In today’s passage, when Jesus says: My time is near, He was referring to the time of the cross, the hour of His glory. The question for us today is: Is our time near? If it is, then what is the time that we waiting for? Ultimately, we are waiting for the Lord to return. Jesus speaks of that time today but before we go deeper into it, let us first look at the concept of time. Time is important in our lives because we have a limited amount of it. Although our time has a beginning and an end, we have absolutely no control over it & we do not know how much we have left.
“In the beginning” in Genesis 1:1 marks the beginning of the physical time that we are living in. At one point in the flow of eternity of an unknown infinite amount of time, God appointed the beginning of literal time. and because it had a beginning, there will be an end. And after its end, eternal time continues on. So, the beginning & end of physical time is sandwiched between eternal time. We call this physical time “history” and God’s work of redeeming mankind in that history is called the “history of redemption”.
“Eternal time” is “aion” in Greek. Physical time is “kronos” & measures time in years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. There is also “time” that is not defined or fixed, such as a baby’s birth. Because of medical advances, most doctors can now estimate when the baby will arrive, but the baby may still be born earlier or later. However, there are signs that the mother feels & experiences that will alert her to the impending birth. This refers to “kairos” and is the time that comes after certain conditions have been met. In the bible, kairos describes the time when God’s will is fulfilled within the timeline of human history. Jesus focuses on “kairos” and also introduces “Hora” time which means ‘hour’.
1. The times that Jesus talks about in His teachings
In Matthew 21:34, Jesus talks about harvest time. Spiritually the end time is harvest time. Harvest time can only take place when certain conditions are met, such as the crops being ready (Matthew 21:41). For kairos in Mark 1:15 to be fulfilled, we need to meet the conditions of repentance & believing in Jesus. In Mark 11:13, the fig tree was not able to meet the kairos time that Jesus brought. Although literally, it was not the season for figs, when Jesus came, it became kairos time for figs. But because the fig tree did not bear fruit, it was cursed (Mark 12:2; 13:33; Luke 1:20; 12:42,56; John 7:6-8)
When God commanded Noah to build an ark, it did not come with deadlines. When the ark was completed was determined by Noah’s faith, obedience and works. Kairos came when God’s Word was met by Noah’s faith, obedience and works. Likewise, God is waiting for kairos to be fulfilled in our lives as we receive the Word, believe, obey & carry it out.
Hora refers to a more specific moment in time when Jesus is in action (Matthew 24:36, 50; 25:13; Luke 7:21). In John 4:23 Jesus speaks of the present & future “The hour is coming and now is”, as happening at the same time. It is referring to that magical hour, Hora, when the faith of the Samaritan woman met with Jesus’ timing. Have you ever experienced such a moment or are you still waiting? We can have such moments daily, that future tense can be ours today! All we need to do is believe. The hora moment also took place when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, during Pentecost. They experienced immediate change and started doing God’s work. Unless Hora takes place in us, we are playacting like Christians. We may believe in God but we have not matured.
Zion Church is turning 23 next week. In human life, that is the age of greatest strength when a person can accomplish many things. But there may be some who think their time is nearly over & they are too old. When Moses was 80 years old, God said it was just the beginning. Likewise for Zion Church, now is the beginning of new work, when ‘our time is near’. But, in order for Zion Church to go forth into this new era of God’s work, every person and every department must come to that moment in time that God is waiting for. May God grant us strength and health until that day is fulfilled!
2. The different times that people experience, at the same time
Jesus’ birth account in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 show 4 different types of people and their different concepts of & responses to the time.
i) King Herod
The 3 wise men told Herod of the time of the Messiah’s birth, the coming of the seed of the woman. But because Herod’s only interest was the length of his reign, he caused the massacre of all Jewish boys 2 years and below.
ii) High priests and the scribes
The high priests & scribes knew of the time & place of the Messiah’s coming (Micah 5:2). Although they claimed to be waiting for the Messiah, they ignored Him when He finally came. Are we those who are inspired after hearing the word, only to quickly forget? May we not be people who turn away from the time of God!
The uneducated shepherds had little standing in society, but they immediately obeyed and responded to the time of the calling, the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.
iv) Simeon and Anna
When baby Jesus came into the temple, both Simeon & Anna who had been waiting in longing, instantly recognized & proclaimed Jesus as the good news (Luke 2:34-35,38). We cannot know the times unless we recognize who He is when He comes.
3. The biblical times that Jesus explained through the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21:33-43
In this parable, the vineyard owner refers to God who had rented out His vineyard to vine-growers representing the religious leaders & Israelites. Today, we are the vinegrowers. However, when the time came for the harvest, instead of giving the owner his due, the vinegrowers killed the representatives he sent – his servants (prophets) & his son (Jesus Christ). The owner promises he will certainly return to judge. There is the time of the servants, the time of the son, and the time of God the Father, the owner himself who will finally come. May we understand the times by understanding the Word & the covenant given!
The final last hour is coming which we are now living in (1 John 2:18), the hour of His coming (Revelation 3:3,10). When it comes, it will be the hour to worship, to repent & to believe (Revelation 14:7). Revelation 14:15 also tells us to “put in your sickle and reap”. Today, God is telling Zion Church – to ready the sickle as the hour to reap has come!
If thus far, we have been living in our time, so that there is no space for God’s time in our lives, let us be willing to die to our old selves so that God’s time can begin. Remember that God’s time is eternal. May we wake up to the reality of God’s time & come into His time! Hora literally means one hour. It means we have a window of 1 hour to do His work. Let us grab hold of this opportunity!