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The “Beginning of Sorrows”

Updated: Feb 4

October 2, 2022—Jesus Christ of Nazareth and His disciples were in Jerusalem. Jesus’s disciples showed Jesus the buildings of the temple. The disciples must have been shocked and intrigued because Jesus told them that “not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down. “(Matthew 24:2). Afterwards, Jesus Christ of Nazareth came to the Mount of Olives and sat. His disciples, Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13), approached Him, asking, “when will these things be? And what will be the sign of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).


Jesus answered them and gave them several signs that can be found in the gospels of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. In the gospels, Jesus referred to them as the beginning of sorrows and the great tribulation. I have broken these down in the following sections. This way, we can review them together.


However, considering the several signs within these gospels and the research needed to determine if these signs have occurred, I will be posting articles throughout this month (October 2022) focusing on the signs under each section as shown above. For today’s article, we will cover the signs under the “Beginning of Sorrows” section.


The “Beginning of Sorrows”

When Jesus Christ sat on the Mount of Olives, Jesus told Peter, James, John, and Andrew that there would be signs that He referred to as “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8 and Mark 13:9). These signs consisted of the following:

  1. False Christs and False Prophets

  2. Wars and rumors of wars

  3. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.


Have these events happened? Let us look at these individually and across the Holy Bible. We will then compare each sign to historical events.


1. False Christs and False Prophets

The Gospel of Matthew says, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5). Similarly, in Mark, the Holy Bible states,“ Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.” Luke 21 mirrors these words, but adds more information, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.” (Luke 21:8).


To determine if this has occurred, we must first determine if people have come forward claiming to be Jesus. Then, we need to confirm if they had or have any followers. The passages reflect these two things: many will come claiming to be Jesus, and the false Christs and prophets will deceive many.


In 1 John 2:18, we learn that the spirit of the Antichrist was present in the world in his time, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” In addition, several men and women have claimed to be Jesus Christ from the 18th Century to the present. There is an entire Wikipedia page that lists these people. Of the people claiming to be Jesus, some had followers. Sadly, some of these false Christs have led people to commit murder and suicide.


However, take heart, beloved, for Jesus Christ said that false Christs and false prophets must happen before the end of the age. This includes not only this sign but also the sign of war and rumors of wars.


2. Wars and Rumors of Wars

But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first” (Luke 21:9). This verse is echoed in Mark 13:7 and Matthew 24:6. All of these gospels mention not to fear when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, because “such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mark 13:7).


In terms of wars, we know of the war between Russia and Ukraine being the most recent. What about other more recent wars and conflicts?


There are terrorist insurgencies throughout much of Africa. Mali (an African country) is in a civil war and has a terrorist insurgency. The countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, and Libya are in civil war. Ethnic violence is inflicting South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011.


Civil war is also present in Myanmar. There is instability across the Middle East. Syria is engaged in a civil war, and Yemen is also involved in a civil war. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict over the West Bank has been ongoing since 2013, but tensions began in 1947. Iraq remains in a state of political unrest as a terrorist insurgency is present. Several terrorist attacks have occurred throughout Afghanistan since 2008.


Meanwhile, political division in America has led 43% of Americans to believe that the United States is likely to have a civil war in the future. This is in accordance with a recent poll by YouGov and The Economist. Another poll by Rasmussen Reports found that 31% of American voters believe a second civil war in the U.S. is likely in the next five years. That same report stated that 11% surveyed believed that a second civil war was very likely. However, a historian professor from Boston University, Nina Silber, does not think America is heading for a civil war. Yet, Barbara Walter, a political science professor from the University of California at San Diego, believes the US has risk factors for heading toward insurgency (a type of civil war).


In South America, drug wars are present in Mexico and Colombia. Finally, Columbia is not only in a drug war but also a civil war.


Though this may be frightening, fear not, for Jesus told us not to worry about these signs. Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 quote Jesus as saying fear not, for these things must come to pass, but the end is not near. In addition, Jesus also told us that we are precious to the Lord our God and that we should not worry about our lives, or what to eat, or drink, or what to wear (Matthew 6:25). “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:32).



3. Famines, Pestilences, and Earthquakes

According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the “beginning of sorrows” will also contain famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. Here are the passages from the gospels:


“And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7).


“And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles.” (Mark 13:8).


“And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences” (Luke 21:11).


A. Famines

There are famines referenced in the Holy Bible. A brief list provided below describes some of them:

  • Abraham’s time in Canaan (modern-day southeastern Turkey) (see Genesis 12).

  • A famine is recorded during Joseph’s time in Egypt (Genesis 41)

  • In Jeremiah’s time in Judah (Jeremiah 14).


It is hypothesized that there was a global famine between 2200-2100 BC. Evidence is from geological information and ancient records. Even Ancient Rome had its first recorded famine in 441 BC. From that time until now, there have been 257 famines that have been recorded. However, of the 257 famines in history, 64 have occurred in the past 100 years (from 1922 until the time that I drafted this article (10/1/2022)). Think about that for a moment: a quarter of the famines in the world have occurred in the last century!


Recorded famines are found across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Some famines also affected island nations such as Cuba and Japan. Iceland has a recorded famine that resulted from a volcanic eruption in 1783. The famines, in general, were caused by natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and droughts. Man-made disasters like war, blockages, dams, and sanctions also caused droughts.



Dried riverbed
Photo Credit: Wix Media.

B. Pestilences

We know the most present pestilence took its ugly form as the current pandemic known as COVID-19. However, HIV/AIDS has killed almost one million people yearly since 1981, leading to 40.1 million deaths as of 2021. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has killed about 7 million people since 2019, and the World Health Organization said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching (CNN).


The fact is that pestilences have been recorded since the Antonine Plague with smallpox in Rome from 165-180 A.D. The pandemics with at least one million deaths have consisted of the following:

  • Bubonic plague

  • Influenza

  • Cocoliztli

  • Smallpox/measles

  • Typhus

  • Cholera

  • HIV/AIDS

  • COVID-19

In recorded history, there have been 249 pandemics since 1200 B.C. These events do not consist of localized endemics, of which countless amounts exist. However, do not fear this, for the Holy Bible says this about pestilences:


He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”


Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.


Psalm 91:1-6



If you have COVID-19 or any other pestilences, do not worry, for there is another passage for that:

‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’

2 Chronicles 20:9



C. Earthquakes

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a database that shows you the latest earthquakes ranging in magnitude. This database shows earthquakes not just within the United States but around the world. On October 1, 2022, there were 53 recorded earthquakes. The magnitudes of those earthquakes range from 2.5 (10 km NE of Pāhala, Hawaii) to 5.7 (27 km from Kushima, Japan). In addition to the database, the USGS has a list and a map of the latest earthquakes.



A map displaying the largest earthquakes in the world. The image was developed by the USGS
Source: United States Geolgocial Survey (USGS)


However, there have been far more than 20 large earthquakes. Look at the map below:



Earthquakes around the world greater than a 6 magnitude
Earthquakes around the world greater than a 6 magnitude. Data Source: USGS

Earthquakes 6.0 and higher worldwide from 1900 to 2017. Source: By Phoenix7777 - Own work Data source: Search Earthquake Archives, USGSKml data (earthquake.usgs.gov/fdsnws/event/1/query.kml&kmlcolorby=age?starttime=1900-01-01 00:00:00&endtime=2017-12-31 23:59:59&minmagnitude=6&orderby=magnitude-asc), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65386375i



The data tells us as Christians that earthquakes have occurred on every single continent since at least 1900. These earthquakes are some of the largest in our history and have occurred in “various places” (Matthew 24:7). As Christians, we must watch these signs and not ignore the smaller events.


In Massachusetts, United States, a 1.8 earthquake was recorded by the USGS a week ago. However, in 2020, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake was recorded off the coast of New Bedford, MA. People as far west as Hartford, CT, and Springfield, MA, reported feeling mild shaking. People as far north near Nashua, NH, also reported mild shaking (Patch, 4.0 Earthquake in Massachusetts: Shaking Felt Across New England, dated 11/8/2020).


Conclusion

Are we in the “beginning of sorrows,” as Jesus Christ described in the Gospels of His Disciples? Though I did provide evidence of recorded events and compared them with passages from the Holy Bible, I want you to draw your own conclusions through prayer and reading the Holy Bible. Once you do this, please conduct and verify your research. Beloved, I want to pray for you now so that this may be so:


In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and be led to pray and read the Holy Bible; that you will receive the spiritual gifts of wisdom and understanding. Amen!


And if you have not accepted Jesus Christ in your life as your savior, then I pray in the name of Jesus Christ that you accept Him as your Savior now by praying this:



God, I confess that Jesus came in the flesh and blood, paid the price for my sins, died on the cross, rose on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and sent the Holy Spirit to help me understand Your ways. For that, I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord, and I welcome the Holy Spirit in my life. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!


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