters, earthquakes especially, diseases, famines and wars will be of unprecedented strengths. Like the one-two punch of Harvey and Irma, these birth-pain disasters will be a rapid pounding of punches.
Throughout history there have been heightened periods of disaster activity. Like birth contractions rise and fall, this has happened all of history – but also, as the birth draws near the contractions are at the greatest intensity.
Several trusted premillennial prophecy teachers place the “birth pains” as events in the seven-year tribulation period, but I believe Scripture points to this time period stretching a few years before the tribulation period. I understand Scripture to teach that the “birth pains” bring the world’s inhabitants to their knees and leads to a search for relief, which paves the way for the acceptance of the Antichrist. His promise of peace and seeming possibility of turning the tides of disaster allow the world to accept His leadership. The Bible indicates the Antichrist and his budding empire will initially deliver on that peace.
The seven-year time clock of the Tribulation begins with a peace agreement from this deceptive world leader. But soon he will move toward conquest, and that will usher in Antichrist-induced tribulation. This is a second phase of disastrous events – the tribulation. Eventually, he will set himself up to be worshiped, which leads to God sending wrath upon the world through Exodus-like plagues. This God-brought-tribulation is the final and most extreme phase of disastrous events – the Great Tribulation.
Therefore, if the current onslaught of disasters around the world signaled a prophetic insight, it would be that we are entering the “birth pains.” Time will tell if that is the case. Prophetically, it should not be much of a surprise, for we have surpassed many prophetic signposts. We are way down the track prophetically, but there are a few political alignments that still must take place before the tribulation time-period.
I cringe writing this column because of the possibility of being insensitive. That is far from the case. My heart goes out to those struggling with recovery in Texas and Florida. But questions are rising about the prophetic nature of these events. We need to place them in the proper context. If the number of disasters are prophetic fulfillments, then they are part of the birth pains. And if they are the birth pains, then we are just merely getting started. We need to brace ourselves, but more than anything we personally need to say “Uncle.” For the point of all the wild events to come in last days is that “every knee would bow and confess Jesus is Lord.”
So, if disaster hits every one of our lives via earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, flooding, or tornado; or if it occurs through the everyday disaster of sickness and life struggles; or even a man-made disaster from the hand of an enemy like North Korea – we must rebuild and not give up, but rebuilding without dropping a knee to the Sovereign God is a mistake. An even greater mistake is turning from faith due to anger at God for allowing the disaster.