The Beginning of Sorrows
by Dr. Michael Cochran
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“For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24: 5-8, NKJV).
The intensity of the occurrences of these events prophesied by Jesus about the end times suggests that we are living exactly in the time He spoke of as the “beginning of sorrows.”
In this study I will examine the term 'beginning of sorrows' for descriptive purposes rather than from a prophetic timeline. First, the word used for sorrows in this passage is the word for travail. This is the word used to describe the pains and agonies of birth. Jesus uses this laboring word to point to a certain transition period in history when His Kingdom will be fully birthed into this world.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:22, NKJV).
The apostle Paul used a related word describing how the earth is yearning and travailing for the day that the Lord Jesus Christ returns as King, with the hosts that will be with Him at His appearing. Paul said, when that takes place. The yearning of creation will be fulfilled. So, we find the expression of the throes of agony preceding the rulership of Jesus Christ on this earth in the teaching of both Jesus and Paul.
For if we are part of God's creation, and we are, and by our travailing and longing for His return we could shorten the time before His appearing. The true church would say, “Come on Jesus!” However, there doesn't seem to be any scriptural evidence to indicate that we can “hasten His coming,” through the prayer of travail and change the return date of Jesus. But, let us remember that the Scriptures says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, NKJV).
Even though we cannot affect the time of of Jesus' coming, through travailing prayer. We do have reason to believe in the possibility of a “new world” born in people's hearts and lives---now---in families, in churches and even in the flow of history being written around us. The entry of God's Kingdom, His will and working, can be birthed into the midst of any human situation---not in the sense of His millennial rule but in the sense of His present, redemptive activity.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NKJV).
Jesus told His disciples, and He is telling us today, that the Kingdom of God is in us and 'In His Name,' there is no situation or any despair that can not be transformed by the life-begetting power of His kingdom and authority.
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8b, NKJV).
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