The time in which we live

Published on 26 July 2022 at 12:55

What is fundamental and what we need to understand concerning living properly in our relationship with God is the time in which we live. By the time in which we live, I mean what exactly He requires from us at the present specific time and how we need to behave and respond to Him. This is something very fundamental because on this depend our relationship with Him, the direction we will take, our growth, and also the blessings we can obtain. When I speak about blessings, I am, above all, referring to spiritual blessings, which consist of walking in obedience to Him and bearing fruit. It might be that God, in the specific time in which we live, is demanding from us to focus more on obedience to Him or to move and take action, or stay and endure, humble, or repent. This is something personal to each person. It is something spiritual that we need to receive from God. We can only understand it by seeking deeper into the scripture and opening our hearts in prayer to Him. Spiritual discernment will help us to determine what He wants from us and will help us to filter and discern His voice amongst all the voices we hear daily. It is a knowledge and discernment we receive personally from Him. Another believer can help us and guide us, but even to discern and accept properly what a man of God wants to tell us, we need the wisdom that comes from above. (James 1:5, James 3:17)

In this case, we will particularly discuss the topic of sin and repentance, and although not all of us might be living in this particular time at present (because we might be living in a different time), it could be something useful as repentance is something that we will be dealing with in many situations in our life. With this, I am not promoting the idea that we freely sin and then use repentance as something granted and something to sort out the situation in which we live. God is indeed a loving Father who forgives, but we need to know that His blood is precious, and we were bought at a high price. We will first look at an example in a story found in Jeremiah 27:12-15

 12 I also spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! 13 Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie to you; 15 for I have not sent them,” says the Lord, “yet they prophesy a lie in My name, that I may drive you out, and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you.”

We see this passage representing a particular part of the story of the nation of Judah. They were surrounded by the army of the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar. Here is the prophet Jeremiah admonishing them to bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon. He was telling them to surrender and to submit to him. It is a bit controversial as this is the first time they were probably told such a thing. This was because that was the moment and the time they had to go through, and this was from the Lord. This was a time established by Him in their lives. It was a result of their life of idolatry and sin they lived in the past. There were times in their history when they trusted in the Lord, and He delivered them and gave them a victory. This present time was different, though, as they had to surrender. This was what was hard for them to believe and accept. That’s why Jeremiah told them not to trust in their false prophets who were telling them that they were not going to serve the king of Babylon. What the Lord had planned for them was to be submitted to Babylon, after which they would have their freedom again. They had to go through this time of correction and discipline in their lives. A father who loves his child disciplines him too (Hebrews 12:7-10). He does all of this for his child’s good. This is what also the Lord wants to do for us. They had to understand that the time they were about to go through was a time of correction, which was for their good. The king and the rulers of Judah didn’t submit to what the Lord was telling them, and all of this became more painful even as some of them lost their lives and most of the nation was taken to exile. When we are not disposed to accept what the Lord has planned for us and His correction and time for us, it gets harder, and even more pain comes along. What He wants to do is to heal us and restore us in time. Not accepting His treatment makes it just harder. His purpose for His nation was repentance and mercy. We can see it in a passage found in Lamentations 3:21-24

21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

Here in this passage in the book of Lamentations, which is believed to be written by Jeremiah, we see that the message of the Lord was repentance and mercy, saying that His mercies are new every morning. This book was written after they fell under the hand of Babylon. We see, therefore, that when He wants to work and correct something in our lives, He does it for good.

We need to understand that if we sinned and we repent sincerely, we are forgiven, but there are still consequences of the sin. The Lord doesn’t just cover that sin without making us realize the weight of it in part. He will not make us pay for the sin because the price is already paid, but He will make us realize the weight of it because the price paid for it was high. It was His Son’s blood. That’s why there is sorrow caused by sin. This is the sorrow through which we repent. There is a passage in Hebrews speaking about those who fall again into sin. It says that they crucify the Son of God again (Hebrews 6:4-6). To me, this passage talks more about those who go back to sin and remain permanently in it after knowing Christ, but we can see any way the seriousness with which God looks at it. Meaning that there is a price paid for it. This is not for condemnation, and we know that the Lord invites us to repent. We see it from the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the passage in Hebrews 4:16 telling us to approach with confidence the throne of grace, and other passages talking about the same topic. Yes, forgiveness is offered, but the Lord wants to show us that falling into sin is a serious topic, and the sorrow we feel after sinning is something that helps us to approach God in the right way. This is what is felt by those who are believers already, and that’s why I am saying this mainly for those who repented and found the Lord in their life, but they still fell into sin afterward. If we are in such a situation, we need to approach with confidence the throne of God and repent. He is ready to accept us. What I am saying is that He will want to teach us a lesson afterward. He is a Father who corrects His child (Hebrews 12:7, 8). He does it for love. The people of Judah didn’t manage to understand that after the sin of idolatry they committed, they had to go through a time in which they would be taught a lesson. The Lord wanted to work in their lives, and sometimes He works through such situations. Through tough moments and trials, so that we can learn a lesson. When a child keeps on touching a hot stove, his father corrects him as he doesn’t want his child to get hurt. That’s why it is also so important in our society for parents to correct and rebuke their children, but this obviously needs to be done in the right way. This was the reason for which the nation of Judah had to submit to the Babylonian empire. That was the correction that needed to be applied in their life. The Lord corrects our lives so we can walk in holiness, grow in Him, and have faith. These are the reasons for which He does that. They had to humble under the treatment of the Lord and accept the time they had to live.

The Bible speaks about a time of drought, too. This is the time as the Bible describes it, that used to come after the nation of Israel sinned, but not in all cases, because “drought” could represent a time of trial and a difficult situation with the purpose of strengthening our faith. The same as the nation of Israel had as they were walking through the desert after their departure from Egypt. Still, God expresses in His word that the purpose of this desert was to test their hearts.

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

Sometimes, we are tested and corrected for things that maybe we are not aware of (in that moment at least). This is also done with a good purpose. David said in Psalm 19:12

"Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults."

 There are sins and faults that we are not aware of. They are not the apparent sins that we know of, but in most of cases are certain attitudes and opinions we might have. They need to be shown to us by God. We need to read His word so that we can be enlightened and change. The desire of David was to be cleansed even by this kind of sin. He was disposed to be examined and judged by the Lord. This is the desire we need to have before God – to be clean and completely pure. This is the desire coming out of the regenerated heart of a believer. We can doubt our salvation if we don’t have this kind of desire. Obviously, every believer differs from another, and some might be better and stronger in their walk in the Lord and His holiness, others weaker, but nevertheless, this desire needs to be present. So, going back to the scripture in Psalm 19:12, there are some sins unknown to us, and sometimes we go through treatment and correction with the purpose that we can see and be aware of these wrongs. The Lord wants to cleanse us from this because He knows where this kind of sins may lead us in the future. One of these faults that we might not always be aware of is pride, for example. As you see, in this situation, we are not speaking about falling into some particular sin but about an attitude. Pride could cause serious damage to our walk with the Lord, and He had to work a lot in my life, and I had to go through a desert, as the scripture in Deuteronomy 8:2 mentioned above says, so that I can become aware of it and repent. I know that there is still pride, though, and other things that the Lord has to work with in my life. Often, this takes time, and it is a process. There are sins that we know of and we fall into, and there are those sins that we are not aware of, but we still need to repent from them, and they still can lead us astray. There is a difference, however, in the way He judges and treats these sins. He only, as a loving Father, knows how to treat us in the best way possible so that we can grow in the right way. He wants only good and the best for us. It is we who often cause pain to ourselves. He wants to prevent that. Not only for the present time but also for the future. He doesn’t want us like that child touching the hot stove, figuratively speaking, to keep on doing what might hurt us.

A time of drought represents a time in which we are not living fully the blessings of the Lord in our lives. This is a time in which we have to believe not for the things we have or receive but for the reason itself to believe, and this is the Lord. This is a time in which we need to set our eyes on Him, and in this moment, we would see if we really believed for the blessings only or the right reason. There were many people amongst the nation of Israel who just complained while crossing the desert about the things they didn’t have and the lack of blessings. The Christian life isn’t just about blessings but about the Lord and about reaching the promised land. There were those people in the nation who, through faith, persevered. They set their sight on the Lord and His promises. They didn’t have them at that moment, but nevertheless they believed. A drought is also a drought of the presence of the Lord in our life. We might often not feel Him in the way we are used to, but He is still there, watching on and guarding us.

We can have a look at some of the passages speaking about drought.

 Because the ground is parched,
For there was no rain in the land,
The plowmen were ashamed;
They covered their heads.
Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field,
But left because there was no grass.
And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights;
They sniffed at the wind like jackals;
Their eyes failed because there was no grass.”

Lord, though our iniquities testify against us,
Do it for Your name’s sake;
For our backslidings are many,
We have sinned against You.

(Jeremiah 14:4-7)

This passage is an example of a drought caused by sin. This, nevertheless, wasn’t with the purpose to annihilate them, but to teach them and to guide them in the right way.

“I also withheld rain from you,

When there were still three months to the harvest.

I made it rain on one city,

I withheld rain from another city.

One part was rained upon,

And where it did not rain the part withered.” (Amos 4:7)

As we said before, when talking about a drought today in the New Testament times, we are not necessarily talking always about a literal drought, but mostly about a spiritual one. A drought of the presence of the Lord.

There is a time for each moment in our life. If there is a time of drought, there is a time of rain as well. James 5:7 tells us about it.

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”

In this passage, we can see an exhortation for patience, and it tells us about the early and later rain, meaning that there is a time when these rains are coming. We need to be patient and wait for the latter one too. This means that there will be a time of drought between the early and the latter rain.

We need to be patient and acknowledge the time we live in our lives. If we sinned and acknowledge it, then we also need to acknowledge the time that will come after it in our lives. Same as the time that the nation of Judah had to go through after they sinned. The problem there was that they probably didn’t acknowledge their sin, and even if they acknowledged it in part, they didn’t want to go through the time of correction that was about to come into their lives. They thought that everything all of a sudden was going to be back to normal.

I don’t want to scare anyone with what I am stating. God indeed offers forgiveness; if we are Christians, we will experience it and feel it till the deepest part of our soul. We will feel relieved of the weight of guilt, but nevertheless, we need to be taught a lesson, and there will be consequences. Same lesson as the one that a father teaches his son. He does this because he wants the best for him. When we are convinced of this truth, we will also be more disposed to accept the time we need to live in the Lord. We need to go through the treatment of the Lord, and He best knows how to perform His work on us. Sometimes, it is indeed painful, but all is for our good. A father doesn’t want his child to touch a hot stove again, so it doesn’t hurt itself anymore. We might think that a correction is painful, which is what first comes to our mind, but He wants to prevent us from much greater harm. That’s why God wants to teach us His ways. He wants to lead us through the way of holiness, and that is the reason for which we will feel the consequence of sin. So that we can reject it, so that we can know the way it hurts. We receive this kind of treatment after we become Christians, and we receive His forgiveness. I am not speaking to those who just got forgiven for the first time and started walking and knowing the Lord. They also will go through His treatment, but I am mainly talking to those who, after becoming believers, somehow got again involved in sin along the way. I am not talking about the sins we as believers commit daily; I am speaking for a greater and particular sin. I will not point out exact examples of sin, but I will leave each one to see for himself as everyone knows what exactly he is struggling with and what he defines as a failure and falling into sin in his life. Even as believers, we live in a sinful body, and we will have this struggle till the end, and there are areas in our lives in which we are weaker. I am not saying this to condemn anyone. We need to go boldly to the throne of grace and seek for forgiveness.  A believer though doesn’t dwell in sin (John 3:6 NIV). His priority is to observe the Lord’s commandments (John 14:21). He doesn’t dwell in it but could fall into it. For each person is different. We are also called to holiness, and when a born-again Christian falls into sin, he will feel horrible because of it. Now, here is the point: not to lose it and not to condemn ourselves, as the devil is the one who wants to condemn us. He tells us that there is no more hope as we have sinned, and we can continue sinning as we already have done wrong, and there is no way back. This is a lie. That’s why we mustn’t condemn ourselves this way as we mustn’t also justify ourselves and not care about it at all. This, however, is a quality of a nonbeliever. A person who has never experienced forgiveness and a touch of the Lord in his life cannot also feel much guilt in most cases. The best we can do after we sin is to go to the Lord knowing about His love and realizing what we have done.

Now, I would like to talk about the time coming after this point. It is a time of healing and understanding deeply about our condition, weakness, and the precious work of the Lord. Each time we sin and find forgiveness, we need to understand and acknowledge in a deep and clearer way how precious His forgiveness is. The Jews at the time of Jeremiah didn’t understand quite well the sins they committed in the past and in the present time and didn’t want to accept the time that they had to go through. That was the time to surrender and be submitted to the king of Babylon. They instead lived in the past, thinking that the Lord would give them victory again as He had done in the past. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 that we need to renew our minds.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

This means that we need to have an understanding of what we need to live today and the time in which we are. This understanding can be achieved only by examining ourselves through prayer and reading His word. This verse tells us that we mustn’t live in the past time but in the present. Many times, you can indeed hear someone saying: “How good were the past times…” or “I had such blessings from the Lord in those past times, I had such a good relationship with Him…”

Ecclesiastes 7:10 tells us:

“Do not say,
“Why were the former days better than these?”
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.”

Yes, we might have had good times in the past, but if we live in different times today, it is for a reason. It is probably because we need to live different times or, because we weren’t faithful enough to the Lord, because we sinned, or because we didn’t seek earnestly for Him. It is not always necessary because we did something wrong; it might also be because we just need to live in different times, and the Lord knows the reason for it. He best knows how to work in us and how to perform His will. He is the master; we just need to follow Him. What is also important, is that the Bible tells us that we need to focus on today, and this is what we need to do.

“For He says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2, emphasis added)

This verse is obviously for those who need to repent and accept the Lord today as no one knows what will be in the day of tomorrow, but this verse is also for those who already walk in the Lord as we all need to live for today and know the time in which we are and live accordingly.

There is another passage we can look at.

1 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. (Matthew 16:1-4)

Here we see Jesus rebuking the Pharisees and telling them that they know how to discern the face of the sky (He was referring to the weather), but they didn’t know how to discern the signs of the times, which were the most important. They didn’t know the time they were living in and what the Lord required from them at that time. Same as the people from Judah in the past times. We see in this passage that the Pharisees were asking for a sign from heaven, but Jesus answered that no sign would be given to them besides the sign of the prophet Jonah. Prophet Jonah was three days in the womb of a fish, and after that, he came out. The message that he preached after that was a message of repentance. In the same way, Jesus was three days in the heart of the earth, after which He rose from the dead. What Jesus wanted to tell them through the example of Jonah, which indicates His death, resurrection, and message, was that they, above all, needed to repent. This was the main reason He came, and He was indicating to them the time they were supposed to live. This was a time of repentance. That’s why He reprimanded them in v. 3, saying: “You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” Instead, they thought they could test Jesus by demanding signs from Him, but without acknowledging what they were supposed to do and what God required from them at that specific time.

There was also the case when Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

 Here, we see Jesus weeping and saying that Jerusalem didn’t recognize the things that were making for its peace and didn’t know the time of its visitation. That was a time of repentance. They had to acknowledge the coming and the invitation of Jesus and repent. This word could be referring to a person who needs to repent and acknowledge the invitation of Jesus in his life. We see, though, that it still speaks about time. There is a specific time when a person is invited to repent, and the kingdom of God approaches him. We need to react in time and not postpone it. On the other side, if we think that we lost the opportunity but still know that we have to repent, we mustn’t think that it is too late. I am saying this for the people who never repented in their life. If we still hear God’s calling, then it is not too late, and we need to respond. Those who are late are already hardened and probably don’t hear the calling anymore and don’t either have the desire to do it.

So, we conclude that the Lord is calling us to live for Him and seek Him today, and we need to live according to what He demands from us in the present time. It might differ from person to person as each one lives in different situations and has different areas of his life that need to be worked on. We might be called as a group and church to attend certain ministry and calling together, but we are called personally and as individuals to place our life in front of Him so that we can grow in holiness and be more Christ-like. The Lord only knows how to deal with each person. That’s why we need to renew our minds daily and seek wisdom and discernment from Him.

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