In Matthew chapter 24 the Lord Jesus answered questions from the Disciples regarding the signs of His coming and of the End of the Age. Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of war, famines and earthquakes in various places. He said, “These are the beginning of birth pains.”
The image of a pregnant woman is found throughout the Bible in the context of the Last Days, the Latter Days, or the Day of the Lord’s Vengeance. One of the earliest is from the Prophet Isaiah which contains the same language as the Revelation: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!” (Isaiah 21:9) In the same passage the prophet speaks of pangs. “Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor.”
Later in the Book of Isaiah he foretells of the Day of the Lord’s Vengeance. The Lord says, “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor.” (Isaiah 42:14) Again in chapter 66 the prophet speaks of the Day of the Lord’s Vengeance, and again the image of a woman in labor is used.
The Prophet Micah tells of the End Times in chapter 4. He speaks of Latter Days in 4:1 and the Lord’s Kingdom in 4:1-5. And then he uses the (by now) familiar phrase, “pangs have seized you like a woman in labor.” (Micah 4:9) He follows this with a description that parallels the Battle of Armageddon in the Revelation. “Now also many nations have gathered against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. . . He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor.” (Micah 4:10-13) In this passage the prophet uses the metaphor of a woman in birth pangs for the second time.
And then the Prophet Jeremiah foretells the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Tribulation) in chapter 30. “The days are coming, that I will bring back from captivity my people Israel and Judah. And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jeremiah 30:3) “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's Trouble.” (Jeremiah 30:7) This day is so terrible that the Lord asks, “So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale?” (Jeremiah 30:6)
There is a clear connection between the imagery of a woman in labor and what we term the End Times. Jesus used it. Isaiah used. Micah used it. Jeremiah used it. The Apostle Paul used it. In First Thessalonians chapter 4, Paul described the time when the Lord calls us Home to meet Him in the air. Following this in chapter 5 Paul described of the Day of the Lord as coming like a thief in the night. In First Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul equates the people of the world as children of darkness, and the Church as children of light. The world, in darkness, will be surprised by the Return of the Lord. Destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman.
Paul also makes an interesting statement. He says that because we are children of light, that day will not come as a surprise to us. Considering the consistent use of the metaphor of a pregnant woman, we should consider whether the woman is surprised by the birth of a child. She does not know the Day or the Hour, but she is certain she is pregnant. Likewise, the Church does not know the Day or the Hour of the Lord’s Return, but many of us are beginning to suspect that we are “pregnant.” The Church of the Lord Jesus will not be surprised by His Coming.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:20