There is an attempt to use the image of birth pains that occurs in various passages in order to equate the Time of Jacob’s distress of Jeremiah 30:4-7 with the Day of the Lord that is mentioned at Isaiah 13:6-9.

Jeremiah 30:4-7 refers to a SPECIFIC period of time that is characterized by extreme suffering, as a woman in child birth.
It occurs in a context of judgment (national discipline) and the promise of deliverance.
However, the passage goes BEYOND the immediate historical crisis of the Babylonian Captivity of Jeremiah’s time and looks to a SPECIFIC period of time in the distant future (the END-TIMES) that is characterized by “there is NONE like it.”

The passage also indicates that deliverance from this period of suffering will be through the coming of the promised Messiah.
It refers to the great tribulation, rather than to an extended period of time that starts with the Babylonian captivity. The LENGTHY periods of time where there is no SEVERE sufferings would disqualify this “time of Jacob’s distress” as referring to a time period relatively equal to “the times of the Gentiles.”


The image of birth pains is consistently used simply to indicate a very painful and stressful situation. It is not designed to be a sign post of any particular or specific period of suffering by a nation or by the world.

It is used at Isaiah 26:17-18 to describe the INTENSE pursuit for relationship with God on human terms.  It is a pursuit that is as laborious as a woman giving birth.
However, regardless of the intensity of the birth pains, they could only produce nothing.

We were pregnant, we writhed in labor: This is the intensity of human works in attempting to gain relationship with God.

We gave birth, as it were, only to wind: All human works are emptiness.
All our righteousness is as unclean rags. Isaiah 64:6.
We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth: Could not provide spiritual life.

Nor were inhabitants of the world born: No spiritual life reality; no relationship with God.
And therefore no RESURRECTION either.

Isaiah 66:6-8

Isaiah 66:6, "A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple, The voice of the LORD who is rendering recompense to His enemies.

This describes the destruction of the city and the temple in 70 AD. Yes, this has "near" application to the Jeremiah generation and the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, but the specific context that God gives to Isaiah here, makes it clear that he has in mind the Messiah generation. The TRAVAIL (verse 7) on the nation begins with the judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD, and will continue until -

(1) they seek God's face during the tribulation: Hosea 5:14-15.
(2) they say, "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," (Matthew 23:39).
(3) the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luke 21:24; Rom. 11:25).

But BEFORE that travail begins -

(1) the Messiah is born.
(2) the new priestly "nation" is formed.


"Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy."

The travail is the national judgment of 70 AD. The birth of a boy is the seed and the heir of Isaiah 65:9 - the Messiah.

This is also seen at Isaiah 7:14, as the virgin's Immanuel, and at Isaiah 9:6, "a child will be born to us and a son will be given to us."

Isaiah 66:8 - THE BIRTH OF THE NEW SPIRITUAL NATION (the church)

"Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?"

Now the focus is not on the birth of a PERSON, but of a nation.
The question is answered by the last sentence, "As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons."

This should be translated as, "For when Zion travailed . . ."
The construction, kiy . . . gan, in the Hebrew indicates a temporal clause that is better rendered as "when" than "as soon as." For in actuality, it was NOT "as soon as," but was "at the time" or WHEN, Zion was placed under discipline, which was the occasion for the birth of the new spiritual nation. And technically that judgment took place at the time that Jesus pronounced the indictment as recorded at Matthew 21:43 and 23:37-39, just a few days before the crucifixion.

Was there a "nation" born in one day because of the national judgment that was to come upon Israel? Yes there was. In 30 AD, on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem - a small group of about 120 people, were spiritually "grabbed" by God and placed into the body of Christ and became "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a protected people," (1 Peter 2:9), "for by one Spirit (they) were all baptized into one body," (1 Cor. 12:13), and became the "spiritual house for a holy priesthood," (1 Peter 2:5).

And the "her sons" who were brought forth refers to all believers from that time forward who are known as Christ's brethren (Heb. 2:11), and "the children whom God has given Him," (Hebrews 2:13), and "the rest of her (Israel's) offspring" (Rev. 12:17). That includes all people from 30 AD until the arrival of Jesus at His second coming.

"Shall I bring to the point of birth, and not give delivery?" says the LORD. Or shall I who gives delivery shut {the womb?}" says your God.

Now it gets tricky. What we have at verse 9, is a transition to national blessing for Israel, which has really been the subject all along. The image of a BIRTH, now changes from (1) the birth of the Messiah and (2) the birth of a nation, to (3) the birth of a kingdom.

At Jeremiah 4:31, the image is used to describe the people of Judah who are ravaged by the invasion of Babylon in 605-586 BCE.
”For I heard a cry of a woman in labor,
The anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
The cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
Stretching out her hands, saying,
Ah, woe is me, for I faint before murderers.”
This does not refer to the future tribulation, but to the invasion of Babylon.

Jeremiah 6:24  
We have heard the report of it; Our hands are limp.
Anguish has seized us, Pain as of a woman in childbirth.

This refers to the impending invasion of Babylon and has no application to the end-times.

Jeremiah 13:20-27  
“What will you say when He appoints over you —
And you yourself had taught them —
Former companions to be head over you?
Will not pangs take hold of you,
Like a woman in childbirth?

This also, refers to the invasion of Babylon.

Jeremiah 22:18-23  
“You who dwell in Lebanon, Nested in the cedars,
How you will groan when pangs come upon you
Pain like a woman in childbirth!

Again, the suffering that is anticipated through the Babylonian invasion.

Also at Micah 4:9-10, the image is used for the agony of Babylon’s invasion.
"Now, why do you cry out loudly? Is there no king among you,
Or has your counselor perished, That agony has gripped you like a woman in child birth?
"Writhe and labor to give birth, Daughter of Zion, Like a woman in child birth;
For now you will go out of the city, Dwell in the field, And go to Babylon.

Jeremiah 49:22-24
Verse 22, “and the hearts of the mighty men of Edom in that day will be like the heart of a woman in labor.”

This refers to the anguish that comes upon EDOM when Nebuchadnezzar attacks during the Babylonian invasion of Palestine in 604 BCE and after.

Verse 24, “Damascus has become helpless;
She has turned away to flee,
And panic has gripped her;
Distress and pangs have taken hold of her
Like a woman in childbirth.

This is still referring to the devastation that Nebuchadnezzar causes when he invades the Palestinian area in 604 BCE.
The anguish that the people feel in the face of national destruction.

Jeremiah 50:41-46  
Verse 43, “The king of Babylon has heard the report about them,
And his hands hang limp; Distress has gripped him,
Agony like a woman in childbirth.”

This is the distress that the king of Babylon feels when he learns of the ruin of his own kingdom.
It might have application to the Day of the Lord judgments.

But the IMAGE that is used for this king has NO CONNECTION to the day of the Lord for IDENTIFICATION purposes. It is simply the image that is used to communicate GREAT DISTRESS.

Hosea 13:12-16
Verse 13, “The pains of childbirth come upon him;
He is not a wise son,
For it is not the time that he should delay at the opening of the womb.”

This refers to the agony of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) in the face of national destruction as Assyria approaches in its invasion of 722 BCE and following.
It has possible application to the Day of the Lord judgments since in chapter 14:1-3, there is a plea for “return” and in 14:4-9, there is the promise of FUTURE blessing during the Messiah’s earthly kingdom.

Micah 4:9-13
Verse 9, “Now, why do you cry out loudly?
Is there no king among you,
Or has your counselor perished,
That agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth?

Verse 10a, “Writhe and labor to give birth, Daughter of Zion,
Like a woman in childbirth,
For now you will go out of the city,
Dwell in the field,
And go to Babylon.”

The image of pain is because of the impending national destruction at the hands of Babylon.
But it looks to THE BIRTH of deliverance that follows birth pains.

This is the national discipline on the Southern kingdom of Judah from 605 to 536 BCE. But they will be rescued. So the birth pains – though severe because of national discipline – will result in a BIRTH of future deliverance.

Verse 10b, “There you will be rescued;
There the LORD will redeem you
From the hand of your enemies.”

The deliverance will come in 536 BC through the kingdom of Persia.
Persia allows the Jews to return to the land and to live in relative peace and security under Persia’s rule and protection.

Verse 11, “And now many nations have been assembled against you
Who say, Let her be polluted, and let our eyes gloat over Zion.”

This advances the chronology through the period known as “the times of the Gentiles,” when “many nations” will fight over, control and oppress Israel “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24b).
It seems to take us to the Armageddon CAMPAIGN, when many nations will be surrounding Jerusalem in order to plunder it. (Zech 14:2). “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.”

But though these nations GLOAT and have relative control over “Zion,” they do not know that God has plans – plans to rescue Zion and plans to destroy the oppressing nations.

Verse 12, “But they do not know the thoughts of Yahweh,
and they do not understand His purpose;
For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.”

Zechariah 12:2, “Behold I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling in all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.

It is at this time that there will be the great BATTLE OF JERUSALEM, which occurs before the final confrontation at Armageddon.

Zechariah 12:4-9; 14:12-15.
The summary: Verse 14:14, “And Judah also will fight at Jerusalem.”
And verse 12:6, “In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem.”

Micah 4:13, “Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion,
For your horn I will make iron
And your hoofs I will make bronze,
That you may pulverize many peoples,
That you may devote to Yahweh their unjust gain
And their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.”

Zechariah 14:1, “Behold, a day is coming for Yahweh when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.” (Ezekiel 39:10).

After the success of this battle, the bulk of the nations’ armies will be assembled in the Valley of Megiddo, and it is there where Jesus confronts and destroys them, to effectively end “the times of the Gentiles.”

Romans 8:22, For we know that the whole creation groans
and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Here the image is used to express the sufferings of “the whole creation” as it exists under the curse. And yet the pain will be relieved through God’s resurrection plan and when the renovation of the universe occurs.
Verse 20-21, “For the creation was subjected to emptiness, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in expectation that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

At Matthew 24:8 (Mark 13:8) the image is used for “the beginning of birth pains” which does not refer to either the tribulation or the Day of the Lord.
It refers to the progress of historical events from 70 AD until the time that the great tribulation will begin at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week.

At 1 Thessalonians 5:3, the image is used for the suffering that will be encountered when the Day of the Lord begins after the second coming of Christ.

At Revelation 12:2, the image is used for the HISTORY of the nation of Israel in moving toward that time when IT, a woman of Israel, will give birth to the Messiah – but the birth pains refers to all the sufferings and persecutions and attacks by Satan to PREVENT the nation from birthing the Messiah.
Verse 4, and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth: The persecutions of Satan throughout the history of Israel.
”So that when she gave birth, he might devour her child.” This is the specific attack of Satan at the birth of Jesus.



Questions and comments are always welcome

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