WHAT TIME IS IT ?
ARLEN L. CHITWOOD
[There is what has been described as: "one of those compulsive non-viewing programs" which has been shown on Television. It is called - "Iím a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"
ĎOf course there is that all important money for their charity, which is the real reason why they went into the jungle in the first place and not the potential millions they could earn from their careers being re-launched again for actually winning it or even coming second. Just ask Tony Blackburn, Phil Tufnell, Tara Palmer Tomkinson and Linda Barker!!í
Ď. . . The people who went into the jungle are all entertainers in one way or another, and therefore they only want to bring attention to themselves, to further their careers, or even restart them again.í
ĎThe history of entertainment is littered with sad memories of people who just could not handle being out of the limelight and therefore no longer enjoying the buzz of praise and adulation.
ĎWe are all guilty sometimes of simply wanting to draw attention to ourselves for selfish reasons. Whether we feel neglected or forgotten, we use such occasions to make ourselves at least think, that we are really important.í
ĎIn the Bible Jesus talked about people being light. In fact he called his followers [disciples] to be light to the world and even called Himself, "the light of the world". Those who chose to follow him [by obeying His commands] were to bring the worldís attention to Him and not to themselves. Other people looking at them, were not to see what they were like, but what He was like through them.
Thatís a tall order, a big call for anyone who would be prepared to put the needs of others before themselves, especially in a world that looks out for number one.
ĎFor those who do, the cry is not ĎIím a celebrity get me out of hereí, but ĎIím a follower of Jesus, let me out there!í
ĎIf you are, then what difference are you seeking to make with your life?í
After reading this short but thought provoking article in a local newspaper, I thought how true to Christian life it actually was.
In the previous verse, disciples of Christ are called "the salt of the earth". And then we read: "But if the salt looses its saltiness - in other words, if it ceases to act as a preservative to help keep society from becoming more and more immoral and corrupt - how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men". (Matt. 5: 13). What a sobering thought that is! Disciples of Christ loosing their Christ-like quality!: and if a remedy for this backsliding (repentance), cannot be found before the rapture or the tribulation, they will not be "able to escape" (Luke 21: 36). I will it do no good then to cry: "Iím a follower of Jesus", "Get me out of here?"
There are a number of important issues which are deliberately being ignored in our assemblies today! And in the human and religious jungle, one often encounters many dangers, and we discover them in the most unlikely places: even amongst prominent members inside the church or assembly.
How easy to go along with the majority by acting and believing as they do; and not having any thoughts about those whom Jesus calls His "little flock"! What a peculiar adjective to use when we think of the countless millions of saved people over the centuries! On the other hand, it is much more difficult to stand up for the truth, particularly when the beliefs of others are contrary to ours, and we are not "in the limelight" or "enjoying the buzz of praise and adulation". In such circumstances, we need Godís help to enable us to (1) stand firm when we recognise these particular dangers and (2) have the courage and desire to humbly point them out to others; and (3) most importantly, we need the wisdom to know how to be able to deal with these dangers in a Christ-like way.
Are there no regenerate believers who are, or want to be "for selfish reasons," predominant members in the assembly? And are there not others who could accurately be described as Christians "who only want to bring attention to themselves, to further their careers, or even restart them again"? And how can all this be effectively achieved? By believing, preaching and teaching what the majority of the people want to hear and like to hear, and by neglecting conditional promises in the word of God.
Will the "celebrities" and "entertainers" in our Christian gatherings today, be amongst the "little flock" in the age to come? Will they be able to escape unscathed the coming judgement and Tribulation by crying unto their Lord: "Get me out of here"? Not according to my Bible. - Ed.]
The question is often asked, "What time is it on God's prophetic calendar?" Are we living at a time immediately preceding Christ's return? Or, could things as we know them today go on for another century or even another millennium?
Ample information is given in the Word of God to provide a clear, concise answer to the preceding. "What time is it?" The answer which Scripture provides reveals beyond any shadow of a doubt that it is much later than many care to think or admit. The return of the Lord to remove His Church* into the heavens and following events comprising the Tribulation upon the earth (which immediately precede Christ's return to the earth) are just around the corner. "Time" before these events begin to unfold could be counted in hours, or days, or weeks, or months, or even possibly a few years. To think of this "time" though as even approaching a century, much less a millennium, is completely out of line with Scripture.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees during the time He was on earth over nineteen hundred years ago for not being able to discern "the signs of the times" (Matt. 16: 3). And this is a rebuke which must be understood not only in the light of Christ's first coming but also in the light of His second coming as well, for the same conditions which prevailed in Israel 2,000 years ago prevail in Christendom today. The same unbelief and unpreparedness existing in Israel immediately preceding Christ's first coming exist in Christendom today immediately preceding Christ's second coming.
[* The author believes the whole church of Christ will be removed before the Great Tribulation. The Lord Himself teaches the contrary: "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth" (Rev. 3: 10; cf. Luke 21: 34-36.). Here is a conditional promise which every believer may or may not fulfil: only those who obey the command will be kept from "the hour of trial" That is, the Great Tribulation. - Ed.]
CHRISTíS FIRST APPEARANCE
"The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking[Lit. Gk. Ďtempting asked himí] to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, "When evening comes, you say, Ďit will be fine weather, for the sky is red,í and in the morning, ĎToday it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.í You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.Matt. 16: 1-4.*
[* Scripture quotations are mainly from the New International Version.]
The religious leaders in Israel had been sharply rebuked by Christ for being able to understand things in the natural realm but not being able to carry this same understanding over into things in the spiritual realm. They could understand signs in the sky above, signs having to do with approaching weather patterns through the present appearance of the sky; but they, on the other hand, possessed no similar comprehension concerning the signs of the times, signs having to do with the appearance of Israelís Messiah.
The way the Greek text is worded inMatthew 16: 3 shows two things about the way Israelís religious leaders understood "the appearance [Ďfaceí] of the sky" but lacked understanding when it came to "the signs of the times" : (1) They had learned to discern weather patterns by the appearance of the sky through experience, and (2) they had learned enough about the matter that they were able to do it quite well. Just the opposite though is shown by their inability to discern "the signs of the times":(1) Experience was lacking, and (2) they had correspondingly learned very little about the matter.
It is not taught inMatt. 16: 3 that the religious leaders in Israel, and even the nation at large, knew nothing about the signs of the times. Other Scriptures make it quite clear that they did know some things about these signs. They knew enough, for example, to know what the appearance of Ďthe Star in the Eastí meant (Matt. 2: 2, 3), and they knew enough to know the identity of Ďthe Heirí when he appeared (Matt. 21: 38, 39). Matt. 16: 3 simply shows that their knowledge and interest lay, not in the spiritual, but in the natural. They were quite knowledgeable about something which, by comparison, was of little consequence; but they lacked the same degree of understanding in that which should have been uppermost in their thinking.
The end result of such spiritual leadership was a decadent nation, a nation not at all ready for Messiahís coming; and the entire matter was climaxed by not only the nationís rejection of the King and the Kingdom but the crucifixion of the King Himself.
. . . The house of Israel was then left desolate, and the King, following His death, burial, and resurrection, returned to the place from whence He had come (back to heaven) until such a time as His offenders (the Jewish people) would acknowledge their offence, and seek His face(Matt. 23: 38, 39; Hosea 5: 15).
During the interim, God is calling out a separate and distinct people for his name - taken mainly from the Gentiles, though also from Israel as well - who comprise the "one new man" in Christ (Acts 15: 14; Rom. 11: 5, 25; Gal. 3: 26-29; Eph. 2: 13-15). And the offer to occupy positions with Christ in the kingdom of the heavens, which at one time was extended to Israel, is presently being extended to those comprising this one new man - [to Christians, i.e., regenerate believers].
. . . Godís dealings with the house of Israel will resume during"a time of trouble for Jacob" (Jer. 30: 7-11) but until that time God is going to concern Himself with household dealings separate and distinct from those (both past and future) with the house of Israel.
Godís present household dealings though will terminate after a similar fashion to His past household dealings (Rom. 11: 21). Apostacy, ignorance, unbelief - all in relation to the proffered kingdom - will mark the end of the present dispensation (Rev. 3: 14ff). But even so, God will still realise His purpose behind setting Israel aside (Rom. 11: 29).
(Bear one thing in mind. Many Old Testament saints [Israelites] qualified to rule from the heavens; and even though the nation of Israel forfeited this right, these saints will still realise heavenly promises and blessings [Matt. 8: 11; Luke 13: 28, 29]. And it is the same in Christendom. Even though the present dispensation, as the last, will end in apostasy, ignorance, and unbelief in relation to the kingdom of the heavens, such will have nothing to do with those saints who qualified [or are presently qualifying] to realise heavenly promises and blessings.
Actually, during the coming age, it seems that the Old Testament saints who qualified to occupy regal positions from the heavens will rule over Israel; and the New Testament saints who qualified to occupy such positions will rule over the Gentiles. God has been calling out rulers to occupy heavenly positions in the kingdom for the past 4,000 years, spanning two dispensations [the present dispensation] have been promised power only over the Gentile nations, not over Israel [Rev. 2: 26, 27]. However, there will have to be rulers over Israel under David and the twelve apostles [Ezek. 34: 23, 24; 37: 24, 25; Matt. 19: 28], and such will very likely consist of those Old Testament saints who qualified to rule from the heavens.)
UNBELIEF IN CHRISTENDOM
There is a very similar situation existing in Christendom today, immediately preceding Christís return, to that which existed in Israel almost 2,000 years ago when Christ came the first time. The religious leaders were not bringing forth fruit through instructing the people concerning Christís appearance then (which resulted in a people who were not ready for His appearance), and the religious leaders today are not bringing forth fruit through instructing the people concerning Christís second appearance (which has resulted in a people who are not ready for His reappearance).
There was a small segment of the people in Israel watching and waiting for the Messiahís first appearance (note Simeon and Anna for example [Luke 2: 25-38]), and there is a small segment in Christendom watching and waiting for His reappearance. A small segment of the religious leaders then were not content to go along with the mainstream of thought exhibited by their piers (note Nicodemus for example [John 3: 1, 2]), and there is a small segment in Christendom today who are not content to do the same. But, by large, this was not the case then; and, by large, it is not the case today.
Signs announcing Christís soon appearance were in evidence 2,000 years ago, and signs announcing Christís soon reappearance are in evidence today. And as these signs were ignored by the Israeli people then, they are being equally ignored by Christians today. In this respect, history is merely repeating itself.
As there was a chronological sign surrounding Christís first appearance, there is likewise one surrounding His reappearance, though not based on a 490-year period of time. Then there is the sign of the fig tree (Israel), with corresponding activity among Gentile nations. And in conjunction with events surrounding Israel and the Gentile nations there is also to be a repetition of the days of Noah and Lot immediately preceding Christís return (Luke 17: 26-31).
The chronological sign and the sign surrounding Israel should be sufficient to show any rational thinking person where we are time-wise during the present dispensation, but other signs exist as well. And all these signs point to the same thing once again: Godís intervention in manís affairs through Christís personal presence draws neigh.
1. THE CHRONOLOGICAL SIGN.*
[* Note. An additional 15 years have been added to compensate for the authorís initial publication in 1989. - Ed.]
In the chronology of time surrounding Christ's reappearance, one can easily ascertain that the time for Christ's return is very near by reference to the septenary arrangement of Scripture. We are living at a time very near the end of six days (6,000 years), dating from man's creation, or very near the end of two days (2,000 years), dating from Christ's first appearance. And Christ will return at the end of six days, dating from the former, or at the end of two days, dating from the latter.*
[* That is, "After two days [not immediately after two days] will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, [not at the beginning of the third day] and we shall live before him" (Hosea 6: 2; cf. 1Pet. 1: 11; 2 Pet. 3: 8). - Ed.]
In the chronology of time in Scripture, one can ascertain the exact number of years from the creation of Adam to the Exodus from Egypt under Moses. The total number of years between these two events was 2,508, which, in order to better understand the overall picture, should be broken down into at least three divisions: It was 1,656 years from the creation of Adam to the Flood during Noah's day (cf.Gen. 5:1-32; 7:6); then from the Flood to the birth of Abraham was 352 years (cf. Gen. 11:10-26, 32;12:14); and from the birth of Abraham to the Exodus from Egypt under Moses was 500 years (cf. Gen. 15:13, 14; 21:5; Ex. 12:40, 41; Gal. 3:17).
Though numerous periods of time are given, Biblical chronology from the Exodus under Moses to Christ's first advent cannot be followed in the same sense that it can be followed from the creation of Adam to the Exodus. Thus, we have to look to secular history for a date of the Exodus; and the best date, based on late archaeological discoveries, would be about 1446 B.C. However, these are years based on the Julian calendar, consisting of 365 and 1/4 days per year, and the 2,508 years from the creation of Adam to the Exodus under Moses are years of 360 days each (the length used throughout Scripture). Thus, the 1,446 years based on the Julian calendar, for purposes of chronological computations within the 6, 000 years allotted to man, comprising Man's Day, must be converted to years of 360 days each. This conversion will add 21 years, giving us a date of 1467 B.C. for the Exodus. Then, 1,467 added to 2,508 provides a total of 3,975 years (of 360 days each) from the creation of Adam to the point where B.C. ends and A.D. begins in our present reckoning of time.
Today we are living in the year 2004 A.D. However, again we are dealing with years based on the Julian calendar, which must be converted. And converting, for purposes of chronological computations, 29 years must be added, making 2004 years on the Julian calendar equal to 2,033 years of 360 days each. And 2,033 years on the A. D. side of the division of time added to the 3,975 years on the B.C. side of the division of time brings the total number of years from the creation of Adam to the present time, as close as we can figure them, to 6,008 years.
If 6,008 is the correct number of years from the creation of Adam to the present year (2004), this leaves us eight years over 6,000. And time for the Tribulation, which will comprise the last seven years of the 6,000, must still be taken into consideration to complete this reckoning of time. Thus, one can easily see from the computation of time covering Man's Day, from a Biblical framework and perspective, just how near we are to Christ's return for His Church, which will occur preceding the Tribulation.
One thing though must be kept in mind when dealing with time during Man's Day. The computation showing 6,008 years from the creation of Adam to the present is based on two unknowns, which would allow for the possibility of a slight error (probably a few years at the very most). First, we do not know that the archaeological date of 1446 B.C. for the Exodus is the exact year this event occurred (this date is based on archaeological discoveries, not Biblical chronology); and second, we do not know that our calendar as we have it today, showing this to be the year 2004, has been kept completely intact over the years. Both of these dates though would have to be quite close if not completely accurate, making the total number of years from the creation of Adam to the present very close to 6,008 years, if not exactly 6,008 years.
Knowing this chronology alone should cause Christians to stop and consider the time in which we are living. But as the available chronology of the 490 years went unheeded in Israel at the time of Christ's first coming, the available chronology of the 6,000 years comprising Man's Day is going unheeded in Christendom today, immediately preceding Christ's return.
2. ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS
When Christ was upon earth the first time, He cursed a fig tree which had leaves but no fruit; and the fig tree dried up "from the roots." The fruitless fig tree "withered away," but the roots remained (Matt. 21:18-20; Mark 11:12-14, 20, 21).
The "fig tree" represented Israel, which was about to experience the same fate because of its fruitless condition. The house was left desolate, and forty years later Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the Jews subsequently driven to the ends of the earth. The house of Israel, left desolate by Christ and subsequently dispersed by a Gentile power throughout the nations of the earth, ceased to exist as a nation, but the roots remained.
Christ though, in the first of the Olivet Discourse parables, referred to the reappearance of Israel in a fruitless condition, again under the symbolism of a "fig tree," with leaves only (Matt. 24:32). Israel's reappearance after this fashion was to occur near the end of the present age. And this reappearance of Israel as a nation in the Middle East is the revealed event which sets things in motion among the Gentile nations of the earth, anticipating Christ's reappearance.
Israel is the "apple [lit. Ďpupilí] of God's eye" (Zech. 18). The capital of Jewry, the city of Jerusalem, has been placed "in the midst of the nations" (Ezek. 5:5). God looks upon the Gentile nations through Israel, occupying a place in the geographical centre of the nations; and God has set the bounds of these nations and assigned their inheritance upon the earth "according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26).
Thus, Israel occupies centre-stage when it comes to the nations of the earth. When the "fig tree" (Israel) put forth leaves once again (appeared as a recognised nation once again, which occurred May 14, 1948), this marked the beginning of events transpiring among "all the trees" (all the Gentile nations). In Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse, the fig tree would not shoot forth alone. All the trees would shoot forth at this time as well (Luke 21:29, 30).
After what ever fashion one understands the passage in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse, it cannot be denied that once Israel became a recognised nation in the midst of the Gentile nations, through whom God could view the nations of the earth, things began to happen among these nations, setting the stage for the appearance of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation (e.g., independence among nations [note especially nations across Africa], or the alignment of nations, anticipating the fulfillment of prophesied end-time events).
Scripture is very clear that the generation of individuals seeing these things occur will be the same generation living when Christ returns(Matt. 24:33, 34; Luke 21:31, 32). Thus, in this respect, the emergence of Israel as a nation once again (which portends events among the Gentile nations of the earth) would have to be considered the key sign which God has given signaling Christ's soon appearance.
3. ALIGNMENT OF THE NATIONS
Gentile nations appear in Biblical prophecy only as these nations enter into God's dealings with Israel. Some nations are never mentioned, for they never enter into these dealings; other nations though are mentioned time after time, for they continually enter into these dealings.
During the years following Israel's emergence on the scene as a recognised nation once again - the reappearance of the fruitless fig tree - two superpowers among the Gentile nations, which will enter into God's end-time dealings with Israel, made their presence known. One, the United States, has befriended Israel over the years; the other, Russia, has befriended Israel's enemies during the same period. And the whole scenario is part of a major sign concerning the nearness of the end of the age, with the end of the dispensation even nearer yet.
According toEzek. 38, 39, a nation north of Israel will, "in future years," launch a major military attack against Israel. This nation, along with certain satellite nations, will come down into "a land that is recovered from war, whose people are gathered from many nations." They will "attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people - all of them living without walls and without gates and bars" in order to "plunder and loot" (Ezek. 38:8-12).
The nation launching and heading this military attack against Israel can be easily identified in Scripture. First of all, the people comprising this nation are descendants of Magog, Meshech, and Tubal (sons of Japheth); and these three individuals, following the Flood, settled in tile regions to the North, which would be north of Israel or north of the whole Middle East (Ezek. 38: 2). Second, this nation is referred to by the Hebrew word, Rosh, translated "chief" in Ezek. 38: 2, 3 (K.J.V). Rather than "chief prince," the translation should literally read, "prince of Rosh." Gesenius, one of the greatest of the Hebrew lexicographers from past years, associated Rosh in this passage with "Russia," which would seem to be very much the case. Third, this nation will come against Israel from "the far north" (Ezek. 38: 6, 15; 39: 2). The literal rendering in all three instances should be, "the utmost parts of the north." This is a superlative expression, pointing to the farthermost inhabited land north of Israel, which can only be Russia.
Satellite nations coming down into Israel with Russia can also be easily identified. Five nations or geographical regions are mentioned inEzek. 38:5, 6: "Persia," "Ethiopia," "Libya," "Gomer," and "Togarmah." "Persia" is simply Iran of today. The name was changed from Persia to Iran in 1935; "Ethiopia" and "Libya" would seem to be the same countries called by those names today; "Gomer" is a reference to Germany (possibly East Germany as we see the present alignment of nations); and "Togarmah" is a reference to the region occupied by Armenia and Turkey.
Since the emergence of Israel as a nation over forty years ago, events have been rapidly transpiring within these countries which will culminate in the fulfillment of that which was prophesied over 2,500 years ago. Current events within these countries, in this light, are interesting; but one need not understand all the details involved to know that we're living very near that time when Russia will think "an evil scheme" and make her move against Israel, accompanied by these countries.
Russia has actually been moving against Israel for the past several decades through the Arab nations, more so possibly prior to the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars (1967, 1973) than at the present time. The Arabic nationsí military failure (backed by Russia) in these two wars seemingly changed things for Russia in the Middle East, and Russia is probably well aware that if the nationís aspirations to destroy Israel and gain control of the Middle East are to be realised, there will have to be direct military intervention.
Intervention of this nature is exactly what will occur, seemingly during the first year of the Tribulation (Ezek. 39:9). And when Russia makes such a move, nations identified as "Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all her strong lions" are going to question her actions (Ezek. 38:13). "Sheba" and "Dedan" would appear to point to Arabian tribes, "Tarshish" to the British Isles, and the "strong lions" of Tarshish to countries settled by individuals from the British Isles - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.
(Ezek. 38:13 is the only place the United States is mentioned in Biblical prophecy, for this is the only place in prophecy that the United States, as a nation, enters into God's dealings with Israel.)
On one side there will be a superpower with certain other nations coming down into Israel. One the other side there will be another superpower with certain other nations questioning Russia's actions. However, before the nations voicing their disapproval can act, God is going to step in and take care of Russia Himself (Ezek. 38:18ff).
Events leading into the fulfillment ofEzek. 38, 39 form one of the major signs of the times with which Christians should be very familiar. Christians should be able to view what is happening in the world, especially the Middle East, and know that the fulfillment of Ezek. 38, 39 can only be very near, correspondingly knowing that the coming of the Lord for His Church can only be even nearer yet.
4. DAYS OF NOAH, LOT
Christ referred to conditions existing on the earth during both the days of Noah and the days of Lot as being like conditions which will exist immediately preceding His return: "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of man . . . it was the same in the days of Lot . . . It will be just like this on the day the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:26, 28, 30).
Preceding the Flood, "People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage"; and these conditions continued until the day "Noah entered the ark" (Luke 17:26, 27). Preceding the destruction of the cities of the plain, the people "were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building"; and these conditions continued until the day "Lot left Sodom" (Luke 17:28, 29).
It is evident that the Lord was not referring to pursuits of life which were evil in and of themselves, though "marrying and being given in marriage" during Noah's day would include the cohabitation of the sons of God with the daughters of men. The thought is that the people were going about their everyday activities after a fashion which left them completely oblivious to the impending destruction. Note the words, "And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away" (Matt. 24:39). And these same conditions will prevail on the earth immediately preceding Christ's return for the Church.
The world as it exists today, paralleling the world immediately pre ceding both the Flood and the destruction of the cities of the plain, knows nothing about impending judgment; and conditions will continue unchanged, with the people busily engaged in normal pursuits of life, until . . .
The world though cannot be expected to follow any other course."The whole world is under the control of the evil one" (1 John 5:19). Satan is the "god of this age" and "all the gods of the nations are idols [lit. Ďnothingí; the translators of the Septuagint Version used the Creek word daimonia, referring to Ďdemonsí]" (2 Cor. 4:4; Psa. 96:5). The world is enmeshed in humanism, with its goals, aims, ambtions, aspirations, following a humanistic approach to all things in life. Thus, it is only natural for the world to pursue a pattern of life as given in the text.
The entire thought centres around a warning to the saved, not the unsaved: "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34, 35). Christians, though engaged in many of the same normal pursuits of life as the world, are to govern their affairs after an entirely different fashion. They are to conduct their affairs within these pursuits of life after a manner which bespeaks their belief in that which has been revealed concerning the coming of the Son of Man.
A major problem exists when Christians ignore or neglect that which has been revealed and become caught up in the ways and affairs of the world (cf.Heb. 11-3), for the world knows nothing of impending change wrought through Divine intervention; and Christians, through an association with the world after this fashion, will gradually find themselves assuming a very similar attitude. They will be lulled to sleep, and "that day" will come upon them in the same manner as it will come upon those of the world - "like a thief in the night [in a sudden, unexpected manner]" (cf. 1 Thess. 5: 1 ff.)
The coming of the Son of Man will "come upon" such Christians unaware, and they will not know what is about to occur until that time when it does occur. Just as those during the days of Noah did not know "until the flood came," many Christians during the coming day (because of their involvement with the world) will not know until . . .
In the discourse which Christ delivered to His disciples on Mount Olivet, two days prior to His crucifixion, three things are mentioned which every Christian who would keep himself unspotted from the world must keep in mind: (1) Christ will return (conditions as they presently exist will not continue on and on indefinitely (Matt. 24:37-39). (2) No man can know the day or hour of Christ's return (these specifies have been reserved for the Father alone (Matt. 24: 36). (3) Man though can know when the time is near through the signs of the times (God has seen fit, for definite purposes, to reveal these things to man (Matt. 24: 32-34).
Christians living in the world, but not of the world, must govern their lives after a fashion which bespeaks their belief in the Revelation of God concerning Christís return. Christ will return; and, although we cannot know the day or hour, it has pleased the One Who reserved this knowledge unto himself to reveal certain signs of the times. God has not left His people in darkness; and the admonition of Scripture, in the light of that which God has revealed, is to "Be careful . . .Watch . . ."
CONSEQUENCES OF UNBELIEF
The end result of unbelief in Christendom, wrought through failure of those whom the Lord has placed in positions of leadership to prepare the people for Christís reappearance, can be clearly seen in Christís words to the Church in Laodicea: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot or cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3: 15, 16).
Christ, upon His judgment seat, will reject those who are shown to lack works of a nature resulting in fruit-bearing. They will have failed in their calling as household servants and be disapproved (1 Cor. 9: 27; James 1: 12). They will not be allowed to ascend the throne with Christ and rule over the nations. Instead, Christ will do exactly as He has stated. He will spit (vomit) them out of His mouth, showing not only their rejection but also Christís attitude toward their prior unfaithfulness.
Every Christian will hear one of two things in that day: "Well done, good and faithful servant! . . ." or "You wicked. lazy servant! . . ." (Matt. 25: 21, 23, 26). Which depends entirely on faithfulness to oneís calling as a household servant during the present day.
God, in the opening verses of Genesis, does not move beyond the "seventh day" as He begins His revelation to man (Gen. 1: 1-2: 4). There is no reference to an "eighth day," which would signify a new beginning, pointing to the ages beyond the coming Sabbath of rest, the ages beyond the Millennial Age. Thus, God at the outset, makes known that His revelation to man is going to concern events during seven days, seven thousand years of time - events from the creation of Adam to the end of the Messianic Kingdom.
This is the reason that all Scripture, after some fashion, moves toward the coming seventh day, the Messianic Era; and Scripture, except for a few brief verses, is silent on events beyond the millennium. The emphasis, beginning in Genesis, is upon man holding the sceptre, ruling over a restored earth (this present earth, on the seventh day); and the emphasis never changes. Such reveals the importance of earthís coming Messianic Era within the mind of God.
To convert today's date to other calendar systems try;