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Pulpit Today Sermons

Your Power to Discern the Days

Matthew 16:1–3

by Robert D Pace

Jesus was surrounded by Professors of Religion. They were scholars that had spent hours memorizing vast portions of the OT. But on this occasion they stepped outside the boundaries of the rational and requested that Christ validate His claims by manifesting a sign from heaven. While He could have done that He chose, instead, to teach a lesson from the sky. He pointed out, as amateurs of meteorology, without radar maps, they could predict the weather with a remarkable degree of accuracy.

For centuries there has been a well-known saying: “A red sky at night, a sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning.” This was Christ’s point. If amateurs could forecast the weather by examining the color of the sky, why couldn’t these trained theologians identify their Messiah when they had the details of His life prefigured in Scripture? They knew the prophecies that traced His genealogy, birthplace, character, and ministry yet they could not discern the presence of their Messiah.

Here’s my question: Has God imbedded a warning within this passage that speaks to this generation?  If most of the First Century Jews didn’t discern the signs that identified their Messiah’s First Coming, is it possible that the last generation could fail to perceive the signs pointing to His Second Coming? The obvious answer is, “Yes!” But the fact is, we don’t have to be undiscerning! We can know where this generation stands in regard to Biblical prophecy.

I am convinced God expects today’s Christians to operate with an unprecedented level of insight and discernment. I assert this thoughtfully:

 If this generation has access to twenty versions of the Bible;

If we have handheld devices to search the Scriptures, online information to examine the prophecies, the availability of On-demand Bible lessons;

And most importantly, the Holy Spirit’s personal insight, then God definitely demands deeper discernment from today’s Christians. Jesus said “To whom much is given; much is required.”

(Harbinger) The purpose of this message is to show you that God has empowered you to Discern the Days and “understand the times.” You don’t have to pray, “Lord, give me discernment if it be Thy will.” Jesus said in Matthew 13:11, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [unbelievers] it has not been given.” God has already anointed and empowered you to know and discern!

But this promise comes with a caveat. Just because God promises something doesn’t mean you will receive it. Let me explain: There are 1500 promises in the Bible and what’s interesting is this: each promise can be placed in one of two categories:

One set of promises is preset, inevitable, and unconditional. For example, Jesus is Returning to earth regardless of anyone’s opinion. Eternal afterlife is a steadfast promise. God’s Word doesn’t return void. These facts and promises are incontrovertible.

However, there is another set of promises packaged differently. They are not unconditional and automatic. They’re discretionary and they require faith to activate. That means when God makes the promise it’s our duty to claim it and say, “Yes and amen, in Jesus’ Name”” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

(Transition) Let me illustrate this from Scripture. Turn to Proverbs 2:3 and see what Solomon said about this.

Call for Discernment!

“If you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; (4) If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; (5) Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. (6) For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” You see, this is a discretionary promise! You have to petition God for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. (Compare James 4:2.)

There’s another powerful Scripture that reveals this too. It’s found in Jeremiah 33:3. “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” [NASB].

At times people have interpreted this verse to reveal God’s power to move mountains, part waters, and work miracles. While God can do these things, this isn’t the context. It’s not about God’s demonstration; it’s about His revelation. God is challenging Jeremiah to seek insight into things that are concealed and indiscoverable by human research. And when you compare translations of this passage it becomes apparent:

The English Standard Version says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

The NIV says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

The NLT says, “Ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here.”

God’s challenge to Jeremiah is to enquire about ‘unsearchable, secret, and hidden things.’ And I especially like the version that says “fenced” things. When something is “fenced” or “walled” that means the owner has it restricted and off-limits to the uninvited. But God invites Jeremiah, and any sincere seeker, to enquire about things hidden, mysterious, and belonging to the future. If you will petition Him, God will disclose mysteries that are off-limits to the sage and scientist.

(Testimony) I want to share a personal testimony. For most of my ministry I had never intensely studied eschatology. But in 2010 the Lord changed that. The Holy Spirit has redirected everything about my preaching, praying, and research toward that subject. As the Lord was redefining my life He specifically directed me to Ezekiel 40:4—a passage regarding the Last Days. It says: “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.” Since that experience I have prayed Ezekiel 40:4 hundreds of times: “Lord, open my eyes, open my ears, open my heart to the message of the Last Days. Show me the secrets of the Endtime.” I can attest I have discovered more about the Endtime in four years than in the previous thirty-five years of ministry. God discloses the hidden things when we call. That’s His promise!

(Transition) Let’s continue to investigate how you can claim discernment and “understand the times.” And God has provided a strategy for uncovering His Endtime work. We’ve already begun to discover it, but it’s also disclosed in the book of Revelation.

“Hear What the Spirit Says”

One of the main rules for interpreting a verse or passage of Scripture involves explaining it from its context. Abusing this rule has fabricated some dangerous doctrines. Always quote Scripture in its appropriate context. With that in mind, I want you to notice a repeated phrase John uses in Revelation.

The word Revelation comes from the Greek word Apocalypse, which means “unveiling.” The book of Revelation unveils the events regarding the Endtimes. As we recognize this, it’s interesting that John gives special instructions in the introductory chapters of Revelation. And he states this admonition not once, but seven times! John says, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

There’s a reason John urges his audience to listen closely to his revelation. It’s because he’s disclosing a secret to “understand the times.” Spiritual discernment and interpreting Bible prophecy involves fine-tuning our hearing to the voice of Heaven.

(Insight) You cannot allow the world to capture your heart if you want your spiritual senses attuned to God. The reason the Bible Prophets heard God’s Word so clearly is because they were detached from the world. They were “in” the world but their attachment wasn’t to the world; they were connected to God. That’s what God requires if we expect to hear the Spirit’s voice. We must live “detached” from the affections of the world.

(Transition) In order to accomplish this I’m going to suggest something that will sound strange. But here’s the proposal anyway. If you want supernatural, divine insight that God has ‘fenced off’ even to the nominal Christian, then I’m proposing that you construct a tent.

Construct a Tent

Notice Exodus 33:7. “Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the “Tent of Meeting.” And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.” Although Moses literally constructed a tent, it’s evident that I’m using figurative language. I’m not suggesting that you buy a sheet of canvass and literally assemble a tent.

This tent is where Moses received direct revelation and insight from God. It’s where he discoursed with God face-to-face. Here’s what’s significant about this Tent of Meeting. It was “outside the camp,” away from the distractions of the masses.

It’s appropriate for Believers to gather as a mighty congregation and worship. The Bible says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves. But so much more as you see the day approaching.” But there’s also a Tent of Meeting available “outside the camp.” It’s a meeting-place designed only for the Most High God and you. And this is where God discloses secrets.

(Illustration) Many of you remember the sudden Stock Market losses of 2006. It created infamous losses for many people, including Christians. Several months after the crash, I spoke with a Church member that had invested in the Stock Market. During the conversation, he looked at me and said: “I didn’t lose anything in the Stock Market.” He continued: “Pastor, I spend 30 minutes in prayer each morning before leaving for work.  One morning the Holy Spirit warned me and said: “Transfer your assets from the Stock Market.” When I obeyed God, I lost nothing!”

You see, spending time with God guards and guides you. And you can hear from the Lord just like this businessman. But you have to turn from the clamor of crowds and meet with God in seclusion. People that discern God’s ways and “understand the times” are those that linger in His presence. They spend time with God.

(Transition) If you want discernment (1) Call out to God, (2) Construct a Tent and linger there, but there’s another way God dispenses special insight; (3) Seek a Prophetic Anointing.

Seek a Prophetic Anointing

In the OT, God’s spokesmen were called Prophets or Seers. They weren’t fortunetellers or Psychics or interpreters of omens. The Bible forbids that! (Horoscopes make you a target for demonic activity.) God gifted these men to secure a word directly from Him. Their spiritual senses were tuned to hear His voice and know His ways. And the Lord spoke to them through dreams, visions, angels, and on rare occasions His audible voice.

Most Christians will never attain the full measure of a Prophet but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek their anointing to “perceive.” And just so I’m abundantly clear: I am proposing that you seek a prophetic anointing. The reason I’m stating this so strongly is because God has authorized you to do this. Let me show you:

There is an obscure passage in Numbers 11:29 that is anything but insignificant. It’s a passage where Moses pronounces a prophetic blessing upon all believers. Notice his words: “I would that all of the Lord’s people were prophets, [and] that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” Do you realize the moment Moses spoke those words God determined a prophetic anointing for all believers?

That’s why Joel 2:28 says, “It will come to pass after this that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and daughters shall prophesy.”

It’s why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to “Desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy.”

The prophetic anointing to perceive and discern belongs to you! You have a right to it. But again, it’s a conditional promise. You have to make a faith-filled determination to receive it. As Paul said, you have to “earnestly desire” the prophetic anointing. You have to go outside the camp, enter the tent, spend time with God, and call for “fenced things” to be revealed. And God will do it!

(Prophecy) I want to share a prophecy God has given me: The Lord has shown me that, at present, God’s people do not possess the full measure of revelation that’s needed to triumph during the Endtime. Christians aren’t prepared to confront this climactic drama. But, the Holy Spirit is in the process of conferring astonishing Endtime revelation to the Body of Christ. Christians are about to understand the mysteries and riddles of Endtime prophecy unlike any other generation. And this revelatory insight will increase as the End of the Age draws nearer.

That’s the prophecy, but now I want to disclose how Scripture validates this. Turn to Daniel 12:8–10. Daniel had just seen a vision of the Endtime when he writes the following:

I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” (9) He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. (10) Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.

As fascinating as the book of Daniel is there are parts of his composition even he couldn’t interpret. They remained mysteries to him. And when he asked God for an answer verse 9 shows the Lord saying: “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are concealed and sealed until the time of the end.” Notice that! That’s a double lockdown on these prophecies. God said they were [1] “concealed and [2] sealed.”

For centuries nobody has cracked the code to a crucial portion of apocalyptic literature. But not forever! God told Daniel it would be revealed at “the time of the end.” And when you closely investigate the text you discover an intriguing way God will disclose this information.

An Assemblage of Knowers

Daniel envisions a day when God will raise up a group of believers and infuse them with supernatural insight to prophetic mysteries. He will gather a Counsel of Discerners with extraordinary understanding of Biblical prophecies. I call them an “Assemblage of Knowers.” Now, let me point you to the passages where Daniel speaks of this Assemblage of Knowers:

The first reference appears in Daniel 11:32 when he is describing the Antichrist: “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. (33) [Notice the next verse] Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many.” [That’s the first reference to an Assemblage of Knowers.]

Let’s continue reading. Daniel 11:34 says: “Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. [Here comes the second reference to these Knowers!]  (35) Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.”

But there’s more: The concept of “knowers” continues in Daniel 12:3 when he says: “Those who have insight will shine brightly.” In other words, God will make certain these “knowers” are seen.

Lastly, Daniel makes one final reference to this Assemblage in verse 10 when he says: “Many will be purged, purified, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.”

There is a reason God will anoint an Assemblage of Knowers with incredible insight. God never sends national judgment without warning people. This group will emerge to illuminate truths that have been “concealed and sealed” for centuries in order to guide the final generation through “times of distress.” And this won’t be the first time the Lord has assembled such discerners.

A. 1 Chronicles 12:32 speaks of the “sons of Issachar.” They’re described as “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.” Their ‘divine knowing’ helped the people of Israel understand God had chosen David to replace Saul as King. This was a crucial transition for Israel.

B. Then in the First Century, Jesus appointed an Assemblage of Knowers to warn the Jews of their punishment. Maybe you’ve never noticed this but it’s found in Matthew 23:34. Jesus said: “Behold, I send you prophets [seers] and wise men [counselors; interpreters of prophecies] and scribes [those that could write with accuracy]; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city. (35) so that on you may come all the righteous bloodshed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. (36) Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” 

Jesus was foretelling the invasion of Rome, which Daniel had also predicted. When Rome invaded Jerusalem in 70 AD its forces killed one million Jews. However, one historian wrote that almost every Christian had fled the city and spared their lives because they remembered Christ’s prophecy. They had listened to His “prophets, wise men, and scribes”—an Assemblage of Knowers.

(Insight) This explains why the Lord has concealed some prophecies until the Endtime. Christ will arise to break the seal of prophecy and illuminate truths at a moment too late for the Antichrist to contravene. It will help Believers persevere and prevail until the last trumpet sounds.

The crowning feature of discernment doesn’t just gather information or appraise something; it persuades you to take action! It moves you to adjust your life. And there’s a reason we must do this: At the Endtime, mankind won’t be walking toward the ‘fall of night’; we will be walking into a ‘time of darkness’! The clouds will gather, the sun will hide, and Christians will need supernatural guidance unlike any preceding generation.

(Illustration)  A while back I received an email. It related the story of a Rabbi that lived in Germany in the early 1900s. The economy was surging, people were prospering, and national pride was strong. But while sleeping, the Lord spoke to this Rabbi and told him to leave Germany immediately. It wasn’t easy because it was illegal to emigrate or transfer wealth out of the country. When he warned his relatives no one listened except a niece. They ignored him because they owned jewelry stores and their prosperity obstructed their discernment. They kept saying, “Life is good; why leave”? But the Rabbi liquidated his assets and sneaked his family through the Netherlands, then into Britain, and eventually arrived in America. Within a few years, Hitler’s regime had exterminated everyone that disregarded the Rabbi’s warning.

This is the power of discernment. It recognizes God’s voice, ignores appearances, and persuades you to take action. And this is what the Lord promised. Jesus said in John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears he will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”


(Bible Example)  Just before Christ died on the Cross, God opened the heavens and spoke to the crowds in an audible voice. He provided them with one last demonstrable opportunity to recognize their Messiah. There were Jews, Greeks, Pharisees, and disciples all gathered when Jesus looked up and prayed: “Father, glorify your name.” Instantly, God’s voice reverberated from Heaven saying: “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

But notice how the crowd interpreted God’s voice in John 12. Some in the crowd said it “thundered,” while others said “an angel spoke to Him” (29). Can you imagine that? Some people heard nothing more than atmospheric clamor. But others, realizing their Messiah had arrived, heard God’s voice with the clarity of an angel. This is why I’m saying, “Many Christians have a hearing problem.” For example:

In 800 BC Isaiah prophesied that the Jews would be chased from their homeland and into the world. Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass in 70 AD when Rome invaded Jerusalem and the Jews were scattered to 133 nations of the world. But he also said God would re-gather them in the “last days.” His prophecy was so accurate that it disclosed the directional sequence the Jews would reenter their homeland. The first wave would come from the East, then the West, then the North, and finally the South (43:5-6, 21). It all occurred in the 20th Century exactly as Isaiah predicted!

In 600 BC Ezekiel predicted Israel would reclaim its national sovereignty and though Israel was without it for 2400 years, God fulfilled that promise on May 14, 1948 and Israel once again became an independent nation.

Jeremiah 49 shows the Iranians being scattered to the nations. That prophecy had never been fulfilled until 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran and hundreds of thousands fled their country.

The most repeated prophecy pertaining to the Endtime regards ‘worldwide deception.’ Today, deception has permeated our planet!

What do these prophecies sound like? Do you hear them as precise, indisputable warnings that Christ’s Return is near? Or, do they sound like “Thunder”?

Revelation 22:10, the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, says this: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”  These are days of revelation and divine disclosure. You can know the mysteries of God!

Post Altar Call Remarks

Wherever I go people know that life has changed. They feel an unearthly tension that’s gripped this planet and realize the “ease” of life has disappeared and personal freedom has diminished. People can’t understand why the world is worsening and no one is willing to intervene. I want to share a dream the Lord gave me in March of 2013. It regards a premeditated agenda of the American Government.

(Dream) The dream appeared with a “spirit of confusion” prevailing upon the scene. I saw America’s policies being purposely crafted to create social disorder. It was clear that America’s laws, statutes, and policies were not being formulated naively or without predetermined objectives. Policymakers foreknew the intentions of their legislation. The Lord showed me that policies are finding passage in order to restrict self-determination, debilitate the economy, divide the races, impede Christian values, and disrupt the normal flow of life. Simply stated, the United States Government is not seeking to resolve problems; it’s seeking to create them in all areas of life. A new social order is being established: it is social disorder!

I want to eliminate all ambiguity about this prophetic word, so let me restate it. America’s policymakers understand their agenda. They are crafting policies that create social disorder. The Ruling Class is so determined to create societal disorder that should it be given a magic wand to rectify the world’s ills it would never wave it. Social chaos is the objective! And while they don’t realize the consequences, these policymakers are creating a world of bedlam so the Antichrist can appear and mastermind a solution.

I want to close by re-quoting Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and fenced things that you do not know.”