24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 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. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
The kind of things Jesus mentions in this section are not the things that specific signs of the end. Things like false messiahs, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes have certainly marked man’s history since the time of Jesus’ Ascension – but were not specific signs of the end. In effect, Jesus says “Catastrophes will happen, but these will not signal the end.”
Though none of those events are the specific sign of the end of the age, collectively they are a sign. When Jesus described these calamities as the beginning of sorrows He literally called them the beginning of labor pains. Just as is true with labor pains, we should expect that the things mentioned – wars, famines, earthquakes, and so on – would become more frequent and more intense before the return of Jesus – without any one of them being the specific sign of the end.
What should our response be if there were an increased frequency and intensity of the mentioned signs?