But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matthew 24:8 NASB)
When will Christ return? This question has been pondered much through the generations. The imminence of His coming provides the backdrop for everything the Christian does. Christ has not revealed exactly when He will come, but He has told us signs to watch for. The time of His coming is unclear; the fact of His coming is certain.
Jesus said that certain events would signal the nearness of His coming: There will be wars and rumors of wars; there will be famines and earthquakes; Christians will suffer persecution for the sake of Christ; false prophets will come and teach heresy, leading many astray; lawlessness will abound as people do what is right in their own eyes; the authorities will be unable to control crime. Because of lawlessness, people will become cynical and fearful, and their love for others will grow cold (Matt. 24:6–12).
Jesus said that the signs of the end times will be like birth pangs. The pain of childbirth increases in frequency, and it increases in intensity. Jesus said that the presence of war or famine or false teachers does not mean that His coming is upon us. These things, He said, are merely the beginning. He said that the frequency of wars, earthquakes, and crime will increase until finally Christ’s return brings everything to a finish. The intensity of wars and famines and other human crises will also escalate.
Our day has seen everything Jesus spoke of reach unprecedented proportions. If there were ever a time Christians should be alert to Jesus’ coming, it is today.