So, going back to the beginning of His answer, we see that the Lord starts by:
1. Warning them to beware of the deception of false Christs who will deceive many people (24:4-5).
2. And then, telling them there will be wars throughout the coming years, but that is NOT the sign that they should be looking for (24:6-7a).
3. AND THEN, He speaks about
"The Big Three"
signs (my terminology) of FAMINES, PESTILENCES, and EARTHQUAKES. This part is still in His initial statements where He is talking about events of the Church Age! However, remember that most signs (especially those pointing to the Tribulation) don't just happen in one day. They develop over a period of years and culminate during the Tribulation. A couple of examples of this would be the last days One-World Government and One-World Religion which are both developing NOW, but will find their ultimate, complete fulfillment under the Antichrist during the Tribulation.
THE BIG THREE
There are at least four things to notice in His reference to these three signs:
1. He is answering the disciples' second question about what would be the sign of His coming.
2. He speaks of these three signs in the PLURAL, indicating that there will not be just one, but (perhaps) many occurences of these three signs.
3. He says that they will happen "in divers places". The word "divers" in this context means "in succession; going from place to place"
4. He says that they will be the beginning of sorrows.
The word translated as "sorrows" means "labor pains". That is, in just the same way that a pregnant woman goes into labor at the end of her pregnancy and she knows that the time of the child's birth is near, the occurence of The Big Three will similarly happen at the end of the age in the years prior to His coming and will indicate that the time of His coming is near.
Also, just as labor pains start suddenly and steadily increase in
intensity and frequency, these declarative signs will begin suddenly and will thereafter increase in strength and frequency right up until the Lord's coming.
I don't have space here to discuss how famines and earthquakes have begun to increase in intensity and frequency in recent years. However, with the Coronavirus Pandemic that's going on, the "pestilences" sign is very relevant.
The Greek word translated as "pestilences" means literally "widespread diseases". Therefore, the Coronavirus Pandemic certainly qualifies as a PESTILENCE.
But, pandemic diseases (as well as famines and earthquakes) have occurred throughout the centuries of the Church Age. What makes this outbreak of the Coronavirus any different than the pandemics of the past?
Well, think of a woman's pregnancy. She has "contraction" pains and possibly "false labor" pains during the months of her pregnancy that are NOT the real labor pains, but they are preparing her body for the REAL Labor. In the same way, the many occurences of The Big Three in the centuries past were NOT the real labor, but they were preparing the world through small samples (relatively speaking) for the eventual REAL LABOR PAIN SIGNS.
THE BIG QUESTION
So, the big question is:
IS THIS CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC JUST ANOTHER "CONTRACTION PAIN" SIGN SIMILAR TO WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR THE LAST 2000 YEARS? OR, IS IT A REAL "LABOR PAIN" SIGN?
This outbreak of the Coronavirus is not the first one of its kind. It's actually the third one. You see, Coronavirus is actually a TYPE of disease that affects the respiratory system known as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). It first appeared in humans in 2002 and was called SARS. The second outbreak happened in 2012 and was called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) because that's where it originated.
Initially, the 2019 outbreak was called SARS-CoV-2. Isn't it interesting that that name was never used in the media, but that the most common name for it this time is simply the generic name CORONAVIRUS? Could there be some significance to this name?
The word "corona" can refer to an outer ring of light seen around the sun.
(2) OR, it can be suggestive of a CROWN
(3) as in a kingly crown or THE TOP OF SOMETHING (as in the crown of your head). Could this be an indication that this particular disease is "above" all the rest... that it is unlike the other pandemics that preceded it? Is it just possible that it is not a "contraction pain" sign, but that it's a real "labor pain" sign? And, isn't it interesting that neither of the two previous Corona-type disease outbreaks were referred to a the Coronavirus?
Of course, there have been other pandemics throughout history, but this one has seemingly affected the whole world. It has truly spread "in succession from place to place" (divers places). And has there ever been a pandemic disease that has affected the national economies of so many countries around the globe?
So, my conclusion is that
this Coronavirus Pandemic is truly a last days "labor pain" sign! And, if I am correct, then that means there will be more such "pains" in the coming months and years; that they will be even worse than this one; and that they will happen with increasing more frequency right up until the Second Coming of Christ!
I know this must sound awfully pessimistic... if you're not a Christian! But if you ARE a Christian, it should be exciting. As Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, "It's becoming gloriously dark!"
After Jesus mentioned The Big Three in Matthew 24:7, He said,
"All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows." (vs. 8) That is, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes will initiate the days of the labor pain signs.
Remember, the labor pains will start during the Church Age (in which we now live) and continue to build until they reach their climax right before the Second Coming.
In the description of the
"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in Rev. 6:3-8, which is a chronological description of the devastation on earth during the Tribulation, the third horseman describes the worldwide FAMINE in the last half of the seven years (Rev. 6:5-6). It is followed by fourth horseman which symbolizes the overwhelming famine,
disease, and death in those final days of the Tribulation. The worst pains are right before the birth!
Likewise, the last of the 21 judgments that God pours out on the planet just before the Lord comes will be
"a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." (Rev. 16:18). That won't be just another run-of-the-mill earthquake. It will be the MOTHER of all earthquakes... and it will happen just before the Second Coming of Christ.
If we truly have entered into "the BEGINNING of sorrows", then as I said, if you are a Christian, you can be very excited! Because Luke recorded that Jesus said,
"And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28)