Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT
But of the Times and the Seasons
“But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1)
With the perplexity about the dead in Christ resolved, Paul turned to a new subject, yet not one completely distinct from the previous one. Proper interpretation recognizes a shift in thought but not without some connection with the forgoing. Despite their ignorance about the dead in Christ, the Thessalonians had received some instructions regarding other end-time matters. During his first visit, Paul had effectively communicated the basic features of precise times and accompanying circumstances of future events. However, due to the complexity of these matters, the apostle would be forced to give more instructions, which he did in his second epistle. Considering that someone would later write a letter to the Thessalonians, which forged Paul’s name and claimed certain erroneous things about the end time, Paul needed to write the second epistle in order to refute the false teaching. Two false attitudes toward the Second Advent tend to be found among Christians. The one, a restless, speculative preoccupation with signs and dates. The other, a busy absorption in worldly affairs to the exclusion of the hope. Paul’s remedy for both of these tendencies may be summarized under the following:
The heading introduces the recurring question of the curious and the anxious. How long before Christ comes? At what point in history will He come? “Times” in the Greek is “chronos” and suggests “duration” while “seasons” in the Greek is “kairos” and suggests “a suitable period.” Of these dates, Jesus said, “…It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7)
A Definite Point of Time
It is obvious that the Thessalonians expected an immediate Advent. The apostle, however, repressed their curiosity on this point by reminding them of the uncertainty of the time of The Lord’s coming. To better explain the times and seasons, the word “times” denotes a time absolutely in disregard to circumstances. The word rendered “seasons” denotes a definite period of time, not merely the day but actually, the hour. Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32) I am sure that Christ, at the present time, knows the exact hour that all of this will take place, but the record is clear that He did not know at the time He was making the statement. In the Incarnation, Christ was stripped of His omniscience (the ability to know all things, past, present, and future) but then learned whatever it was The Father wanted Him to know. I think it is obvious by now that man has no say and no control whatsoever over the time factor regarding these last-day events. Consequently, for the church to think that it has the power to do something in order to bring Christ back, which many claim, is facetious indeed. These times and seasons are not really dependent at all on anything the church does or does not do. Everything is dependent totally upon the will of The Father. Consequently, as should be overly obvious, date-setting regarding the Rapture or the Second Coming is foolish, to say the least. While we can certainly look at particular times as it regards certain events, and thereby, know that certain things are drawing near, that’s the best that we can do. In fact, there are, indeed, several things that tell us that all of these end-time events are very near fulfillment. These signs are, that is, if one would refer to them as such:
Brethren, You Have No Need That I Write unto You
The heading is not meant to imply that the information the Thessalonians sought was to be unprofitable or superfluous. It means that Paul had already informed them when he was at Thessalonica that the time of the Advent was beyond the sphere of his knowledge. The apostle mentioned this to repress that vain curiosity that is natural to man, which was the occasion of so much disorder among the Thessalonians. Our duty is not to pry into the times and seasons that The Father has put in His own power but rather to exercise constant watchfulness. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
For Yourselves Know Perfectly that The Day of The Lord So Comes
Paul is not sarcastically alluding to their own claim but conceding that their previous learning on this subject had been adequate, definite, and specific, ultimately including even pertinent teachings of Christ (Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39). The focus is on The Day of The Lord, a theme for extensive Biblical attention. This day has multiple characteristics. It is so associated with the ultimate overthrow of God’s enemies (Isaiah 2:12) and refers to “judgment” (1 Corinthians 4:3). The heading presents a technical term used by the Old Testament prophets to designate a certain future period with regard to Israel (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Lamentations 2:22; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 3:14; Amos 5:18; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7-8, 18; 2:2-3; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5). The character of this period is seen in the following, “For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:” (Isaiah 2:12) As should be obvious, the Day of the Lord was a familiar expression for the Jews with a rather fixed meaning. As stated, it is a frequent theme with the Old Testament prophets where it is a catastrophic day of judgment on God’s enemies, deliverance for God’s people, final vindication of God’s righteousness, and the beginning of a new era of righteous peace. It is the time between the present evil age and the coming Golden Age. It will begin with the Great Tribulation, and in a sense, carry on to through Millennium. One might say that it ends with the final consummation of all things which pertains to the New Heavens and the New Earth.
The Modern Church
Many in the modern church deny the coming tribulation, claiming that all the prophecies of Daniel and those of John in the Book of Revelation were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Of course, the foolishness of such thinking is obvious on the surface. How in the world that anyone could claim that the great prophecies of the Book of Revelation were fulfilled at that time is beyond me. At the same time, this segment of the church claims that things are getting better and better in the world, and Christianity is going to ultimately take over everything. Incidentally, they say that this will be done by political means and will usher in the Second Coming. At the same time, this segment of the church little believes in evangelism which stems from the preaching of the Gospel. In fact, they claim entire areas or cities won to the Lord on the basis of one government official being so-called saved. The truth is, this segment is a part of the apostate church, and as with all leaven, their false direction ultimately colors the whole. The tragedy is that many Christians have so little spiritual discernment that they actually help support this effort financially. I refer to this segment as Kingdom Now.
As well, most in this particular belief system, which is basically totally unbiblical, repudiates Israel, claiming that they are no more, at least as far as Biblical prophecy is concerned. They claim that the church is now Israel. In a sense, the church is spiritual Israel, but it’s in the spirit sense only. In fact, the promises of God to national Israel cannot be fulfilled by the church. And they are not intended to be fulfilled by the church. The church is another segment altogether. As we have previously stated, with Israel’s rejection of Christ, the church was ushered in to complete the witness of God in the world, which Israel failed to do and which Paul addresses in Romans 11. In fact, continuing from Abraham to Christ, Israel’s existence lasted about 2,000 years. The church took her place, and the Church Age now has lasted about 2,000 years. Actually, the Church Age is about over, and will close out with the Resurrection of Life, which is referred to as the Rapture of the Church. Israel will then pick back up where the church left off and will commence doing so at the Second Coming (Revelation 19).
A Thief in the Night
As is obvious, the heading refers to something sudden. A thief never announces beforehand his intentions, but he does everything by surprise. To be sure, he knows what he is going to do, but he goes to great pains to see to it that his plans are not known and for all obvious reasons. Paul uses the term “a thief in the night” and so do Peter and John (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; 16:15). The term refers, in one way or the other, to judgment, which I might quickly add, is very close to breaking forth upon this earth. The “Day of Christ” refers to the Rapture of the Church while the “Day of The Lord” refers to the Great Tribulation and following.
The Manner of Its Approach
As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, the idea is this, the Great Tribulation will be ushered in by the antichrist signing a seven-year non-aggression pact with Israel and other nations. It is the beginning of what is referred to as “Daniel’s 70th week” (Daniel 9:24, 27). This time will be heralded as “peace and safety” even as the next verse of Chapter 5 proclaims. Consequently, it will seem as if the problems of the world are solved with Israel claiming that her messiah has now come and with much of the world believing this lie. As we have already alluded, the antichrist will usher in a false peace which will lull the world to sleep as it regards his true intentions. Whenever he does show his hand, it will be sudden and without warning. He will strike in a flash, having deceived Israel and most of the world. Consequently, the “Day of the Lord” will be ushered in exactly as The Holy Spirit, through Paul, said, “as a thief in the night.” “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Judgment Will Be Twofold
Peace characterizes inward repose while safety reveals freedom from outward interference. Yet, at the moment that tranquility seemingly reaches its peak, destruction will come on them suddenly. Destruction means “utter and hopeless ruin, a loss of everything worthwhile,” causing the victims to despair of life itself. This will begin the greatest time of terror the world has ever known. The judgment will be twofold:
The Scripture defines this time as “…the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17)
For When They Shall Say Peace and Safety
The heading actually refers to Israel in its truest sense, but will as well, characterize the feelings of the world. With the church raptured away, it will mean the disappearance of untold millions of people. After the initial shock wears off, the reaction of the world will, no doubt, be varied. Actually, the apostate church will aid and abet the rise of the antichrist as he makes his debut on the greatest peace platform the world has ever known. He will propose to solve many problems, not the least of them being the thorny Israelite/muslim problem that has plagued the world from the time of the formation of Israel as a state in 1948. In truth, it has plagued the world since the time of Abraham when Ishmael was brought into the world as a result of a carnal effort of Abraham and Sarah. From the time, several years later, when Isaac was born, the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael has raged. It will come to a head at the midpoint of the Great Tribulation.
Set Up for the Kill
The antichrist will be totally different than any other world dictator. He will be very religious to begin with, which will have a tendency to lull the world to sleep. Daniel said, “…and by peace shall destroy many:…” (Daniel 8:25) The world will think it has finally solved its problems with this new millennium ushering in a world of peace, prosperity, and plenty. The world press and the television commentators will herald the fact that, with these Jesus fanatics now gone, man can finally realize his true potential. It will be called the “Golden Age” or “the Hope of Mankind.” Little will the world know that it is being set up for the kill. For all of his technological advancement, man, without God, can be described as none other than stupid. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The opposite of that is stupidity.
Then Sudden Destruction Comes Upon Them
The heading, once again, refers primarily to Israel, but as well, will ultimately involve the entirety of the world. Having signed a 7-year non-aggression pact with the antichrist, and actually believing that he is their messiah and savior, Israel will then be lulled to sleep. They will have absolutely no inkling as to what the plans of the antichrist actually are. Their temple will be rebuilt, and they will, once again, begin to offer sacrifices, even as they did in the days of long ago. They will give the antichrist all the credit. In fact, every evidence is that this man will be a Jew, therefore acceptable to his own people, but he will have other ideas in mind altogether. He will have been arming all along, even at a ferocious rate, but claiming that all of this is merely for peaceful purposes. This is what is meant in Revelation 6:2 where it says, “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” If it is to be noticed, he is pictured here as on a white horse which symbolizes peace and as having only a bow with no arrows mentioned. Evidently, he will be solving so many world problems that little attention will be given to his re-armament program. The nations of the world, at least at the beginning, seemingly will be enjoying great prosperity at that time.
In fact, the rise of Adolf Hitler was very much similar, although on a smaller scale. Hitler brought great prosperity to Germany, which caused most of the nation to turn its head as it regarded his anti-Semitism. While arming at a ferocious pace, he claimed all the while to the nations of the world that he was doing so only for peaceful purposes. In fact, World War II was brought about by satan and allowed by God more so because of Adolf Hitler than anyone else. His ambition was the conquering of the world, but the ambition of satan, through him, was the annihilation of the Jews. Satan knew that it was now time for the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Israel to begin. He also knew that, for these prophecies to be fulfilled, Israel would, once again, have to establish herself as a nation and in the same geographical area as always. If he could slaughter enough of them, this could be stopped, consequently, he raised up his champion, the monster from Germany to carry out this bloody task, which in fact, he pursued with great zeal. He did not succeed, but it was not from lack of trying, with some six million Jews slaughtered in that horror. The world does not understand the reason for his horrifying anti-Semitism or the anti-Semitism of the henchmen around him. It was the power of satan, which is little understood, if at all, by the world. With the church gone, which means that all the restraining of evil is gone, that which Hitler did will only be a microcosm of what the antichrist will attempt to do on a worldwide scale.
There is scriptural evidence that Babylon, in these last days, will be rebuilt, or else, the spirit of Babylon will be that which the Scripture indicates. If it is the city Babylon, or the spirit of Babylon, with the new city of Dubai at its core, either one would fulfill prophecy. Whichever, the antichrist will make his headquarters there, at least during the first half of the Great Tribulation (Isaiah 13-14; Jeremiah 50-51, Zechariah 5:5-11; Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 18:1-24) From the Scriptures, it seems that rebuilt Babylon, or else the spirit of Babylon, will play a great part in latter day events, not only as a political capital of the kingdom of antichrist, but as the headquarters for a religious system called “mystery Babylon.” It will be a great commercial center in the earth in the last days, as pictured in Revelation Chapter 18. It seems that the man of sin will reign from Babylon during his rise to power over the ten kingdoms of the old Roman empire territory, which he will take over (Isaiah 14; Daniel 7:23-24; Revelation 17:12-17) In New Testament times, Babylon was still a city and even had a Christian church (1 Peter 5:13). About 500 years later, the Babylon Talmud was written there. Since then, it has not been destroyed as Revelation 18 says it will be destroyed. Even today, there is a city called Hilla of nearly a half million people that is built just south of the old site of ancient Babylon. The soil, it is said, is exceedingly fertile and engineers estimate that the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers could irrigate seven million acres in winter and about three million in summer to grow various crops. In fact, the whole of the east is rich in oil and other minerals.
The Antichrist Shows His True Colors
At about the midpoint of the Great Tribulation, the antichrist will show his true colors and invade Israel, thereby breaking his covenant with them. He will enter into Israel and actually take over that country and make the newly-built Jewish temple his headquarters, at least his religious headquarters (Daniel 7:21-25; 8:9-14; 22-25; 9:27; 11:36-45; Matthew 24:15-24; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 17:8-17). At that time, he will then do away with all Jewish sacrifices in the temple and set himself and his image in the temple to be worshiped as god. This will continue for over three years.
At this juncture, the antichrist could easily destroy Israel, but The Lord will divert his attention elsewhere. Actually, Israel, at that time, at least for the most part, will flee into Jordan. Incidentally, of all the countries of the Middle East, this little country will not be controlled by the man of sin (Daniel 11:41). As many Bible students know, Petra is located in Jordan. This very strange city is surrounded by mountains and accessible only by a very narrow road located between two towering cliffs. It is now empty. Many in Israel will flee to this place upon the invasion of the antichrist. The beast could easily destroy these ancient people at this time, but the Scripture says that he will encounter problems in the north and the east and will be forced to then deal with these problems (Daniel 11:44). He will then leave the Jews for the time being to go forth against these new enemies until he conquers them in the last 3 ½ years of this age. He will then go back into Israel to do what he formerly planned, only to be defeated by the coming of The Lord. During the last days of this 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation, the Jews will have regained control of Jerusalem because the antichrist is away elsewhere. He will then come against Jerusalem, intending to destroy Israel once and for all in what his known as the Battle of Armageddon (Isaiah 63:1-6; Ezekiel 38-39; Joel 3:13; Revelation 19:15). To be sure, the antichrist would, at the same time, succeed but for the Coming of The Lord. The following Scriptures proclaim Petra as a place of refuge for Israel during that coming dark time (Psalms 60:6-12; Isaiah 16:1-5; 26:20; 63:1; Ezekiel 20:33; Daniel 11:41; Hosea 2:14; Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12).
As Travail Upon a Woman with Child
The heading presents a familiar oriental simile. It carries the idea of the inevitability or unavoidability of judgment and of suddenness. In her rejection of Christ some 2,000 years ago, Israel was carried into a dark night of unbelief and rebellion against God. They have suffered much as all such positions bring suffering and judgment. It is not so much that God has leveled judgment against them as much as them taking themselves out from under the protection of God. This has left them wide open to the powers of darkness which steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). In fact, Christ prophesied this very thing when He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:37-39) In fact, Jesus was in the temple whenever this prophecy was uttered. He then went to Olivet where He gave the great Matthew 24 discourse which spoke of the coming “Great Tribulation”, which, for the most part, pertains to Israel (Matthew 24:21-22).
The simile used here by Paul pertains to a woman who is experiencing birth pangs, knowing that the birth is eminent but not knowing the time. The difference in Israel and the example of the woman in travail is that a woman knows when she is pregnant. However, Israel will have no knowledge whatsoever regarding her impending danger because she fully trusts the antichrist, so it will definitely be sudden destruction. However, as it regards the travail, The Lord definitely knows what is happening and how it’s happening because, in fact, He will have allowed it to happen. Whatever the antichrist may think or try, he can only do what The Lord allows him to do. His ambition will be to take over the world and to destroy Israel. However, God will use him for another purpose altogether. That purpose is to bring Israel to a place to where she will sincerely call for the Messiah because of having no one else to help her. This she will do, which will be during the battle of Armageddon and which looks like her total destructions as a people and as a nation. In fact, were it not for the coming of The Lord, she would be totally and completely destroyed, but Jesus will come, and His coming will be totally unlike anything the world has ever known before. Israel will then accept Him as Lord, as Savior, as Redeemer, and as Messiah.
And They Shall Not Escape
The heading refers to all of this of which we speak being inevitable. In other words, all of these things definitely are going to happen. As students of The Word, there is a possibility that we might misinterpret Bible prophecy to a certain extent. But irrespective of the fine detail, it is guaranteed that the overall thrust of these prophecies is definitely going to take place. I speak of the Rapture of the Church, the rise of the antichrist, the coming Great Tribulation, and the anger of God against a world, who has forgotten Him days without number. I speak of the wrath of God being poured out on this world as it has never known before. While the area of the Middle East will be the greatest target, still the entirety of the world is going to be affected and in a way that it has never known before. Preachers can claim that all of this has been fulfilled with the world getting better, etc. However, The Word of God plainly says, “They shall not escape.” The Great Tribulation is definitely coming upon this world. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)
But You Brethren Are Not in Darkness
The Word of The Lord is explicit here. Even though these things will overtake the world like a thief, simply because they do not know The Word of God or even believe The Word of God. For those who are truly following The Lord, from our understanding of The Word of God, we know what is coming upon this world. As one knows The Word of God, one sees the absolute ability of the casting about of even those who are the most intellectual in the world as it concerns the future. In other words, they don’t have a clue as to what is coming. In fact, the future, as far as the world is concerned, is pretty much limited to what Hollywood produces. The greatest past time of the world, one might say, is delivering into one’s roots. Somehow, they seem to think that this holds some type of answer for them. The great uncertainty among those who do not know God is because of the terrible emptiness they must have in their souls and the absolute lack of purpose in their lives. In other words, the world has nothing but a dark past, a hurting present, and an unknown future.
Christ and Him Crucified
The heading, given some paragraphs back, refers to Spiritual Enlightenment which comes only from the Word of God. Even though the statement, “…ye, brethren, are not in darkness,…” is very simple, but it speaks volumes. The word “darkness” in the Greek is “skotos” and means “shadow, error, shadiness, and obscurity.” In fact, other than those who know The Lord Jesus Christ, the entirety of the world lies in terrible spiritual darkness. Actually, one cannot know God unless one knows Christ. The only way to The Father is by Christ (John 10:9). As well, Jesus is “…the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) The intersection has always been The Lord Jesus Christ, and more particularly, Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). The only way out of darkness is to accept Christ, and this speaks of the crucified, risen, and exalted Christ. Millions in the world would like to accept Christ, a good man, the miracle worker, or the great teacher. But they don’t want the Christ of The Cross. However, to accept Christ in any other capacity is not really to accept Christ. Please note the following once again, the only way to God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The only way to Christ is through The Cross (Luke 9:23). The only way to The Cross is denial of self (Luke 9:23; 14:27).
Man’s problem is sin, and when we say sin, we are not speaking of a mere mendacity or a mere infraction, whatever that might be. We’re speaking of that which is of such power and strength as to completely cut off an individual from God. In fact, the only thing that can separate man from God and God from man is sin. The only remedy for sin, and we mean the only remedy, is The Cross of Christ. There is no other remedy because no other remedy is needed. So, the whole idea of accepting Christ is to accept what He did at The Cross on our behalf and to accept that fully, totally, and completely. There is salvation in no other way or source (Romans 6:2-6).
That That Day Should Overtake You as a Thief
The heading refers to the world being in that condition because they are in darkness, but the child of God functions in a totally different capacity. There is no excuse for the believer to not know these things even as Paul said to the Thessalonians, who had not been saved very long. I’m afraid the truth, in many cases, is that some Christians definitely are in darkness, at least as far as understanding the Word of God is concerned, simply because there is very little consecration to The Lord. Were this not so, Paul would not have given the admonishment that he did in the verses following 1 Thessalonians 5:4. In other words, it is possible for a Christian to be spiritually asleep.
God is our refuge and our strength
In straits, a present aid
Therefore, although the earth remove
We will not be afraid
Though hills amidst the seas be cast
Though waters roaring make
And troubled be Ye, though the hills
By swelling seas to shake
God in the midst of her does dwell
Nothing shall her remove
God unto her an helper will
And that right early prove
The Rapture of The Church