Olivet Discourse - The Beginning of Birth Pangs
from eParousia #10, November, 2003
disciples had just been told of the coming destruction of Jerusalem,
as prophesied by Christ in Matthew 24:2. Of course, they turned
their thoughts to the end of the age, and the promised return and
reign of the Messiah. A little while later, while sitting with Christ
on the Mount of Olives, Peter, James, John and Andrew approached
Jesus and asked Him, "Tell us, when will these things happen,
and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the
answer gives us the most detailed and specific account in the Word
of God concerning the events that will lead up to the return of
Christ. When we compare this account with passages from Daniel,
1 & 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter and the book of Revelation, we
can assemble a clear picture of what we are to expect as we await
the Coming of our Lord.
scholars have noticed a parallel between Jesus' teaching on the
Mount of Olives and the sequence of events as the seals of the scroll
in Revelation 6 are broken (see Schulyer English, Studies in
the Gospel According to Matthew, Arno C. Gaebelein, The
Gospel According to Matthew II, and Dwight Pentecost, Things
to Come). It makes sense that since Jesus is the author of
both the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation (see Rev. 1:1),
and that since both accounts deal with the coming of Christ, the
two accounts should parallel, define and clarify one other.
begins his reply to the disciples with a solemn warning: "See
to it that no one misleads you." Indeed, Scripture is full
of such warnings that we not be deceived concerning the return of
Christ. Paul warned the Thessalonian believers not to be misled
about the time of Christ's coming. He wrote, "Now we request
you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken
from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message
or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord
has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will
not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness
is revealed…" (2 Thess 2:1-3). The Book of Revelation
speaks of the deceiving power of the second Beast, also called the
False Prophet, when it says, "He performs great signs, so that
he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence
of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of
the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the
beast" (Rev. 13:13-14). And later in the Olivet Discourse Jesus
states, "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,'
or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false
prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as
to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matt 24:23-24). As
time runs out, Satan will pull out all the stops in his attempts
to deceive and mislead people so that they will believe the lie,
and not turn to the Truth. We can thank God that His elect will
not be misled.
this warning Jesus gives several definite signs in verses 5-7 that
will point to His soon return: false Christs, wars, famines and
earthquakes. As we compare these signs with the opening of the first
few seals of Revelation 6, we see a noticeable parallel:
For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and
will mislead many.
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and
I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a
voice of thunder, "Come."
I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it
had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering
and to conquer.
Seal - False Christs/Antichrist
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.
When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature
And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on
it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that
men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to
Seal - War
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature
saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse;
and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four
living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius,
and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage
the oil and the wine."
Seal - Famine
up these events, Jesus declares in verse 8, "But all these
things are merely the beginning of birth pangs."
a man, I have never experienced birth pangs (thank God!). However,
my wife sure has! And from our experience birth pangs increase in
intensity and frequency as delivery draws near. The beginning birth
pangs are relatively mild, but soon they intensify leading to the
time of hard labor. In the same way, these birth pangs of the end
times will build to the hard labor of the Great Tribulation.
we understand exactly what these signs refer to? Not exactly, but
we can draw some conclusions by looking at other Scriptures that
deal with the same time period.
know that at the beginning of Daniel‚s 70th Week the Antichrist
will make a covenant with "the many" (Dan. 9:27) for seven
years. This, we believe, represents the appearance of the Antichrist
as a world ruler at the first seal.
tells us that the Antichrist will consolidate his power in the world
by overpowering 3 future leaders from a 10-nation coalition (Dan.
for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and
another will arise after them, and he will be different from the
previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against
the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and
he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they
will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
verses tell of the "little horn" subduing three kings
prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This "subduing"
speaks of military conflict and will most likely take place during
the first half of the 70th Week of Daniel and corresponds to the
second seal of Revelation 6.
famine of the third seal could either be the natural famine that
often follows war, or could be a famine that is brought on by the
economic control of the Antichrist. We know from Revelation 13 that
no one without the mark of the beast will be able to buy or sell.
This economic control may well be underway during the first half
of Daniel‚s 70th Week, and would be useful for waging war.
During the second half of the Week, these economic controls will
be used to enforce beast worship.
of these "beginning birth pangs" are events that will
lead up to the "hard labor" of the Great Tribulation and
bring us ever closer to the Coming of Christ. Next month we will
continue in our study of Matthew 24, looking at the events that
will occur at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th Week.
article was originally published through eParousia,
Sola Scriptura's monthly end-times e-newsletter.