Pardon Me, May I Tell You the Time? 1/10/99

Matthew 24:42-44
Page 1450, Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24: 35).

Thus, what He said you can rely upon. He said, “I will come again.”

Being aware that normal human curiosity would prompt the question, “When?” He said: “…of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father” (Matthew 24: 36).

Amazingly, date setters are always popular and always wrong.

On an episode of “Candid Camera” there was a segment in which normal things were reversed. A sign posted on a lovely lawn stated, “Please walk on the grass.” Not exactly what one might expect. Another involved a person walking up to people on the street saying, “Pardon me please, may I tell you the time?” Reaction varied. Some looked a their own watch. Some said a skeptical but polite, “Yes.” Some looked quizzically and walked away.

Pardon me, may I tell you the time?

Prophetic time setters have existed all through time. In an attempt to cheat on the future there are those who profess to be seers who know the future. Most of them are willing to tell the future for a fee. People seem to forget Christ said no person knows the time of His second coming.

With the rise of millennial fever and apocalyptic fear prophets of doom can be expected to proliferate as the year 2000 approaches. As Christians we need to be informed and prepared to respond.

False prophets can usually hit on enough things to get a following. Misses are over looked.

Edgar Casey who died in 1945 still has a large following. Now that 1998 has passed it is safe to share his prediction that a large chunk of California would fall into the Pacific between 1958 and 1998.

Nostradamus (1503-1566) correctly predicted King Henry II would die in a jousting accident and he did. This gave him and “in” with the queen and a fortune.

He also predicted the king of France would conquer Turkey, convert the nation to Christianity, and become emperor of the world. That made him the man of the hour in France —- for a short time. Most of his prophecies did not come true but a large contingency of his followers still today are devotees.

In 1956 Jean Dixon predicted that in 1960 a brown haired, blue eyed, democratic president would be elected and die in office. When President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 her popularity sky rocketed and her followers proliferated. It should be noted she also predicted that in 1958 World War III would begin, the Soviets would land the first man on the moon, a comet would strike the earth in the mid 1980’s, and a woman would be elected president in the 1980’s. Not! On all those.

William Miller, a farmer from Vermont, used his Bible to calculate Christ would come in 1843, about 20 years after his prophecy. When pushed to be more specific he said March 21, 1843. When Christ did not Miller recalculated and apologized for his error. He meant October 22, 1844. Over 100,000 Millerites quit their jobs, sold their possessions (what good does that do?) And waited for the end to come.

Edgar Wisenaunt wrote a book entitled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988.” It sold millions and panicked legions.

Even Hal Lindsay noted in his very popular book that 1988 would be the year of our Lord’s return.

Pat Robinson once “guaranteed” a 1992 Tribulation “sparked by a Russian invasion of Israel.”

With the approach of the new millennium prophets are arising as they did in 999.

For the Christian it is vital to ask, “What time is it?” Is 1999 the final year of the count down to Christ’s coming. It may be. It may not be. He may come on the millennium. Not 2000, but 3000.

From the stand point of a minister I only know the day of the week He will come, not the date. It will be on a Monday for the Scripture says He will come on “a day no man thinketh.” That’s got to be a Monday.

I believe with all my heart His coming is imminent, though it may not be immediately. There is a difference in those words. To say it is imminent means it can be at any moment. That includes immediately. To say it is immediate excludes a delay if it pleased Him. It is imminent.

God’s people are not to try to harness the forces of nature, engage in divination, or sorcery, or search out popular prognosticators, but to put their faith in the Word of God.

The important thing is to intrust the future to our trustworthy God. God said of false prophets: “‘I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness;’” (Isaiah 44:24 – 25).

If you hear a date “fixer” you are listening to a person who is by their action saying they know what God said no one knows. Before His ascension Jesus said not even He knew the appointed time.

I don’t look forward to the undertaker, but I do look forward to the upper taker. I don’t look forward to a clef in the ground but I do look forward to a cleavage in the sky.

We should live as though He might come today and plan and work as though He isn’t coming for a hundred years. Rejoice He is coming. In the meantime what are we to do. Three of the things are clearly noted in Scripture.

There are 1,845 Scriptures attesting to the coming of Christ. It is the main theme of 21 books of the Bible. Every chapter in I and II Thessalonians closes with a reference to his coming. Over half the verses in the New Testament relate to His coming. Read the New Testament and your ears will ring with the footsteps of His glorious coming.

Anticipation of His coming is a marvelous motivation. It is a catalyst to faithfulness.

Christ said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). And again He said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).

Scripture includes this vital insight: “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3: 3, 4).

There will be people saying people have long been saying He is coming and He hasn’t. Therefore, I don’t believe He is coming again.”

When you hear a person say that rejoice because that is a sign of His coming.

Anticipation of His coming is a marvelous motivating factor. It prompts diligence.

While in the third grade our teacher told us the superintendent of schools had honored our school by visiting and our class was blessed because he was going to visit in it. Having told us this she said, “Now boys and girls you be very quiet and orderly I am going to the office to get him.”

You have never seen a more orderly group of children as we waited quietly. We were ready.

However, it took Mrs. Potter longer to come back than we anticipated. Soon the class became restless, then noisy, finally boisterous. Just as Mrs. Potter opened the door and the superintendent stepped in Hulet, having his back to the door stood with his lasso rope, swung it around, threw it over the head of Zenell and yelled, “Swing her up to the chandelier, boys.”

There was a breakdown in our watch. We weren’t ready for his coming.

We should live as though Christ died yesterday, rose today, and is coming tomorrow.

Colossians 3: 23 is my life’s theme text: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” That develops diligence.

This theme is further developed: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (II Peter 3:14).

There are certain signs Christ told us to look for.

Matthew 24: 4 – 8 says in the latter days the abnormal will be considered normal. Listen to any talk show for verification this is now happening.

Isaiah 66:8 said a nation would be born in a day. In AD 135 Roman General Titus and his army returned to the imperial city chanting, “Hierosoluma est perdita” meaning “Jerusalem is destroyed.” The nation of Israel was no more for nearly 1800 years. November 29, 1947 the United Nations established the new nation of Israel and a nation was born in a day.

Luke 24: 21 the time of the Gentiles will have ended in Jerusalem. In June of 1967 a small army of Israel outnumbered 80 to 1 possessed Jerusalem. When on June 7, 1967 Rabbi Goren and his fellow soldiers rushed to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem the time of the Gentile rule over Jerusalem was ended.

I Timothy 4:1 spoke of an increase in demon activity. The New Age movement and Satanism expose a dramatic increase in primitive religions. There are an estimated 250,000 Satanic covens in America.

When a decadent nation turns its back on God it turns back to the gods of decadence

II Timothy 3:13 says philosophical confusion will be common place. In our day street philosophy has taken place of the Scripture. Relativism has replaced absolutes.

If one dares to condemn the conduct to which our president has confessed that person is said to be throwing stones. There is an 11th Commandment in America: “Thou shalt not judge.” When a free people can’t make statements of right and wrong society has moved away from a Biblical conscience. A new relativism has eroded our moral absolutes.

Years ago writing about American democracy Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville spoke of the danger of immorality leading to greatness.

Recently, Washington Post columnist, Mary McGore wrote of President Clinton as “our first president strengthened by charges of immorality.”

God is faithful and patient, but He is not indulgent or permissive.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

Jesus said He would not come until the “gospel of the kingdom” has been preached “in the whole world.”

To accomplish this He has given us a commission: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28: 18 – 20).

Love compels us to want to share the love of Christ with those we love.

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

What priority do you give public worship?

I mentioned watching for His return motivates diligence and a desire to please Him. Can you imagine being where you should not be at church time and that is the moment He comes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be engaged in public worship when He comes.

Magnets are common today. During my childhood there wasn’t but one big magnet in my little home
town. My home town was so small it had only one yellow page with two half page ads. That magnet was owned by Mr. Cid who was noted as being very grumpy. He was the town blacksmith. He was very protective of that magnet, but because of his friendship with my dad he would let me come in and play with it occasionally. By the big emery wheel where he sharpened metal objects was a pile of iron filings like those in an etch-a-sketch. I learned that if I were to hold that magnet a certain height over those filings that the force field of the magnet would cause the iron filings to move around. The closer I moved the magnet the more responsive they were to the power of the magnet. When I would get at just the right height the filings would jump up to meet it.

As the coming of our Lord draws near His power should exert more influence on us until that moment we are caught up to meet Him in the air.

When the author walks on the stage the play is over. Are you ready?

Pardon me, may I tell you what time it is? It’s decision time.