(By Britt Gillette) When Jesus was asked what would signal His return and the end of the age, He said to look for a number of signs. One of those signs was the appearance of earthquakes (Matthew 24:7). But what does that mean? After all, earthquakes have been a part of human life since Adam and Eve. They aren’t rare. The Bible says they appeared in the days of Amos (Amos 1:1) and King Saul (1 Samuel 14:15). They appeared in the days of Paul and Silas (Acts 16:26). And non-biblical history tells us earthquakes shook ancient China, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, and other nations.

In 1906, a devastating earthquake hit San Francisco. It toppled almost every building in the city and killed over 3,000 people. In short, earthquakes have been a part of life since the beginning of human civilization. So if we’ve always had earthquakes, how can they possibly be a sign of the Second Coming? That’s a great question. Fortunately, Jesus gave us the answer. Earthquakes in general are NOT a sign of His return. But according to Jesus, earthquakes occurring in a certain pattern are

Signs Of Labor Pains

Jesus cited a number of signs to look for. Among them are the appearance of earthquakes, famines, wars, and false messiahs. Jesus knew these signs had always been present. So He wasn’t saying their appearance alone will signal His return. Instead, He said to look for them in a distinct pattern. He said they would arrive like “birth pains.” But what does this mean? What could these general signs possibly have in common with birth pains? Only this – birth pains, or labor contractions, are sharp pains. They increase in both frequency and intensity right before birth. In other words, the signs Jesus mentioned will appear with greater frequency and intensity right before His return.

Looking for the Pattern

This means earthquakes (or even what seems to be a numerical increase in the number of earthquakes) are NOT a sign of the Second Coming. Instead, Jesus said to look for an increase in the frequency of large earthquakes. Such an increase will fit the pattern Jesus described – a pattern of more frequent intense events rising toward a climax. CONTINUE