Matthew 24:8-9 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.” (NASB)
The word “then” in the Greek usually means “during the same time.” So, to paraphrase verse 9, “Then [during that same beginning period of verses 4-8, the Gospel age] they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations [peoples] for my name's sake.” Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution throughout the Gospel period. As Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, [and even kill you,] on account of me.” Matthew 5:11.These woes are like birth pangs. Birth pangs of what? The pains which lead to the birth of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
Since Jesus’ first advent, we have had the Dark Ages, the Crusades in which “Christians” killed in the name of Christ, the Inquisition, and mass slaughters in religious wars. Satan knows that his time to deceive mankind is limited, so as the time for the birth of God’s Kingdom gets closer, he tries harder to make our lives miserable. Just like human birth pangs, the birth pangs of trouble are coming faster and faster. Now thinking people are asking, why is God letting this happen?
From what we know about the shooting in Texas, the shooter was angry at certain members of the church, who were not even there that day. The man was mentally ill. On the one hand, what he did is one more example of God’s general permission of evil— allowing people to do evil things without intervening in each instance. On the other hand, this surely is a birth pang of the trouble closing out this age. These troubles are increasing at a fast pace – just as the Lord prophesied.
What has been the response to this horror?
To be certain, millions are grieving and praying. We certainly add our heartfelt, Amen.
However, will keeping the violent from purchasing weapons end mass shootings? Or will having more weapons in civilians’ hands squelch the violence? Neither of these will work. But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. These birth pangs are leading to the one solution that will bring peace and healing — the kingdom of Christ on earth.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…(to) be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom…of the children of God…(all have) been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Romans 8:19-22 ESV (italics added).