Famines and Earthquakes in Various Places
'Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 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. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.'
Verses 6-8 specify that these events are not the end, but merely the birth-pangs that bring in the Messianic age. The notion of an end-time deception and apostasy would have been well known to Matthew's readers and the issue of false prophecy was evidently an important one for Matthew. See, for example, Matthew 7:15-22.
Jesus warned that many would come claiming to be the Messiah, aiming to usurp His place. Nixon claims that there were 'a number of Messianic pretenders in the 1st century' and Russell writes of a number of prophets during this time and up until the fall of Jerusalem who 'deluded the people with promises of great events' (p.69). Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, tells us that the 'wretched people were deluded at that time by charlatans and pretended messengers of the deity.' (Quoted in Davies & Allison, p.339, n.72.)
Josephus also tells of a number of feuds and violent tumults during this time. Tacitus, a first century Roman senator and historian of the Empire, reporting on the period from AD 14 to 68, tells of disturbances in Germany, Africa and Thrace, wars in Britain and Armenia and an insurrection among the Parthians. He records a severe earthquake and a famine so serious that it almost brought Rome to its knees. That such events are predicted by Jesus should not surprise us as they are common in eschatological prophecies, and wars, famine and earthquakes belong naturally enough together. (2 Baruch 70.8 describes war, earthquake and famine as characteristics of the messianic woes. Cf. Davies & Allison, p.340. )
The Gospel will be Preached in all the Earth
The only note in vv. 4-14 that may seem difficult to square with a direct reference to the events surrounding AD 70 is that mentioned in v. 14:
'And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.' (Emphasis and translation are my own)