The expectation of Christians who must live here in this present evil age.
Jesus used two images to communicate what things must happen before His
(1) beginning birth pains
(2) signs of summer
Concerning the church, Jesus taught what believers can expect to experience
during their lifetime here on earth. That is, the sufferings of this present
time, which of course, as Paul wrote, are not worthy to be compared with the
glory that will be revealed in us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus. Paul
taught the believers as he traveled from city to city, "it is necessary that
through many afflictions we shall enter the kingdom of God."
And then, concerning the world in general, Jesus pointed out the normal
social and environmental events that must occur in the days and years prior
to his second coming.
It was just a few days before Christ was crucified, the disciples were
admiring the beauty of the temple,
"Teacher, check out these wonderful stones and wonderful buildings!"
And Jesus without batting an eye, answered them. "Do you see these great
buildings? Truly I tell you, not one stone here shall be left upon another,
which will not be torn down."
Yes. He told them that the whole thing was going to be destroyed.
Later, as one of 4 questions, the disciples ask Him when will that happen.
The answer Jesus gave is recorded at Luke 21:12-24.
The four questions the disciples ask are:
1. When will these things be? Mt. 24:3; Mk. 13:4; Lk. 21:7
2. What will be the sign of these things? Lk. 21:7; Mk. 13:4 (when these
things will be fulfilled).
3. What will be the sign of your coming? Mt. 24:3
4. And the sign of the end of the age? Mt. 24:3
Mark seems to limit the questioning to Peter, James, John and Andrew (Mark
13:3), but surely they are simply the ones speaking in turn, as all the
disciples would be present.
Perhaps, once the first disciple spoke, the next one asked what was on his
mind. The result would seem like Jesus is suddenly “bombarded” with the
curiosity of the disciples, as they spoke in turn without waiting for an
answer to the first question.
I can imagine, just to speculate for fun:
P: When will these things happen?
JA: (Yes, and) What will be the sign of these things?
JO: (and for that matter) What will be the sign of your coming?
A: (Yes) And the sign of the end of the age?
The answers of Jesus, recorded for us in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21,
is known as the Olivet discourse.
In this teaching, Jesus gave us an outline for the history of the church
from its inception in 30 AD to the start of the time period known as THE END
OF THE AGE. That "end of the age" time period will begin with the arrival of
Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory and it will be
completed at the end of the Messiah’s 1000-year earthly kingdom.
That time period is also designated as the day of the Lord.
It is technically a transition period between THIS AGE, which is the age of
human history -
and THE AGE TO COME, which is the eternal age.
These two different time periods are seen at several places.
At Mark 10:30, the present age (time period) is characterized by various
normal life activities, and the age to come is characterized by everlasting
life experienced through a new resurrection body.
The faithful believer who sacrifices various details of life, "will receive
a hundred times as much now in this time (period), houses and brothers and
sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and IN
THE AGE TO COME, everlasting life."
At Eph. 1:21, Paul wrote, "This is according to the working of the strength
of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the
dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all
rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not
only in this age but also in the one to come."
Now - the 3 gospel accounts of the Olievet discourse are very tricky to
correlate and harmonize, but those details are not within the scope of this
BUT BASICALLY -
In the Olivet discourse, Jesus told the disciples what to expect during 3
specific time periods.
1. From that time until the actual fall of Jerusalem, which of course would
not happen until 40 years later.
2. From the fall of Jerusalem until the start of the tribulation. That is,
the general historical trends that will characterize human history until the
rise of the antichrist.
3. From the start of the tribulation until His second coming, which is the
event that begins the end of the age and the day of the Lord.
Jesus started by teaching about the general historical trends that He called
the beginning of birth pains.
They are the beginning of birth pains because they are the intermittent
pushes and shoves that lead up to the final birth of the child.
In this image, the birth of the child is the end of the age; that is, the
second coming of Jesus.
And the intermittent pushes and shoves are the general and normal historical
trends leading up to the end.
However, in regard to these beginning birth pains, Jesus said, don't be
disturbed about it for that is NOT YET the end. It is not yet time for the
birth of the child.
Before the birth, before the end, there must come the FINAL birth pains,
which of course, are much more intense.
Jesus prefaced His teaching about the birth pains with the warning not to be
deceived by false teachers and false Messiahs, nor by the nature and
severity of those historical trends.
There are basically, 3 categories of these trends.
(1) Verse 8, "And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will
come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after
False teachers and Messiahs attempting to distract the world away from the
truth of the gospel
(2) Military in nature: Verses 9-10, And when you hear of wars and revolts,
do not be alarmed; for these things must take place first, but that is not
yet the end.
Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom,
In other words, wars will intensity from local confrontations to
The third category is more natural in scope.
(3) V. 11, and in various places there will be massive earthquakes, plagues
and famines. But all these things are just the beginning of birth pains.
He clearly makes a point that these are the BEGINNING of birth pains and not
the final ones.
Now, history can be called as a witness that these things have been going on
for over 2000 years (and even before, for that matter). And the same things
are currently being experienced at various places all over the world.
But the words of Jesus still apply. "See to it that you are not disturbed,
for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end."
Now, there is another specific period of time that will take place BEFORE
the beginning birth pains.
Jesus tells them what to expect during the years leading up to the fall of
Luke 21:12, After stating that there will be beginning birth pains, Jesus
said, "But BEFORE all these things."
That is, BEFORE the beginning birth pains.
The beginning birth pains is the period of time that will begin AFTER the
fall of Jerusalem.
So in Luke 21:12-24, Jesus explains what the disciples can expect during the
time leading up to the destruction of the temple and city. And He does this
without giving any kind of time for that destruction to occur.
But at v. 25 of Luke's account of Christ's teachings, Luke jumps from the
fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and skips through the many years of the
beginning birth pains, and even skips over the rise of the antichrist, and
jumps right to the cosmic signs that will announce Christ's second coming.
Luke 21:25-26, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on
the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea
and the waves, 26 people fainting from fear and the expectation of the
things that are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great
But it is Matthew and Mark who record the end of the beginning birth pains
and the advance into the final and more intense birth pains of the great
tribulation. Mat. 24:9-28.
It is the rise of the antichrist and the abomination event that will
initiate the final birth pains that will lead to the end of the age and the
second coming of Jesus.
Mat. 24:9, begins with the word, then. The word is tote in the Greek.
This is a very clear chronological advance FROM the beginning birth pains to
then, they will deliver you up to tribulation.
I really need to point out the correct translation here. The KJV reads,
"then they will deliver you up to be afflicted."
But in the Greek the issue of affliction is a noun. It is the noun thlipsis,
which means affliction of tribulation.
It should be translated, then they will deliver you up to tribulation.
This indicates that the disciples will come under a specific onslaught of
However, the disciples are addressed, basically as representatives of the
church as a whole.
Jesus is saying that there will be a future generation of the church that
will come under a unique and severe period of persecution, that is called
This tribulation will begin with the abomination event prophesied by Daniel.
And in Mat. 24:9-14 Jesus describes the nature of the tribulation and the
persecution that will come from those who hate Him.
“Then they will hand you over to
tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My
at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate
one another. And
many false prophets will rise up and mislead
many people. And
because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold. But
the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. This gospel
of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all
the nations, and then the end will come.
There is then, a
specific generation of the church that will experience the great
Now although Christians would experience many degrees of persecution from
the time after the resurrection of Jesus, here He mentions the SPECIFIC
persecution that will come in connection with the rise of the antichrist.
Of course, He does not mention that directly, but refers to it by mentioning
the prophecy of Daniel.
At Mat. 24:15, Jesus said, THEREFORE, when you see the abomination, know
that this will trigger the tribulation.
The use of the word, therefore, indicates how the believers will know WHEN
this specific time of tribulation will begin.
It will be after the abomination event spoken of by Daniel.
After that abomination event, which is the rise of the antichrist and His
physical and spiritual conquering of Jerusalem,
believers in Jesus the Messiah will come under the persecution of the
So, Jesus told us to go back to the book of Daniel.
Dan. 7:25, "he will speak against the Most High and wear down the saints of
the Highest One - the Messiah."
And at Dan. 12:1, "and there will be a time of distress such as never
occurred since their was a nation until that time."
Jesus and Daniel described it in general, but it is given to John to reveal
to us the specific nature of this great tribulation.
At Rev. 13 we learn that it was given to the antichrist to make war with the
And his helper, the false prophet will kill any who will not take the mark
of the beast and worship the image of the beast.
And no one will be able to engage in normal economic activity unless they
take the mark of the beast.
This means that Christians will truly have to live in an "underground"
environment, barely surviving for the lack of basic food and other
Families should be protected if possible. But single Christians have the
choice, and let me suggest, the duty, to stand up for Christ and proclaim
the gospel at every opportunity.
Survival skills and equipment should be a part of every family's resources.
Not just in view of the future tribulation, should it come in our lifetime,
but also in case of any disaster scenario such as wars, earthquakes,
plagues, tornados, etc. - any of those beginning birth pain troubles.
But of course, the big difference between the tribulation and these various
disasters is that in these various disasters, there won't be people running
around trying to take your head.
However, they might be trying to take your resources. How the believer deals
with those issues is a whole 'nother issue.
The second image that Jesus used to teach about His second coming was the
signs of summer; the leaves on the trees. Luke 21:29-32 with Mat. 24
And He told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees: as soon
as they put forth leaves, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now
near. So you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the
Son of Man is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away
until all these things take place.
The things that will be seen must refer to the events that have a specific
It can't refer to the beginning birth pains, because they are the general
historical trends that will occur for many years, and in fact, to date, have
gone on for 2000 years. It must refer to the specific event mentioned at Mat
24:15, the abomination event, and the tribulation that follows it. And
according to Mat. 24:29-31, it is then AFTER the tribulation is brought to
an end, that is, cut short by the decree of God the Father, that the cosmic
signs will announce the arrival of the day of the Lord, and Jesus will
return in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory at an unknown day
and hour. And it is at that time that the rapture will occur. That is, the
angels will gather together CHRIST'S elect out from the farthest end of the
earth unto the farthest end of the sky, for a meeting with the Lord in the
Therefore as we are exhorted throughout the pages of the New Testament and
summarized by Peter,
we should strive to maintain moral and spiritual conduct, looking for and
promoting the Day of God.
And as stated by John, we should maintain our fellowship with Jesus, so that
when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in Shame
at His appearance.