Sometime in late September we begin to notice that the are days getting a bit shorter and some of them a bit chillier. In October, while we still enjoy many brilliant days, in the back of our minds we know that even shorter and colder days are not too far ahead. We carry our jackets through November. Then it happens… December, January, and February. Winter. Winter, of course, has a beauty all its own. But it slows us down, forces us indoors, and chills our bones. Finally March comes, and with it our hopes rise of spring not far over the horizon!
At our house, soon after the arrival of March, there appear beautiful little purplish blue flowers sprinkled all over our yard. They are the grape hyacinths. They serve as one of our first announcements that spring is coming! Their little voices shout, “Spring! Spring! Spring!” And they lift our spirits high.
God has created and engineered into His creation many wondrous signs, like the grape hyacinths, that remind us of the changing of the seasons. It is a very exciting part of life.
But God has not just engineered these wonderful things into His creation merely for our delight and enjoyment. If we are teachable, He uses these things to teach important truth about His plan for humankind.
Listen to these words of Jesus.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:32-33)
“But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3)
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
“As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 NAS95) [And in the rest of Matthew 24 Jesus answers their question in some detail!]
Do you hear what Jesus saying to us? God has made His creation so that we can watch for physical signs around us that tell us things about times and seasons (think grape hyacinths!). In the same way, He teaches us to watch for signs pointing to the end of the age and the return of our Lord.
There are those who discourage Christians from studying about the end times. They do this partly because Christians find themselves in quite a bit of disagreement about the meaning of these prophetic passages. So some just glibly say, “I’m a pan-millennialist. I just think it will all pan out right in the end. So I don’t even try to study it. It’s all over my head! ” But it is Scripture! God teaches us about these things in His Word. He teaches us to be on the alert and to watch for the signs.
Certainly, in light of Christian disagreements, we should be humble about our conclusions. But that should not keep us from doing the study! It just may be that, at the appropriate time, things will become much clearer to those who have studied their Bibles carefully about these things and who have done their best to be on the alert.
Don’t be afraid to study these passages. Don’t worry if you can’t understand it all. Don’t be intimidated by those who think you may be wasting your time. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, you know that it cannot be a waste of time to study even the difficult and controversial passages!
I have some pages on our web site designed to help people be prepared as we approach the end times. By way of full disclosure, I need to let you know that I am a post-tribulationalist. I believe the church needs to be prepared to endure the Great Tribulation. (Not God’s wrath! I don’t think they are the same!)
Of course, you do not have to agree with me! But I urge you to do the study! Take these passages seriously! Learn about the signs!
And, by all means, stay in the battle!
Related AboundingJoy.com Studies:
Posttribulationalism (longer study)
Posttribulational Scriptures Summary (briefer study)