Knowing The Times And Seasons
It is written,
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:”
“He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
There is a lot of interest in Bible prophecy these days for many believe that we are fast approaching the end of the age and many expect the return of Christ to happen, literally, at any moment. I remember, as a young Christian, watching such movies as “A Thief In The Night” which is a dramatization of the rapture as depicted in the book of Thessalonians. Honestly, that film scared me plenty and made me think hard about what might happen to me if the rapture took place that very night. The minister at the showing made a dramatic plea saying that if those present did not give their lives to Christ that they would be left behind to face the horrific things depicted in the film. Needless to say, many came forward and gave their lives to Christ. However, many of those conversions seemed to be made out of abject fear for their personal safety and one wonders how deep their commitment remained after the sense of an imminent rapture wore off.
That story happened nearly 30 years ago and as yet there has been no rapture. Many people predicted many Bible prophecies would soon come to pass because Israel became a nation in 1948. Jesus said that that generation would not pass away until all had been fulfilled. Those who counted themselves able to interpret scripture said that a generation was 40 years and so many predicted, in great detail, the end of the age would take place by the 1980’s. In retrospect almost nothing that those would be prophets came to pass and such books as “The Late, Great Planet Earth” written by Hal Lindsey have since fallen in to disrepute for their lack of accuracy.
Although the Bible does contain a large amount of prophetic writings people who interpret them tend to almost always get it wrong. It seems that, in every generation, there are those who try to take up a sort of pseudo mantle of old testament prophetic authority by declaring that they have the correct interpretation of end time events and people should follow them to safety. These types of usurpers are not actual prophets in any biblical sense but rather sorcerers who seek to divine the future through peering into scriptures much like witch doctors study bones cast upon the ground for portents of the future. By getting people to believe that they know the future they gain sway over those around them and lead many astray.
The truth is that prophecy is not intended to allow people to know the specifics of the future but it is designed to allow people to realize that “this is that” when events foretold by God come to pass. The fulfillment of prophecy stands as a witness that the word of God is accurate and trustworthy. The main benefit of biblical prophecy is not to know the future but to recognize the times and seasons that come to pass so that people may accept what God is doing “at that time” and act accordingly. Here is a truth,
“Prophecy is mainly good for confirmation rather than prediction.”
When God foretells the future through His prophets it is always 100% accurate. Yet, those who try to know the future through Bible prophecy are almost always 100% inaccurate. It seems even when people experience the events foretold in the Bible exactly as they are describe they still don’t get it. Why is this so? What is the disconnect that makes people so often wrong when it comes to knowing the times and seasons of God? The answer to this question is,
“Though the fulfillment of prophecy is exact many do not receive it (even when it happens to them) because they’re hearts are darkened and therefore they cannot receive nor understand what they read or even witness.”
It is written,
“I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
Even thought the Son of God stood before them they could not see Him for who He was. Even though Christ did many good works that could only be done from one sent from the Father they still wanted to stone Him. Even though Jesus fulfilled literally hundreds of prophecies those around Him could still not discern the times and seasons. The reason their eyes could not see nor their ears hear their Messiah is this,
“Understanding the times and seasons of God is not dependent upon intellectual ability but upon the condition of your heart before Him.”
It is written,
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.”
Luke 2: 25-33
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Simon and Anna knew the Christ even as a baby when all the chief priests, scribes, and pharisees could not know Him as a fully grown man. The reason that Simon and Anna knew the Christ is that it was revealed to them by the Spirit of God just like it was later revealed to Peter. The fact is that we cannot know the times and the seasons of God through our natural minds. The things of God are spiritually discerned. More than any other part of scripture this is true about Bible prophecy. Unless we are humble and deeply in prayer we cannot begin to know the deep things of God. Those who approach the interpretation of future events spoken of in the Bible without walking in the Spirit can never correctly interpret what God is saying because their hearts are darkened by reason of their arrogance.
Much of what passes for the interpretation of end time events is simply prideful people speaking vain words about things they do not fully understand. They are pretenders who parade their ignorance around like the king who had no clothes. They gather followers like some pied piper who mesmerizes them, leading them to their own destruction. They instill fear in those who follow them because they lead them to believe that they are the only true voice of God and the only way they can be safe in the coming apocalypse. All such false prophets eventually are found out and are discredited but many are lead astray and damaged by these evil men and women.
God has not given us a spirit of fear and any time those to whom you listen inspire a spirit of fear in you through their words you should test their spirits and see if they are actually of God or not. Prophecy is not to scare us by rather to encourage us that God foreknows and God forewarns. When the events that are foreseen come to pass we can rest assured that our God is with us for He has known these events would take place and has planned accordingly. Even though God determined to cleanse the Earth by a great flood God spoke to Noah and for 100 years God spoke through the building of the Ark to a generation. The message was there for all to see, it was is just that no one, except 8 individuals, had ears to hear.
In conclusion, if you wish to know what Bible prophecy really means then you must be in prayer and draw close to the heart of God. Just as God spoke of what He was about to do to His friend Abraham He will also speak to you. Just know that if you do come to understand the true meaning of what God foretells in scripture that you may not find others eager to embrace the revelation you have because their hearts may not be in the same place before God. Do not assume that because you understand they will understand. Revelation separates and, like John, you may find yourself driven into the wilderness of the church world. It is not a bad place to be, alone with God and free from the distractions of normative Christianity, but very few will understand what is happening to you. With great revelation comes great responsibility and to handle that type of calling you must seek to see yourself as you really are…poor, blind, and naked except for the covering of the Most High.