By John Henry
After the Lord Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to "the scribes and the Pharisees" pronouncing 8 woes upon them in Matthew chapter 23, the Lord "departed from the temple" (Matthew 24:1).
Then the Lord's "... disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1-2)
This was fulfilled in 70 AD, about 40 years after Jesus spoke these words, in accordance with Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-26). Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and the Hebrew people were murdered and sold as slaves throughout the Roman Empire.
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3)
The rest of Matthew 24 is Christ's answer to this question. The Lord gives several signs, but we will deal only with the first sign (singular) here. Jesus answered and said unto them:
"... Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:4-8)
Note that this is one sign with five components:
1. Many False Christ.
2. Wars and Rumours of Wars.
3. Famines in Various Places.
4. Pestilences in Various Places.
5. Earthquakes in Various Places.
Note too that this sign is called, "the beginning of sorrows." These "sorrows" are of the same kind recorded in Genesis 3:16 when God cursed Eve for the original human sin:
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
This is the key to the Lord's prophecy here: ALL five of these things: 1) false christs, 2) wars and rumours of wars, 3) famines, 4) pestilences, and 5) earthquakes will be increasing all at the same time during the last days. ALL five are increasing now, in our day.
I have been studying the prophetic "beginning of sorrows" for over 20 years now, and have seen that they are all increasing as a woman's pains when she is about to give birth.
The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied in His Word that just prior to His return for His own (Matthew 24:37-42) and the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-27) that the sorrows would be on the increase.
THE FIVE BIRTH SORROWS OF MATTHEW 24:
Following are a few facts and statistics showing that the five sorrows are in fact increasing:
1. FALSE CHRISTS: "... Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:4-5)
There were more people in the twentieth century calming to be Christ than ever before in history. "Since the year 1900, over 1,100 false christs have appeared on the scene. [False christs like Father Divine, Prophet Jones, Maharaj Ji, Sun Myung Moon, and] scores of lesser known, self-proclaimed messiahs."  Today many sects of the New Age Movement teach their followers that all have the Christ spirit within, so there are now literally millions of false christs. According to the Word of God there is only one Christ:
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6) "... God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." (Romans 8:3) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 John 5:2-3) "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." (Colossians 1:2-22) "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18)
2. WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars .... For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom ..." (Matthew 24:6-7)
The frequency and intensity of wars has been increasing greatly since the early 20th Century! "It has been calculated by a former president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, aided by historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India, that since 3600 B.C., over 14,531 wars have been waged in which 3,640,000,000 people have been killed. ... [But since] World War II there have been at least 12 limited wars in the world, ... 74 rebellions for independence, and 162 social revolutions."  (These statistics are only up to 1981) It has been estimated that during the 7 years of World War II (1939 to 1945) that 54,800,000 people, both military and civilian, died as a result of that war world wide. From these figures it is easy to see that wars and revolts have greatly increased. For example, by using some simple math, we can see that over the past 5,596 years since 3600 B.C. an average of about 650,465 people die as a result of war per year. Whereas, during World War II alone an average of 7,828,571 people died per year. That is an increase of 7,178,106 deaths per year from from just one 20th century war! As far as numbers of wars over the past 5,596 years the average per year is: 2.59 per year; and the average for the past 50 years is 4.96 per year.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:2-4)
3. FAMINES: "... there shall be famines ... in divers places." (Matthew 24:7)
"Presently , 2,000,000,000 of the worlds inhabitants go to bed hungry each night. Thousands are dying painful deaths, while scores of others are too numb with hunger to realize what is happening. ... [A] billion [people] are malnourished."  About 350 years ago there were only about 500,000,000 people on the Earth; today that many are starving to death. "[The world] reached a billion [1,000,000,000] people around 1850. ... It took only 80 years or so for the next doubling ..."  In 1985 the population was four billion [4,000,000,000], in 2000 it was over six billion [6,000,000,000], and in March of 2012 we are expected to have seven billion [7,000,000,000] people alive on the Earth! Along with the increase in population comes an increase in famine! There are at least six reasons for famine: 1) the population explosion, 2) a natural after effect of war is famine, 3) big business and government taking the farm land out of the hands of the farmer, and regulating farm production, 4) insects that destroy about six billion dollars in crops each year, 5) God's curse on the Earth restricting growth (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20-22), and 6) deliberate efforts by New World Order elitists to reduce world population. God will do away with the NWO and lift The curse, and take care of all the other causes of famine after He judges the world for its sins. But before this, during the first half of the seven year Tribulation it will take a days wages just to buy a pint of grain. "A Greek measure for dry things [in New Testament times was] ... considered to be equal to a pint."  The Roman denarius or penny of the Bible "was a silver coin. ... [and it was] considered liberal pay for a days work of 12 hours."  It will take a days wages just to have enough to eat for one day.
"And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:5-8)
4. PESTILENCES: "... there shall be ... pestilences ... in divers places." (Matthew 24:7)
"Immediately after World War I, in the winter of 1918 - 19, a flu epidemic spread worldwide, killing 20,000,000 [twenty million] people . ... [This] was the first time in history such a plague covered the entire world. That may have marked the first of an ever increasing series of diseases ... [foretold] by Jesus."  Today diseases that were thought to be defeated are coming back. Cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, bubonic (black) plague, schistosomiasis [snail fever], malaria, and other diseases which had been pushed back and some even thought to have been eradicated are on the rebound. Some of the top killers are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and cirrhosis of the liver. However, there is a new killer now: HIV, the AIDS virus. This disease now eclipses all others. In only about 22 years AIDS became the #1 killer disease. It was first introduced into humans around 1970  and it became the #1 killer in 1992.  It's the most dangerous disease ever, to this point in history. There is no cure, it is 100% lethal. AIDS is not an epidemic, but the greatest pandemic ever known to man. Here are some liberal estimates from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), but in reality the cases are much higher than these: world wide there are 14,000,000 infected and awaiting death (9 million in Africa, 2 million in Asia, 1.5 million in South America, 1 million in North America, and .5 million elsewhere in the world).  These figures do not include the millions who have already died with AIDS. "W.H.O. estimate[d] ... [a] rise to 30 million - 40 million by the year 2000."  HIV victims are mostly homosexuals, drug abusers, and those who engage in sex outside of the marriage bond.
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." (Revelation 9:20-21)
"And the first [angel] went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. ... and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." (Revelation 16:2, 10-11)
5. EARTHQUAKES: "... there shall be ... earthquakes, in divers places." (Matthew 24:7)
The last "birth sorrow" in the inspired record of Matthew speaks of earthquakes which have definitely been increasing. Between the years 526 A.D. and 1896 there were only 31 known major earthquakes worldwide. Approximately 2,693,000 people died in that 1,370 year period from those 31 earthquakes. However, during the 20th century alone there have been over 56 major quakes in which well over 2,000,000 people have died. One might say that the detection and reporting of earthquakes has improved recently over those centuries of the past. Granted, this may be true, so let us look at the quakes from 1890 to 2009 that measured over 6 on the Richter scale to see if these have increased.
From 1890 to 1899 there was 1 quake.
From 1900 to 1909 there were 3.
From 1910 to 1919 there were 2.
From 1920 to 1929 there were 2.
From 1930 to 1939 there were 5.
From 1940 to 1949 there were 51.
From 1950 to 1959 there were 475.
From 1960 to 1969 there were 1,056.
From 1970 to 1979 there were 1,184. [12 a]
From 1980 to 1989 there were 1,085. [12 b]
From 1990 to 1999 there were 1,492. [12 c]
From 2000 to 2009 there were 1,611. [12 d]
The record shows an increase in seismic activity, and when quakes of over 5 on the Richter scale are added, it is even clearer. When 5.0 - 5.9 Richter quakes are factored in to the 90's and 00's above, the increase becomes even more dramatic:
From 1990 to 1999 there were 1,4801 [12 c]
From 2000 to 2009 there were 1,7209 [12 d]
And there is even more graphic proof for recent years:
Magnitude 2001 to 2005 2006 to 2010
8.0 to 9.9 5 8
7.0 to 7.9 66 72
6.0 to 6.9 669 783
5.0 to 5.9 6836 9374
4.0 to 4.9 49799 54268
57375 64505 [12 d]
Finally, for 2010 and 2011 the number of Quakes are as follows:
Magnitude 2010 2011
8.0 to 9.9 1 1
7.0 to 7.9 22 18
6.0 to 6.9 150 170
5.0 to 5.9 1983 2058
4.0 to 4.9 10383 11457
12529 13704 [12 d]
The key to the Lord's prophecy here is that ALL five things, false christs, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, must be increasing simultaneously in frequency and intensity. Other than that it is not a fulfillment. ALL are increasing in our day.
The prophetic sign of Birth Sorrows has been in effect for many years. It is strong evidence that we are living in the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ.
There are at least five other major prophetic signs now in effect that show nearness of Christ's "coming, and of the end of the world" as we know it (Matt 24:3). They are:
1. The reestablishment of the nation of Israel (Matthew 24:32-34).
2. The increase in knowledge and travel (Daniel 12:3).
3. Globalism, that is: 1) One World Government, 2) One World Religion, 3) One World Economic System (Revelation 13:1-18).
4. The Mark of the Besat (Matthew 24:15).
5. The increase in evil (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
But these are another story.
1. Jack Van Impe, 11:59 And Counting! (Jack Van Impe Ministries, Royal Oak, MI, 1983), p. 22.
2. H. L. Willmington, Signs of the Times (Tyndale House, Wheaton, Ill, 1981), pp. 18, 19.
3. Jack Van Impe, 11:59 And Counting!, pp. 25, 26.
4. H. L. Willmington, Signs of the Times, p. 26.
5. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1992), p. 1478.
6. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, p. 415.
7. J. R. Church, "Pestilence plagues the planet," Prophecy In The News, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 1987, p. 3.
8. Gene Antonio, The AIDS Cover-Up? (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 1987), p. 2.
9. 1995 Medical And Health Annual (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc, Chicago, Il, 1994), p. 216.
10. 1995 Medical And Health Annual, pp. 53, 215.
11. 1995 Medical And Health Annual, p. 53.
12. Earthquake statistics:
a. Stats up to the end of 1979 are from Prophecy In The News:
Vol. 9, No.1 (Jan. 89)
Vol. 14, No. 2 (Feb. 94)
Vol. 16, No. 6 (Jun. 96)
Vol. 16, No. 10 (Oct. 96)
b. Summary of earthquake stats from 1980 to 2009
c. USGS Worldwide Earthquake stats for 1990 to 1999
d. USGS Worldwide Earthquake stats for 2000 to 2011
Updated: 12 Nov. 2011