Saturday, August 1, 2020

Telling Time

Photo by Manisha1607 2015

I have never been able to enjoy the convenience of knowing the time by consulting a wrist device. As a young girl, I was blessed to receive several beautiful time pieces from a Swiss watchmaker who was a dear friend of our family. Despite their fine craftsmanship, they would adorn my wrist for only a few days or weeks before they would mysteriously stop ticking.

At first my parents thought I had treated them carelessly, but even when they restricted my wearing of them to Sundays and special occasions, they would cease to function without explanation. In high school it was important that I know the time so that I would not be late for classes or for the train I took to school and to ballet practice. So my parents bought me a series of supposedly reliable Timex watches, advertised to “take a licking, and keep on ticking.” But to no avail – each one stubbornly refused to keep time while attached to my wrist.

We all finally concluded that I was one of those strange individuals who emits a magnetic field that stops timepieces in their tracks. Even today, I wear a Fitbit but have no cell phone, and my Fitbit won’t tell the time unless it is synched to a cell phone, so I am bereft of an external timepiece. 

Thankfully, I was blessed with a fairly accurate internal clock, which allows me a good sense of time elapsed and keeps me punctual for appointments. Even upon awakening during the night, I generally can guess the time within 15 minutes even before looking at the clock. 

Long before timepieces were invented, God enabled mankind to tell time by the sun, moon and stars, which He set in motion to create the natural divisions of days, months and years (Genesis 1:14). Sundials use the motion of the sun through the sky to mark the passage of hours by the shadow cast by the sundial’s hand. Modern clocks use the frequency of vibration within atoms to mark the passage of time with astonishing precision. 

God even designed our bodies (Psalm 139:14) with biological clocks, such as circadian clocks that regulate the ebb and flow of hormones within a daily cycle, and endocrine signals triggering monthly cycles in the female reproductive tract. Each individual cell in our body can undergo a limited number of divisions before time runs out and the cell undergoes apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Since Adam and Eve sinned, the curse of death has plagued mankind (Genesis 3:19), so that our once unlimited lifespan has progressively shortened to approximately threescore and ten, or 70 years (Psalm 90:10). 

Even more important than our being aware of the passage of time is understanding the signs of the times in which we live. Jesus Christ chided His disciples for knowing that new leaves on a fig tree herald the soon appearance of summer (Mark 13:28) and that red skies foretell the day’s weather (Matthew 16:3), but for being unaware of the signs of God’s unfolding prophecy. 

In Matthew 24, Jesus detailed the signs that would presage His second coming: false prophets claiming to be the Messiah; wars and rumors of wars; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes; Christian persecution; and increasing sin and depravity, accompanied by spiritual coldness and lack of love even for one’s own family. 

All we have to do is to browse the Internet, turn on a news channel, or open a newspaper to see these signs of the times in abundance. False teachers and cults have drawn many away from faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and in His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Wars continue in the Middle East and political tensions grow between the US and China, and other nations. 

Worldwide famine, particularly in Africa and Asia, has resulted from drought, extreme weather, and even locusts and murder hornets, which threaten the bumblebee population and could thus prevent crop pollination. The COVID-19 pandemic is a modern-day plague, its death toll adding to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, while new forms of swine flu and a few recent cases of bubonic plague also raise health concerns.
Earthquakes continue to increase in severity and frequency, not only throughout the Ring of Fire, but also in unusual locations. 

Persecution of Christians is now widespread and increasing, with martyrs in many nations facing imprisonment or death for refusing to renounce their faith. In the United States we are still blessed to be able to worship freely, but recent regulations have banned large assemblies and congregational singing. 

Corruption, moral depravity, violence, destruction of property, drug use, and murder, including abortion as legalized murder, are raging worldwide. Mothers are abandoning or selling their children for drug money; family violence is on the rise; and “honor killings” have claimed the lives of those who dare to denounce their family’s religion. Division is rampant in our countries, political parties, and even our churches. 

So surely we are in the End Times, and Christ’s return must be drawing near. Yet even in the days of the early church, Christians believed that His return was not only imminent, but would occur in mere days or months. No man knows the day or the hour of His return, but only the Father in Heaven (Matthew 24:36). Still, we do know with certainty that we are 2,000 years closer to His return than when He ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11). 

As Christians, we need to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and understand the difference between the two phases of Christ’s return. The first phase, or Rapture of the saints to meet with Christ in the air, will occur suddenly and without warning (1 Thessalonians 3:13-18; 5:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58). 

After the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-31), in which God deals with the nation of Israel to recognize Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah, the second phase will take place. Christ will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14) to defeat the enemies of Israel, and ultimately to defeat Satan, sin and death (Revelation 19:11-21). Once the Rapture has occurred, the events of the second phase can be timed precisely, based on Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). 

How then should we now live, knowing that Christ is on His way? He warned us that the day is coming in which no Christian can work, because we will no longer be on earth (John 9:4). The apostle Paul urged us to be stedfast, unmoveable, and ever abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58), and to be fervent in our Father’s business, serving Him while we have the opportunity (Romans 12:11).

Let us eagerly anticipate the glorious resurrection that awaits us, in which we will have glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-50) that never age, get sick, sin or die! Let us remember that we shall be rewarded in Heaven for things we do on earth to further God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), provided our motives are pure! 

Truly these are telling times in which we live. May we recognize the signs of the times, though the days are evil, and redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) for His glory!

© 2020 Laurie Collett