Times and Seasons
In the Western world we are
locked into "linear time" (chronos). We take pride in having the most accurate clocks
anywhere. Striving to make the best use of our time, it seems we're often
driven to perform just to please the boss, and to maximize our daily
productivity no matter how hectic life becomes. What matters to God is not
quantity, but quality.
A more common kind of time,
the time scale of greater importance in a Biblical world-view, is measured in
time segments called seasons (chairos). (See The Complexities of Time).
"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose
under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time
to pluck what 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; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to
gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to
tear, 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. What profit has
the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with
which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in
its time. Also He has put eternity in our hearts, so that no one can find out
the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for
them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man
should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of
God. I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added
to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God
requires an account of what is past." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15)
The great Bible
scholar, Archbishop Trench of Dublin (1807-1866), wrote
is during the times of stress that the real character of human beings comes to
the surface, that raw ugly sores open in society and the situation becomes
dangerous and violent. Astrologers would describe such times as arising from
most unfortunate aspects of the planets all lining up at once."
Trench was commenting on
Paul's word to Timothy,
this: In the last times there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers
of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents,
ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce,
haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God. Avoid such people..." (1 Timothy 3:1-5)
(See Seasons of Stress in
the World, http://ldolphin.org/Stress.html).
When a season of peace in
the world follows a long-lasting war, people relax and begin to resume their
more normal living patterns. When the rains come after a long and devastating
drought, prayers of thanks are spontaneous. When hard times come, we easily
panic and resist change even though changes are inevitable in life.
In recent months, Summer and
Fall 2008, a whole set of accumulating tensions in our society have been coming
to the surface, rather abruptly in time, on more than one frontier. God is in
charge in every season of life, and He is moving our whole planet towards a
time of restoration of all things.
Our Lord is gradually
removing the restraints on human evil on earth; we will all soon see openly the
consequences of our rebellion against God, and the full extent of the evil
resident in us. Evil must run its full course. The movers and shakers in high
places may think they can work everything out and save the existing world
order, but God will have His Day and no one can stop it from coming to pass.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,
in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will
melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what
manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for
and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will
be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these
things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and
blameless'" (2 Peter 3:10-14).
Looking carefully at the
Bible, it is clear that the long-promised great golden age of peace on earth
could take place in as little as seven years from now. Or it could be delayed
by a hundred years. God alone knows. Scripture is clear that things will get
worse on many fronts, before they get better. For two thousand years, as we
have been told by Jesus, there would be wars, rumors of war, earthquakes,
famines, and great deception (Matthew 24).
Looking back on the past
fifty years, I see changes in our day that I never would have believed possible
when I was in college.
Sex, Marriage, Family
Back in the '40s divorce in
America was very rare—about 8% as I recall. Now it is 50% even among
As a boy I took it for granted that one simply did not divorce for any reason,
even if one had to live with a difficult marriage. Parents had to stick it out
for the duration, if only for the well-being of the kids. I remember when
divorced men were shunned by
Marriage vows are covenants
(solemn promises by the parties involved), and God takes covenants very
seriously. Where would we be, or instance, if Jesus Christ annulled his
marriage plans with us, His church—for good cause? But ours is no longer a
covenant keeping society. We have been unfaithful in our vows to God and so we
also do not keep our promises and commitments.
One of the rationalizations
for easy divorce in recent decades has been the claim that our children would
be better off if their unhappy parents parted company. Now, however, it's clear
that divorce is very damaging, and permanently so, to children of any age.
No one us has a God-given
right to pursue his or her personal dreams and ambitions at the expense of home
and family. But our life-style norms in this country are now quite the opposite
of what God asks of us. The model Jesus gave us is one of integrity and
faithfulness in all we do, of self-giving love, dying to our own selfishness,
and sacrificially giving ourselves to the well-being of others.
Consequences? Countless men
and women in the younger generation are growing up now with no positive
examples of a good marriage for them to imitate. (Most animals throw their
offspring out of the nest a short season after birth, but human boys and girls
need nearly two decades of nurturing and training). Children need role models
of how a man or a woman is supposed to live in a world under God. Functioning
parents and quality family life forms the fabric of society.
In the '40s sexual
immorality was very rare, gays were still in the closet. Adultery was
scandalous, sex before marriage was unthinkable. Now? Starting in Middle
School, children are taught that they need to find their own personal sexual
preferences. They should begin to be exploring their sexuality as soon as
possible, says the teacher. Sexually abstinent virgins of either sex are now
ridiculed as weird and dysfunctional--from junior high school and up.
A slick magazine from
Stanford, which came to me this summer, contained an article by one of the
deans at the University who noted that Stanford students were cohabitating
regularly. She said that "hook ups" were now common on campus. I had
to ask someone. Hook Ups, I learned, are brief sexual encounters arranged on
the spot--one-time-only sexual encounters with a partial stranger of either
sex. Then I learned that there was now a whole new generation of younger
homosexuals (aged 16-25) who find it emotionally "safer" and easier
to go for same sex partnerships rather than trying for a more demanding
marriage relationship, especially when there is not much support coming from
parents on both sides.
Without good role models for
manhood and womanhood, and with generally poor models of what marriage is
suppose to look like, living temporarily with a girl friend (or a boyfriend)
seems the best way to live for many in the younger set today. Like marriage,
"the church" is also widely believed to be an archaic, irrelevant
institution having nothing important to say to the next generation.
(See God's Design for our Sexuality, by Brian Morgan. See also The Church as the Secret Government of Earth, by Ray Stedman).
Is our whole nation now more
like Sodom and Gomorrah than ever before? Could be. But, there is a greater
evil than widespread sexual immorality, which Jesus made known to the people of
After their preliminary
training, Jesus sent out 70 disciples to the cities and towns of Israel
charging them to clearly announce of the coming of His kingdom here on earth.
Terrible consequences would come upon all those who ignored the calling of
'But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into
its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off
against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near
'But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for
Sodom than for that city. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if
the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they
would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 'But it will be
more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 'And you,
Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. 'He who
hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me
rejects Him who sent Me.' (Luke 10:10-16)
have lost their family structure have also lost their root values. Today the
fabric of society has been ripped apart and can no longer hold together. Ours
is a nation that has been evangelized thoroughly, so we not in the same boat as
the ancient cities of Chorazin, Tyre, Sidon, and Capernaum? Will God judge us a nation? Yes, He
must. Has judgment now begun? Quite possibility it has.
Tolerance is the name of the
game in our national life at this time. "Moral standards are relative,
there are no absolutes. One religion is as good as any other. We really can no longer tolerate the
claims of extremists such as Jesus Christ; He was too divisive:"
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also
confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men,
him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I
came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I
have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be
those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not
worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of
Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of
Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake
will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives
Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall
receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of
a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives one
of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple,
assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." (Matthew
planet has a population of almost 6.9 billion people, doubling every 70 years
or less. Can our earth hold more people? Like it or not we well may be running
out of oil and other basic resources. Most experts believe we can't survive
globally unless there are stronger international controls constraining our
behavior (such as a world police corps and courts which have global authority,
overruling the sovereignty of individual nations).
It is now widely
believed that the various religions of the world must be united under common
religious values, and one central authority. The reality that this will
actually happen has been spelled out for us in black and white in holy
Scripture. A church for all peoples, tongues, and nations is already beginning
to be formed. This one world religious system will of necessity exclude the
true followers of Jesus (we are too divisive). The coming one-world church will
even be backed and supported by earth's coming one-world government. The
culmination of this great evil system, and its horrific end, is given to us in
Revelation 17. Symbolized by a seducing prostitute, this false church will
further deceive and then destroy all those who have rejected the authority of
Jesus Christ in the lives. The fake church is beginning to come together even
now. (see The Dragon Lady, by Ray Stedman).
be the mark of the very last years before Christ returns. It is already here.
Every area of life on earth is now permeated with a multitude of clever lies
aimed at thwarting the work of God among men. Ignoring the truths God has given
us has serious consequences. Paul the Apostle warned,
"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not
come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the
son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God
or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing
himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I
told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be
revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work;
only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then
the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of
His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of
Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous
deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the
truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong
delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who
did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2
The one great
lie the Apostle mentions here is THE lie of the Garden of Eden-- from the
serpent to Eve: "You can be
your own god. You are in charge. You can do whatever you want in this
with the clear statement of the Bible,
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and given Him
the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11, also Romans 14:10-12)
Commerce, Banking, Trade
God intends that
man should live under standards of fair trade and exchange, honest weights and
measures. Usury (charging excessively high interest rates) is forbidden to us.
This is all made quite clear in the Bible beginning in the book of Genesis. Our
Lord has always expected His people to be honest and fair to the n-th degree in
all our dealings with our fellow man.
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed
after him. A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters all evil with his
eyes. Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?
Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an
abomination to the LORD. Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he
does is pure and right. The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made
them both." (Proverbs 20:7-12)
We human beings
are by nature selfish, greedy, deceptive, covetous. Generally we bathe in the
love of worldly gain and pleasure. Our attempts to deceive, to overcharge, to
cheat, to gain wealth and power at the expense of others, are held in check by
society and culture to some extent. But these safe guards are eroding away
rapidly. The words of the Apostle John fall on deaf ears most of the time:
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone
loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the
world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the
will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
Ancient Tyre and
Sidon were powerful city-states at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean (now in
Lebanon). They were prosperous in all they did for two millennia, and they
accumulated great wealth. Based on outward appearances, their business and
trading skills might easily be emulated today by other nations and
corporations. But God did not think these people deserved to be honored and
commended. He asked for them to be destroyed. And they were. Ezekiel Chapters
26-28 details God's indictment of these nations.
The word of the LORD came to me [Ezekiel] again, saying, 'Son of
man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because your heart is
lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of
the seas,' Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the
heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can
be hidden from you! With your wisdom and your understanding You have gained
riches for yourself, And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; By your
great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, And your heart is lifted
up because of your riches),' ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you
have set your heart as the heart of a god, Behold, therefore, I will bring
strangers against you, The most terrible of the nations; And they shall draw
their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor. They
shall throw you down into the Pit, And you shall die the death of the slain In
the midst of the seas. 'Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a
god'? But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you.
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised By the hand of aliens; For I have
spoken,' says the Lord GOD.'' (Ezekiel 28:1-10)
"Here you find the reasons why man is debauched and
degraded, and Ezekiel sets forth the righteousness of God's judgment. When man
chooses to avoid the God who made him. what else is there but judgment? If we
neglect God, who is utterly essential to our being, and we refuse to give heed
to his love and his grace. then the only thing left for us is to experience the
results of turning our backs to him.
The prophet sees through all the judgment
that came upon this people, he sees through to the forces behind. In chapter 28
there is a remarkable passage where the prophet speaks about the judgment upon
the land of Tyre and Sidon. He speaks of the prince of Tyre and, behind him, an
individual whom he calls the king of Tyre.
Bible scholars have recognized that because of the height of vision from which
this prophet speaks, he is talking not only about the actual prince of the city
of Tyre -- the man who was then on the throne in that seafaring city -- but he
is looking beyond him and the visible things of Tyre, to that sinister
individual he calls the king of Tyre. This king symbolizes what are referred to
in the New Testament as principalities and powers, the world rulers of this
present darkness who manipulate things on earth and cause events we see
recorded in our daily newspapers. In other words, these are the Satanic
It is difficult
for us to identify the strongholds of our enemy Satan which have become deeply
embedded in all of the human institutions of our world. This corruption of the
world system began back with a man named Nimrod, the grandson of Noah's son
Ham, who turned away from God and God's people to build cities for himself. Not
only was his new religion corrupt, the network of commerce, trade, banking and
exchange of ancient Babylon set aside the rule of God among men. Man, it was
said, could become not only powerful, but also rich, merely by living according
to the permissive rules of the game which Nimrod established.
we know it today began at Babylon and the evils of this city have since
permeated every nation in the world, at every level.
Christ returns and sets the world economy on its proper foundation again, can
he accomplish this by means of minor changes and reforms? There is no way such
a corrupt system can be fixed without demolishing the old system entirely. This
God will do. It's outlined for us in Revelation Chapter 18. It will be very
traumatic for most everyone when it happens.
We now live at
the very end of an age. The next world-shattering event will be the return of
Jesus to our planet. This will take place in two phases: First the removal of
those few who now belong to Him and who follow Him. Seven years later Jesus
will openly appear in splendor, taking His place as our planet's rightful king
from His throne in Jerusalem. (See What's This World Coming to: The Olivet Discourse).
Is this about to
all come down? Quite possibility, yes. While we can't set dates, we can look at
the accelerating rate of one world crisis after other, the "distress of
the nations." Is the current
economic crisis in our country a temporary adjustment or a sign of the end of
the age? God knows.
The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the
son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah
the son of Amon, king of Judah. 'I will utterly consume everything From the
face of the land,' Says the LORD; 'I will consume man and beast; I will consume
the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along
with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land''
Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD
is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.
'And it shall be, In the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, That I will punish the
princes and the king's children, And all such as are clothed with foreign
apparel. In the same day I will punish All those who leap over the threshold,
Who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. 'And there shall be on
that day,' says the LORD, 'The sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, A
wailing from the Second Quarter, And a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you
inhabitants of Maktesh!
For all the merchant people are cut down; All those who handle
money are cut off. 'And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search
Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who
say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.' Therefore
their goods shall become booty, And their houses a desolation; They shall build
houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their
The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly.
The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out.
That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation
and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick
darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against
the high towers. 'I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like
blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be
poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.' Neither their silver nor
their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD'S wrath; But
the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make
speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land." (Zephaniah 1)
Is there a way
for any of us to escape this most terrible time of trouble, soon to come upon
our earth and its inhabitants? Yes, indeed. We still live in a day of God's
favor, of grace and mercy.
As always, God's
judgments begin first with His own people, He holds us accountable for the
truth we have received and how we have responded to that truth. It will not be
an easy-out for any of as Peter tells us:
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God;
and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey
the gospel of God? Now 'If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the
ungodly and the sinner appear?' Therefore let those who suffer according to the
will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."
(1 Peter 4:17-19)
Hang in! Call
upon and cling to Jesus! Soak in His word, the Bible! Stay closely knit with
other Christians of like mind. Confess your sins and keep your slate clean so
you can use used by Him. The Lord is coming soon!
"And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out
My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven
above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The
sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming
of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That
whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved."
(Recommended: A survey of events marking the end of the age, The Fate of the Earth, by Ray Stedman,.)
December 5, 2008, September 20, 2018.
December 28, 2019.