"You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these are merely the beginning of birth pangs." (Matthew 24:6-8)
Watching cable network news these days is like watching a screen play based upon biblical prophecy. Although no one knows the exact day that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, we live expecting that He could return for His Church at anytime. The next yet to be fulfilled biblical prophecy is what is known as the rapture of the Church; "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
No one, of course, knows exactly when our Lord Jesus Christ will return. Such predictions are not only foolish, but promote indifference. You have heard the story of the boy who cried wolf. Today most people pay little attention when a car alarm goes off in a parking lot because it happens all the time. No one is looking for a car thief. They are just irritated by and ignore the alarm noise!
Yet when His disciples asked Him; "..Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3b), Jesus answered them; "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." (Matthew 24:32,33). Following the rapture of the Church, there will be a seven year period of time on the earth known as "the tribulation". The bible gives us many details about what will happen during this tribulation period. As we observe all that is unfolding around the world today, especially in and around Israel, we conclude that-- "He is near, right at the door."
It is like a pregnant women who experiences her first birth pangs. Although she of course expected the baby to be born, even had an expected due date, these first birth pangs still come suddenly without warning. In the same way, we know for sure that the Lord will return someday. But the birth pangs signaling His return are coming suddenly and without warning.
Yes, there have always been wars and rumors of wars and famines and earthquakes in various places. But, like birth pangs, the frequency and intensity of these signs are rapidly increasing. Could the Lord be coming soon? How then should we be living our lives, staying alert, in hopeful expectation of His imminent return? Maranatha!