Derek Prince - Wars, Famines, Pestilences and Earthquakes, End Times Signs
Then He warns them a second time against wars and commotions, or troubles. Verse 6. Incidentally, I see most of you have got your Bibles open. We’re going to go systematically through this chapter so it helps to have the chapter in front of you. Verse 6 "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet". In other words the mere fact that there have been wars and troubles all through this age is not by itself an indication that the age is about to close. We need some further indication. If you turn for a moment to Luke 21 there’s a rather interesting little example of how Scripture comments on itself. In Luke 21 Jesus said in verses 8 and following it’s the same discourse: "Take heed that you be not deceived for many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he and the time has drawn near,’ therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified for these things must come to pass first but the end will not come immediately".
In other words wars and commotions by themselves are not an indication that the end of the age is near. Then in verse 10, and if you have a Bible that prints the words of Jesus in red as most do, you have a few words here in black interjected. Verse 10: "Then He said to them ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom’" In other words, I’m pointing out that there’s an important pause after the statement "the end is not yet". Now we’re going back to Matthew 24 and now we come to the signs of the end. The signs, not the sign. Matthew 24:7: "For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines pestilences and earthquakes in various places". Some of your Bibles will not have the word pestilences because there’s an uncertainty about the text. Luke has it in the text, so whether it’s there or not in Matthew, it’s there. We have these three major attacks on the human race: famines, pestilences and earthquakes.
And then Jesus said in verse 8: "All these are the beginning of sorrows". "Sorrows" means birth pangs or labor pains. So when these things happen that are mentioned in verse 7 then you know that the labor pains have begun. We all know what labor pains lead up to, don’t we? Some by experience and some by hearsay. But when there are labor pains the next major event will be a birth. That’s exactly what this means here. These are the labor pains the things that must precede the birth of God’s kingdom on earth. If you’re a husband happily married and your wife is pregnant and she says, "Honey, I’ve got the most terrible pains. Something’s happening". He does not rush to the phone and say: "Doctor, something terrible is wrong with my wife. Can you come and stop the pains"? Why not? Because he wants the baby.
And you see, this is a way we can test ourselves. Do we want to stop the pains or do we want to have the baby? If you want to have the baby you’ll have to have the birth pangs. There’s no way for a birth without birth pangs. So if you’re saying "Oh, I can’t stand all this it’s too terrible. I don’t know why I’m living in this time," you’re not really excited about the baby. But if you want the baby you’ll welcome the birth pangs even if they’re very painful. So you can begin to check yourself at this time. What is more important to you? The coming of the baby the coming of God’s kingdom on earth or not being involved in the birth pangs? You might as well make the right choice because you’ll be involved in the birth pangs anyhow.
Now we’re going to verse 7 and verse 8. These are the beginning of birth pangs. "Nation will rise against nation kingdom against kingdom". Let’s stop right there. The word "nation" in Greek is ethnos from which we get the word "ethnic" today. This is precisely what is happening in the world today. There are two kinds of wars ethnic wars and political wars. I would say World War I and World War II were both essentially political wars. They were wars fought by world powers to establish their dominion. But before World War I which began in 1914 in 1913 there was an ethnic war of which we’re told very little. But the Turks in the Middle East massacred one million Christian Armenians. That was not a political war that was an ethnic war Turks against Armenians.
I think one of the major features of the present time is ethnic wars. They are breaking out everywhere. In 1993 there were 34 wars fought in the course of that year and most of them were ethnic wars. So when ethnic wars become a major emphasis of our time that’s an indication the birth pangs have begun. Then there are the political wars. And then it says there will be famines pestilences and earthquakes in various places. For these figures I’m indebted to Hal Lindsey, which I’m glad to acknowledge. Let’s deal with the three things: famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Today in the world there are about 750 million people who suffer from chronic hunger. They never have enough to eat. Mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. With regard to acute hunger; that is, you are in imminent peril of death there are more than 35 million people on earth today in the condition of acute hunger mostly in the southern parts of Africa also some in parts of Eastern Europe and the CIS. Albania is an example of such a nation.
Then with regard to pestilences all these are official estimates. We have a new pestilence which is called AIDS. It’s estimated that by the year 2000 which is only five years away there will be 100 million cases of AIDS worldwide. The continent of Africa is the worst afflicted and by the year 2000 some parts of Africa will be heavily depopulated. The population will begin to dwindle rapidly. Other plagues that are returning and increasing are TB, malaria and cholera. And some of these are already out of control worldwide. Then with regard to earthquakes this is I think the most dramatic and the most clear example. Talking of quakes which register 6 or more on the Richter scale from 1950 to 1959 that’s the 1950s, there were nine. In the 1960s there were thirteen. In the 1970s there were fifty-one. And in the 1980s there were eighty-six. And from 1990 through 1993 that’s four years there have been more than 100 such earthquakes worldwide.
I think it’s worth repeating that, because it really is so clear and objective. In the 1950s, nine. In the 1960s, thirteen. In the 1970s, fifty-one. In the 1980s, eighty-six. And in the first four years of the 1990s, more than 100. I already pointed out in 1993 there were 34 distinct wars being fought in the world. So I think we’re not just fanatical or alarmists if we say the birth pangs have begun.