We have a natural tendency to think that times don’t change, but they do. Next year will not be like this year, just as this year is not like last year. Everything around us is changing all the time because time doesn’t stand still. Challenges arise as time moves on. Smart people know to take a step back from time to time, to view things in a broader context.
One of the reasons why king David was so successful, is the men that he gathered around him. The sons of Issachar were in that group. They took note of what happened around them to inform themselves and stay ahead of the curve:
…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do… 1 Chronicles 12:32
A small line hidden in a single verse, but packed with wisdom and power. If you don’t know what is going on, tough times that were in the making might catch you unawares, and you won’t know what to do because you didn’t prepare for it. The Pharisees were educated in their Scriptures, but they did not pay attention to their day in history. They should have known that the Messiah would come in their time because of earlier prophecies, but they didn’t. Maybe they were too busy with growing their following. Although it was a very important time in the history of Israel and the world, they missed it, and Jesus rebuked them for that:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44
It was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the crowd worshipped Him as king – a day that Daniel prophesied about in astounding detail. Zechariah 9:9 even says that He would come to them, riding on a donkey. Their failure to understand the significance of that day resulted in untold misery for the Jewish nation. Seventy years later their nation was attacked and they were dispersed abroad to every known nation. From that time on the Jews lived in exile until 1948 when Israel was again established as a nation, and they began to return home. The consequences of their ignorance took centuries to be reversed.
We find ourselves at a very crucial time in the history of the world, and we need to understand where we are on God’s calendar, and what we ought to do. Things are changing rapidly, and it is clear that we are moving into an era that will be very different from what we are used to. It is time to pay attention.
The timeline of history, viewed in the context of the prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments, helps us to locate ourselves on God’s calendar.
We are now in the church era, also known as the Time of the Gentiles. The Jews, because they did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, find themselves outside of God’s grace for the time being, but they will return to Him at a later stage. For now, it is our turn, but it will not last forever as time is moving on and the era of grace will also come to an end, as the verse below indicates:
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25
The church era began on the Day of Pentecost, and will end when we will be gathered to Him, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:1. The question is when this will happen, which is why we need to have “understanding of the times.” Understanding of our times provokes us to take action. The Bible gives us many signs by which we can recognize the end of the present era in prophecies of the Old Testament, conversations that Jesus had with His disciples, and the writings of some of the apostles. There really is no reason why any Christian should be ignorant about the present time.
As we begin to study the last days of this dispensation, things may look vague, and hard to understand, but the picture becomes clearer as time rolls on and with the changes that take place. The important thing is to “abide in the Word” and keep our eyes open. The Bible tells us what will happen while the daily news tells us when it happens.
Since it is clear that we have arrived at the end of an era, it is important that we know about the events that are about to happen. How do we connect the dots between the news of the day and the message of the Bible?
- Be a friend of God
God reveals His plans to His friends. (See James 2:23)
And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing… For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Genesis 18:17 & 18
Daniel, a man called “greatly beloved” several times by the angel that spoke with him, received very detailed visions about the last days. God had it recorded because He wanted us to know!
Jesus called His disciples His friends, and told them everything that He heard from the Father:
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 14:14,15
The apostle John, who referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” received the vision in the book of Revelation, (John 21:20)
- Abide in the Word
If you know what the Bible says about the last days, you will notice when you see it drawing close, and you will not be deceived by the rampant fake news that we are being distracted by.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31,32
- The Holy Spirit will tell you
The Holy Spirit is a great teacher, and He will open your understanding as you study the Scriptures.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
We understand the present season because we are friends with God, not the world!