Summary: Does the word of God tell us how to handle the changing times? Yes, through principles set forth in the Bible. This message examines two directives that may at first appear to contradict one another. In reality they provide a balance.
We will begin this morning by reading 1 Thess. 5:1-6
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.”
The Amplified translates verse 6, “Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect.”
Paul is speaking to Christians who are concerned about the times in which they live. “But concerning the times and the seasons…” This is the subject of the passage. Paul uses two Greek words for time in verse one. First the Greek word, chronos, is translated “times.” That is like time on the calendar. We get words like chronical and chronological from that Greek word. It is time like we measure in minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc. When we talk about time in English, the concept in our mind is chronos. The other Greek word here is kairos, translated “seasons.” Kairos conceptualizes time in terms of quality rather quantity. It refers to the kind of times we live in. A summer season is a different kind of time than a winter season. Kairos refers more to the suitableness or opportunity inherent in the season.
2 Tim. 3:1 talks about “perilous times” (kairos). So these people were living in a certain kind of time—both the chronos and the kairos in which they lived, told them something about the prophetic calendar. You and I live in a certain kind of time that alerts us to where we are in God’s agenda.
Paul reminds them of how the end will come.
First, it will come “as a thief in the night.” The labor pains will hit unexpectedly, as far as the world is concerned. They will have their peace agreements. They will think they have everything under control. They will be talking “Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes upon them.” That’s the way it will happen for the world-- because they are children of darkness--they are blinded by Satan, the god of this world.
Paul does make a contrast here between the way the Day of the Lord happens for Christians verses the way it happens for unbelievers. The ungodly are living in darkness. They don’t have a clue. The Coming of the Lord takes them completely by surprise. But God’s people are not in darkness. We are sons of light and sons of the day. We do not know the day nor the hour of the Lord’s return. But we can discern the (kairos) season that we’re in. We can look at the fig tree (Israel) and get some idea of what is shaping up. Jesus talks about this in Matt 24:36-44
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour (hemera)—literally time span between dawn and dark) your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
The one thing Jesus tells us to do is to “watch” and stay “ready.” Back in 1Thes. 5:6, Paul says the same thing. We are to stay sober (not drunk with the cares of life or the pleasures of this world) and to “watch” (Be alert to the “times and seasons” in which we live).