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What it Means Living at the Beginning of Sorrows. –


Living at the Beginning of Sorrows: An Examination of Matthew 24:4–8

Introduction

The Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus’ most profound teachings, encompasses many moral and spiritual guidelines. However, it also contains prophetic elements that outline the events leading to the end times.

In Matthew 24:4–8, Jesus describes a period known as the ‘beginning of sorrows,’ a precursor to the tribulation and the great tribulation. This period, often overlooked by both the church and the world, is not just a historical event but a crucial phase that sets the stage for the church’s role and response to the end times.

It’s important to note that these ‘beginning of sorrows’ have been observed throughout history, such as during the fall of the Roman Empire, the Black Death, and the World Wars, indicating their relevance and significance in different periods.

Understanding the Beginning of Sorrows

In Matthew 24:4–8, Jesus says:

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceives you. Many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ, and deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

These verses detail a period of deception, conflict, natural disasters, and widespread suffering. While these phenomena have been present throughout history, their intensification signals the onset of sorrows.

Characteristics of the Beginning of Sorrows

  1. Deception by False Christ
    • Jesus warns of many coming in His name, claiming to be the Christ. This deception is a significant hallmark of the beginning of sorrows. It involves the rise of false messiahs and the spreading of false teachings and ideologies that lead many astray. False denominations have increased at an alarming rate that is not of God, including false teachings like the prosperity gospel movement, which claims that Jesus came so that people could become wealthy, healthy, and happy, contrary to the fundamentals as written in the scriptures.
  2. Wars and Rumors of Wars
    • Conflict has been prevalent throughout history. Nations and kingdoms have risen against each other, indicating a time of global instability and warfare. These conflicts are not isolated incidents but part of a broader pattern of violence and aggression. Currently, the world is witnessing the wars between Russia and Ukraine, which Russia initiated without any provocation, signaling the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in the sermon on the Mount. There are rumors of a possible invasion of Taiwan by China, another milestone in the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in the sermon on the Mount. Iran recently launched missiles and drones into Israel in a direct attack for the first time in human history.
  3. Natural Disasters
    • The occurrence of famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places indicates environmental and ecological distress. These natural disasters cause physical devastation and contribute to widespread suffering and fear, which align with the concept of the “beginning of sorrows,” as mentioned in Matthew 24:4–8. From a biblical perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 resembled a severe pestilence, leading to millions of deaths worldwide and causing significant disruptions to daily life and societal norms.
  4. Social and Moral Decline
    • The warnings given by Jesus imply a decline in social and moral values. An increase in lawlessness, violence, and chaos reflects a society’s growing disengagement from moral values. LGBTQ people are more common than ever, influencing every aspect of society and every institution, and many Western countries now permit gay marriage. In the West, that is, in the Western Hemisphere, mainly in Europe and America, rainbow flags are flown from most buildings, but many churches lack the Cross of Christ.

The Current Relevance of the Beginning of Sorrows

Many observers note striking parallels between current events and the signs described by Jesus in contemporary times. The rise of authoritarian leaders, the spread of misinformation, the prevalence of conflict, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters all resonate with the characteristics of the ‘beginning of sorrows. ‘ This connection to current events engages the audience and underscores the relevance and immediacy of these prophetic teachings.

However, it is crucial to recognize that these events are not the end but are indicators that the world is moving towards a more tumultuous period. Jesus emphasizes, “The end is not yet,” underscoring that this time must run its course before the tribulation begins.

The Church’s Role During the Beginning of Sorrows

In this period, the church is essential. Instead of giving in to apathy or fear, believers are encouraged to:

  1. Be Alert and Perceptive at All Times
    • In Matthew 24, Jesus gives his first instruction: Be alert and do not follow false leads. For believers to distinguish truth from falsehood, they must remain rooted in scripture and sound doctrine.
  2. Promote Peace and Reconciliation
    • The church promotes peace and healing in conflict-affected communities, striving for justice in a world of constant discord.
  3. Provide Hope and Support
    • The church is responsible for offering hope and valuable support to those suffering from natural disasters, armed conflict, and adversity, including humanitarian aid, counseling, and spiritual encouragement.
  4. Proclaim the Gospel
    • Amidst the chaos, the church’s primary mission remains to proclaim the gospel. The message of salvation through Jesus Christ offers the ultimate hope and reassurance that transcend earthly troubles.

The Transition to the Tribulation

The tribulation period, which spans three and a half years of intense trial and persecution, begins with the beginning of sorrow. The tribulation is a time of intensified suffering and divine judgment, but it also serves as a precursor to the Great Tribulation, the most dreadful period in human history.

The Rapture and the Great Tribulation

Numerous eschatological interpretations state that God calls the church to heaven at the rapture. After the tribulation period is over, the church will ascend to heaven.

It is known as the rapture, when believers are removed from this world and spared the horrors of the great tribulation. This event simultaneously portends the beginning of unspeakable misery and chaos and offers a glimmer of hope. Christians can find ultimate comfort and hope in the gospel’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ, which transcends earthly problems.

Conclusion

The ‘beginning of sorrows,’ as outlined in Matthew 24:4–8, is a critical juncture in the eschatological timeline. It is a period characterized by deception, conflict, natural disasters, and moral decline. While these events are daunting, they call for the church to remain vigilant, promote peace, provide support, and proclaim the gospel. Understanding and addressing the ‘beginning of sorrows’ is essential for preparing for Christ’s tribulation and ultimate return. As we navigate these turbulent times, we must hold fast to our faith and trust in God’s plan, continuing to shine as beacons of hope in a troubled world.



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International Christian News publishes reports on the mission field, specifically focusing on the persecuted church and providing daily gospel news. The organization aims to fulfill the Great Commission, edify the global Christian community, and bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.