As a man, I find it hard to imagine what labor is like. I can only tell you what I observed my wife go through when my daughter was “born”. Actually, she was a C-section, so even what I witnessed probably isn’t representative of what women go through during the birthing process. I can only write about what I’ve been told about it and seen.
After it’s all said and done, though, it is fulfilling and rewarding to have children. Otherwise, no one would have any, right? Yes, there is great pain involved, but the rewards are far greater.
But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
~ Mt 24:8 (NASB)
As a man, that is exactly how I always interpreted the above verse. The tribulations and the Great Tribulation are terrible things that the world must endure, but it will be worth it in the end (cf. Ro 8:28). And, after all, being “born again” as spirit beings brings it all full circle. The analogy of the birthing process is actually more than just an analogy.
Yet, I must confess, that as a man, I still didn’t get it. Maybe someone told me before, and I just forgot. Maybe I just didn’t understand because I was too young. I probably just didn’t understand because I am a man.
You know, you read the Olivet Prophecy in Matthew 24, you read about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and many skeptics will just say, “There have always been wars. There have always been famines. What’s so special about stating these things?”
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
~ 2Pe 3:1-4
People will be taken by surprise (Mt 25:13; Rev 3:3; etc.). They will be carrying on their lives as they always have, and events will overtake them just like the Flood did during the days of Noah (Mt 24:38; Lk 17:26-27). Basically, they all will be of the opinion that these things have always been this way, and they will be continuing the live they way they always have instead of looking to God and changing.
Yes, I understood that, but how incomplete my knowledge really was. However, just reading over these things tells me that many won’t understand, and that is part of the problem.
We know, for example, that the 1st horseman is false religion. We saw how in the 2nd and 3rd centuries a false church sprang up to supplant the true Christian Church that Jesus planted. It rose in prominence and persecuted many. Then, there was a revolt of sorts, a “protest”, which broke away and then began to persecute others as well. We know in the end times, there will be yet another religious figure that will arise and persecute others. This false religion caused many wars, which in turn caused famines and disease. These things came in waves.
No, even that knowledge didn’t really cause the full truth of it to sink in.
Jesus’ disciples had asked him about the sign of His coming and the end of the world, or the end of the age. He spoke about religious deception, wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. These trends reveal, in sequence, the meaning of the four horsemen of Revelation 6, who, toward the end of this age, intensify their dangerous ride. Jesus declares: “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).
~ Richard Ames, “The Middle East in Prophecy”, (bolded emphasis mine)
Yet, as I ponder how the horsemen “intensify” their ride, I visualize the horsemen kicking the sides of the horses to go faster. Yet, is it only the speed that intensifies? It’s been almost 2,000 years since the Book of Revelation was written. Have the horsemen ever stopped to rest? If so, have they ever resumed?
You see, as a man, I still didn’t get it. I was watching video 3, “Discover: How Near is the End?”, of the Prophecy Seminar series by SDA David Asscherick, and he brought up something I never really thought about before.
“Birth pangs.” That’s exactly right. That’s what the Greek word is. Just as the RSV says here, “All of this is the beginning of birth pangs.” In other words: “contractions”, ladies. That’s the Greek word that Jesus is here employing. He was probably speaking in Aramaic, of course, but – but– here Jesus says, “All of this” – you say “All of what?” – we’ll get there in just a moment – He uses the analogy of contractions.
p style=”margin-left: 36pt;”>~ David Asscherick, around 26:16
Asscherick then makes the point that the analogies of the fig tree and labor pains are visible, progressive and climatic. When you think about labor pains, though, not only are they progressive and climactic, but they also come in waves. A fig tree is pretty much progressive on a more or less steady rate, but labor pains have peaks and valleys. The peaks then “intensify” as Richard Ames said. They intensify until they come to a climactic moment and have an end result. Not only that, but they come closer together.
War used to take time. The population was smaller, so when people died, it took longer to replace them. The weapons were cruder, so they weren’t quite as effective at killing, which provided a counterbalance. Making the weapons took longer as well. As man “progressed”, it took less effort to kill and to create weapons that could kill. If it weren’t for the parallel progress in medicine and agriculture so that more people could live and live longer, then we would have killed each other off long ago. As a result, wars happen more frequently. World wars finally become possible. “Global terrorism” becomes possible.
Birth pangs come closer together as time moves forward. The intensity grows on succeeding waves. Wars, and the resulting famines and pestilences, seem to have a similar pattern. I think I might finally “get it”.