Lesson Seventeen


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Memory Verse: Luke 21:31
Further Study: Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:3-27; Luke 21:1-28; The Desire of Ages, pp. 627-634, The Bible Story, vol. 8, pp. 155-169

You may have heard of an event that happened in 1844. A man by the name of William Miller studied the prophecies of Daniel and determined that Jesus’ second coming was near. He first calculated the event to be in 1843, but later the date was moved to October 22, 1844. Followers, called Millerites, looked forward with great anticipation to Jesus’ return, only to be disappointed when He didn’t. Ever since this date is often referred to as “The Great Disappointment.”

My church denomination came out of this Millerite movement. Many who suffered keen disappointment after waiting all day and night for Jesus to come, came together, studied the Bible, and a large Adventist (believers in the Second Coming) movement resulted. Early in our church’s history a small paper was started to help connect the scattered members. That once little paper, now a magazine, is still being printed today and I work as part of the editorial team. We celebrate our 175th birthday in July 2024. 

You will find one thing as a constant reminder—Jesus is coming again.

If you read some of the earlier copies of that little paper, you’ll find one thing as a constant reminder—Jesus is coming again. There were warnings to be prepared. Secular news headlines were used as examples that Jesus was returning. And there were regular reminders of how many years had passed since 1844. Obviously, we’re still here, still printing, and Jesus hasn’t come.

Yet Jesus did something similar in Matthew 24. He gave specific examples of what to look for. He warned His disciples about the Christian church that would emerge, and to watch because He would return. Constant reminders that He’s coming again. But in verse 8, Jesus used an example familiar to many of us—these signs are the beginning of sorrows, or in the original language—birth pains.

When we think of birth pains, we tend to think more of the result—the baby. 

When we think of birth pains, we tend to think more of the result—the baby. But that isn’t how Jesus is using the example. He’s referencing the steady waves that come again and again. I attended the birth of my latest grandchild. Labor was first irregular and then as the birth became more and more imminent, the labor pains intensified rolling one into the other with little respite between. It’s the same for us. We live in a world that is intensifying in its sin. Wave after wave hits the headlines, and more of it begins to impact us personally, or our family and friends. Some women labor a few short hours (my first was born in two hours, start to finish) and others labor for days, we can all be sure that at the end of labor a baby will come. Our world is the same. Some of us may feel a barrage of sin, knocked down time and time again, while others might have an easier experience, but we can be assured that just as labor brings forth a child, sin will end when Jesus comes.

We can be assured that just as labor brings forth a child, sin will end when Jesus comes.

I remember birth pains. I remember wanting them to stop as they intensified. But I also remember the joy of the baby’s arrival and how the pain receded into the background. One day this will be the same for us. Jesus will come. There will be no more pain, more joy than we can imagine, and we will be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

It is now Tuesday evening in the last week of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus has surprised the disciples by riding into Jerusalem as a king. He further surprised them by once again clearing the temple. But the most astonishing moment came earlier that day when Jesus bluntly spoke to the Jewish leadership in a boldness, they had not heard from Him before. Now Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives when four disciples, Peter, James, John, and Andrew (the original four) come and ask Jesus to specifically tell them “When will this happen?” and “What will be the sign?”

The Olivet Discourse is Jesus’ response. It is a lengthy answer. What is interesting is that it isn’t given to a large crowd, but a small group—but very important people. What they do not know is that time is short. Jesus will die three days later. From Jesus’ perspective it was one of His last opportunities to teach them so they would be prepared.


Making it Real

This week access the news at least once each day—whether on the television, radio, internet, or newspaper. Write down the top three headlines or at least what is occupying most of the discussion for that day. How are these headlines similar to what is recorded in the Gospels? Are you and your family affected by the headlines? Why or why not? Should you be?

Have you given birth? This is a good time to remember and review your birth story (all of them). In what ways was your labor like the ever-mounting sin in this world? In what ways did you feel during labor and then once the baby had arrived? If you have more than one child, was it the same feelings or was it different?



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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