“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matt 24:6–8)
“He said, ‘Watch out that you are not misled. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them! And when you hear of wars and rebellions, do not be afraid. For these things must happen first, but the end will not come at once. Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and famines and plagues [loimoi]* in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven.’” (Luke 21:8–11)
If it is, then it is exciting, because that means that Jesus’s return is even sooner! But it is also sober because much of the American Church, in particular, is utterly unprepared, ignorant, and distracted.
The events in bold may be occurring at this time with some qualification. The recent locust storm causing some famine in Africa may meet this prediction but it may suggest a broader geographical famine. If the recent global virus is identified with “plagues” (loimoi), it might qualify, but I think the biblical statement indicates an exponentially more devastating plague. There certainly is a spike of earthquakes but not frequent “great earthquakes.” If these are all part of the beginning of “the beginning of the birth pangs,” then we should expect two more events: a spate of wars and a spate of false christs emerging.
Until then, I don’t believe we are experiencing the beginning of the beginning of birth pangs. Keep in mind that the beginning of birth-pang events will not unfold piecemeal but rather will be a cluster of these events that will occur at the same time, which only makes sense of Jesus’s admonition: “Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come.” In addition, I am inclined to believe the beginning of birth pangs (which I identify as the first three seals) will occur during the first half of the seventieth week of Daniel after the Beast will confirm a covenant for seven years (Dan 9:27). However, I have never been dogmatic on this, since the beginning of birth pangs may begin before the seven year period.
In the meantime, as saints of the Most High, we live with holy expectation for our Lord, and we should continue to love others and seek daily God’s will and wisdom in all things, including warning the lost that Jesus is coming back soon.
“Remember, I have told you ahead of time” (Matt 24:25).
* “a widespread contagious disease, often associated with divine retribution—‘plague, pestilence” (Louw and Nida, Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains”).