Review of the Last Lesson:
In the last lesson (Lesson 2: Why every Christian should Keep Watch for the Time and Season of our Lord’s Second Coming), we talked about one great hindrance in studying End Times Prophecy: discerning the time of our Lord’s Second Coming. Therefore, clarification is made sure to differentiate what a “Biblical Time and Season” is from the “day and hour” of our Lord’s return. This is done by first giving natural everyday examples of a time and season, followed by some Biblical examples. Based from two general observations derived from the Biblical examples, a definition is given: “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.” Furthermore, four reasons were given why every Christian should keep watch for the Time and Season of our Lord’s return. Lastly, the interested student of Eschatology is encouraged to stay awake and be sober for the Lord’s return.
Now that we know from Lesson 2 that every Christian is commanded by the Bible to keep watch for the Time and Season of our Lord’s Second Coming, we will now deal with a subject of great theological debate and controversy: Can we really discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming? Is that really possible since Jesus Himself told His disciples that even the Son of man doesn’t know the “day and hour” (Matt. 24:36)? (In Lesson 2, we already discussed that the day and hour is different from a Biblical time and season.) In this lesson I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and illuminate your mind to what the Holy Scriptures is really telling the saints today: Yes, it is indeed very possible for us to discern the time and season of our Lord’s return!
We will first give some concise definitions for the three key words that we choose to be included in the title of this lesson. These three key words are:
1.) Discern – we choose this over the word ‘know’ because to ‘discern’ from the Greek word dokimazo has these several meanings: to test and prove, to verifiably approve, to examine and verify, and to test out an item. In this lesson we will indeed see that discerning the time and season of the Lord’s return is possible as the Bible proves it, and that it demands careful Scriptural Study (let Scripture interpret Scripture).
2.) Today – we choose to add the word ‘today’, because Biblically speaking, it seemed impossible to discern the time and season of the Lord’s return in the past generations. But not in this generation! In fact, we belong to the generation that will witness the fulfillment of major End Times Prophecies, like the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 24:32-34). Let me say it again: If you are reading this, you belong to that generation, unless you are of very old age or God has decided to take your physical life in a few weeks or months from now. This will be discussed and proven in Lesson 4.
3.) Could – this means the possibility to discern the time and season of our Lord’s return. It is very possible for this understanding to be known to those who are willing to discover the Biblical Truth. However, to those who have chosen to close their minds from this understanding, it will not be known to them.
Actually, the phrase time and season should be included in the list but it has already been discussed in detail in Lesson 2.
Now let us open our Bibles and keep an open mind and a prayerful heart like a modern Berean (Acts 17:10-11) as we will look to the reasons why the Bible tells us that every Christian today could discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming.
1.) Every Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming because Jesus Christ Himself commanded us to keep watch for it!
Matt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Mark 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
In those Scripture references, two things could be observed: a.) the command: to watch and pray, and, b.) the reasons for the command: to be accounted worthy and because we do not know the exact time (day and hour) of His coming. Now, you may think that these verses actually say that we cannot discern the time and season of His return. No! The real message of these verses (and many similar others) is that Jesus wants us to keep a very keen and alert mind for this appointed time to come. He is saying that if we are spiritually asleep and lukewarm in the faith, there is a real danger for us to miss the timing of God’s Eternal Plans, and as a result, we may even lose our salvation (Matt 7:15-23; 25:10-13). The warnings that Jesus and His apostles gave about keeping watch for His return are very sober that to take them lightly will put us into great peril (Luke 12:43-46). If we choose to spiritually asleep, the Lord shall really come to us like a thief (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3).
Keep this in your heart: If Jesus tells you to watch out for His return, then surely it is possible for you to discern the time and season of His coming!
2.) Every Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming because Jesus Christ Himself gave us so many signs and prophecies to watch out for. This is in direct connection with reason number one above; first He gave us His command to be watchful, then He gave us certain signs to watch out for.
Matt 24:32-35 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Matthew Chapter 24, the “Olivet Discourse”, is full of signs and prophecies that pertain to the Second Coming of Christ and most of End Times events. Jesus does not leave us wandering in the dark while watching for His return. He gave us so many signs and prophecies to watch out for. And not only Jesus, the apostles Paul (1 and 2 Thess.; 1 Cor. 15) and John (Revelation 3-21), and the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2-12) also left us so many signs that lead us to discern this specific time and season of His coming. If all prophecies will be laid out that pertain to the End Times, books could be written in series.
3.) Every Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming because Jesus Himself expected the religious leaders and Jews of His time to discern His First Coming.
Matt 16:1-4 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 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 lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
In these verses, Jesus was exclamatory in His remark regarding the Pharisees and the Sadducees’ failure to discern the time of His First Coming – His arrival, death and resurrection around 2,000 years ago. But not only did Jesus expect that discernment from the religious leaders, He also expected the same from ordinary Jews:
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?
Now, if Jesus expected the religious leaders and ordinary Jews of His time to be able to discern the "time and season" of His First Coming, would he not expect the same discernment from us, for the time and season of His Second Coming? Surely, He is expecting it from us! Jesus was clearly saying to the people of His day: “You have all the Old Testament prophecies to watch out for my First Coming, then why were you asleep?” Let me clarify the fact that to discern the First Coming of Jesus was not impossible, for the Three Wise Men from the East did so, and they were not Jews (Matt. 2:9).
And the same is for us today, His Church. God has given us so many signs and prophecies to watch out for Christ’s return. He would naturally expect from His people, from this very generation to discern that certain time and season.
4.) Every Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming because there is a predetermined time when this understanding will be available to the Church, and that time is now.
Dan 12:8-9 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
In these verses, Daniel was asking an angel about the time and season of great trouble, the resurrection, and the establishment of the Eternal Kingdom of Christ that would come (see the whole chapters 10 and 11 of Daniel). However, the angel replied that this understanding is sealed in a book (Dan. 12:4), but this book would later be opened and its understanding revealed at “the time of the end”.
A careful observation of the current events around the world today as compared to the prophecies of the End Times would make our generation realize that indeed, our generation would likely witness the very things that God has shown to Daniel about the things to happen in the final age. As we get nearer to the culmination of God’s Eternal Plan, the watchful and awake servants of God will have the understanding of the time and season of the Lord’s Second Coming. The book that was sealed in the time of Daniel is being opened in this generation that we are living in.
5.) Every Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of our Lord’s Second Coming because God reveals His will prophetically.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
God has revealed His will about the End Times through His Old Testament prophets, His Son Jesus Christ, and the New Testament apostles as recorded in the Bible. However, God continuously gives His people guidance about the end times prophetically through visions and dreams. This is not to say that the Bible is not enough, but to affirm the given Scripture that God has ordained to reveal His mysteries to His prophets. Certain precautions though should be taken when listening to the visions and dreams of others, as many have visions and dreams not coming from the Lord. How to discern the visions and dreams coming from God and some examples of genuine End Time Prophecy in the form of visions and dreams will be discussed in detail in the future lessons.
The Bible itself gives us strong arguments that every awake and watchful Christian today should be able to discern the time and season of the Lord’s Second Coming. We just have to ask God and allow ourselves to learn.
In the next lesson, we will discuss how the Bible tells us that Jesus is coming in our generation, in the year 2028.
Let us pray:
"Lord God our Father, thank You for assuring us that you did not leave us wandering in the dark waiting for the return of Jesus. Please give us a humble and teachable spirit to learn from You, thru the Bible and Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name. To You alone be the Glory, forever and ever, Amen!”