You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. (Mat. 16:3)
Man has often been preoccupied with the times and seasons, especially as it pertains to the Lord’s coming. While some have attempted to predict dates and times, others have settled that no one knows the day and hour, except the Father. Indeed, the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night to the multitudes. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thes. 5:5).
God wants us to be conscious of the times in which we live. Just as we look to the clouds and read the day’s weather, He would have us be spiritual enough to understand the sign of the times in God’s divine plan. Jesus said to the religious leader of the day: “Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Mat. 16:3). The original Greek word used for ‘times’ is ‘kairos’. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: Chronos (chronological or sequential time) and Kairos (a proper or opportune time for action). From the perspective of the kingdom, Kairos is used to signify the right or appointed time in the purpose of God. It is the decisive period awaited for in God’s vast kingdom program – the time in which God beings to move in a new way.
Just after John had been put into prison, Jesus came declaring the gospel of the kingdom saying: “the time (Kairos) is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar. 1:15). For, “the law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it” (Luk. 16:16).
The progressive development of God’s Kingdom plan consists of ages. Each new age brings a new order, a new revelation, a new understanding, a new commission, a new realm, a new reality, a new dimension of life, a new dominion, a new day, another phase of His in-working. The kingdom advances and triumphs with every successive age. The dispensation of the fullness of the times (the fullness of the ages) marks the completion of God’s plan of the ages when He will reconcile all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10).
Each new age causes the previous age to grow old and pass away. When the Lord brought the new covenant, with it came a greater glory that did away with the age of the law: “When God speaks of a new [covenant or agreement], He makes the first one obsolete (out of use). And what is obsolete (out of use and annulled because of age) is ripe for disappearance and to be dispensed with altogether” (Heb. 8:13 Amp).
But, men are not always discerning of the dealings of God that accompany a new age. The coming of a new age is often hidden, only revealed to a few in its appointed time. Paul testifies that the dispensation of grace was a mystery given to him by revelation from God – “which in OTHER AGES was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Eph. 3:5). Again, Paul attests to: “the mystery which hath been hid from AGES and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:26). Anyone who follows outward forms and edicts instead of the leading of the Spirit will fail to discern the changing age that God is now bringing through His sons.
Dear saint, I say all this to say that a new age is before us. There is a shift taking place. We are at a spiritual transition to a new dimension in God’s kingdom program. Today, majority of the Lord’s people find themselves in the church age; under the order of Penetecost. But, Pentecost is an in-part realm – a realm of partial knowledge, partial understanding, partial gifts, and partial experience. Paul states: “whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
Pentecost is where we received the Spirit in measure as: “the guarantee of our inheritance [the first fruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14). The church has been in the order of Pentecost for over 2000 years. And who can deny the gifts, blessings, provisions, and benefits we experienced there. But, despite this, the age of the church is coming to a close.
John the revelator saw in his vision seven candlesticks “which are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20). The seven churches represent the realm and order of the entire church age. One needs to only read the account of these churches to know what the church has always been like. As you continue to read the book of revelation, you will recognize that the Lord’s dealing with His people is no longer confined to the order and realm of the church. Of the 19 mentions of the word ‘church’ in the book, 18 appear in the first three chapters. Something significant and worth noting happens in chapter four.
Chapter four begins with something new as John is introduced to a new realm. He encounters a new experience, a new height, a new order, a new revelation. He is summoned to come up through “a door standing open in heaven” (Christ) to the throne realm having heard the voice saying to him: “come up here, and I will show you things which must take place AFTER THIS (i.e. the church age, candlestick realm)” (Rev. 4:1 emphasis added). It’s then that John enters into a new heaven in the Spirit; into a closer walk and union with the One who sits on the throne. This event marks the beginning of a new age in one’s kingdom walk.
Those who truly know the voice of the Sheppard and hear His call to “come up here” will be equiped to discern the sign of the times and to step into the new realm in God. To the apprehended company of sons who have heard this call, Pentecost has already become obsolete by the new dispensation of the fullness of the kingdom that is now being revealed by the Spirit.
Perhaps you are wondering what all this has to do with the coming of the Lord. You see, every new age brings a greater revelation and possession of the mind, will, and nature of Christ. With each age, God enlarges Himself in us through greater revelations and experiences of Himself. In Passover, He comes to us as Savior; in Pentecost we met Him in the power of the Spirit as our firstfruit inheritance; in Tabernacles we press into the Father and all the fullness of God.
Dear reader of these lines, along with my fellow brothers and sisters, I am here to relay to you that there is a new age and a new experience in God that He is calling you to step into. There is a greater and more glorious dispensation in His kingdom. To be content in Pentecost is to settle for a transitory order. To settle in the church age is to fail to discern the sign of the times.
It was said of the sons of Issachar that they “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chr. 12:32). Issachar means ‘bearing a reward’, ‘wages’, or ‘recompense’. Issachar characterizes accomplishment and qualification – a state of attainment which exceeds grace and gifts. It bespeaks of development and maturity that we are all called into. It is in this overcoming condition that we are equipped to discern the times in God’s kingdom program.
Like the sons of Issachar, may the Lord give us understanding of the times that we may know what to do!