For the Time is at Hand
By Al Stoner
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3).
In the first part of verse 3 the Apostle we are apprised of the absolute necessity of giving heed to the words that are written here in order to one’s preservation unto eternal life. Taking up the words of Paul in Hebrews we must give heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let the words slip, tragically resulting in our faith no longer being able to take firm hold of them. The reading, hearing, and keeping of these words are all essential labors, unto which men must constantly give themselves in order to receive the divinely intended profit from them. The words must be “mixed with faith” in the ones who hear them.
For the Time is at Hand. The eternal God is speaking here from the perspective of eternity. The time is at hand. From God’s perspective, the outworking of this purpose is extending over six or seven days. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” “For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Ps. 90:4).
Similar Apostolic Expressions. It is the last time. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (I Jn. 2:18).
The appearance of antichrists in the first generation became a reasoning point for the Apostle that it is the last time. God has sent forth His Son, who is the express Image of the Father, and the Fulfillment of all that holy Prophets had prophesied of since the beginning of the world. God has given the Greatest and the Best that He has to give in the Person of His Beloved Son. And John correctly reasons that the major satanic assaults against God’s Greatest and Best are a demonstration that it is the last time.
In the first century there were already several major assaults against the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ by those who professed to be of Christ. Later on in the Revelation it is made clear that all such attacks against the faith of Christ, and against those who "are called, and chosen, and faithful" to Him, have their origin with that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan. Some of the particular assaults are listed as follows:
1) Those who denied the Father and the Son. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (I Jn. 2:22-23).
Those who denied that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I Jn. 4:1-4).
“They went out from us, but they were not of us.” These major assaults against the faith of Christ were coming from those who were once among the camp of the saints. The faithful and uncompromising adherence to the proclamation of the truth, as it is in Christ, will ultimately drive such ones out.
2) Those who held and taught the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 15), which encouraged indulgence in fleshly lusts. (The evil proponents of this error reasoned with their hearers that fleshly lusts were given to them by God, and therefore it is proper to give expression to them.) The church at Ephesus was commended by the Lord Jesus for their hating of “the deeds of the Nicolaitans”. And here is graphically demonstrated that doctrines that are taught and embraced by men will indeed affect their manner of living before God, either for weal or for woe.
3) Those who held and taught the doctrine of Balaam, “who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication” (Rev. 2:14). The doctrine of Balaam is also associated with prostituting the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ to become a means of monetary gain (as can be seen in Numbers 23 and 24).
The time is short. “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Cor. 7:29-31).
Our salvation is nearer than when we (first) believed. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Rom. 13:11-12).
A short work shall the Lord work upon the earth. “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth” (Rom. 9:27-28).
For the elects’ sake the days shall be shortened. “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days” (Mk. 13:19-20).
The Proper Understanding of Such Utterances as are Found in Matthew 24. And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Mt. 24:3).
In the Lord’s Matthew 24 discourse, He is answering all three of these questions, not systematically, as the carnal mind would desire, but rather from the perspective of God’s eternal purpose, and from a perspective that ministers to faith. The New Covenant era is the time when the just shall live by faith.
Epochal Events in History. History is divinely marked by certain epochal events, particularly, the flood, the calling Abraham, the giving of the Law, the first coming of Christ into the world, the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the enthronement of Christ, and finally the second coming of Christ. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”
Other significant events in earth’s history would be the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (though this was a severe judgment on the part of the Most High, yet it resulted in the birth of different nations, and in the scattering of peoples all over the face of the earth. These were nations from which God would draw a people for His Name’s sake, and a bride for His beloved Son).
We see from this word in Deuteronomy that the scattering which took place at the Tower of Babel was not a random scattering, but rather one characterized by Divine purpose. “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:8-9).
Another noteworthy event in earth’s history was Israel’s wilderness trek, and their consequent entrance into the land of Canaan with Joshua and Caleb being the only two of the original adults who actually entered into the Promised Land. What wonder and sobriety for succeeding generations to consider! “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (Rom. 3:3), Paul reasons in this connection in his letter to the Romans. Also, in First Corinthians 10 and Hebrews 3 and 4, he brings forth his strong arguments with those who were out of step with the manner of the New Covenant.
And still other significant events are God’s dealings with “Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim” (Deut. 29:23), cities that God overthrew because of their indulgence in base sinful lusts. We also could not leave out the angels that sinned, in this connection, as both Peter and Jude cite their wicked examples as a warning against the consequences of rebellion against the Most High.
How the Holy Spirit Summarizes History and Time. From Adam to Moses. “(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (Rom. 5:13-14).
The Time of Law and the Time of Grace and Truth. “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (Jn. 1:15-18).
When the Time of the Promise Drew Nigh. “But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph” (Acts 7:17-18).
When the Day of Pentecost was Fully Come. Fifty days after the Passover. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
In these Last Days. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;” (Heb. 1:1-2). God has nothing greater to reveal of His own Person and purpose than what He has revealed in His beloved Son. And therefore we know that we are living in the last days.
“He is coming. He is actually on the way. The train of events which will bring him to us has long ago begun to move; and only, only as we recognize this do we understand the meaning of the dispensation under which we live. Of old, whether men knew it or not, every event was made subservient to the first appearing; and now every event is being so guided and controlled as to prepare the way for the second. Not a moment is being lost.” –The Pulpit Commentary
The Time is at Hand. What shall be our conclusion drawn from the consideration that two millennia of time have passed since the Savior first came into the world? The time is at hand. What shall be our response to the mockers in the last time who say, Where is the promise of His coming? The time is at hand. With what words shall we encourage one another as we approach the end of this ungodly age? The time is at hand. And what shall we say when we behold the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender, and she is putting forth her leaves? The time is at hand.