All these are the beginning of sorrows

The Questions

When the disciples asked Jesus about the buildings of the temple, He told them that every single stone would be thrown down. They asked,

when shall these things be?

and what shall be the sign of thy coming,

and of the end of the world?

Jesus did not know when He would return or the timing of the end of the world. And He told them.

that day and hour knoweth no man,

no, not the angels of heaven,

but my Father only.

It is interesting to note that the apostles believed that Jesus’ coming would bring the end of the world. They did not understand when or how but they knew that much from scripture and Jesus’ teaching.

They also knew that He would restore Israel and its land. Our understanding of future events cannot be separated from this truth although is not explicitly described here.

Jesus uses the same expressions to denote events occurring in the near future, the distant future, and that may occur concurrently or separately.

These same expressions are used by O.T prophets and N.T. prophets to the effect of improving our understanding. 

The only boundaries we should set on His prophesies and how to interpret them is in their harmonious relation to all other prophesies.

The Big Picture

Jesus gave us a warning and some general details.

Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying,

I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars:

see that ye be not troubled:

for all these things must come to pass,

but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation,

and kingdom against kingdom:

and there shall be famines, and pestilences,

and earthquakes, in divers places.

~ Matthew 24:4-5

The First Question

Jesus is careful not to give any details about the timing of the temple buildings’ destruction.

Jesus did not teach imminence here because the very nature of describing things that must occur first denies the doctrine that He could return any time. Take for example before Paul’s apostleship.

He could come in our lifetime. The destruction of the temple happened in theirs. Our doctrine on this issue should reflect Jesus’ instructions: readiness, guarding against false teachers, and to watch for signs of His coming. 

Remember, the coming of Jesus is equivalent to our death. This could happen any time. In this sense is His coming imminent.

This is why need to be ready now. Living in sin leads to death and judgment; Christian or not. So, be ready my friend. Death often comes by surprise.

The Warning

Jesus repeats the same warning twice in Matthew 24. I was told that anytime scripture repeats something, it is really important.

I don’t like this type of instruction because it tends to diminish other scripture, especially those only mentioned once.

Even if scripture says something only once, it must be interpreted harmoniously in light of the whole counsel of scripture. Every word is important.

Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying,

I am Christ; and shall deceive many . . . 


. . . Then if any man shall say unto you,

Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,

and shall shew great signs and wonders;

insomuch that, if it were possible,

they shall deceive the very elect.


Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold,

he is in the desert; go not forth: behold,

he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.


For as the lightning cometh out of the east,

and shineth even unto the west;

so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

This warning about deception is huge. I believe it has already crept into the church and has a firm hold on core doctrines many consider foundational.

One of these doctrines is eternal security; a relatively new doctrine. The early church fathers did not hold to this interpretation of scripture.

Here  are some examples:

  • We ought therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation. Otherwise, the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, may hurl us forth from our life. Barnabas (c. 70-130).
  • Those who do not obey Him, being disinherited by Him, have ceased to be His sons. Irenaeus (c. 180).
  • It is neither the faith, nor the love, nor the hope, nor the endurance of one day; rather, “he that endures to the end will be saved.” Clement of Alexandria (c. 195).

Many will come in Jesus’ name. There have been those who claimed to be the (or a type of) Messiah or have special knowledge regarding the Messiah. Even though, this is part of the warning, I believe the deception goes deeper and is more subtle and sinister.

The deceptions and influences will be so convincing that committed believers not swayed by the winds of doctrine are described as being susceptible.

Like eternal security, I think the warning against those who come in His name can also be applied to doctrine in the church. The warning to be alert and awake permeates scripture.

Jesus also warns against the teaching of Him coming secretly or that He is hiding in dark chambers.

Jesus is explicit about the nature of His coming. Every teaching supplemented by the Apostles reinforces this.

Angels even told us how Jesus would return. His entrance will be stunning, flashing across the heavens.

There is no hint of a secret rapture or coming; only warnings against it.

We have been warned. Be on your guard against anything not consistent with Jesus’ words.

The Beginning of Sorrows

In Greek there is a narrow meaning to these words: the beginning of travail pangs. 

This speaks of a new birth or regeneration through the suffering of perplexity that birth brings: only this context it is as the national level.

The whole nation of Israel will suffer this. Here is the original description of the Beginning of Sorrows:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,

Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying,

Write thee all the words that I have spoken

unto thee in a book. 

For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord,

that I will bring again the captivity

of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord:

and I will cause them to return to the land

that I gave to their fathers,

and they shall possess it.

And these are the words that the Lord spake

concerning Israel and concerning Judah.

For thus saith the Lord;

We have heard a voice of trembling,

of fear, and not of peace.

Ask ye now,

and see whether a man doth travail with child?

wherefore do I see every man

with his hands on his loins,

as a woman in travail,

and all faces are turned into paleness?

Alas! for that day is great,

so that none is like it:

it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble;

but he shall be saved out of it.

For it shall come to pass in that day,

saith the Lord of hosts,

that I will break his yoke from off thy neck,

and will burst thy bonds,

and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:

but they shall serve the Lord their God,

and David their king,

whom I will raise up unto them.

~ Jeremiah 30:1

The beginning of sorrows or time of Jacob’s trouble is the same thing and it happens to Israel.

This prophesy could not have been fulfilled until at least 1948, when Israel became a nation and God began to cause His people to return to their land.

A voice of trembling,of fear, and not of peace has been the undertone of Israel’s voice since their return. But the time of sorrows is much more specific than the suffering at the hands of Ishmael they have been experiencing these 67 years.

Alas! for that day is great,

so that none is like it:

it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble;

This time-frame is primarily related to the Great Tribulation, which begins in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week.

When ye therefore shall see

the abomination of desolation,

spoken of by Daniel the prophet,

stand in the holy place,

(whoso readeth, let him understand:)

then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: 

let him which is on the housetop

not come down to take any thing out of his house: 

neither let him which is in the field

return back to take his clothes. 

And woe unto them that are with child,

and to them that give suck in those days!

Woe to them that are with child is directly correlative to the time of travail (sorrows from birthing).

Also, the reference to the temple being defiled is extremely telling. The Jews have been longing to rebuild their temple ever since its destruction and their diaspora nearly 2,000 years ago.

I find the connection to the question about the destruction of the temple buildings and restoration of Israel in light of Jesus’ words fascinating.

The Apostles knew the temple would be destroyed, Israel would be dispersed, one day return, and the temple rebuilt.

This will be a horrible time for the Jews. But because it will also be the time of the Great Tribulation, It will also be a terrible time for Christians.

I have found no reference anywhere in scripture that relates this tribulation to God’s wrath or that the church has secretly disappeared.

The time of Jacob’s trouble is also a time for Israel’s salvation.

Breaking the yoke/bursting bonds refers to national independence and personal freedom from sin through faith in Jesus and service to the Lord.

but he shall be saved out of it . . . 

. . . that I will break his yoke from off thy neck,

and will burst thy bonds,

and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:

but they shall serve the Lord their God

Another reason that it will be a time of great sorrow is that two of the most righteous men that walked the Earth, will return.

They will preach salvation to Israel, be slain in the streets, and their bodies rotting 3 1/2 days for the whole world to see (Elisha and Enoch).

In Christ-likeness, they will be regenerated (resurrection unto life). The whole world will watch them ascend to heaven.

After the tribulation of those days, the whole world will see a second advent, the return of Christ to gather the Saints.

So, the travail or regeneration has many facets attributed to it.

Jesus does not describe the duration or end of the Beginning of Sorrows (his descriptor ‘beginning’ is indicative of this).

Nor does He describe the end of the world.

He mainly talks about His return. It is implied that His description of His return also ushers in the end of the world by his use of the term, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” and the previous knowledge of the Apostles.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days

shall the sun be darkened,

and the moon shall not give her light,

and the stars shall fall from heaven,

and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 

and then shall appear

the sign of the Son of man in heaven:

and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,

and they shall see the Son of man

coming in the clouds of heaven

with power and great glory. 

And he shall send his angels

with a great sound of a trumpet,

and they shall gather together his elect

from the four winds,

from one end of heaven to the other.

Here the elect are gathered together, the church is gone. The time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Jesus suddenly begins talking in parables at this point. This is also revealing because He spoke in parables to the Jews; hinting that the end of the world or time of judgment was for them (and those that are to perish).

The Beginning of Sorrows, is a description of the beginning of the end. There is much more to come . . .

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