Note: We live in a day when people get offended easily, jump to conclusions and attack each other. Believers are not exempt. I doubt many people will agree with everything I have written here, but may I encourage you to seek to grasp the spirit of what is written, even if you don’t agree with every word or opinion. Thank you.
In March of 2020, just as we were realizing that the Coronavirus was for real and could have a devastating effect, I heard two words in prayer. I was asking God if there was anything He was saying through this virus. The words I heard were: BE READY!
I immediately knew what God was saying to me. Tough days were ahead. I grabbed my Bible (I actually read the Bible online, but ‘grabbing my Bible’ sounds much more dramatic :-)) and instinctively went to Matthew 24, where Yeshua unpacks His end-time teaching. Verse eight jumped out at me: "These are the beginning of birth pangs."
Over the next two months it was like God was dropping chapters for a book into my spirit. But this is more than a book. It is encouragement and a strong warning. If you embrace its message, it could save your soul … literally.
Birth pangs come in waves. There is intense pain, followed by a lull. I have witnessed my dear wife give birth to three children. When the contractions come, they are intense. Then, though, there is a brief respite. She was calm. Was it over? No! The next one came even harder. Just when everyone was thinking that things seemed to be improving regarding COVID-19…
President Trump was calling for the USA to open by Easter
Prime Minister Netanyahu was getting worldwide praise for how he handled the plague and Israel started opening up just after Passover
Famous prophets were saying that Corona would end on Passover (like the plagues of Egypt) or that an Easter heat wave was going to burn up Corona. They said that God said that!
Then, boom, another birth pang! George Floyd was murdered (in my opinion) by police officers in Minnesota. Protests and riots broke out all over America. Sadly, the church did very little to take advantage of the moment and reach out to Black America with the love of Yeshua. Some did, but most, instead, went to their political corners, not considering that God might be speaking to us.
Right in the midst of that, Corona surged again. Just a few days ago, we had 8,000 new cases—a new record for Israel and the world leader per capita (it would be like 285,600 new cases in one day in America)! Another birth pang. Then Lebanon: The Beirut port exploded on what liked like a nuclear blast on video.
And then, out of nowhere, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu announce normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. And now Bahrain has come in. Others like Sudan and Oman are expected to make peace with Israel in the coming weeks or months. (Everyone told Trump that if he moves the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizes it as Israel’s capital, it would devastate the Peace Process … guess they were wrong!) This may be the most significant international event of President Trump’s tenure. It also could have significant end-time implications, as many prophecy scholars predict at least pseudo peace between Israel and the Arabs, leading to a third Temple. Definitely, another birth pang!
Birth Pangs in Judaism
Many in Judaism see these birth pangs as a valid metaphor for the end-times.
“The period leading to the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah) is referred to as chevlei Mashiach, or “birth pangs of the Messiah” and is compared to the period leading up to the birth of a child. In the same way an expectant mother’s pains increase as she gets closer to giving birth, so the period leading to the arrival of Mashiach may be a difficult one for the Jewish People.”
I was very surprised to find that many see the final days before Messiah comes lasting seven years!
“The days we mention here are to be understood as seven years, similar to the verse in Genesis (24:55) where Laban and his mother wanted Rebecca to delay her departure by "yamim" [Hebrew for "days," i.e., a year. These years which are viewed as the birth pangs of Mashiach," last for seven years during which Israel will be refined spiritually in preparation for his arrival. He will then make his appearance during the eighth year.”
Megachurch pastors were saying that soon we would be back to normal, not realizing that God might be speaking to us about a new normal. Others adapted and have reached thousands, even millions, via Zoom and the Internet. “Prophets” were quick to say, “All is well, and the stock market will rise again. Prosperity is coming! God is good; He would never send a virus.”
These were the same prophets who never saw Corona coming! But now they are qualified to tell us when it might end? Where is the accountability for using God’s name on a worldwide stage and misquoting Him? Where is the repentance?
One of America’s premier prophetic voices was sharing from his car in mid-January about how 2020 was going to be the year of abundance—of accumulation. At the same time that he was sharing this message of false hope, the Coronavirus was quietly spreading all over the globe.
But some did see it coming. My dear friend, Rachel Boskey, who lives in the Negev desert here in Israel, recently shared:
“On January 27, 2020 I wrote these words to our whole mailing list: ‘For the last few years I’ve sensed that the year 2020 would be a time of a quickening pace in the events leading to the Lord’s return. Already I feel this is happening and it points to our increasing need for spiritual sobriety and prayerful vigilance. We ask the Lord to keep our eyes focused on Him and on His call in our lives to see ‘all Israel saved’ and ‘Israel the exceedingly great army’ of Ezekiel 37:10.’”
People paid little attention to this when she wrote it back in January. That was before the world began to shake. But she is one of a few who did see this before it hit. But we were not listening.
Another Pastor had a dream in December 2019, that he shared with others at the time. In the dream, he envisioned a calendar and March (Covid-19) and June (George Floyd protests) were underscored. He sees people marching, protesting, and even people wearing masks. There were lines of people going into hospitals. He is shown ventilators and, “I saw people who were very, very sick. I saw newspaper headlines trumpeting thousands of people getting sick.”
“Then I saw cities on fire. I saw buildings being burned. I saw protesters with masks … I saw shotguns in the air ... and barriers within cities.”
Finally, he hears the words “Brace yourself—brace yourself.” Birth pangs!
Pastor John Kilpatrick, a longtime friend, and someone I consider extremely prophetic had a dream in December as well. He heard, “Darkness is about to degenerate into gross darkness.” The Lord told him to “tell them (believers) to be prepared. “[The Lord] said, ‘but I want to tell you, the angels are coming to help you ... it is going to get so severe ... I am going to send my angels to help get in the harvest, and they’ll be working with you.”
Kilpatrick spoke of harvest “‘in the midst of some of the deepest, darkest darkness that the world has ever seen ... Gross darkness is coming and there are going to be severe perilous times.”
I italicized those words, “be prepared” from his dream, because as you will see in Chapter One, that is exactly what I heard in prayer: Be ready!
While God was speaking, these prophetic words were few and far between. Once the virus hit hard, Christians, mostly in America, began to scream about their rights being violated, forgetting that our lives belong to Yeshua. Paul said:
“I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me,” (Galatians 2:20a) and, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19a-20b)
There is no question that some are seeking to use the virus for political reasons. The media can’t help itself. However, even if we (conservatives) convinced the media and Democrats to be honest, it would not bring about a Utopia. No, we need a heavenly visitation—and an invasion of God’s Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual battle.
I believe with all my heart that God is seeking to remind us of our holy commission, which is the Great Commission. During the coming days, weeks, months and years, we have to get back to the task of sharing the life-changing power of Yeshua! The US Constitution is an amazing document that guarantees the rights of all Americans. However, the Bible is an even more amazing document that says Jesus purchased us and we are His bondservants to do His bidding. He has commanded us to make disciples, preach the Gospel and extend the borders of His kingdom. Yes, as good citizens we should stand for the rights of everyone—but the sharing the Good News of Yeshua must come first.
The best is truly yet to come. Revival! Yes, real New Testament, Book-of-Acts-and-beyond revival is on the horizon. So is persecution. Think it not strange, as Peter says, in speaking of suffering for Jesus. Sadly, most are not ready. When Corona came and was immediately followed by racial tensions, our knee-jerk reaction should have been, how does God want to use this to bring Yeshua to more people? Most, though, sought to “save their own lives.” According to Luke 9:24, that is how you lose your life. It is the one who embraces the cross and follows Yeshua who finds it. Let me be biblically blunt: Dead people have no rights! We live to serve Him.
This passage in Luke has nothing to do with a one-time confession at the front of a congregation or being immersed in water as a baby. Yeshua says, daily, we take up our cross—daily. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” To put it another way: What good is it to win the right to not wear a mask, and never reach your neighbor with the Gospel?
It is a new day, dear friend. You must prepare! I am not speaking about hiding water and lentils. I am talking about getting strong in Yeshua; taking your stand for the gospel, no matter what comes. An Olympian exercises day and night for years so he or she is ready for competition. We must build up our faith. Friends, being forbidden to sing in church in California is nothing compared to the persecution prophesied for the end-times. Get strong. Get ready. (To be clear, it is absolutely wrong in my opinion that Governor Newson sought to ban singing in congregations, while having no criticism for mass protests—my point is that it will get worse!)
I have seen several posts on social media about looking forward to the end of 2020—as if all will go back to normal. Do we really think that these cataclysmic events will end on a fictitious new year? (The real New Year begins in spring according to Scripture.) No, if we are really in the season of birth pangs, we need to prepare.
This is why I wrote Birth Pangs: To warn people to get ready, so together we can get equipped. For the one who has embraced the cross and died to himself, the end-times will be exciting. For the one trying to save their life, it will be terrifying. Jesus Himself said “many will turn away from the faith.” I don’t want you to be one of them! Please read this book!
And then, just before going to press ... Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Another birth pang! I had wondered all year, how long the Lord would let her live—not because of her deeds; there is none righteous—but because of the weight her seat on the Supreme Court in the United States. Now, with just a few weeks before the election, there is a vacant seat that the Republicans are sure to seek to fill. I am not speaking about politics. Given the climate of the U.S. political scene, this could lead to serious violence. Birth pangs.
As I drove home from my parents on Erev Rosh Hashanah, I felt a brooding sense come all over me. Here is some of what I wrote:
As I was praying tonight, after learning of the passing of RBG, I felt a deep brooding come over me. First, let me say that we should mourn her death. I disagreed with her on many issues, most importantly 'life', but David grieved deeply over the death of King Saul. Politics can wait 24 hours. It is a time to mourn.
Secondly, the darkness I felt was connected to the divisiveness in America and how the enemy could use this to cause more bloodshed. I could almost see the darkness surrounding God's presence and a mixture of sadness, anger and concern in his midst. No, there is no darkness in God, but there are times He will surround himself in darkness:
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. (Ps. 18:11)
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. (Ps. 97:2)
The fact that she died on Erev Rosh Hashanah—biblically, Yom Teruah, The Feast of Trumpets, cannot be ignored. The sound of the Shofar can signify many things, including judgment. The Ten Days of Awe that begin tonight and last through Yom Kippur, are days of repentance.
We live in serious times friends. We have seen several contractions, if you will, since 2020 began. There are six types of contractions that a woman goes through in giving birth. The first ones are not serious—Braxton Hicks. We may have missed them completely. But then there are the Early Labor contractions. Things are getting serious, but you are not in labor yet. Next, there are Active Labor contractions—they are closer apart and it signifies that it is time to get to the place where you plan to give birth.
Transition contractions come when the cervix begins to open. These are the most intense and painful. And then, it is time to push. These are the final contractions that lead to birth. Lastly, there are post birth contractions, like tremors after an earthquake.
Listen, as a male, I feel weird writing about this, but in several places the Bible compares the final years before Yeshua’s coming to labor pains. Look where we are at: Israel is restored. Jerusalem has been reunited. Millions of Jews have come home (Israel now has more Jews than any other nation). The gospel message could touch every nation shortly. And the world is experiencing intense birth pangs.
We must be ready.
Erev Yom Kippur, 5781
September, 27th, 2020