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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, October 24, 2010

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

The literal Greek translation of this verse is, “All these are the beginning of birth pangs.” The Greek word translated “sorrows” in the KJV is “odin.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says that this word speaks of the pains related to childbirth, “pain, sorrow, travail.” My wife, Ileana, went through more than twenty hours of painful “birth pangs” before she gave birth to our twin sons. In a similar way the world will go through many “birth pangs” before Christ comes.

Many people are concerned about the Mayan calendar, which predicts the end of the world in 2012.  But the Bible speaks against date-setting.  No one knows the exact time except God Himself.  We can see the signs, but we cannot know the exact time. 

The Disciples asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus gave them a number of signs, which would be like the painful contractions of a woman going through childbirth. Christ said the world would go through these convulsive “birth pangs” before He returns to earth and sets up His Kingdom. Dr. M. R. DeHaan listed the birth pangs given in Matthew, chapter twenty-four:

1.   Increase of deception
2.   False Christs
3.   Wars and rumors of wars
4.   Famines and pestilences
5.   Simultaneous earthquakes
6.   Racial intolerance and persecution
7.   Undependability of men [betraying one another; hating
      one another; Christian love growing cold].
8.   False prophets
9.   Apostasy
10. Universal preaching of the Gospel.
      (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Kregel
       Publications, 1996 reprint, p. 51).

Dr. DeHaan then said,

While all these ten signs in Matthew 24:3-14, with the exception of the last one [world-wide proclamation of the Gospel] have occurred throughout history, they have never been present, all of them, at one and the same time. I repeat, never before have all these signs occurred simultaneously. It was the Lord Himself who said, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33)…For the first time in history all these signs are present at one and the same time. How important, then, to face the most pressing question, “Are you ready for the coming of the Lord?” When He comes, the door of salvation will be closed forever to all who have heard the [Gospel of Christ] but have willfully refused to accept it (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., ibid., p. 52).

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

Let us consider two questions about the “birth pangs” that we see, and that will intensify in the days that lie ahead.

I. First, will conditions get better?

People like to think positively. They like to think things will get better. President Obama promised “change” for the better. But most people don’t see any “change.” Now there is a huge surge in the polls favoring the Republicans. But I don’t think they will be able to do much to help us. In the first place, America has slaughtered 53 million babies in the womb. That is seven times more than the Jews Hitler massacred in his death camps. And it is already three million more than the total number of people killed in World War II. If America and the West in general are not judged by God for the wholesale carnage of the Abortion Holocaust, then God will have to apologize to Hitler for judging him! In fact, God is already judging us in many ways for destroying the lives of a whole generation of children. Historian Will Durant said, “No great nation has ever been overcome until it has destroyed itself.” We have literally destroyed ourselves, and we are going to pay a terrible price for it! Click here to see a video on the extermination of African-Americans through abortion Click here to see live babies left to die after late-term abortions

Many young Americans today are beginning to realize that the Western world is destroying itself. We have outsourced the production of nearly everything we use to other nations, so there are very few jobs open to our own young people as they enter the job market. One brilliant young man in our church recently received his college degree in what was once a highly rated field. But he had to take a low paying job in a completely unrelated field – and he was glad to get it! Will the unemployment situation change for the better? Many economists are now telling us that it will never change. And some of them are saying it will get even worse in the years to come. Inflation is looming on the horizon. Soon it may cost $10.00 for what you can buy for $1.00 today! Then it will cost $100.00 for $10.00 worth of gasoline! That’s coming because the government is printing worthless money to “bail out” the corrupt banks and money-lenders. Those on fixed incomes will be hit hardest as inflation robs them of the value of a dollar. I think they'll be called "Obama dollars."

The prospect of unemployment, and the coming of out-of-control inflation, frightens many young people today. The rise of militant Muslim terrorists also fills them with fear. This sermon focuses mostly on America.  But the social, psychological and monetary problems facing America are reflected throughout the nations of the world.  In France, Sarkozy is putting in austerity plans, causing social unrest.  Putin seems to be leading Russia in the wrong direction, making an alliance with Iran, which can lead to war in the Middle East.  There is much unrest in Indonesia and throughout the world, especially in the nations surrounding Israel.  Mexico is already on the verge of anarchy, and perhaps the overthrow of the government.  Indeed, the entire world seems to be falling apart in our day! 

I disagree with Billy Graham on “decisionism” and some other important issues. But he was absolutely right when he said, “Trouble and danger lie ahead. This present generation of young people can expect nothing but crisis, bloodshed, war, hate, greed, lust, and struggle….” (Billy Graham, World Aflame, Doubleday and Company, 1965, p. 15). Billy Graham’s book, World Aflame, was written in 1965. Along with the writings of Dr. DeHaan, World Aflame made a great impression on me during the turbulent sixties. What Billy Graham said then is becoming even more true in these evil days. Listen to some of the sections of World Aflame,

The flame of lawlessness.
The flame of uncontrolled science.
The flame of political dilemma.
A Dying Culture.
Campus Gods.
The Idolatry of the Masses.
Man Worships Science.
Man Worships Himself.
The Little Deities Have Failed.
Faith versus Prideful Intellectualism.
The Origin of Sin.
Revolt Against God.
The Results of Sin.
An Increase in Lawlessness.
The Coming of Scoffers.
Widespread Persecution.
The Preparation for Armageddon.
The Coming World Dictator.
The Fire of Judgment.
   (Billy Graham, World Aflame, pp. ix-xii).

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

Are things on earth going to get better? No, they are not going to get better! Don’t believe any preacher or politician who says they are! The Bible says that there will be “distress of nations,”

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).

When you read the newspaper, or read the news on the Internet, nearly every news event shows that the world is in turmoil. And nobody has an answer to our problems. Winston Churchill had an amazing way of guessing what would happen in the future. He predicted World War II nearly ten years before it started. He predicted the bombing of London while every other politician laughed. He was the first person to predict the Iron Curtain and the Cold War with the Soviet Union. He predicted the European Union over fifty years before it was created.  He predicted the State of Israel in 1917, thirty-one years before it began. He was nearly always right. But at the end of his life Churchill said, “Our problems are beyond us.” I think he was right once again! Our problems are indeed beyond us! Inflation, lack of work, Muslim terrorism, fear and pessimism are signs of a collapsing world – a world that is in flames – with the roof about to cave in. Billy Graham said, “Man is caught in a fire raging out of control” (ibid., p. 2). But, remember, what we see now is only a foretaste of the horrors awaiting mankind in the years to come.

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

Things will be so much worse in the future that people will wish they could go back where we are today! As bad as it is now, one day soon these will be called “the good old days,”

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21-22).

The coming days of Tribulation will be so great that mankind will be in danger of complete destruction. The world will experience the greatest horrors of all human history! Sinful men will not enter the doors of a church today.  But there's a day coming when, 

"They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord...when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (Isaiah 2:19).

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...and they shall not escape"
     (I Thessalonians 5:3).

II. Second, what hope do we have?

I want to make it perfectly clear that the only hope this world has is in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ! The Second Coming of Christ is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. It is called the “blessed hope” in Titus 2:13.

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

The unbelieving world has no real hope. Unbelievers are described by the Apostle Paul as, “…having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But those who have been converted are,

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

“No hope” or the “blessed hope.” Those are the only two options.

It is obvious to those who read the Bible carefully in faith that Jesus is coming in two stages. First, He is coming in the air, to receive true Christians,

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Dr. John R. Rice said it well. Stand and sing “Caught Up Together.”

Caught up to greet Him together, together,
   Caught up with Jesus and never to part;
Changed in a moment to be with the Saviour,
   Caught up together and never to part.
(“Caught Up Together” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

You may be seated.

Those who are converted are going up with Jesus! Up where? Up into the Third Heaven, into the New Jerusalem! Come back tonight. I’m going to preach on that!

But, later, true Christians will come back with Jesus through the clouds, to this earth. That is the second stage, when we come down with Jesus from the Third Heaven, to reign with Him on the earth! This is spoken of in Revelation 19:11-16. The prophet Zechariah also spoke of it when he said,

“His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives… and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee”
      (Zechariah 14:4-5).

Down from the Third Heaven Jesus will come – with the true Christians following Him – down to the top of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. And Christ will reign as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). That is the real new world order, the 1,000 year reign of Christ on this earth! “He is Coming Again”! Stand and sing it!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

A missionary named Eddie Wang said, “The hearts of the Chinese people are open to the Gospel. They have no other hope in the world. That is one of the main reasons why the number of Christian believers is growing so fast in China” (, October 2010). But many church members here in America and Europe have gone to sleep. They have a false hope that everything will get better! Many of them are not converted. My long-time pastor in the Chinese church, Dr. Timothy Lin, used to say, “Don’t be like the Americans! They don’t even go to church on Sunday night or prayer meeting! Don’t be like the Americans!” Many of our church people think they are converted but will not be ready to meet Christ when He comes! Click here to see the "China Owns America" video.

Are you ready? Yes, you! Are you ready to meet Christ? If you have never experienced real conversion, you are not ready! Going to church will not save you. Praying a “sinner’s prayer” will not save you! Going “forward” will not save you! “Rededicating” your life will not save you! You must come under conviction of sin. You must be aware of your total depravity, and feel your helplessness, wickedness and sin. You must come to Jesus who died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and is now up in the Third Heaven with God. You must be washed clean from your sins by His precious Blood. And be sure to come back to church every Sunday. Don’t let midterms or finals, or the “holidays” keep you from coming to church every Sunday. The sermons will be a means of grace in your life, used by God in your conversion. Billy Graham ended nearly every one of his television crusade meetings by looking directly into the camera, saying, "And be sure to go to church on Sunday." That's another point where I agree with him. Be in church and “strive to enter in” to Jesus in a real conversion (Luke 13:24). That is the only way to be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ! Please stand and sing “He is Coming Again.”

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

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at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Caught Up Together” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

(Matthew 24:3, 33)

I.   First, will conditions get better? Luke 21:26; Matthew 24:21-22;
Isaiah 2:19; I Thessalonians 5:3.

II. Second, what hope do we have? Titus 2:13; Ephesians 2:12;
I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Zechariah 14:4-5; Revelation 19:16;
Luke 13:24.