“But concerning the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night…But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thess 5:1-2,4
The Apostle Paul is exhorting those who are believers in Jesus Christ to understand the times and seasons so that we will not be caught off guard. The analogy “as a thief in the night” is describing something that happens suddenly without advance notice, something that sneaks up on you. But we are not to be unaware. God has given us His Word and His Spirit to prepare us and give us the signposts to watch for. He has told us that when we see these prophetic signs taking place, we can know that the time of Jesus’ return is drawing near. We do not need to know the exact day and hour. We need to know the season.
The signs are an expression of God’s mercy toward us so we can prepare ourselves and those around us for what is coming. If we will take the time to prepare ourselves, then we will be victorious during this time of great glory and great trouble. God’s word is a compass for us in this storm so that we can rightly interpret what we see going on around us. Studying the Word of God will give us confidence in God’s sovereignty and cause us to have an assurance of victory over every evil. It gives us revelation regarding Jesus’ beauty and the supremacy of His leadership in the crisis. It directs our prayers so that they are accurate and effective.
Many believers have at one time or another studied the Book of Revelation out of curiosity. The subject is fascinating but can sound more like a fairytale than reality. It can seem difficult to understand and therefore, the subject is relegated to a back corner of our Christian life. We know Jesus will come again, we have a few thoughts on what will happen around that time and we just hope for the best, trusting that Jesus will work it all out when the time comes. My hope and prayer today is that if you are one of those that has been content to leave the Book of Revelation tucked at the back of your Bible, you would be inspired to dust it off and bring it into the center of your life and your study time. This book, along with an enormous portion of the Old Testament prophecies, give us what we need for this crucial and glorious time in history. God has called His family members to work with Him, to be His voice in the earth, and to have answers for those that have not yet become part of His family. The Word of God tells us that in the last days, “believers will fall away, the love of many will grow cold, and some will depart from the faith giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (2 Thes 2:3, 1 Tim 4:1, Matt 24:12) We cannot just assume that we can stand based on our present level of revelation and understanding. We must constantly be refreshed and renewed in our love and our relationship with Jesus or we, too, can become offended and turn from Him. We do not yet understand the level of pressure and hardship that is coming and the Word also warns us that “our hearts are deceitfully wicked.” When pressure comes, can you stand for Jesus and be a faithful witness? The only safeguard we have is to follow the advice in Luke 12:35-36, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master…”
God is calling His anointed prophetic people to be able to understand and answer the question, “Why would a God of love allow and even orchestrate such suffering?” We must understand that the Jesus of Christmas Who brings peace and goodwill to all men who receive Him is the same God as the Jesus of Armegeddon Who confronts all who refuse His love. His Word will give us understanding to be able to answer these questions when earthquakes, floods, fires, wars, terrorism, etc. take the lives of loved ones, drive us from our homes, or leave us without financial means of survival. Much of the teaching in the Western Church has sought to downplay the suffering that Jesus promised us, the depth of persecution believers would face and the picture of Jesus as the Warrior King. Our life of comfort in the west has skewed our understanding of Scripture. Many Westerners cannot accept the fact of war at all, let alone picture their God as One Who kills and sheds blood. In our love for God, we must be loyal to the Scripture, not to human sentiment or what seems right to us based on past teachings or experience. It is time to search out the Truth in the Word and challenge ourselves. As we see the signs being lived out in the world, we must begin to “see” ourselves in the drama. We must take our modern day scenarios and conform them to God’s Word. We are no longer reading about what’s going to happen to some future generation. We are living in the midst of the end-times battle between good and evil. The whole basis for the battle is worship. Satan wants to be worshipped as God, but we are called to worship the One True God of Heaven and Earth. Every person on earth will fall to one side or the other. The battle is intensifying day by day. Are you getting ready?