Don’t Be Alarmed at the Early Birth Pains
It was the fall of 1973 and I was studying in the library at Dallas Seminary. Suddenly, a friend rushed in, “Mary needs you right away!” A few minutes later I was in the doctor’s office with Mary. Jonathan, our first born, wasn’t due until the middle of October. It was the first of September.
“I know it’s still several weeks early,” Dr. Taylor tried to calm things down, “but things look ready and I don’t want you all the way out there in Midlothian.” Some close friends offered us a room in their apartment closer to Baylor Hospital. Mary and I both soon learned what it means that these were only the beginning of birth pangs. After a week in Dallas, we went back home to our own bed. Jonathan waited all the way until October 17and we did make it on time to the hospital.
“And sitting on the Mt. of Olives opposite the Temple, Peter, James, john, and Andrew asked Jesus in private, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that all these things are about to be carried out?’
So Jesus began, ‘Be careful! Don’t be deceived! Many will come in my name saying, I am he, and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but it’s not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places and famines. These things are all--only the beginning of birth pains.” Mark 13:3-8
In AD 33, a few days before the crucifixion, Jesus’ inner circle of disciples had no idea the trauma and then the joy they would face in the events of the crucifixion and then the resurrection that inaugurated the beginning of a new day. The incredible thing is that Jesus not only prepared them for his crucifixion and resurrection, but he also started to prepare his disciples for the trauma they would face in a few days and for the threat his people would face more than thirty-four years later.
The messianic claims of Galilean Jewish leaders made the zealot party in Israel become dominant and in AD 67 they revolted against the Romans. Believers who trusted Jesus’ words resisted the false messianic claims and didn’t join the revolt. When the Romans lay siege to Jerusalem, they knew it was time to escape to the wilderness. Josephus describes how the legionaries overpowered the Jewish resistance seeking to preserve their temple as their throats were slit and the buildings went up in flames.
As we hear news about one crisis after another, we need to continue to hear Jesus saying, “Don’t be alarmed! These are only the beginning of the birth pains.”
LORD, thanks that your words not only protected before the siege of Jerusalem, they continue to smother destructive fear as we face crises today. And thanks that when all the fighting stops, the famines cease, and the earth stops quaking, you will set up your kingdom and there will be peace on earth.
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