Prophecy Sign 8: The Beginning of the Birth Pangs
All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
At the beginning of Daniel's 70th week we will observe a sharp increase in false teachers, wars, rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes. These sufferings represent the 4 horsemen of the Book of Revelation. These birth pangs will be mild in comparison to the Great Tribulation (hard labor) and the Day of the Lord which will result in Israel's spiritual salvation (birth).
I would consider that the birth pangs have begun in light of recent disasters (Tsunamis, earthquakes, wars in Middle east etc.). The first four horsemen/seals are progressive judgments. They commence and then will grow in intensity all the way up to the point that the beginning of the 1,260 day great tribulation.
REVELATION CHAPTER 6
The Opening of the Seven-Sealed Scroll
Donnie's Teaching Notes
In Revelation 6, John begins his description of Daniel’s 70th week with the opening of the seven-sealed scroll, also known as the “large scroll.” Each seal on the outside of the large scroll represents an event associated with Antichrist’s reign upon the earth during the End Times. All seven seals must be broken before the large scroll is opened and God brings His final judgment upon the wicked, Antichrist and his kingdom. Jesus alone is able to break open the seven seals. When all seven seals are broken, the large scroll will open and the final judgment of the end of the age will occur.
Daniel 9:27 reveals that the Antichrist will come to power as he negotiates a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. The signing of this 7-year covenant is the catalyst event that marks the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. The signing of the 7-year covenant will also signal Antichrist’s rise to power. Immediately after the 7-year covenant is signed, Jesus will begin to open the seven-sealed scroll, breaking each seal one at a time. The seals will introduce great turmoil and pain to the world by means of deception, war, famine, death, martyrdom, cosmic disturbances and ultimately the trumpet and bowl judgments -- when the Day of God’s Wrath is revealed.
The seals of Revelation 6 are the exact same prophetic signs of the End Times, in the exact same sequence, as those given to us by Jesus in Matthew 24 (The Olivet Discourse). In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave a broad overview of each event; Revelation 6 provides us with more detail. In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked the question, “What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” In response, Jesus gave his disciples a list of specific signs that will precede His return and indicate to believers whether they were living in the End Times. These are the same signs that John observed and later recorded in the Book of Revelation.
Matthew 24 runs parallel to Revelation 6 (the first six seals), and by comparing each account, we are better able to understand the specific end times signs we are to look for, which will precede Jesus' Second Coming. These signs include the Rise of the Antichrist, War by the Antichrist, the establishing of the Antichrist’s kingdom, Famine created by the Antichrist, Major Earthquakes, Antichrist declaring himself God in the newly built temple in Israel, Death of Millions, unprecedented persecution and Martyrdom in the Church, and Cosmic signs in the skies. These are the specific signs that will precede Jesus’ Second Coming.
The End Times will begin with a period known as the Beginning of the Birth Pangs. The Beginning of the Birth Pangs will last 3 ½ years. The Beginning of the Birth Pangs will be followed by a second 3 ½ year period, which will include the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. It is important to note that each time period is associated with great wrath.; the Beginning of the Birth Pangs = Man's Wrath, specifically, the wrath of one man – Antichrist. The Great Tribulation = Satan's Wrath, specifically his persecution of God’s people, Israel and the Church. The Day of the Lord = God's Wrath. Therefore, the opening of the first six seals, and the catastrophic events associated with them, do not represent God’s wrath.
The Church will undergo intense suffering and persecution during the opening of the first six seals. The purpose of this final trial will be to refine and purify the Church, the Bride of Christ, prior to the Rapture. Jesus gave us these prophetic signs of His coming so that, as believers, we can be prepared during the most cataclysmic, devastating and dangerous time in the history of the world. The Church must be prepared spiritually, emotionally and physically to face the rise of Antichrist, war, world famine, natural disasters, and possibly, martyrdom. Jesus will remove the Church (via the Rapture) immediately before the 7th seal is broken – before He pours out His final trumpet and bowl judgments, which constitute the “Day of God’s Wrath.”
The First Seal
The first seal is a white horse and rider, symbolizing false religious leaders, and ultimately the greatest deceiver of all time, the Antichrist.
Mt. 24:  Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many.”
 I watched as the Lamb (Jesus Christ) opened the first of the seven seals. (Remember: Jesus is only opening the first seal on the large scroll – not the scroll itself) Then I heard one of the four living creatures (The Cherubim, the angelic beings of Revelation  say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” (The Greek translation is closer to “get going” or “hurry up”. Jesus opens the first seal and gives His authorization – or his permission – for the white horse and rider to begin riding)  I looked, and there before me was a white horse! (The white horse represents deception because Antichrist is the counterfeit to Jesus Christ who rides a white horse with truth. See Rev 19:11. Many false teachers will appear on the scene right after the signing of the seven-year covenant) Its rider (the rider of the white horse is a powerful demon representing the Antichrist. Antichrist, the future ruler of the earth, will be the ultimate deceiver - a false teacher and a counterfeit messiah who is empowered by Satan) held a bow, (the arrow-less bow symbolizes the threat of warfare. But note that the rider – Antichrist - has no arrows, indicating in the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, Antichrist will conquer less by bloodshed and more by diplomacy: Specifically, Antichrist will come to power through skilled diplomacy as he negotiates a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. This peace treaty marks the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. See Dan 9:27. Although the treaty will be praised as a sign of peace, it will actually be a covenant of death. See Isaiah 28:15-18. Antichrist is crafting a false, insincere and short-lived peace for the chaotic Middle East) and he was given a crown, (Antichrist will begin to conquer the world posing as the protector of Israel. This victory crown demonstrates that he has earned political prominence and the right to rule the entire Earth) and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (After the covenant is ratified, Antichrist will break the 7-year agreement and world conquest will be revealed as his ultimate goal. Overnight, Antichrist will become ferociously war-like and will quickly rise to total world power through a 10-nation empire. See Rev 13:1-2, 7.)
The Second Seal
The second seal is a red horse and demonic rider, symbolizing bloodshed and war.
Mt 24:  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
 When the Lamb opened the second seal, (the “beginning birth pangs” continue) I heard the second living creature (the second Cherubim) say, “Come!” (Again, “come forward” or “get going”)  Then another horse came out, a fiery red one (representing war and blood). Its rider was given power (Jesus alone has the authority to break the seals and “allow” the Antichrist to gain power as a part of God’s prophetic plan for the End Times) to take peace from the earth (Clearly suggesting that Antichrist’s influence will be worldwide) and to make men slay each other. (As Antichrist gains more power, he will force the world into intense, violent warfare. His rise to power will include a treacherous invasion of Israel. His negotiated 7-year “peace treaty” will be ignored as he aggressively consolidates his 10-nation empire, from which he will eventually rule the entire world. See Rev 17:12-13, Dan 11:40-45) To him was given a large sword. (He will possess some kind of powerful weapon allowing him to defeat his enemies. One can only imagine, given today’s technological advances, what this weapon will be. It unleashes extreme forms of bloodshed coming from war and violence.)
The Third Seal
The third seal is a black horse and rider, symbolizing famine and economic crisis.
Mt. 24:7-8:  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains. (All these things - the rise of Antichrist and the wars and famines associated with Antichrist - are merely the Beginning of the Birth Pangs. The analogy is to childbirth; although the contractions of the first three seals are painful, things are going to get a lot worse, and the pain will intensify, as each progressive seal is broken. The birth pangs will escalate into “hard labor” as we enter the Great Tribulation.)
 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature (the third Cherubim) say, “Come!” (Come Forth!) I looked, and there before me was a black horse! (Symbolizing famine and economic distress that will occur as a result of the worldwide wars) Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand (The balance scales are a symbol of rationing and famine. At the time the third seal is broken, the world will be in its greatest economic crisis, with severe famine, all due to wars, rumors of wars, and destructive earthquakes. Antichrist will continue to gain power and, somehow, takes control of the food supplies – this could have something to do with the powerful weapon referenced above. Antichrist will be the most powerful man in the history of the world and the final Gentile ruler of the earth) 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures (John heard a voice from among the four Cherubim announcing conditions of famine), saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, (Famine and inflation at its highest – work all day to afford food for one person) and do not damage the oil and the wine!" (Wheat, barley, oil and wine are among the common necessities essential to normal lives of most ordinary people.)