by A. Ng
Timelines. I have a love-hate relationship with timelines. In the workplace, timelines are a great tool to help with managing projects, charting milestones and ensuring that preparations for an event or project are on the right track. However, in the event of unexpected delays and hiccups, timelines can seem like a countdown clock, with every second bearing down ominously as the deadlines loom closer and closer. They help me out, but sometimes also stress me out.
Timelines. The Father also has His timelines, whether we realize it or not. He had a timeline when He created the world in seven days. He had a timeline when He led the nation of Israel out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery. He had a timeline when Jesus came in the flesh 2,000 years ago to die on the cross for our sins. And He has a timeline for when Jesus will finally return to take His rightful place as King of the earth.
Unlike the timelines made by us at our workplaces, which are sometimes subject to change based on shifting circumstances, God’s timelines have been written from the foundation of the world, and do not change. In God’s timelines, there are windows of opportunity that open – opportunities that, if seized by us, could change the course of a nation. There are also events that will take place in His timing, whether we as individuals are prepared for them or not. These events affect human civilization on a planetary scale, and no nation or person will be exempt and left unaffected.
What do God’s timelines look like? Where do we as 21st Century believers living in Singapore fit along His timelines? What should we do, knowing where we currently are?
God’s Timeline for a Nation
In God’s timeline for Israel, He determined that every 50th year would be a year of Jubilee. In Leviticus 25, God commanded Israel to “consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants” (v10). It was a time for restoration, the cancellation of debts, the redemption of property, and the release of Israelite slaves. God emphasized His ownership of the land, the nation and each individual Israelite, and repeatedly commanded them to fear Him (v17, 36, 43). Indeed, the year of Jubilee was to be holy to the Lord (v12) and not to be taken lightly.
Could the Lord also have the same intent for His people in Singapore as we enter our nation’s first-ever Jubilee? What is the Lord saying to the Church in this day and hour?
Much more than simply celebrating and giving thanks to God for how He has blessed Singapore thus far (which is good and should be done), He is calling His people to a time of returning and restoration, consecration, and contending. He is calling us to return to Him with all our hearts, and to restore the First (and Great) Commandment to first place in our lives (Matt 22:37). He is calling us to a season of consecration – of setting ourselves apart from the world to be wholly His and yielded and aligned to what He desires. He is calling us to contend – to press in fervently and pray down His will for Singapore, that it may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Indeed, the Lord has in His sovereignty opened the window of opportunity this Jubilee year for Singapore. The future trajectory of this nation will depend on whether we, the Church, respond in obedience, or whether we continue to live life business-as-usual.
God’s Timeline for Human History
The urgency to respond and obey is amplified when we place Singapore’s first Jubilee in the context of an even larger timeline – the timeline of God for human history. Ever since the return of Israel to her land in 1948 after almost 2000 years of non-existence, the signs of the End of the Age as described by Jesus in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 have slowly begun to unfold on a global scale. Every other day brings news of earthquakes in various places, the emergence of new and deadlier diseases, the escalation of ethnic conflicts, and seemingly unsolvable economic and environmental woes. Anyone would be hard pressed to say that what Jesus prophesied in the Gospels as “birth pangs” signaling His return is not an apt description of what is happening in the world today.
Contrary to some who believe that we cannot know God’s timeline for the End of the Age and whether we are nearing His Second Coming, He has provided sufficient information in His Word to paint a relatively clear picture of this time, and especially so for human history’s final seven years. (See articles on Why We Should Know the Signs of the Times and 150 Chapters on the End Times). From as early as prophet Daniel’s visions to Apostle John’s revelations on the Isle of Patmos, God has given His people glimpses of this timeline – a timeline that we as believers today can search out, piece together, and grow to understand.
With regard to what we currently see around us, Jesus assured us that “the end is not yet,” (Mk 13:7) for “all these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt 24:8). With regard to the years ahead, Jesus exhorted us to “know that [His return] is near – at the doors” (Matt 24:33), to “take heed” (Mk 13:23) and to “watch therefore, and pray always” (Lk 21:36), that we will not be caught unawares. Apostle Paul was unequivocal that as believers, we should be aware of the times and seasons, such that the day of the Lord does not overtake us like a thief in the night:
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thess 5:4-5)
An Appropriate Response
Knowing that the Lord has commanded us to be vigilant, let us press in for more understanding of His heart and plans as we witness the beginning of birth pangs. In this year of Jubilee, let us also take heed of His call for us to consecrate ourselves to Him and to contend for His will in a season of fasting and prayer. Through all of this, we need to fast and pray with an attitude that seeks to align ourselves with God’s very heart and plans. Let us not simply ask for the sake of gathering more information, but instead purpose in our hearts to obey whatever it is the Lord speaks and reveals, even if we do not yet fully understand. As we continue pressing in, He will speak with greater clarity.
As we as Singaporeans watch, fast, and pray for a deeper understanding of Singapore’s destiny in light of these times, could it be that God has raised Singapore up in this day and hour for a specific purpose? Have we fully grasped and understood the call of God upon our nation against the backdrop of God’s larger End-of-the-Age timeline? We do not; so let us press in earnestly during this year of Jubilee, gathering in sacred assemblies and trusting that the Holy Spirit will speak to us and give us perfect understanding in these latter days (Jer 23:20).
We also watch, fast, and pray to seek God’s wisdom as to how to live our lives and walk as believers in this day and age. What does consecrating our lives unto the Lord look like? What does it mean to live a life of circumspection? If it entails re-arranging our schedules to gather to pray, let us respond! If it entails studying His Word at a deeper level, let us respond! If it entails rending our hearts and removing the little distractions that hinder us from growing more intimate with God, let us respond! His grace is all-sufficient for whatever response He requires of us.
God’s timelines for our nation and the planet are fixed and objective and He is calling us as believers to align ourselves with Him. Whether we as individuals are prepared or not, His timelines will take place as written in His Word.
As a God who loves to partner with His people, He is inviting us to jump on board with what He is doing in Singapore and globally, as He steers the world we live in down the timeline of history.
Let us say yes to His invitation!