In this series of articles we considered the fact that God concealed “the times and seasons” of the last days tribulation until “the time of the end.” This was so that Christians would be concerned with the task ahead, the spread of the Gospel to all nations. Yet He also wanted them to keep the blessed Hope alive before them since this keeps us striving for the age to come. If God had revealed the two-millennia delay early on, the motivation to complete the mission would have been largely lost. Christians could also easily become complacent and preoccupied with this present world. God allowed and used the early Christians’ incorrect supposition, that Jesus’ coming was very near, for His own purposes. Like a good father, God does not tell His young children everything but withholds certain things for their own good, even allowing them to assume certain things wrongly for a long time until the withheld information is needed.
This is exactly how God operated prior to Jesus’ first coming. He gave many prophecies about the Messiah, but hid the “mystery” of who the Messiah is from Israel. He did this so “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” once Jesus arrived. He concealed the mystery of the Messiah and allowed the wicked rulers of Israel just enough rope to hang themselves, exposing their wicked hearts. He gave them apparent just-cause in the Law of Moses to have Jesus executed for blasphemy. Jesus even antagonized and publicly harangued the religious leaders, poking them in their weak spot – pride – forcing them right into God’s trap. They fancied themselves as “teachers” of God’s Word, yet Jesus forced them to reveal their inner “idol” (self, position, status) which was exalted in the Temple of God instead of God. He exposed their hypocrisy, pretending to be righteous outwardly, while ignoring God’s commandments that deal with the heart. Steven, empowered by the same Breath of God, was just as uncharacteristically bold as Jesus was when He cast the money-changers out of the Temple, showing the same kind of in-your-face condemnation of the Sanhedrin in Acts 7. Their choice to have Jesus executed by invoking the blasphemy law, and their choice to kill Steven and persecute the Apostles, were all driven by pride-filled, hardened hearts, provoked by exposure to the light. God’s holy Breath, using the mouths of Jesus and the Apostles, boldly accused and exposed these men. They had ears but they could not hear, eyes but they could not see. Outwardly they appeared pious, but inwardly they were repulsive to God, filled with pride which God hates, thus unwilling to be corrected. Because of their pretentious egos they could not hear God’s voice in Jesus Christ. Yet, God uses even the wrath of man for His own purposes. He played Pharaoh like a fiddle, and He did the same with the Sanhedrin that convicted Jesus and Steven.
Paul explained why God concealed the mystery of the Messiah: “But we speak the Wisdom of God in a mystery, having been concealed, whom God predetermined before the ages for our glory, who none of the principle [men] of this age have discovered. For if they had discovered, they would not have crucified the Master of glory.”
God has a very long history of using proud leaders to accomplish His purposes because they are so predictable. He knows their hearts and hidden secrets and can easily manipulate them. He will do precisely the same thing in these end times in order to test His covenant people and divide the sheep from the goats.
We also considered Jesus’ parable of the man surprised by the thief. Through this parable Jesus command end-time pastors and teachers to “become ready” for His coming by discerning “the times and seasons” once God discloses what He has kept sealed, then to instruct His other servants. God promised to unseal “the time of the end” which is “the Advent of our Master Jesus Anointed, which [God] will disclose in His own appointed times.” This light, knowledge, and understanding, which will be essential for end-time endurance, is provided through God’s holy Breath to those who are “wise,” those who “tremble at My word.” Again, just as with Jesus’ first coming, this process involves exposing the hearts and real motivations of God’s people, especially leaders. They will be put in situations where they will have to make choices. These choices will reveal what is truly in their hearts. This process will divide God’s covenant people just as the first coming of Jesus divided His covenant people. The separation of God’s people in the end-times will be between the proud and the humble in the same way the Scribes and Pharisees were separated from Jesus’ disciples. This separation will be between those who are truly seeking the Kingdom of God first and those who are pursuing the things of this present fallen world exactly as Judas Iscariot was separated from the other eleven disciples. This process will split families, wreck friendships and associations, and purge local assemblies and fellowships as some choose to follow the voice of the Breath of God and the rest choose to follow their own perceived temporal interests.
In Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins, this division between the “wise” and “foolish” Christians is further illustrated and emphasized. The warnings in the Olivet Discourse and this associated parable illustrate that perhaps half of Jesus’ followers will fall away in the end times. It also illustrates the urgency of disengaging from the fallen world system and spiritual preparation for the end-times, and that those who are prepared will not be able to assist those who did not prepare. The needed information to prepare for the end-time trial will be publicly available to Christians just as it was during the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. But many, if not most, will not heed the warnings. They will not “become ready” as Jesus commanded; they will not put away their idols and attachments to this present age; and they will not be among the overcomers in the last trial of our faith which is just over the horizon. It will also be a very sad fate for those who mistake theological purity as their ticket into the marriage supper, while maintaining their idols and soiled garments. Only those wearing spotless garments will be allowed into the wedding supper.
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon wrote a very profound poem that has even become the lyrics for a popular song in 1965, Turn, Turn, Turn, by the Byrds, with a message that is very relevant to our time.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
God’s wisdom is needed to discern the time and acting accordingly. It is found in observing God’s patterns in history, understanding what God is doing now, and living in harmony with Him rather than kicking against the goads.
The kings and leaders of Judah did not have this wisdom when God sent His prophet Jeremiah to tell them that He was sending Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah, and that those who surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar would be safe, but those who resisted would be destroyed. In their arrogance they insisted that it was time to resist. It didn’t turn out so well for them. God explained to Jeremiah what He was doing and why using the parable of the Good Figs & Rotten Figs.
Jeremiah 24:1 The LORD showed me, and there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. 2 One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.” 4 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: `Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. 6 `For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 `Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. 8 `And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad’– surely thus says the LORD–`so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. 9 `I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. 10 `And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.'”
Christianity today stands at the same crossroads as Judah did in Jeremiah’s day. God is using wicked and arrogant rulers, just like Nebuchadnezzar, to test and refine His people and divide them into two groups, the good figs and the rotten figs. The good figs are going to be preserved by God because they keep His commandments. “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” But just like Zedekiah and the arrogant leaders of Judah, most will not heed the warnings. They are blind and follow blind guides who cannot discern the times. They are clueless concerning the parable of the Fig Tree.
They foolishly think now is the time to insist on their rights, to resist the governing officials and regulations. Their higher calling is not to be a light and humbly represent Christ in the present darkness, but to defeat the Left by political activism, protest, and resistance. They really think that with their activism and spreading rumors, slander, and gossip on their social media accounts that collectively the Christian Right can beat the Left. Many think that a certain former president can save us, or some other political figure or movement. It is not going to happen. They are walking right into the trap of the enemy which God is allowing to test us. This is not the time for war for God’s people. It is not the time to take up any kind of social banner and cause. It is the time for humble obedience to God’s commands, to submit to an authority that we may not like or agree with, while trusting Him alone for the outcome. This is the time to collectively represent Christ accurately to the world, not demanding our “rights” or as a zealot to accomplish man’s will, but as a zealot to accomplish God’s will.
1 Peter 3:11-17 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
This is exactly what “walking in the steps of the Faith of our father Abraham”; looks like. This is what living as “strangers and pilgrims” in a foreign land looks like. This is how the early Christians lived in the world, and God did many mighty things among them as recorded in Acts, safely carrying them through the most severe periods of persecution. Humble obedience to all of God’s ordained authorities, unless they require us to break God’s commands, is absolutely required of us until the time comes when human governmental authority is no longer given by God but instead given by Satan to the Antichrist. Until that time, at the mid-point of the 70th week, the governing authorities are ordained by God. Submission to God-ordained authority and keeping God’s commandments are essential for God’s presence to dwell among His people. The wise virgins will heed this, but the foolish virgins will not. The arm of flesh absolutely will fail miserably.
2 Chron. 32:7-8 (NKJV) “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
One of the greatest reasons that God has promised to “disclose” the time of the end to His people prior to the Advent is so that we can disengage from the world system and get our houses in order for the severe trial ahead. It is not so that we can be physical “preppers,” but rather spiritual “preppers.” He will take care of the physical if we first take care of the spiritual. He will then guide us by His Breath every step and supply all our resources in whatever physical preparations He wants us to make. And He will make sure that we are under the shadow of His wings during the last 3.5 years of calamity.
Luke 21:36 (NKJV) “Watch therefore, and pray always [so] that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
 Mark 13:32; Acts 1:6-8; 1 Thess. 5:1-6
 Luke 2:35
 Col. 2:2
 Matt. 23
 Isa. 6:9-12; Matt. 13:14-15
 Prov. 6:16-17
 Psalm 76:10
 Exod. 9:16-17
 1 Cor. 2:7-8 LGV
 Dan. 12:4
 1 Tim. 6:14-15
 Dan. 12:4,9-10 LXX
 Isa. 66:2,5
 James 4:6
 Matt. 10:33-39
 Gen. 35:2-3; Matt. 22:11-14; Rev. 3:4-5,18; Rev. 7:9,13-14; Rev. 16:15; Rev. 19:7-9
 Rev. 7:14; Rev. 19:7
 Jer. 38:17-23
 Rev. 3:10
 Matt. 24:32-33
 Rom. 4:12
 Heb. 11:13-14
 Rev. 13:1-4
 Matt. 6:19-34
 Psalm 91