From Chapter 1,
Change of Seasons.
Many Christians believe that we are getting close to the second coming of Jesus. Those who believe that the end of the world is near assume that we have entered the "end times" or "last days". They are right to think that we are getting close to a change of season, but because they do not understand the times and seasons, they are looking for the wrong events.
Seasons and Epochs
God is working out his plan for history. The rising and falling of the nations are fixed in his plan.
He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands (Acts 17:26).
God knows the beginning from the end. To shape events on earth, he had divided history into seasons and determined what will happen in each one. God expects his people to know his plans and understand what he is doing in each season (1 Thes 5:1).
The word "epoch" is derived from a Greek word, which means "pause". It was often used to describe the breaks between the acts of a play. In God's plan, each new season is started by an epochal event that marks the end of the old season and the beginning of the next. God breaks in to changes the "state of play."The key epochal events in the Old Testament were the creation, the fall, the flood, the tower of Babel, the exodus, the kingship of David, the exile to Babylon and the return to Israel. In each of these events, God broke into history and changed the situation on earth. The ministry of Jesus was the ultimate epochal event that marked the beginning of the New Testament era. We should understand the times and seasons that were set into play by Jesus' ministry.
Human history since the cross has two parts. During the first half, the church struggles to have an impact on the world. During the second half, the Kingdom of God grows to fulfilment and fills the earth with the glory of God. Jesus does not return at the end of the first half. He returns when all God's plans are complete.
The first half of the New Testament era began with the Last Days of the Jewish religious system. This short season ended with the Fall of Jerusalem. This serious epochal event opened up the season that Jesus called the Times of the Gentiles. This long season dominates the first half of the New Testament age.
Where are We Now?
Many Christians sense that we are coming into a new season, but they misunderstand what this means, because they are confused about the seasons. To know how we should live, we must know what season we are in, and which one comes next. And because the next season is a tough one, we need to know what comes after it, so we do not lose hope.
We are at a pivotal time in human history. The Times of the Gentiles are coming to an end. The reason many Christians feel that the seasons are changing is that we are entering this Time of Distress. This short season runs parallel to the Times of the Gentiles during the final stages of this season. We should be getting ready for this transition.
From Chapter 10,
Best Season Ever
The Advance of the Gospel opens the way for the Kingdom of God. During this season, God's will is done on earth as it is done in heaven. This is the best season in human history. The Kingdom of God, that Jesus proclaimed was near, will come to fulfilment and bring great blessing on earth.
The time will be right for the coming of the Kingdom. All obstacles will be gone and the ingredients prepared.
Suffering for Jesus will have prepared the church.
The church will finally lose interest in domination and control and will be committed to love and service.
Christians will be ready to receive the Kingdom without being corrupted by power.
The Fullness of Israel will give the Holy Spirit freedom to work through the church to transform the world.
All forms of human government will have been tried and failed. People will be desperate for something better.
The people of the world will hate being governed by man, so they will be open to the government of God.
The spiritual forces of evil will be defused by the downfall of human power.
As human political powers are swept away, authority will return to families and local communities.
Daniel's vision climaxes when the people of God receive the Kingdom.
The holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever-yes, for ever and ever (Dan 7:18).
This is not the second coming, because Jesus is seated in the presence of God throughout the vision.
He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence (Dan 7:13).
Jesus received glory and authority at the ascension.
He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan 7:14).
He does not need to return to earth to establish his Kingdom. It comes to fullness on earth when his people receive the authority that he has in heaven.
Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him (Dan 7:27).
This is an amazing promise. The Kingdom of God comes to fulfilment when authority and power are given to the saints on earth.
We must not use force to bring in the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit will give it to us, when we are ready to receive it. When we are willing to serve and suffer like Jesus, he will be able to trust us with it. If we try to force it, we will lose it. We will receive the Kingdom of God when we learn to walk through suffering in the power of the Spirit, so a huge number of Christians may have to suffer and die, before the church is ready to receive the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God will be the opposite of what people expect.
Christians will not get the power held by politicians and political powers.
Christian political parties will not be elected to power.
Christian leaders will not get to hold the office of Prime Minister or President.
Christians will not get to tell political leaders what to do.
Jesus will not rule from a throne in Jerusalem.
A Christian bureaucracy will not control the world.
The Kingdom of God will not be imposed from the top. Jesus made this clear when James and John asked for the privilege of sitting by his side in his Kingdom.
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Mark 10:42-43).
There is no place for force and control in the Kingdom. Force and control belong to the kingdoms of the world. They will be swept away during the Time of Distress, so they must not be recreated for the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is a voluntary kingdom. Coercion and force have no place in it (Matt 26:53). By submitting to the political powers and dying on the cross, Jesus demonstrated a different way of doing Kingdom. Even though he could have called on his Father to send a whole host of angels to his aid, Jesus refused to use force, because he knows that loyalty is not won by force (Matt 26:52-53). His people must follow his example. We will receive his Kingdom through suffering and service, not by military power and political coercion.
Jesus' Kingdom is different from all other kingdoms. No threats! No shouting! No fear! No detailed regulations! No coercion! No force! No security services. No torture of opponents! The Holy Spirit will change hearts to love Jesus, as the church proclaims the gospel. The Holy Spirit is the Kingdom builder.
The Holy Spirit exercises all the awesome power of God, so we can expect him to be successful in all he does. Since he has infinite power, we should expect him to bring the Kingdom of God to victory.
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