In today’s passage, Jesus said, do you know how to discern the appearance of the skies but cannot discern the sign of the times. Luke 21:34 teaches us that for those who are not prepared this will be dooms day. The Pharisees and Sadducees were testing Jesus asking Him to prove Himself. To this request, Jesus answers Matthew 16:2-3. Jesus is saying, don’t just take interest in simple miracles or simple things that attracts and interests you, but in the sign of the times. God rules over both the physical and spiritual world. He keeps them in order according to His heavenly will, this is God’s economy and in Greek “oikonomia”. It is akin to business administration or economy. This economy on this earth in regards to mankind is called the work of redemption, His plan of administration redemption. By understanding God’s plan allows us to know where we must be. It teaches a person or nation about how God fulfills His plan with mankind. What will happen in the end times before the judgment comes?
1. Chaos and confusion
The common thing we see are confusion and chaos. Isaiah 3:12, Isaiah 9:13-16, Isaiah 59:1-4, Jeremiah 4:22-23, Micah 7:3-4. These are all warnings of God’s judgment. The common thing is that there will be misleading and confusion caused by Satan before the judgment. The word “confusion” or “chaos” or “formlessness” is all from the same Hebrew word which means rejection of God as king, rejection of God’s rule. This word appears for the first time in Genesis 1:2. Formlessness can be translated into chaos before God’s creation work. Formlessness in Hebrew is tohu, which is translated into confusion, misleading, chaos. This word means “wasteland, land without a master, emptiness, chaos, futile, formless”. It is an empty land or house with no master and no Lord to care for it. It is left as a wasteland. Isaiah 24:10 also uses this word. There is no owner. It is referring to the spiritual condition when we reject God’s sovereignty and rule in our lives, as a result there comes emptiness, void, confusion, depression, formlessness. Even though the world may be in chaos, as long as we invite God into our lives, families and homes, God will put things in orders, there will come peace, consolation and solutions to our problems. When the confusion and chaos takes place, there are 2 phenomena:
(i) No order – No order in faith, in human relationship.
(ii) Compromised view of faith. Mixed faith.
During the time of Tower of Babel, the Tower of Babel was the icon of technology and prosperity and even religiosity. According to the artifacts and according to the records in studies of the ancient near east, they claim to worship God but in reality they worship Nimrod, Ham’s grandson. Genesis 10:6ff. Nimrod was their hero who protected them, he was a great mighty hunter against God, “in the face of God” which connotes the one who stood against the face of God. Nimrod gave them security and allowed them to live in a prosperous world. Let us think about the Nimrod of our lives. Don’t we worship the one or the system that gives us financial profits and security, allowing us to live a safe life? Israel was surrounded and influenced by these Gentile nations, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, and was heavily affected. Satan from the beginning at the Garden of Eden until now, uses different forms and methods and different names, but continues to use the same strategy. 2 King 21:5, Ezekiel 8:14. Nimrod became the sun god, Tammuz became the moon god, Sami Rammez became the star god. Sun, moon and star gods became gods in every culture. Israelites claimed to believe in God, but when in distress they depended on these idols, for example in the golden calf incident. Likewise today our lives are the same, we claim to be Christian but we are mixed up with these religions. God then told Israel to be consecrated and be separate, God continuously tells His people to get rid of and destroy all these false religions and false practices. May we have a discerning heart.
2. Secondly those who sincerely believe and understand God’s time and Word become very busy
Amos 3:7-8. When Noah received the Word of God, he was very busy building the ark, not only building the ark but he was farming to prepare the food for all the hundreds of animals, enough to eat for close to 1 year. People who come to understand the times, cannot but become busy in doing God’s work. When the Israelites were getting comfortable thinking time are good, the prophets like Hosea, Jeremiah, were busy prophesising with their actions of God’s impending destruction, waiting for people to repent. Apostasy is one of the signs. 2 Thessalonians 2:3
Those faithful in serving and attending church and serving, how will they lose faith?
(i) First the persecution will be so strong people will give up faith
(ii) Secondly temptations drawing to the world is so great people will give up faith
(iii) Thirdly there will be systematic ways to illegalize Christianity or Christian worship.
In different ways Satan will attack us, Satan will try his best to bring us down, and make us give up our faith. Throughout history of the bible, we see the greatest reason for apostasy is money and honour. Matthew 24:6-13. I pray that abomination will never stand upon our church, upon your home, upon your heart.
If we hold on to the blood of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, it is He who will protect us. We cannot overcome all these things with our strength, so we need to pray and ask, just as Jesus said in today’s passage, to seek for wisdom to understand the times and His will. I pray that we may pray and seek for this spiritual discernment that God gives us through His Word of righteousness so we will not fall into this world and give up our faith. Hebrews 5:14. The secret to success is: When we become busy in doing God’s work, those temptations will not affect us.