Appendix F: The Birth Pangs of the Messiah – from Reckoning of Time
The Chevlei Shel Mashiach
Oh! For great is that day, there is none like it. And it is the time of Ya’akov distress, but he shall be saved out of it. And it shall be in that day,’ declares Yehovah of hosts, that I break his yoke from your neck, and tear off your bonds, and foreigners no more enslave them. (Jer 30:7-8)
This refers to the Great Tribulation immediately preceding Israel’s national salvation. Both Daniel and Yeshua refer to this time as the greatest time of trouble that Israel will ever know.
And there shall be a time of distress, such as never was since there was a nation, until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book, (Dan 12:1) For then there shall be great distress, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. Except those days were few, no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the chosen those days shall be few. (Mat 24:21-22)
Many ancient sages saw in the Scriptures that the coming of the Messianic King, to establish His kingdom, would be preceded by a time of immense suffering. During this time, would travail Tziyon as though in birth pangs, when a faithful remnant of Israel is born into the Messianic age. They used two terms to describe the sufferings that would accompany the coming of King Messiah. The term Chevlo Shel Mashiach was used to describe the travail of the Messiah, while the term Chevlei Shel Mashiach was used to refer to the travail of Israel being born into the Messianic Kingdom.
In Scripture, the intense suffering, agony and distress during this time is likened to a woman that goes into labour, suffers agonizing pain, but is overjoyed at the very end, because she had given birth (Isa_66:5-9). Once labor begins, a woman can not turn back the time; she has to go through the entire process and experience intense suffering before she can experience the joy of having a baby. Accordingly, the Hebrew term for this time of tribulation when Israel would travail when it is born into the Messiah and His kingdom (Rev_12:1-6), is the Chevlei Shel Mashiach—the Birthpains of the Messiah. In the Ohr Somayach commentary on Isa_66:1-24, the sages teach on Scripture’s use of the metaphor of childbirth in relation to the coming of the Messiah:
…The prophets speak in many places about the coming of Mashiach in terms of childbirth. Someone who is ignorant of the process of childbirth and sees for the first time a woman in labour would be convinced that she is about to die. And the closer the actual moment of the birth, the stronger that impression would become. And then, within a couple of minutes, seeming tragedy has turned into the greatest joy. A new life has entered the world. This is the way Mashiach will come. The worse things become, the more painful the birth pangs, the nearer is his coming. Until, like a mother who has delivered, all the tears and pain will be forgotten in the great joy of a new life.
The astronomical sign of Rev_12:1-2 is a sign that occurred when Messiah was born and is also a sign that will occur at the beginning of Ya’akov’s Trouble. This sign now occurs on the first of the seventh month whenever it falls in late September to early October and is seen from Yerushalayim about every three years or so.
And a great sign was seen in the heaven: a woman clad with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being pregnant, she cried out in labour and in pain to give birth. (Rev 12:1-2)
What is the beginning of the birth pangs? The birth pangs occur in a significant prophetic period in which Yeshua has predicted that there would be twelve worldwide trends all occurring in the same generation and these are the beginnings of birth-pains (Mat_24:4-11; Mar_13:5-13, Luk_21:7-18): false prophets, wars, disturbances, ethnic conflict, persecution, betrayals, famines, deadly diseases, earthquakes, terrorism, great signs from heaven, and hatred. In 2Baruch 27 the end time is devided into twelve parts:
Into twelve parts is the time divided. In the first part there shall be the beginning of commotions. And in the second part: slayings of the great ones. And in the third part the fall of many by death. And in the fourth part the sending of the sword. And in the fifth part famine and the withholding of rain. And in the sixth part earthquakes and terrors. [Wanting.] And in the eighth part a multitude of ghosts and attacks of the Shedim. And in the ninth part the fall of fire. And in the tenth part plunder and much oppression (gone already). And in the eleventh part wickedness. And in the twelfth part confusion from the mingling together of all those things aforesaid so that those who are upon the earth in those days may not understand that this is the consummation of the times.
Division of Time
slayings of the great ones
fall of many by death
famine, withholding of rain
earthquakes and terror
earthquakes and terrors
ghosts and Shedim
great signs from heaven
fall of fire
plunder and oppression
Measure thou the time diligently in itself: and when thou seest part of the signs past, which I have told thee before [2Es_5:1-10, 2Es_6:12-26], Then shalt thou understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world which he made. 2Es_9:1-17