Knowing the Time

I Chronicles 12:32 speaks of the children of Issachar as being “men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” Like those men of old, we who are living in the last days of the church age need an understanding of our times and what we ought to be doing. “Knowing the time…it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11). A Christian’s commitment must be in sync with the demands of his times. The writer of Hebrews stressed the importance of assembling together regularly, emphasizing the necessity of doing this “much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (10:24). These endtimes require a step up in our commitment.

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Christ Jesus lived with a keen awareness of His time. He knew He had but a short while to accomplish what He had been sent to do. Thus it was with firm resolve that He stated, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4). From the time of His birth at Bethlehem until His death at Calvary, He was always in tune with God’s purpose for that particular time in His life. “And it came to pass when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51). At each stage of His life and ministry He was ready to make the needed adjustments in order to fulfill His Father’s will for the time.

Just prior to His betrayal, He prayed at Gethsemane which is located on the Mount of Olives. This was not the first time He had prayed there for Luke 22:39 tells us that, “He came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives…” The word “wont” means as He was accustomed to. This was His usual practice. Nonetheless, this particular prayer session was different from the others. It took on a new dimension. Jesus, being cognizant of what was immediately ahead, “being in agony…prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44). We know that His prayers were always deeply sincere and effective – yet now His earnestness and focus rose to a new level. Why? Because the times demanded it! As He faced His ultimate purpose for being born – that being the cross – his focus and commitment rose to the occasion. He steadfastly set His face! He squared His shoulders and dug in! He understood the times and mustered the resolve to see His calling and purpose through to completion. “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify thy name….” (John 12:27-28).

Jesus was in hopes that His disciples would somehow sense the urgency of the hour as He had. He attempted to arouse them with His words – “All ye shall be offended because of me this night…” (Matthew 26:31). They objected to His words professing that they were ready to die with Him if necessary. After all, they had faithfully followed Him now for over three years. They had proved their loyalty, hadn’t they? Yet Jesus, being mindful of what was coming, persisted. When He found them sleeping rather than praying, He said, “What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 22:40-41). In essence, Jesus was saying, “I know that you intend to continue following me and that you don’t think that you really need to dig in more than what you have in the past. But listen! Yesterday’s commitment was fine for that time. But tomorrow’s pressures will be so much greater than you could ever imagine. You have no idea what you will be facing very shortly. It’s time to dig in. It’s time to set your face!” In spite of Jesus’ warning, they did not grasp the urgency of the moment. They slept on. Consequently, a little while later, “all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). Our commitment must match the demands of our times! Otherwise we risk not being up to the task before us.

Today the modern church finds itself in the midst of the “perilous times” of which Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:1. Later in the same chapter (verses 12 and 13), he said, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men ad seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” As the times get “worse and worse” our commitment must grow “deeper and deeper.” Yesterday’s commitment may have sufficed for that time – but tomorrow’s pressures will require so much more.

The Book of Hebrews tells us, in effect, that in these endtimes “everything that can be shaken will be shaken.” The question is asked in Revelation 6:17, “Who shall be able to stand?” That is a good question – one that we need to seriously ponder as we face these last days of the church age. A good answer is given in Luke 21:34-36- “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

The time has come to square our shoulders and to steadfastly set our face as did our lovely Savior! “Knowing the time…it is high time to awake out of sleep…”

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

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