Review of the Last Lesson:
In the last lesson (Lesson 1: Why every Christian should Study End Times Prophecy), we talked about the necessity and urgency of the message of End Times Prophecy for today. The world is looking for answers, and the Word of God is our best source to provide to the world the answers it needs. Some reasons why End Times Prophecy is not taught or not embraced in the Churches today were also discussed. Furthermore, seven reasons were given why every Christian should study End Times Prophecy. Lastly, the interested student of Eschatology is encouraged to pursue this deep study not for mere intellectual pursuit, but most and above all to pursue intimacy with the Lord to the Glory of His Name.
The issue of knowing the time of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is a major offense to many Christians and Churches, and this alone makes the greatest reason why the Church is not willing nor interested in studying End Times Prophecy. This issue of discerning the time of the Lord’s Second Coming should be addressed as early as possible before we can proceed to the next lessons. If you are feeling offended or hostile right now, I ask you humbly to please give Lessons 2 and 3 (these two lessons go hand-on-hand like twins) a careful thinking and heartfelt prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to illumine your mind and understanding, and ignite your heart for passion in seeking the truth.
Let me first give a big clarification: when I say of the “time and season”, I do not mean to say the “day and hour”. Again, let me say this differently: the “time and season” is different from the “day and hour”! To propose that we can certainly know the “day and hour” or even “the day” (but the Word of God clearly says both the day and the hour, Matt. 24:36) of His Second Coming is to go against the clear teaching of the Bible, for only our God knows the exact day and hour.
Now that it is clear that we are not to pursue the “day and hour”, but only the “time and season” of our Lord’s appointed return to establish His Eternal Kingdom, what then is a time and season, according to the Bible? Let me first give some illustrations from everyday life before I give examples from the Bible.
A time and season could be illustrated to a literal season or a fixed kind of climate for an extended period of time a country is experiencing. Here in my country the Philippines, during the months of April and May, we experience the dry season or summer, and the rest is the wet season.
A time and season could also be illustrated not just by the type of weather or climate or season, but by the atmosphere of emotion evading a group of people. For example, last September 13, 2019, our Father God took away the life of my father to be with Him, and the succeeding nights were a season of grieving and sorrow for the whole family.
Furthermore, a time and season could also mean the activities that we have been accustomed to do for a certain time of the year. For example, the Philippines, being an agricultural country, plants rice for two to three times in a year and they are seasons of planting, and of course, there are also seasons of harvesting.
Now, let us describe what a time and season is in Biblical terms. Actually, a time and season in the Bible could pertain to a few days or weeks, a few years, or many years depending on the context and the purpose of the Lord for that specific time and season. Strictly speaking, the context of the Scriptural passage concerned will determine the span of time a time and season has.
Let us take for example, a time and season in the context of Ecclesiastes 3. We read in the first eight verses:
Eccl 3:1-8 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
In those verses, the context is very personal in application, and the span of time required for each time and season is very subjective depending on the life of the reader. We may imply on those verses that each one of us is expected to act accordingly to the situation (time and season) that we are in (Ecc. 3:1), and the right decision is for us to choose, like: is this the best time to keep or to cast away (Ecc. 3:6)?
Now, let us have a bigger Biblical example, one that concerns Israel and the whole world, the First Coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah:
Luke 12:54-56 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
In these verses, the time and season pertains to the First Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was expecting that the Jews (His disciples and the common people in this context and not the spiritual leaders) of His day would be able to discern that specific event. In this context of time and season, it spans several years, dating back from His birth, that even the wise men from the East who were not Jews were able to predict the time of His birth (2 B.C) by observing the skies (Matt. 2:9) and tying it up with Old Testament Prophecy (Num. 24:17), up to His historical Death and Resurrection (33 A.D.).
Furthermore, let us take for example a time and season that pertains to a future event – the Day of the Lord, where Jesus will come the second time to bring judgement to the unrepentant and rewards to the faithful:
2Pet 3:8-10 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
This particular time and season could span a period of seven years and more, starting in the seven-year Tribulation up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Judgement Day (the Great White Throne Judgement and the Judgement Seat of Christ).
Overlooking our first Biblical example (Ecc. 3:1-8) because of its very personal and subjective life application, let us bear in mind two general observations to the last two given examples of Biblical time and season:
1.) The exact day and hour for the beginning of their fulfillment could not possibly be determined for the Bible student until it happens; and,
2.) Their span of time of progressive fulfillment can be several years.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that the fulfillment of a Biblical time and season could be determined by observing the fulfillment of its signs and prophecies. So, we may give this definition for time and season: “A Biblical time and season is a specific span of time characterized by the fulfillment of all specific signs and prophecies assigned to it as given by the Bible.”
Now that we know what a time and season is according to the Bible, let us now try to answer Biblically why every Christian should keep watch for the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming. There are certain Biblical reasons that will motivate us for a bluish-hot pursuit of waiting for our Lord Jesus. Actually, the seven reasons mentioned in Lesson 1 why every Christian should study End Times Prophecy could also be given, but let us discuss some reasons that pertain directly to His Second Coming:
1.) We keep watch of the Lord’s Second Coming because we love to see the Lord Jesus! Or to put in other words, using the words of the Bible: We “love His appearing”!
2Tim 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
This reason alone should be enough reason why we should wait for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus! After John the Beloved Apostle saw the glorious Day of the Lord in a vision while in Patmos (Rev. 1:1-9), he had this ecstatic statement:
Rev 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
This is our blessed hope: to see Jesus and be with Him for our full redemption (Titus 2:13)!
2.) We keep watch of the Lord’s Second Coming because the whole of creation, including us, the children of God, groan in pain waiting for our full redemption in Christ:
Rom 8:21-23 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
2Cor 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
These verses tell us that a certain time and season will come, that the whole of creation and us the saints included will be redeemed fully from the corruption of this world, and that would come to reality when Christ comes to take us fully as His adopted children. We have all experienced pain and suffering, and we long in our hearts for all of this to end and that is possible only when the glory of Christ and us as God’s children are revealed. The time will come, very soon, that we will possess heavenly bodies free from any form of corruption, and we shall dwell in perfect love and peace with our Creator God.
3.) We keep watch of the Lord’s Second Coming because Jesus Himself commanded us to!
Matt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
There are many others as commanded by Jesus: Luke 21:36; Matt. 25:13; Mark 13:33; and Luke 12:40. Even the Apostle Paul said the same command:
1Thess 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
If you shall read the whole chapters and contexts of these verses, it will be clear that Jesus is calling out to those who really love and anticipate His return that keeping watch is an outward indication of their love for Him, and that would produce in them the desire to serve (Luke 12:37) and to stay holy and untainted from the evil of this world (1 Thess. 5:4-8) while waiting.
4.) We keep watch of the Lord’s Second Coming because He will reward those who are awake, and warned us soberly if He catches us sleeping!
Luke 12:35-38 Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
Luke 12:43-46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.
These verses tell of the future rewards waiting for those who keep watch for our Lord’s return: they will be granted to dine with Him in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9), and to reign with Him during the Millennial Reign (Rev. 20:4-5). However, those who do not keep watch will be treated like the unbelievers or the unfaithful (Luke 12:46).
Truly, the pain, sacrifice and effort that are needed for watching the return of Jesus is never an excuse to stay passive and not watchful, or in the word of Scriptures, “sleeping”. Rather, Jesus and His early followers call us out to be “awake and sober”, at all times. It is my prayer that not anyone of us will be led astray by those who teach that keeping watch for our Lord’s Second Coming is unnecessary or nonsense – choosing to be sleeping is unbiblical!
In the next lesson, we will discuss how and why the Bible tells us that it is indeed biblically possible to discern the time and season when our Lord Jesus Christ would return.
Let us pray:
"Lord God our Father, thank You for giving us the Blessed Hope that someday soon, we will be with our Lord Jesus and enter into His Joy and Glory. Help us to untangle ourselves from the dirt of the flesh and of this world, and give us a heart that is awake and sober at all times, to stand firm unwavering in faith, and continuously growing in love and holiness, through Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name. To You alone be the Glory, forever and ever, Amen!”