The Church Age
Our current Bible study is the Book of Daniel. When we think of this prominent person in the Bible, it is usually with the image of his being thrown into the lions’ den. While his escape is certainly a testimony to his faith and trust in God, there is much more to consider. Daniel came to prominence in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar because of his God given ability to interpret dreams. In fact, in the first such dream, the King insisted he tell him the dream he had before giving the interpretation. This dream and those to follow were not good news to the King as they depicted the fall of Babylon. Nevertheless, Daniel earned the trust of the King because of his truthfulness.
Daniel had several dreams (or visions) where he actually needed help with interpretation. God sent the angel Gabriel to fulfill this need and the results are preserved for us in Daniel’s writings. Biblical scholars believe these visions mark the beginning of the End Time prophecies that are seen throughout the Bible, particularly in the Book of Revelation. In Daniel, Chapter 9, we read about the 70 weeks and what will take place before the coming of the Lord. From this and other scripture, a timeline of the end and Second Coming has been developed. These weeks (years) are divided into three periods, the last of which is the 70th week. In Biblical prophecy, this is known as the Tribulation, further divided into 2 periods consisting of 3 ˝ years each. The event that signals the beginning of the Tribulation is the rapture of the Church, when all followers are "caught up" to be with Christ and escape the horrors to come. Scripture does not tell us when this will happen, only that it will. There are no events that precede the Rapture, only signs of its inevitable occurence.
"The Church Age is the period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the rapture (foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth. It corresponds with the dispensation of Grace. In prophetic history, it falls between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; Romans 11). Jesus predicted the Church Age in Matthew 16:18 when He said, "I will build my church." Jesus has kept His promise, and His Church has now been growing for almost 2,000 years." - from gotquestions.org
This Age is the time that God has given to humankind to believe and be born again in Christ. The church here is apostolic and universal and is not denominational. We don't know when Christ will return, as the Bible doesn't tell us. But we wonder (if we think about it at all) why it is taking so long. In response to when this Church age will end, Peter says this: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.’"
This column likely raises more questions than it answers. Suffice it to say that it is not necessary to master the intricacies of Bible prophecy to become a believer and follow Jesus. But there is comfort and assurance in the knowledge that we are living in God's Time and can have full confidence in His Word, including the visions that were given to his servant, Daniel.
From Pastor Sandra
The Most Holy Season of the Christian year begins on Wednesday, March 1st, as we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday Worship Service. Although there is no Biblical reference to Ash Wednesday or Lent, scholars of Christianity date the tradition of a 40-day fasting period back to 325 A.D. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means "spring". The forty day Lenten season does not include Sundays, as they are considered “little Easter days.” Those who make the choice to engage in penitence practices of "giving up" a certain food, etc. do not need to deprive themselves on those Sundays during Lent, as they are "little Easter days." Lent reminds us of Jesus’ own 40-day period of fasting, as described in the Gospel of Matthew.
Lent is a journey towards the cross and a journey towards a tomb. Lent is the mysterious, unending joy of those who found that the tomb was empty. This 40-day period is a time of repentance and renewal preceding Easter. In the Scriptures the number 40 relates to the period spent in the Ark by Noah, the period spent by Israel seeking the Promised Land after the Exodus, and the amount of time Jesus was in the wilderness after His baptism and prior to beginning His ministry.
Lent is a time for renewal. It is 40 days to prepare ourselves to take in the Good News of Easter through deeper disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are expected to spend more time in prayer and reflection as Lent is considered to be an opportunity for spiritual transformation.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. There is a tradition of donning ashes as a sign of penitence that predates Jesus. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. In the Old Testament, Job repents, “in dust and ashes,” and there are other associations and repentance in the books of Esther, Samuel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
Ashes have always been a sign of repentance are the traditional sign of sorrow. They are also a sign of “mortality.” Ashes signify purification and sorrow for our sins. The imposition of ashes on one’s forehead remind us that God’s love is triumphant over sin and death. The cross on our forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for our sins.
Let us prayerfully contemplate the Season of Lent with the intent of developing a closer relationship with our Lord God.
Grace & Peace