Change is a word that describes life for many as 2009 draws to a close. Modern Israel as a restored nation has been marked by practically constant change in practically every sector of society. Of course, Israeli geopolitics can and do change swiftly. Since we’ve arrived, Jewish neighborhoods (aka “settlements”) in Jerusalem are now the obstacle du jour to world peace. Israel’s only reliable friend in the region—Turkey—has suddenly aligned with Iran. Change is literally in the air as we brace for a nuclear Iran. On a more mundane level, in this country, bank hours change, traffic rules and bus routes change, socialized medical access changes, postal regulations change, public services change—all typically without advance notice or warning. In short, one thing Israelis are certain of is change. As a result, we often have very little control over our daily lives. In this context, we’ve seen that whatever the change, when we surrender all to Him, God’s grace is more than sufficient in any circumstance.
Change should not surprise the people of God, nor should the escalation of change at this time in history. Infinity is infiltrating earth today in answer to the prayers of past millennia: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The King is coming—in glorious Person—as this present age transitions to the next. But as in the natural, so it is in the supernatural; there is no birth without blood, guts and, yes, even pain.
One day Yeshua took His disciples to the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem for a Bible study. “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” they asked (Matthew 24:3).
The Master did not deny the premise of the question. Indeed, He would come at the end of the age. It would be wise to know the signs heralding the event. So He answered the disciples promptly and to the point. First, He said, would come wide-scale deception, then wars, famines and earthquakes. These would be only the beginning of “birth pains.”
The Greek word translated “birth pains” in many modern Bible versions is odin. Odin refers to odious distress. It is translated “sorrows” by the King James Version and “horrors” by others. All versions can be considered correct, but the usage of “birth pains” captures a vital point. The odious distress or suffering is related to the inception of something new—a birth. The word odin directs our vision beyond the travail or temporary affliction to something ahead much greater and grander.
Yeshua said that a steadfast heart, fixated not on the odin but on its goal, will stay the course. What is that goal? God’s Kingdom is coming. It is an unshakeable dominion ordered by love (Matthew 22:37-40; 1 John 4:8, 16; 1 Corinthians 13:13) and administered by those conformed to His image in love (Romans 8:29).
Love Standing Firm
Because of the increase of evil alongside good during this time, “the love of most [even believers] will grow cold.” That is a bit sobering! “But,” the Lord added, “he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
I trust you want to understand, and participate in, what God is doing in these last days. Some who have never searched out the Scriptures pertaining to this hour may find their faith wavering. Like many of the spiritual leaders of Jesus’ time, they may take conscious or unconscious offense at His sovereign, unexpectedly different ways. Their love may grow cold. Jesus cautioned this will happen to most.
But if you love the Lord and pray with even a modicum of militance, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” you do not want to risk cooling off to Him. Nor do you desire to merely wince and grit your teeth during this pivotal period of change. You want to stand firm in Kingdom fervor, substance and dimension in your life. You want revival! Your heart cries out for the manifest presence of God and the salvation of souls. You already taste the joy set before you and your King, and you’ll do what it takes for more. You want to be His spotless Bride, engaged to the end in Kingdom expansion—because you want your life spent on Him.
In the past couple of years, some have asked, “Where was God when I lost my job?” Others have wondered why, if they donated money to Christian ministries, they still suffered economic loss. Friends, could it possibly be our hearts are being tested, refined and purified? As a good Father, God disciplines—meaning disciples—His children whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). The reason may not be due to sin in our lives; even Yeshua learned obedience through suffering or discipline (Hebrews 5:8). God has assured us that if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, He’ll give us all we truly need (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, every seeming setback is, from His perspective, an opportunity for you and me to grow in love through faith, receive and mediate more of His Kingdom. God’s perspective offers the blessing of change.
Birth pains of Jesus’ resplendent return are coming fast and hard. Times are proving uniquely replete with rapid, radical change—like wide-scale financial, military and political upheavals, natural disasters, Islamic terror—and, despite sweeping moral depravity, revival of previously unimaginable magnitude. The Holy Spirit is awakening lost humanity as false gods topple, from Marxism to Muhammadism, materialism and more. God’s glory is penetrating the planet. “Hot spots” of revival, with supernatural signs and wonders, are burning on every populated continent. Kingdom expansion will continue on through end times’ birth pains, and we will increasingly access heaven right here on earth.
But this process must involve change, some of it terribly uncomfortable to our flesh. Remember, every seeming setback is, from God’s perspective, an opportunity for you and me to grow in love through faith, receive and mediate more of His Kingdom. We will learn to surrender all to Him. This is the means by which the Body of Christ will be groomed for a wondrous destiny conceived in the eternal recesses of the Godhead.
Satan is striking back, terrorized that his time is short. But the Omnipotent One is very much in control. Hell’s gory incursion will not outmatch heaven’s glorious intrusion into the affairs of nations and neighborhoods. Through increasing darkness on earth, this present generation of believers will be refined so we shine in purity and power. Learning by faith to love like never before, we will be used to prepare the way of the Lord’s return. So prepare for change. Prepare for blessing. Because when the King comes, He’s changing everything—and you’ll love it.
(Adapted from Teplinsky, Israel’s Anointing: Your Inheritance and End-Times Destiny through Israel [Chosen Books, 2008].)