DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS ?
The lesson the follows is one of both warning and encouragement. If we were to title this lesson, it would be “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” - this is the part of the lesson with warning. The subtitle of the lesson would be “Does Anybody Really Care?” (i.e. about what time it is) – this is the part of the lesson with exhortation and encouragement.
The objective of the lesson is to gain an understanding of the times in which we live, and to consider the appropriate response(s) to that understanding. Proper realization should lead to proper response(s).
The springboard for the lesson is Romans 13:11-14 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
On the front end of Paul’s letter to the Romans are eleven chapters in which Paul expounds great doctrinal truths, including understanding how we establish a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. On the back end of this letter are four chapters which, among other things, shows how a relationship with Jesus Christ changes ALL of our relationships – with God, with other believers, with those who remain outside of the faith, with government, and, as is seen in the text quoted above, our relationship to the times in which we live.
How would you describe “our times”? Perhaps some of these cross your mind:
Exciting Times – maybe exciting things are happening in your life and you view the “times” through your lens of excitement and simply see these as exciting times.
Difficult Times – Perhaps you are going through personal struggles, illness, loss of a job, etc. – or even more than one of these – and you simply see these as difficult times because they certainly are difficult for you.
Prosperous Times – even while some are struggling, others are prospering. For those who are “rich” and “enjoying life” – they seem to “have it all”, these are good times, prosperous times.
Busy Times – The position of SO many people today seems to be – too much to do, too little time. Fewer and fewer people, it seems, are able to sit still for ANY length of time. We seem to find that there is “no time” to do the many other things we want to do.
Fast Times – along with being busy, there is the speed at which the busyness takes place. People rush from one activity to another at breakneck speeds and just can’t get there fast enough.
Amazing Times – With the technological advancements in just this generation alone, the things which we have so quickly accepted and come to take for granted would boggle the minds of our grandparents – electronic gadgets, developments in medical treatments and procedures, military technology, space travel, and we could go on and on.
These are times when people are living longer lives, times where people generally live with many more “comforts” than were ever available to previous generations, times where there are personal freedoms and liberty (not true for many in the world), times of ever-increasing knowledge (growing at exponential rates and often times there is “more knowledge” but less truth), and times of great opportunity – travel, careers, recreation, etc.
All those things are “as far as the eye can see”; but we need to look deeper than that, and peer into the spiritual world and “see” that our times are characterized in ways other than those just mentioned. Consider what Paul writes in the third chapter of his second epistle to Timothy: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” and “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Similarly, Peter writes: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,…” (2 Peter 3:1-3)Jude (v.17-19) echoes likewise: “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”These things also characterize “our times”.Paul writes “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” As you slept last night you were “unaware” of what was going on throughout the world and even in your own neighborhood. At some point you awoke. This did not suddenly make you aware of everything that was going on – it put you in a state whereby you COULD know what was going on. If a dangerous situation arose right where you are, there would be danger in (a) remaining asleep, (b) awakening but then falling back to sleep (c) sleepwalking amidst the danger and (d) in being in a wakened state but still having no realization as to the danger. Those same dangers are true spiritually in regards to the spiritual dangers that are everywhere in the spiritual world in which we exist. In Ephesians 5:14-17 Paul warns: “Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
An important example for our lesson from the Bible is found in 1 Chronicles 12:32 where we are told that the sons of Issachar “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do“. Should that not be our desire for us for our times?
What time is it? How often that question is asked each day! Why do we ask?
Curiosity – we just simply want to know.
Boredom – can’t wait for something to end
Anticipation – can’t wait for something to begin
Sensitivity to other things needing attention
Stewardship – desire to best utilize limited resource
Do you care what time it is? What time is it for you?
IT IS LATER THAN MOST PEOPLE THINK –
There is a limit to our time - James 4:13-14 says “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
There is a limit to our opportunity - In John 9:4 Jesus said “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”
These are the warnings associated with the fact that it is later than most people think. But the encouragement is in the thought that it’s not too late yet! Rev. 1:3 says “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
IT IS TIME TO SEEK AND EXERCISE DISCERNMENT – see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD –
“Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)
“Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” (2Chr. 15:12-13) Verse 2 of that same chapter reminds and promises that “If you seek Him, He will be found by you;” God spoke the same thing through Jeremiah in Jer. 29:13 “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Hebrews 11:6 is very plain: “But without faith it isimpossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Isaiah 55:6-7 says “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
IT IS TIME TO WORSHIP –
In John 4:23-24 Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman and stated that “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” One way we can do this is found in Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
IT IS TIME TO BE TESTED –
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Testing doesn’t “prove” anything to God that He didn’t already know – but it shows US what we need to see in order to be what we need to be. The testing should help us – if we will let it. It is part of spiritual growth and development. “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5)
IT IS TIME FOR JUDGMENT –
“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?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb. 9:27-28)
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
IT IS TIME FOR REPENTANCE –
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
“Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47) If you think that the message of the need for repentance is only for unbelievers, please remember that in the first 2 chapters of the Revelation, we read the messages to the seven churches and we read about the need for the churches to repent. For example, Rev.3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE (For the Better!, and not just for the sake of change) –
Once again Romans 12:1-2 comes to mind. We must stop the process of becoming more and more conformed to the world’s thinking and practices and rather (instead, not in addition to) we are to be becoming conformed to the image, or likeness, of Jesus Christ.
Get out of the rut that you are stuck in. Stop resisting God’s will in and for your life. Become pliable clay in the hands of the Potter. Stop disobeying God and start hearing and heeding God’s word.
IT IS TIME TO BE SERIOUS –
That doesn’t mean there is no place for humor and fun. But many have adopted care-free or even care-less attitudes toward things that are most serious. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith,...” (1 Peter 5:8-9a). Paul writes in 1 Thes. 5:6,8a “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober”, “But let us who are of the day be sober….”
Here is the advice that Paul writes to Titus in chapter 2 “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showingintegrity, reverence, incorruptibility,a]"> sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” We need to heed that advice today as well.
IT IS TIME TO REEVALUATE PRIORITIES –
The question is posed to the people of Israel by God through the prophet Haggai in the beginning of the first chapter: “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’ Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this templea]"> to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!” We need to “consider our ways” – the New Testament urges us to “examine ourselves”.
IT IS TIME TO BE HOT –
That is not intended to motivate you to move to a warmer climate. It is intended to cause you to realize (perhaps during the self-examination we just mentioned) that it is easy to become complacent, apathetic, etc. The prophet Amos (6:1) warned the people on behalf of God “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion…” And the Church is reminded from God’s message to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” God wants to see zeal in us – for Him!, but it must be a proper zeal, a zeal that is according to the knowledge which has been revealed to us by God through His Son – Paul writes “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1-3)
IT IS TIME TO BE CONTENT –
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim 6:6-10)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:25-33)
There are so many more things we could list, but let’s get back to one with which we began – It is time to WAKE UP. Too many Christians walk around with “Do Not Disturb” signs on their hearts, minds and lives. The command given in Jeremiah 4:3 is to break up YOUR fallow ground (not someone else’s) – fallow ground is unproductive because it is undisturbed. Too many sermons are bedtime stories putting people to sleep (spiritually and physically) rather than waking people up to the things of God, to the times in which we live, to the abundant, refreshing life that God intended for us to have. Vance Havner said “A strange coma has settled over the saints, as well as the sinners, and our eyelids are heavy and our brains are clouded and unless we stir up the gift of God within us and get to business watching and praying, our Lord shall come suddenly and find us sound asleep.”
In 1 Thes. 5:1-6 we read “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. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.“
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:12-14)
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) – as if to say “Wake up and stay awake”
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col 4:5-6)
“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 burned up. 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; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:10-18)
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:11-16)
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)
What time is it for you?