“More Birth Pangs: Floods, Drought, and Pestilence” by Todd Strandberg

One of the clearest indications of the progression of Bible prophecy is the frequency of end-time events. In Matthew 24:8, we are told that the last days will be the tail-end of an exponential curve of activity. Jesus mentioned a great variety of signs—spiritual, natural, societal, and geopolitical—and then He said that these signs will be like “birth pangs.”

As the birth of a baby approaches, the birth pangs increase two ways: frequency and intensity. Thus, Jesus was saying that the closer we get to the time of His return, the more frequent and intense the signs will become. There will be more earthquakes and more intense ones. Likewise, things like famine, pestilence, and war will increase in frequency and intensity.

This year started out with monstrous earthquakes striking the nations of Haiti, Chile, and China. The death toll from the Haiti quake has now risen to more than 230,000. The Chile earthquake is in the record books as the seventh-greatest earthquake ever recorded.

In the past few weeks, there has been an upsurge in birth-pang activity. Three categories stand out:

Floods
Many have been struck by noteworthy flooding. In April, the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro had terrible flooding. But the most remarkable flooding has occurred in Pakistan, where the deluge has been of epic proportions: 20 million people have been affected, with more than 1,400 dead, 900,000 homes damaged, and 3.5 million children at risk for waterborne diseases. One-fifth of the nation is now under water, and the rains are continuing to fall.

Drought
A severe drought in Russia has devastated the nation’s wheat crop. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin banned all exports of grain until the end of the year. The ban has pushed prices to their highest level in two years in the United States. Russian grain exports totaled 21.4 million metric tons last year, about 17 percent of the global grain trade. The Middle East is heavily dependant on Russian grain. Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, is left to wonder whether current contracts with Russia will be honored. If we should have a drought in another country that is a key grain exporter, global famine could become a real possibility.

Pestilence
The World Health Organization called on health authorities around the globe to monitor a multi-drug-resistant superbug that surfaced in South Asia and spread to Britain. The WHO said a new gene enables some types of bacteria to be highly resistant to almost all antibiotics. With some bacterial strains, the death rate is as high as 30 percent.

In the U.S., there is a growing problem with bedbugs. The city of New York had 11,000 complaints about bedbugs last year. Bedbugs have been discovered recently in theaters, clothing stores, hotels, housing projects, and posh apartments. They have even been found in the Empire State Building.

This level of activity is amazing when you consider that the year is only a little more than half over. The Lord certainly seems to be trying to get man’s attention, but I can see that man’s stubbornness is a huge obstacle. It amazes me to see how quickly historic disasters fade from memory.

Several news organizations are reporting that support for the flood victims in Pakistan may be suffering from donor fatigue. In the first two weeks of the crisis, the funds being pledged by rich nations are just 20 percent of the amount given for the Haiti earthquake. In the same way, there may be a birth-pang of fatigue at work. I have not seen prophetic awareness this low since the early 1990s.

God is very patient, but He is no fool. He is not going to send an endless number of warning signs. I would never say that apathy will force God to act, but it could be the calling card that the Almighty has decided to use to shake up our world.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:25-26).

— Todd

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