“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28 NKJV
The past few weeks the subject of our study has, in a general sense, been concerned with events we have seen occur around the world and in the Middle East in particular. Behind the scenes so to speak, there has been a discussion surrounding whether or not what we are seeing has “biblical” implications, or if the events are simply part of what we could call “normal” everyday occurrences. I suppose that should come as no surprise considering the words given us by Peter in his second letter.
knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV
So as I studied this past week and thought about why some people see the same events yet differ on their implications, it was no surprise (to me at least) to wake up Friday morning to find that hurricane Patricia, which had on Thursday been a Category 1 storm with winds in the eighties, had in only twenty-four hours become a Category 5 storm with winds over two-hundred miles per hour! The news began describing this storm as the “strongest ever recorded”, “strongest hurricane on record”, “most dangerous storm in history”, and more.
Thankfully, it now appears that it has weakened almost as fast as it grew and the damage will not be nearly as catastrophic as predicted, yet I could not help but wonder if God is trying to get the world’s attention considering the number of events which seem to be occurring now on almost a weekly basis. Thinking along those lines, it was logical for me to think back to what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees and Sadducees in the book of Matthew when they asked Him for a sign.
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, '[It will be] fair weather, for the sky is red'; "and in the morning, '[It will be] foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot [discern] the signs of the times. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed. Matthew 16:1-4 NKJV
In this passage, the word for discern is the Greek word sēmeion; which is translated as “a sign, prodigy, portent, i.e. an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature”. So let me ask you; do you see what I see? Events beginning to occur that many believe are unusual and not what you would expect to see if things followed their natural course? I believe this attitude of ignoring what is truly unusual is what Jesus was warning us about in this passage. Jesus had performed miracles which were “transcending the common course of nature” yet it was not enough for the skeptics.
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. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NKJV
Are we living in the “times and the seasons” Paul is referring to here? Notice Paul begins verse one with the word “But”. This means it is a continuation of a previous thought, so we need to look back at what he was talking about before. When we do, at the end of the previous chapter, this is what we see;
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. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV
It is obvious that Paul has been speaking about the rapture of the Church, the concluding event of the Church Age which we as believers are expectantly waiting for. Paul tells his readers two very important facts which I believe we should take serious note of as we read these verses. The first is that he certainly implies that we will recognize the “times and the seasons”. Considering what Jesus had to say about recognizing the signs of the times, I believe it is logical to assume that God intends to make it very clear that we are approaching the end of the age to those who are watching faithfully for Jesus’ return.
The second thing Paul says is that the signs will be comparable to a woman in labor, and the pains she will endure before the birth of her child. I am soon to be a grandfather again as my oldest daughter is expecting twin girls to arrive in December. Something I have noticed before, and especially in the case of twins, is that there is no question that a woman is “expecting” because of the visible signs we can observe. In other words, although the actual labor pains begin just before the delivery, there are plenty of other signs that precede it which tell us that a woman is expecting. So those who are watching and expecting a birth, are generally not surprised when the labor pains begin.
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. “It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—“lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Mark 13:33-37 NKJV
Although some may question if the events we see are the beginning of birth pangs, I believe the vast majority would agree this world is “expecting” and the labor pains are soon to start.
Do you see what I see?
A few years ago I did a post concerning the judgment of Noah and the flood, and mentioned the timing according to the account given to us in Genesis. You can read it here;
The reason I mention it is if you have read a few of my posts, you know how much I like “coincidences”. If you follow the Jewish calendar as they did in the Old Testament by watching for the sighting of the New Moon, this month (the second month) began at sunset on the fourteenth of October. That would put the seventeenth day of the second month to begin at sunset the thirty first of October or Halloween. I believe this is the first time in quite a long time that the anniversary of the flood falls on Halloween. Probably just coincidence though.