Braxton Hicks, Labor Pains, and the Time of the End

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  Romans 8:22 ESV

I’m not a pastor.  I’m just someone who has given birth.  I know that all births are painful, and that many babies have particularly challenging births.  My kids were of those.  Subsequently, the references in the Bible to creation “groaning in the pains of childbirth” and “the beginning of birth pains” have taken on a lot more meaning for me.

“Practice” Labor – Braxton Hicks of the Church Age:

First, let’s think about what pregnancy is like.  Sure, some women have it easier than others, but being pregnant is uncomfortable for all women at times.  For some women, pregnancy is quite unpleasant.  For a few it is even life-threatening.  This is a good description of the trials and tribulations of the Church Age:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too… For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:1-3, 8-9 ESV

God allows trials and tribulations in our lives to grow us more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).  Some of us have few trials, some of us have many trials, and some of us are jailed, tortured, or killed for our faith.  This has marked the entire church age (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs).   I like to think of these trials as “Braxton Hicks contractions”.  Wikipedia defines Braxton Hicks as:

Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as prodromal labor or practice contractions, or false labor, are sporadic uterine contractions that sometimes start around six weeks into a pregnancy.  However, they are not usually felt until the second trimester or third trimester of pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks contractions are often infrequent, irregular, and involve only mild cramping.  As pregnancy goes on, Braxton Hicks contractions go from unnoticeable amounts of pain signals to irregular, infrequent cramping to strong frequent cramping and then finally labor pains.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braxton_Hicks_contractions

Jesus describes the false labor of the Church Age in one broad sweep:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. [“See that you are not led astray” v8] [“See that no one leads you astray” v5] For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ [“the time is at hand” v8] and will deceive many. {23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.} [Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. v6-7] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Matthew 24 / Luke 21 / Luke 17 / Mark 13 ESV

The Church Age will be marked by false messiahs, false doctrine, wars and rumors of wars, and trials and tribulations of many kinds, but the end is still to come.  Indeed, there have been many offshoots from Christianity proclaiming “partial truths” throughout the last 2 millenia – bearing the name of Christ but not acting in Godly character nor professing salvation through Jesus’ atonement alone.  There are many religions (including “Christian” ones) who have added prophets or books or personal interpretations onto the Bible.  We can also think of horrible atrocities that have been done (and are still being done) in the name of religion.  Even though many of these were done in the name of “god”, I can assure you that they were not done for the One True God.  These things will all be present in the Church Age… but the end is not yet.

“Hard Labor” of the “Tribulation”:

How will we know when “true labor” – the actual time of the end – begins?  The Bible speaks of the “time of the End” as being similar to true labor pains and childbirth.  When it hits, there will be no mistaking it.  It’s going to rock the socks off this planet we call home.  These are the passages:

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.  Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.  See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.   Isaiah 13:6-9 ESV

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV

These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:  “Thus says the Lord: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.  Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?  Why has every face turned pale? Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:4-7 ESV

Labor and delivery, for me anyways, involved a lot of screaming, writhing, and pain.  Unmistakable and incomparable.  The “beginning of birth pains” are defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24)  8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13) 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21) 

When the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (“Tribulation”) arrives, it will be marked all at once by the arrival of widespread war, global earthquakes, famines and pestilences, terrors and great signs from heaven.  Collectively, “all these” are the “beginning” of the birth pains.

The labor pains continue throughout the time of tribulation (~7 years). These pains include all the effects of the seals, as well as the trumpet and bowl judgments of God.  It also includes the deception and wrath of satan. The last 3.5 years involve the worst pain – For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”  (Matthew 24:21 ESV)  Finally, at the Second Coming of Christ, the earth will be delivered of its’ suffering.

But Wait!  Early Delivery Option:

The start of the Day of the Lord / Tribulation will come like a trap upon those on the earth, but there is an escape route:

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:24-26 ESV)  

The escape route is detailed by following God’s “birth plan”.  An overview of God’s “birth plan” is found in Micah 5:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lordin the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. Micah 5:2-5 ESV

Out of Bethlehem, the Messiah came forth.  He is the one who will be ruler over her, but because it did not happen as she imagined, Israel rejected Him.  Israel was thus scattered among the nations as prophesied. We see this foretold throughout the Old Testament as well as by the prophet Ezekiel.  This is the mystery of the “partial hardening” of Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete (Romans 11:25).  The fullness of the Gentiles will be complete when the last one has entered into the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, at which point the body of Christ will be fully formed.

Israel will be given up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth, then Israel will be regathered.

It is at this point that we examine the labor and the birth, which I believe points to Revelation 12:1-2,5:

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne... (ESV)

Using an interlinear translation, we see the woman give birth to a male huion arsen (Strong’s 5207 and 730).  This male child is to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron.  The woman is  identified as Israel (the corporate entity), who brings forth Jesus (the male child – huion arsen).  A child, teknon (Strong’s 5043), is then caught up to God and to His throne.  Now here’s a question for you – is the child who is birthed the same child that is caught up?

Who’s The Baby?

What about Jesus’ ascension?  Was Jesus caught up and snatched out of imminent danger from the dragon?  Acts 1:9, Jesus is lifted up (eperthe – Strong’s 1869) until He is hidden from view.  We see this in 19 other instances and it means exalts or lifts itself, lifting up voice or eyes, lifting up, turning gaze.  Jesus, at His ascension, went calmly and was in no distress from a dragon trying to devour Him.  The child that is birthed here will be “caught up”.

The child in Rev 12:5 is herpasthe (Strong’s 726), not eperthe .  Where else do we see Strong’s Greek 726?  1 Thessalonians 4:17 – Those who are alive and remain will be caught up together…; 2 Cor. 12:2, 4 Paul is caught up to the third heaven; Acts 23:10 – take him away from them by force; Acts 8:39Philip is snatched by the Spirit of the Lord.  There are 14 instances of this word and it means plucked, seized, snatched suddenly and forcefully.  There is quite a difference between being lifted or raised and being snatched or seized, isn’t there?

So what does this mean?  Well, let’s take a look at the child who is snatched.  Is it the same child as the male child – huion arsen?  Well, no, in fact, it isn’t.  This child is teknon (Strong’s 5043).  This is a commonly used word to mean children, child, descendant (gender neutral).  Who could this be?  If the woman represents the corporate entity of Israel, the child (neutral gender) represents the corporate entity of the church – Jew and Gentile made one in Christ.  The church that is snatched up, suddenly and forcefully.  For an excellent discussion of the child in Revelation 12:5, please see – Who is the Male Child in Revelation 12?

Jesus, the male child, is birthed first, as the Head.  Next we see the gender neutral corporate child born, the Body.  Just as in typical childbirth, the Head precedes the Body.  I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that often in the New Testament Christ is referred to as the Head of the Church and we are the Body of Christ!  (It’s also possible that Revelation 12:5 is *only* talking about the church as the child)

When the body of Christ is fully formed, it will be birthed.  This is the second birth foretold in Micah 5:3.  We also see this in Isaiah 26:

Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O Lord; we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the deadCome, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.   (Isaiah 26:17-21 ESV)

Before the labor pains of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble start, right before God comes out to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their sin and unbelief, the earth will give birth to the dead.  We see this in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (ESV)

The resurrected dead, combined with the living believers, then enter their chambers:

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3 ESV)

Isaiah 26 is particularly interesting in that it is an Old Testament passage that connects the dead rising (resurrection) and God’s people entering their chambers to hide (rapture) right before God’s wrath begins.

From Isaiah 66 we know that “before she was in labor she gave birth”.  This is entirely consistent with Jesus telling us that when we BEGIN to see all these things (the beginning of birth pains sign He describes on the Mount of Olives), that our redemption draws near.  As Israel enters her birth pains, the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the body of Christ will be delivered.  The nation that is born in one day is the body of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). 

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Romans 7:24 ESV

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

Examining God’s Birth Plan, believers in Christ have been “born again” (sealed) of the Spirit.  A time is coming when we will be “born again” physically as well:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  John 3:3-4 ESV

For further support for this model, note in Rev 2:26-27 that the overcomers in Thyatira – but applicable to all believers – will receive authority over the nations and rule them with an iron rod, just as Jesus received authority from His Father.

Our birth is “already but not yet”.  Once the body of Christ has been birthed, THEN “the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel” (Micah 5:3).  This regathering of Israel occurs during the 70th week of Daniel (the “tribulation”, “time of Jacob’s trouble”), and is completed at the Second Coming of Christ.  God will deliver the remnant of Israel as foretold, right before Jesus is inaugurated into His Messianic Kingdom (Micah 5:4-5).

When’s Our Due Date?

One of the first questions a pregnant woman asks is – “When am I due?”  Initially, we ask this in eager expectation of the coming promise.  As the pregnancy progresses, the woman begins to ask when she is due because she yearns to be delivered.   Following God’s Birth Plan comparison, we eagerly anticipate our deliverance – which IS the coming promise:

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  (Romans 8:23 ESV)

I personally believe that the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948 has given us a possible gestation of 70-80 years based on Psalm 90.  This would place our “due date” in 2021 (or 2020 if correcting for 360-day-years).  I hope, though, that Israel goes into labor early. 😉  For more on our due date, please see:

The Pregnancy Journal

All of creation has been yearning to be freed from death and decay since the fall of humanity.  The church age has been marked by the “practice contractions” of tribulation.  These have been ramping up for some time now – increasing in frequency and severity.   For Israel, the church age is marked by God’s silence towards them.  It seems that God will remain silent towards Israel until the birth of the church.  At some point soon, Israel is going to enter the birth pains of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  But before she labors, the body of Christ will be truly “born again” and safely delivered to heaven. At this point God will again turn to Israel and focus on bringing His chosen people back to Himself – “as a hen gathers her chicks” (Matthew 23:37).

I encourage you to watch the last 8 minutes of Scott Clarke’s exposition of the conception  and birth of the church HERE.  He suggests that we are “conceived” at our salvation, and “birthed” at our redemption; this is an interesting picture because if the “seed of the woman” isn’t fertilized by the “seed of the Father”, it is destined to die.  What a somber picture of those who reject God’s offer of eternal life.

 


Further Recommended Reading:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Woman in Labor in the Bible – Revelation 12 Daily

Micah Prophecy – Daniel Matson

Micah 5 Timeline – Revelation 12 Daily

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

labour-pain-worse-1

 

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