We ended last week talking of ‘birth pangs of Messiah’, which describes the final process of ‘labor pains’ the earth must go through before Messiah is ‘birthed’ into the world – His 2nd coming.
Understanding Matthew 24: 8-31
In His teaching of Matthew 24, remember Jesus was taught and believed all the Jewish things of the Feast of Trumpets I’m sharing here – this is ancient doctrine. He spoke of wars and famines and earthquakes on the earth, then said in v8-9: “All these are just the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to be afflicted, to be hated of all nations…”
To the Jewish ear, when Jesus used the term ‘birth pangs’, He shifted the focus of His teaching to address the last 7 years of the age, the time of wrath, the time of birth pangs in the earth for the coming of Messiah. Matthew was written for Jewish people and includes several ‘Messianic’ things throughout, just for the Jewish ear.
For instance, the term ‘Son of David’ which is a Jewish term for Messiah, is used 10 times in Matthew. In fact, chapter 1 verse 1 asserts Jesus is the Son of David, making that subject the topic throughout. (Used only 3x in Mark and 4x in Luke and 0x in John)
So when he quotes Jesus saying ‘These are just the start of birth pangs’, every Jewish person reading that in Matthew 24:8 knew Jesus was now talking about that final 7 year Time of Jacob’s Trouble, or 70th week of Daniel: The birth pangs of Messiah.
Fortunately, there will be millions who come to the Lord during the last 7 years. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists, the 2 witnesses, are all about showing Israel and the world the reality of Jesus as Messiah. Those who missed the rapture will also miss the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Remember from previous teachings about the Feast of Trumpets/rapture, the earth is divided in God’s mind into the 3 groups at this time – the righteous, the wicked, the intermediates. There will be believers in the earth at that time; Revelation 6: 9-11 shows martyrs before the Father asking how long until He take vengeance upon those who killed them.
But when Jesus used the term (the beginning of) ‘birth pangs’
To the Jewish mind it started a 7 year context in Jesus’ teaching. This would mean v8-14 is the first half of this time, for in v15 Jesus tells them that when they see the man of sin in the temple at the half way mark – It mentions reading Daniel 9 to understand), then get out of town for then will be ‘great tribulation’.
Daniel’s prophecy will happen as stated, which is at the 3.5 year mark the man of sin will defile the temple, and the remaining 3.5 years will be great tribulation. In fact, in v22 He said if those days aren’t shortened mankind would succeed in destroying itself.
In verses 29-31 He concludes that 7 year period by saying: “Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days the sun and moon will be darkened…and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven…and He will gather His elect from one end of HEAVEN to the other…” (not gathering His elect from earth, but from heaven)
It is of this teaching of the last 7 years that Jesus said in v33-34: “The generation that sees these things will not pass until all is fulfilled.” That understanding fits the Jewish teaching of the time, and of our NT. That at the end of the birth pangs of Messiah, He will appear to restore Israel to be the lead nation and establish the kingdom of God on earth, with Messiah as King.
A final thought in this segment:
The Feast of Trumpets is also called The Day of Remembrance or Yom HaZikkaron, by God in Leviticus 23: 24: “…it will be a sabbath, a memorial (Zikkaron) of blowing of trumpets, a holy appointment.”
In the Talmud and order of service for the day, it is taught the Feast of Trumpets or Day of Memorial (remembering) includes God bringing to His mind the deeds of mankind. It is taught many books are opened by God on that day, including the Book of Remembrance. (A reference is found in Malachi 3: 6)
The teaching is that when believers in Messiah are raised from the dead to join Messiah, they are also judged right then. (Rosh Hashanah 16b) This is not a heaven or hell judgement for what are known as the nobles of God, but rather an accounting of what we have done in our lives since knowing Him.
Paul writes of this several times, including I Corinthians 3: 3-15 where he says if we bring such things as envy, strife, divisions in our hearts to heaven, it will be burned away like wood, hay, and stubble, but we will be saved. He urges them to repent of strife and division and grow up in Christ, thus securing gold, silver, and precious stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ in their lives.
There is so much more, but next week I need to conclude the series with how the events of I & II Thessalonians describe exactly what we are talking about…until then, blessings,