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What are the Birth Pains?

The concept of birth pains permeates the Bible, beginning with Eve and culminating with the Great Tribulation in the New Testament. We will start with Eve, and then examine birth pains in the Great Tribulation.

To the woman God said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Gen 3:16

The key to this verse is not the pain, but the birth of new life that follows the pain. This new birth will bring forth righteous ones who will be able to come into the presence of the Righteous God.

The New Testament tells us that believers in Christ have been “born again, not of seed which is perishable but imperishable” (1Pe 1:23). However, this is not the FINAL new birth of righteousness, but only a witness and foretaste of what is coming. The seed has been planted, but has not yet sprouted to become new life.

We are also told that the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pe 1:3). The Greek word translated “hope” refers to something still future. Our belief in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the promise of future resurrection from the dead.

Today we are still in the pains of childbirth as the Apostle Paul explains.

“We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:22-23).

Thus, we are still waiting eagerly for the redemption of our bodies. The hope of the final birth of new life is yet before us. So, what are we supposed to do today? We must learn to overcome the pains of childbirth that are caused by ungodly thoughts and actions, and we have the first fruits of the Spirit to guide us in the ways of God.

We are ready now to return to our foundational verse in Genesis. “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The “children” are the righteous ones who will be born to a new life of righteousness, which is a vision of where God is leading His creation and His created beings. During this process, we must travail in the pain of childbirth as we grow in our ability to walk in the ways of God.

Now take a careful look at “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” If you have interpreted these words exclusively to a marriage relationship, you have missed the point of the passage. Marriage, when lived according to a godly pattern, is a type and shadow of God’s relationship with His people. The Hebrew word translated “your husband” is אִישֵׁךְ (ishech), which actually means “your man.” There is another common word for husband, which is בַּעַל (ba’al). So, I suggest that the deeper meaning of  “your man” is the Messiah. Then we have the concept of “desire”, which in Hebrew is a longing to be with someone, that is, to be one with the Messiah, your Lord Yeshua. The only way to be one with Him is to submit to His rule and authority, that is, to permit Him to rule over you.

So, we are now in the pain of childbirth. When will the birth occur? Certainly there will be new birth emerging at the time of the Great Tribulation. In the Book of Revelation we see a woman giving birth, whom Satan, the dragon, is doing everything in his power to destroy. Yet, after an intense struggle that requires overcoming extreme trial and tribulation, we read, “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17). The word translated “rest” is identified in the Septuagint translation with the Hebrew word for “remnant”. So, the dragon made war with the “remnant” of her children, and this remnant had “kept the commandments of God” and had “held to the testimony of Jesus.”

We can now see that there is a meaningful purpose for the pains of childbirth. We can learn how to overcome these trials by “keeping the commandments of God and holding to the testimony of Jesus.” Do you want to be part of the remnant, which I have concluded are those who will enter the Millennial Kingdom? The remnant are not the only ones who will be saved, but I do believe that the remnant has a future role to play in God’s great plan of redemption. If we can perceive what is coming, this will increase the “desire for our Lord and Master Yeshua who will rule over us.” And perhaps we will be with Him when he defeats Satan at the end of the Great Tribulation.