“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven . . . . For there is a time for every purpose and for every work.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,17.
The Lord spoke to Abraham, promising his seed would return from Egypt. He said, “in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:16. Time had to pass for the of growth of the nation of Israel, and also for the maturing of the sins of the Amorites, the wicked occupying people. Later we read, “I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you. But I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I destroyed them from before you.” Joshua 24:8 The entry into the Land of Promise began the process, but much time was needed to complete the task. “The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.” Deut.7:22. So we learn that there are “times of beginning”.
Likewise there are also “times of fulfillment”. The birth of a child is a good example of this. No woman “knows the day or the hour” but the “signs” tell her it is near. So we read, “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.” Luke 1:57. Perhaps the Lord had this in mind when He used these words about His return.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, the “sons of the Kingdom” and “the sons of the wicked one” are allowed to “grow together until the harvest,” Matthew 13:30. The Farmer knows his “seasons”. In Greek, time is KRONOS, but season is KAIROS, and these are appropriately found in the Greek NT. But our translators have not been very consistent in distinguishing them.
The first coming of the Lord is frequently referred to in the OT. He is “the coming seed” of Genesis 3, “Shiloh” of Genesis 49:10, “the star of Jacob” Numbers 24:17, the virgin’s “Son . . . Emmanuel”, Isaiah 7:14 just to mention a few. But Paul told the Galatians, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son,” 4:4, and therefore God the Father had a specific time to bring His Son into the world.
In the later days of the Kingdom of Judah, the rulers “Mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.” 2 Chron.36:16. As a result they were deported to Babylon for a period of 70 years, “to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chron.36:21. Sure enough, this period of punishment came to an end at the appointed time. “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!” 2 Chron.36:22-23. God is a reliable time-keeper.
Near the end of the Lord’s earthly ministry, He spoke these words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ” Matthew 23:37-39. We still await that time with expectation.
A further time of punishment awaited the nation. “They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24. This was certainly fulfilled right up to AD1967, when Jerusalem became the new capital of Israel. And so the end is now in sight.
Paul had this to say in his letter to the Christians at Rome. “I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:25. Just as God waited for the sins of the Amorites to fully grow, so He has waited for the full tally of Gentile believers to come in before harvest time.
But near to the harvest time the enemy’s power will also have grown, and we read, “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.” Daniel 8:23-24. Modern day terrorism, as in the days of the Amorites.
But the fierceness of these end days, in which we now live, must be seen alongside an important heavenly message and vision that Daniel saw. “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was made in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”
Peter referred to this when at Pentecost he said, “Jesus Christ, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets from of old.”
Yes, God has His “times and seasons” for the outworking of His purposes, and Biblical history has many lessons for us to learn in respect of that. We are privileged to be living near the fulfillment of these days, with the return of Christ, and the beginning of His Kingdom.