We are watching the birth pangs of Messiah live on television, in the newspapers, and our local communities.
Our Master describes the birth pangs as wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and plagues in various places:
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matthew 24:7-8)
In the last months, we have had all of the above. We have wars in the Middle East; we have had earthquakes around the world and in North America and contention with a worldwide pandemic. The world seems to be on the edge of collapse. But when you see these things happening, lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing nigh. Keep watching the clouds for the Master and listening for the sound of his trumpet.
Speaking of trumpets, the angel atop the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City dropped his in a recent earthquake. The 5.7 earthquake struck Salt Lake City on March 18, right about the time that the world was going into lockdown under Coronavirus. Since then, there have been more than 700 aftershocks, and a 6.5 earthquake near Boise, Idaho (March 31). The initial quake damaged one of Utah’s most famous icons. Standing on top of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City is a golden statue of the angel Moroni, who the Mormons associate with the angel that proclaims the gospel throughout the earth:
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7)
The angel holds a trumpet to his lips as if sounding the trumpet of the LORD to announce the second coming of Jesus and “the hour of judgment.” The statue has been there since 1892, but the earthquake last March, just as we were beginning to “shelter at home,” shook the Mormon Temple so badly that the angel dropped his trumpet. The angel was left standing there, hand still raised as if to sound the trumpet, but it was empty.
How is that not a sign from heaven?
When I say that we are experiencing the birth pangs of the Messiah, I’m not making a joke or simply taking advantage of the current situation to churn up sensationalism. The term chevlei Mashiach, “the birth pangs of the Messiah,” appears in both rabbinic literature and the New Testament. The concept of the chevlei Mashiach is that the people of the earth will be convulsed by a time of tribulation and travail in the years leading up to the coming of the Messiah. There will signs in the heavens and on earth, strange and severe weather and natural disasters, social upheavals, and traumas. The book of Revelation offers one vision of how the birth pangs of Messiah might play out with plagues, pestilences, and tribulations like the plagues with which God smote the land of Egypt. This time it happens on a global scale, all leading up to the final redemption and the coming of the Messiah.
The Revelation of John depicts seven angels sounding seven trumpets and pouring out seven bowls to unleash these trials upon the earth. Famines, earthquakes, pestilence, and plague are unleashed. Kingdoms rise and fall. The economy is completely upended and placed under the direct control of the government. Rivers turn to blood. Locust plagues spread out upon the earth. Evil spirits like locusts are released to torment human beings. It’s a vivid and dramatic depiction of the birth pangs of Messiah and the end of days.
Is COVID-19 a Sign of the End Times?
Of course, it is. How could it not be?
Before you panic, remember that, according to the New Testament, the end times have been here for almost 2,000 years now. The birth pangs of the Messiah have been going on since the first century. As we draw near to the final act in the drama of redemption, however, we can anticipate an acceleration and intensification.
We don’t know how long this will last. Neither do we know how long we will need to remain hunkered down in our homes, maintaining safe social distancing, or how long until everything “goes back to normal.” We don’t know what is going to happen or what the world will look like tomorrow. We do know that everything is in God’s control. We should not allow fear or panic to disturb the peace that passes understanding that we feel deep within the core of our being.
The Coronavirus pandemic is certainly a sign from heaven. The earthquake and the trumpet are also signs from heaven. There have been many other serious signs from God in recent weeks. Just to keep up with the pace of things, this new series of blogs will explore the current scenario in which we find ourselves and compare the various events that are going on around the world with biblical prophecy.
All of these things are signs of Messiah’s birth pangs. What do the signs signify? They signify the same thing that signs from heaven always signify: that we should repent. The disciples of Yeshua and the people of Israel should lead the way in repentance because judgment begins with the household of God. The whole world also should repent, because the coming of the Master is near:
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:21-22)