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by Mark Robinson
Birth or labor pains is the beginning of the end of a long process. Some nine months earlier the expectant mom becomes aware of the promise of a birth. Suddenly, and in some ways unexpectedly, the first labor pain grips the body. Time is short – but, the pain will only come more rapidly and in greater magnitude as the birth approaches.
The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament defines birth pains as “recurring spasms of pain which are not subject to conscious control, during which the woman in labor writhes – a process that can be accompanied by a sense of fear or anxiety, screams, & groans.”
It is appropriate that the coming of Messiah in Jewish thought is called “birth pains of Messiah.” As the articles in this issue describe the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments, one can picture the above definition of birth pains as a good summary of what is coming upon the world in the Tribulation period.
Isaiah 66:8-12, as well as any passage in Scripture, speaks of the coming “birth pains” and ultimate birth. Verse 7 describes the birth of a man child BEFORE the “birth pains.” The man child is the Messiah, Jesus, born some 2,000 years ago.
Verse 8 asks a series of questions:
“Who hath heard such a thing?”
The process of birth described is contrary to the normal order. First the birth, and then the “birth pains.” Has any one heard or seen something like this? Obviously not! This is unique, different, a one time event!
What will be born? Two things – the earth and a nation. The earth is renovated. It becomes a virtual Garden of Eden again (see Romans 8:22; Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:21; Isaiah 11). The Millennial Kingdom is established.
The nation is she who brought Messiah into the world, Israel. This passage is not speaking of the “rebirth” of Israel in 1948. Many have stated that this is speaking of that time. They are wrong.
It is the “travail” or “birth pains” that bring Zion’s (Israel) children forth. The “birth pains” are the Tribulation period. It is a horrific time. In the middle of the Tribulation period Satan is cast out of heaven, relegated to earth, and does all he can to destroy Israel and the Jewish people, Revelation 12.
Because of this intense anti-Semitism and attempted eradication of the Jews, it is asked in Isaiah 66:9, by the LORD, “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.” Will the child be stillborn? Will the delivery be stopped? Will the child die?
The answer is absolutely not! God forbid! There will be a birth! At the end of the Tribulation period the remaining Jews in the world “look upon him whom they have pierced,” “all Israel is saved!” (see Zechariah 12:9-13, 13:8-9; Romans 11:26-27). The birth is the spiritual birth of a nation. Israel as a nation receives Jesus as her Messiah and Savior!
Isaiah 66:10 uses language that a mother can relate to upon the birth (delivery) of her child. “Rejoice,” “that ye may suck [nursing], and be satisfied with the breasts,” “delighted,” “borne upon her sides,” “dandled [to move a small child up and down in a playful way] upon her knees.” Israel is delivered from her enemies! Those who love her and have mourned for her through the centuries now rejoice.
“Birth pains” is an apt description of the Tribulation period and what follows. When there are “labor pains” a birth is coming. For thousands of years, Israel has longed for her Messiah! His coming is now soon. Yes, there are seven years of birth pains! But, the end result, after four thousand years of hope, beginning with Abraham, is a birth. Israel will be born in a day! Come Messiah, Lord Jesus!