It is interesting that the dangers secular scholars see as threatening the world or the survival of humanity are remarkably parallel to the dangers Jesus told us to take note of as reminders of his return. They include earthquakes, war, disease and events that could perhaps describe asteroid strikes on earth. The scholars add volcanos, climate change etc. I regularly stress that these events are not to be regarded as signs of Jesus’ imminent return but as reminders that he is coming back. In Jewish tradition they are known as birth pangs of the Messiah.
The 3rd-4th century Jewish scholar Rabbah is asked in the Talmud why he doesn’t want to meet the Messiah. The questioner says: “Shall we say, because of the birth pangs [preceding the advent] of the Messiah? … What must a man do to be spared the pangs of the Messiah? Let him engage in study and benevolence.”
Esther Jungreis, a prominent contemporary Jewish teacher, writes of turbulent global events, natural disasters, war etc., and comments that God is bringing the world closer to a process called “chevlei Mashiach” – “the labor pains of the arrival of Messiah.” She added: “All our [sages] agree…they do not want to be present for the chevlei Mashiach, the birth pangs, because the birth pangs are going to be very painful.”