The Times, They Are Changing :: by Gene Lawley

Those who sell real estate have a repetitive reminder in respect to the sales value of a property: “It’s location, location, location!” In the realm of prophetic events, there also seems to be a repetitive phrase underlying the swirling convergence in these end times: “It’s timing, timing, timing!”The Scriptures repeatedly have this caution: “No man knows the day nor the hour of His coming!” But then, He also tells us to “Watch, for you do not know the hour of His coming.” Yet, we have seen signs that point to those two comings—the Son of Man as a thief in the night, and as a Sovereign Conqueror, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings!

One of those signs and fulfillments where Jesus said that timing was in the Father’s power and knowledge only is introduced in Acts, chapter 1. Sometimes this is confused with the timing of the coming of Jesus at the Rapture, but it is not, and already has been fulfilled.

In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked Jesus a seemingly out-of-place question: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” His answer was, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Then He introduced them to the plan for the Age of Grace when believers were to go into all the world and declare the gospel to all people, propelled by the power of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

The question on the hearts and minds of the disciples was the restoration of the nation of Israel. This interchange indicates two important truths—that those Jewish disciples believed the promises of the prophets that God was going to do just that, and that Jesus confirmed that it would come about in the Father’s authority in some future “time and season.” Has it been fulfilled? And by whose authority? Yes! By God’s authority. On May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was recognized as one of the nations of the world by the United Nations organization. Its 66nd anniversary is this year. Obviously, as many would agree, the full and complete restoration of Israel has not been finished. All of its original land has not been restored, and there are the current challenges to its mere existence, let alone its actual sovereignty as a nation.

Such is silent testimony, however, of the faithfulness and integrity of God and His promises made centuries ago. I submit that those who have been declaring that God has rejected Israel as the inheritors of His promises in favor of the church because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah will have much to answer for when they stand before God in judgment. The Jews have the land and their nation back, an actual fact, and it is clear that it was by God’s hand of authority, not man or their enemy, the devil. The facts are evident and established.

That introduction of the Age of Grace in Acts 1:8 was also identified later as a time when God would visit the Gentiles “to take out of them people for His name” (Acts 15:14). Paul writes, in Romans 11:25, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” When that happens, it also means that the “times of the Gentiles will have been fulfilled.” It also means that the church will have been removed in the Rapture and the emphasis of God’s attention is again back on the nation of Israel and its people. We began this article with consideration of the final question the disciples had of Jesus before He ascended into heaven—“Will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” And we have related the fulfillment of their nationalistic concern, yet the fulfillments keep on coming. Look at this:

“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

The times of the Gentiles began to close when Jerusalem was won back by Israel in the June, 1967 war. Now, there is another “times and seasons” era to be considered. Yes, the times, they are changing!

Another “Times and Seasons” Era

There are only three times in the Bible when this phrase or variations of it, are mentioned: “The times and seasons.” Acts 1:7, discussed above, then Daniel 2:21, which tells us much about the sovereignty of God:

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” That verse is part of Daniel’s prayer of thanks to God for revealing to him the content of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In verse 28, Daniel says, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.” Daniel then describes that statue of a man of many metals, depicting the future kingdoms up until the time when the apostle John picks up the prophetic account and brings it forward to our day.

Finally, 1 Thessalonians 5:1, which I want to discuss now, with the background curtain of those verses in Daniel. The context in which 1 Thessalonians 5:1 falls is important to its timing and its significance. If a reader will begin with Paul’s account of the Rapture at verse 13 of the 4th chapter, and read through chapter 5, verse 3, without regard to the chapter break (as it was originally written), he will better understand what events are included in this “times and seasons” setting. To illustrate the flow of the context, I will quote it here without verse or chapter reference for clarity and convenience—1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3:

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

But concerning the times and the 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, for when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

We began this article with consideration of the final question the disciples had of Jesus before He ascended into heaven—“Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And now, we have seen its answer. It now appears that a new “times and seasons” is underway before our very eyes. The Age of Grace is winding down as the times of the Gentiles are being completed, making way for God’s attention to be turned to His ancient people, the Jews, remove their blindness and turn their hearts back to Him. It will take the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and its tribulations to do it, but that is the plan of the ages, as God moves kings and kingdoms into place for this coming “times and seasons.”

The global elitists apparently think they have everything in place on their chessboard of the world; the pawns are ready to be sacrificed and the other pieces are darting here and there, biding their time to move forward to that great utopian finality when all mankind will be equal, but of course, they will be “more equal,” as they think it should be.

The New World Order, the One World Government—the dream of the global elite—has burned in their souls for centuries. Unknowingly though, they themselves have become the pawns of the prince of this world—that raging red dragon called, Satan, in Revelation 12 and who is named as the empowering motivation of that great beast having seven heads that John sees rising out of the sea in Revelation 13:1. But I digress from more immediate considerations.

That declaration of Paul to the Thessalonians was that they knew perfectly about the times and seasons when the Day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. That means His coming would be without fanfare, not visible to the public, taking what He came for and then departing. Any other conclusion as to the identity of this coming of the Lord than as that of the Rapture misses the meaning in its description.

Remember the beginning of this context, where the Lord descends from the heavens with a shout and concludes with believers, dead and alive, are transformed and rise to meet Him in the air? Paul describes that mysterious incident in great detail in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Even Jesus foretold of it when He was comforting Martha upon the death of her brother, Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

That part of the context is an expanded version of what Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.” It is that next verse that the coming incident which will mark the timing of that marvelous event of the Rapture: “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” The timing of that statement must surely coincide with Daniel’s prophecy of the “confirmation of a covenant with many” in Daniel 9:27.

This incident opens up to a seven-year time period that is dominated with actions of the Antichrist. The day and the hour of that statement, “Peace and safety,” is not known ahead of time; perhaps it will occur when a peace treaty is reached, but the actual signing is scheduled at a future date. But now, it looks like no peace agreement will be reached until one is forced, as a result of a conflict between Israel and its angry neighbors. The prediction of wars and rumors of wars takes on real significance, now, as we see that conflict looming on the horizon.

As Paul writes of that exclamation of peace, he says “sudden destruction will come upon them,” a vivid description of what will happen immediately as believers in Christ suddenly disappear to meet their Lord in the air and return with Him to the place He has prepared for them. This old world as we have known it, soon will be no more. The times, they are changing, indeed!