I think it’s a useful idea, given current events, to examine the biblical “birthpangs” or the “beginning of sorrows”. We might actually be moving into that time of history, or indeed have been there for quite a while already. Let’s see.
As you may know, my domain name for my research website is “birthpangs.org” and I named it that for a reason. When I felt the Lord moving me on from the research side of my ministry (Banner Ministries, founded in the mid 1980’s) I left that research on my older website (banner.org.uk) and created a different website for the new work.
I felt that the time had come (after the year 2000) to look more at the growing signs of the End of Days, rather than purely at the false teaching in the churches.
The word “birthpangs” is how the bible translated the “sorrows” of a woman in childbirth, as described in Matthew 24:8. The Lord Jesus spoke of what would happen on earth, what conditions would be like, just prior to his return.
The first part of his message Jesus described as the “beginning of sorrows [birthpangs]“.
As we know from human birth, once the first signs of the birth begin, there is no going back, but the path to greater trial and pain is before us, until the baby is actually born.
The Woman Gives Birth
It could be said that we see this described with the Woman seen in Revelation Chapter 12 who is crying out in tribulation (pains of childbirth) in the process of bringing about the birth of the baby who would ultimately form the new rulership of the world, under the direction of King Jesus.
The tribulation she endures is that described by Jesus as befalling the earth and the saints just prior to his return. (Matthew 24:21).
This “baby” is immediately “caught up” [Gk. harpazo] to Heaven so as to escape the Dragon’s rage, and his subsequent three and a half year regime of warfare and deception on earth.
Do we see here a description of the Rapture? (That is, not just the baby himself but a simultaneous event for all believers.) The book of Revelation does not use the word Rapture anywhere, nor does it specifically describe that event, but the words “caught up” mean exactly the same thing as Paul described in Thessalonians when he spoke of the rapture.
The Greek word for “caught up” in Revl 12:5 is “herpasthe” – “was caught up” and this occurs in a number of other passages. For instance 2 Corinthians 12:4 where someone was “caught up” into Paradise. Also 1 Thess 4:17: Then we who are alive, who remain behind, will be caught up (harpagesometha) in the clouds…”
These are different tenses of the same basic word – HARPAZO, what we call the Rapture.
Please see the following page where bible verses using this word (Harpazo) in various tenses are listed, including the Revelation one. The word means to snatch up, seize and take away.
Are The Seals Opening?
Some years ago [probably over 20 years ago, when I could not have known most of the events I subsequently listed as they occurred] I wrote a long study on the opening of the seals of the scroll seen by John in Revelation.
I don’t claim to have seen clearly all that the bible shows us, but I wrote of the general nature of each seal starting with the appearance in the 1990’s of the Spirit of Dominion.
NOTE: Please be aware that I am not being dogmatic about this theory, but merely looking at scripture in light of current history, and making some conclusions that may or may not be warranted. I am open to correction from the Lord, but I still think it is worth exploring these thoughts.
A Heavenly Mission
We need to understand that the Four Horsemen of Revelation are directed by God, as His permitted preparations for his coming, and that each rider is a spiritual type (or even an allegory, an event seen in vision form) not a human being. They are described in the Old Testament as God’s “four severe judgements”.
(NB. Before you ask, I do spell judgement that way because I’m British.)
Ezekiel 14:21: For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!
The horses are also seen in the Old Testament and are described by an angel in Zechariah Chapter 1:8-11 as having been commissioned by God: “These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.”
They are said, in Revelation 6:8 to have jurisdiction over “a fourth of the earth” “to kill with sword, hunger, death and the beasts of the earth”.
We might today say that a virus is one of the beasts of the earth; but also false teachers are likened to wild beasts [Matt 7:15, Acts 20:29, and 2Peter 2:12 for example] and these false teachers were mentioned by Jesus as one of the most prominent signs of the birthpangs.
By the Way
Those who claim that the first rider, on the white horse, is either the Antichrist in person, or even Jesus Christ himself I believe are mistaken!
The white horse rider may very well bring an antichristian delusion, but he is not himself the Antichrist. That person will arise later on in the scheme of things.
The Sealed Scroll
We see in Revelation that ONLY Jesus, the Victor over the Devil and the rightful coming KING over the earth is qualified to open the scroll sealed with seven seals.
It is also important to realise that the scroll cannot be read and acted upon until ALL seven seals have been opened. Even though the shaking begins, it does not lead to the conclusion of these matters until after Seal Seven (which is in fact seven warning blasts of the trumpets.)
This is not a guess, because it is plainly stated in Revelation 10:7 and 11:15 that only AFTER the opening of the Seventh Seal, and the events that follow its opening, is full ownership of the earth recovered and given to the rightful owner, Jesus Christ (and his children.)
However, before that time (in fact at, or shortly after, the sixth seal has been opened) we do see the “great multitude of all nations” in heaven who are the ones that “came out of the great tribulation” [Revl 7:9 and compare Matt 24:21] and we also see the Jewish Remnant sealed so as to escape the events to come.
Likewise this tribulation results in the Woman giving birth to her “baby” (Revelation 12) who is immediately “caught up” to Heaven as previously discussed. That event kicks off the three and a half year reign of the Beast, the Dragon, and the False Prophet on earth. The wrath of God has begun (Revl 6:16-17).
Question: why is it possible ONLY at this moment for the angels of God to make war against the Dragon [Revl 12:7] – after all the thousands of years since Satan fell?
I would contend that two things occur only at that point that change the course of destiny, and provide the right to dethrone Satan:
(1) the seventh seal has been opened and the scroll of the earth’s ownership has been provided to Jesus and
(2) the people of God, the Remnant, have been taken home to God and the “baby” manchild who is destined to rule the earth has legally replaced Satan and his fallen angels.
The Dragon could not legally be thrown out of the heavenlies until these things took place.
The Opening of the Scroll
Each seal, on being opened, opens a doorway for the stated judgement to arise – afterwards growing in intensity and claiming more of the world as it proceeds.
For instance, few noticed the coming of the dominion spirit in 1993/4 as it descended amongst those gathered in the Toronto Airport church. Since then, that spirit has (as we know) infected so much of the Church worldwide that hardly anyone today can be unaware of its false doctrines and new-age manifestations. (Read my article for more detail.)
Seven years after the Seal One event, in September 2001, we witnessed the loosing of a terrible warlike entity (bringing about the 9/11 attack) that has since spread terrorism and death worldwide and is currently moving into Ukraine with deadly force. Will a World War come from this? Nobody yet knows. Its mission is to “take peace from the earth” and we can all see that happening right now.
Seven years later again, in 2008, we saw the first major sign of the economic hardship that we are experiencing more fully today (and I suspect will feel more keenly as the days and years pass.) At that time, mankind’s foolishness caused a complete banking crash from which the markets never fully recovered.
The article below says that “The Great Recession that followed cost many their jobs, their savings, or their homes.”
Seal Three spoke of famine and severe food shortages. This is beginning to happen, and may well grow worse as time passes. Economy and the production and sale of food (and other products) are of course closely linked.
Now we have been told that the agricultural products from Russia and Ukraine are in jeopardy, leading to a shortage of grain and cooking oil worldwide. Agricultural fertilisers have also been hard hit.
Seven years again from the Third Seal, in 2015, hidden from view (but known to God) a small group of scientists in Wuhan, China, obtained samples of bats in order to develop a unique virus that we now know as Coronavirus. These experiments, like many of mankind’s foolish ideas, turned out have deadly repercussions, as not many years later, either by design or accident, the virus escaped the Lab and became a worldwide pandemic.
Who could disagree that the world is in the grip of a major pandemic? It has killed more than six million already and could go on to kill many more, especially if stronger and more transmissible variations arise.
However, a careful reading of the passage describing Seal Four shows us that it actually contains a recurrence and exacerbation of the first three seals also. That is, warfare, falsehood, economic woes and death in various forms are all permitted to grow in intensity, leading up to the climax to come.
Compare the Words of Jesus
The birthpangs as summarised by the Lord Himself bear a striking resemblance to those of John in Revelation. Jesus mentioned:
- false christs/false prophets, deception
- wars and rumours of wars
- natural disasters such as earthquakes
- religious persecution
- great tribulation and shaking
- his coming in the sky
Comparing this alongside the opening of the seals, we see a huge overlap of events, especially if the “tribulation shaking” is what happens in Seal Six. And of course the Rapture between that and the final Seal (seven). (Compare Matthew 24:29-31)
Seven Year Gaps?
I had not noticed or realised, when I wrote my original study, that between the opening of the seals there was a gap of seven years each time.
IF this sequence of seven year gaps between the opening of each seal continues (which is by no means certain, but has held true up to now) then in 2022 we are in the 7th year since Seal Four!!
Seal Five does not describe an earthly event at all, but merely reviews the martyrdom of the past centuries and predicts a great time of persecution to come. This indeed is reflected in what the Lord says in his own rundown of events.
Matt 24: 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
What can we learn from these things?
As I said earlier, I do not intend to be dictatorial and insistent that what I have written can be the only way to understand Revelation or the Seven Seals. I am feeling my way forward, like everyone else, and when it comes to endtimes prophecies I don’t think anyone has the full story – that can only be revealed by the Lord when the “books are opened” and we NEED to hear from God more fully.
Until then, I hope to have sparked off some research and perhaps some new thoughts about these passages.
In particular, I want to encourage Christians to be more ready to face troubles, testings and persecutions as well as increased false teaching in the days to come.
Who knows what the war in Ukraine might lead to? What troubles may come – we do not know! We can only pray to be kept close to the heart of Jesus during these times, and pray for our ability to “endure”. As Jesus told us:
Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. [Matthew 24:12-14]
Thanks for the suggestion. I just bought the Kindle version of this book. You may know that on my birthpangs.org website I also took a look at the Book of Revelation in a similar way, aligning it with the Feast of Yom Kippur and other Jewish feasts. I’m looking forward to learning more about it from experts. (http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/biblical/theday-index.html)
I’ve been finding this book helpful Hebrew Insights from Revelation (Jewish Studies for Christians Book)