If the days are evil, shouldn’t we know that? When all in the world isn’t as it should be, doesn’t the church have an obligation to understand what’s happening? And in knowing these things, aren’t we who believe obligated to act? Scripture says, “Yes, indeed!”
In 1 Chronicles 12:32 here is what we’re told about one of the tribes of Israel which came together as one to support David as king:
… from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
Israel had been through a long and tumultuous time, as King Saul had resisted Yahweh in allowing the kingdom to be taken from his grasp. Years prior, God had removed His Holy Spirit from Saul and had Samuel anoint David as his replacement. When Saul died and Israel became of one mind and one heart toward him, he unified the land. Throughout all this time, the single tribe of Issachar is lauded for having understood the things that were happening. They had discernment and wisdom to comprehend. More than that, in this knowledge, they also knew what to do and acted upon it. This doubtless had an impact on all the other tribes in making Israel under David a great kingdom.
What we need to see is that God honors those who are able to comprehend what’s going on in the world around them. It’s this verse that we who study and/or teach Bible prophecy point toward, among others, as one of the reasons such inquiry and instruction are important. Bible prophecy is important to God; He wants us to understand the times and what we should do in response to this revelation that others haven’t grasped.
Jesus in Matthew 16:1-4 spoke of the necessity of seeing where we are on the prophetic timeline when he criticized the Pharisees for their blindness in this respect:
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
Moreover, Jesus in Luke 21:29-36 told the people a parable right after He spoke about His 2nd Coming:
And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
His message was crucial for the people back then; it is critical for us today. The Bible says we must be alert and awake to the signs of the times. When Jesus walked the earth, the people, especially the religious leaders, should have seen with clear vision who He was. Only now, by seeing in that same way, will we realize that we are nearing the point of Jesus’ return. Bible prophecy is the means by which we do this, because it allows us to see the world through a Biblical, prophetic lens and connect the dots.
Many see that something is happening in the world, perhaps even that something momentous is coming. But they don’t know what. Sadly, the church in general has this same problem of blindness as does the secular world. Because pastors haven’t properly studied Bible prophecy – they haven’t been taught it in seminaries and Bible schools – they are ignorant and unprepared. As a result, they cannot and do not prepare their flocks in order to be obedient to Jesus in this area.
If that’s the case – and it is – how will the church “have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”? These things that will come upon the face of the earth will catch the church by surprise every bit as much as they will the unbelieving world.
Are there implications for that? In their disobedience to the Lord in not preparing their flocks, will pastors lose crowns of reward? Will there be greater consequences for them? What of their congregations which showed no interest in reading their Bibles or further pursuing these things that Jesus warns about?
All this is in God’s hands. The one thing that is clear is that we are commanded to be ready for the Lord’s return. Even as we alluded to earlier, look at what Jesus says to us in Luke 21:28:
“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Wouldn’t it be wise for us all to do exactly this?