Recognize Your Time
John 5:1-9 tells the story of a paralyzed man healed by Jesus. It was believed by the Jews of the day that an angel periodically stirred the waters of the pool named Bethesda, located at the Sheep Gate, and the first person into the water was healed. The actual Greek text makes it hard to discern if this angelic activity and miraculous result actually occurred, but it is certainly clear that the people of the day believed it. At the Pool, Jesus came to a man who had been in his paralyzed condition for 36 years and asked what seemed like a strange question: “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV). The man’s answer revealed that although he was waiting at the pool, he really had no hope of being healed. “I have no one to help me into the water and someone else always gets there first.”
I believe Jesus asked the paralytic this question to point out that his hope was misplaced. Although he was waiting for the miraculous stirring of the pool, Yahweh was the source of the mercy he needed. Only seconds away from experiencing the new, just moments from total restoration, the man wasn’t able to recognize it. With misplaced faith and incredible hope-deferred, there was nothing within him that could respond with hope to Jesus’ question.
The symbolism of this passage is stark. Bethesda means “house of mercy.” The Sheep Gate was where the lambs used for the sacrifices were brought into the Temple. Five, the number of porticoes around the pool, is the biblical number of grace. Putting these meanings and facts into the story paints the picture of Christ, our Passover Lamb, entering our fallen, hopeless world to give us grace and mercy. He came to bring wholeness and health to the “diseased” human race.
The man was staring at the Lamb himself, God’s gift of grace, the fulfillment of what everything around him pictured, yet didn’t realize it. An incredible opportunity, his kairos moment, had arrived, but he was too hopeless to recognize it.
When God brings us to His timing for a shift, we must make certain we can recognize or discern it. Reader’s Digest told of the late Harvey Penick: In the 1920s, Penick bought a red spiral notebook and began jotting down observations about golf. He never showed the book to anyone except his son until 1991, when he shared it with a local writer and asked if he thought it was worth publishing. The man read it and told him yes. He left word with Penick’s wife the next evening that Simon & Schuster had agreed to an advance of $90,000.
When the writer saw Penick later, the old man seemed troubled. Finally, Penick came clean. With all his medical bills, he said, there was no way he could advance Simon & Schuster that much money. The writer had to explain that Penick would be the recipient of the $90,000.
His first golf book, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, sold more than a million copies, one of the biggest best-sellers in the history of sports books. His second book And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend, sold nearly three-quarters of a million.(1)
We sometimes live in the waiting stage for so long that, like Mr. Penick, we find it difficult to receive God’s mercy when it is offered. When He says it is time to shift, be ready to accept the offer.
Divine shifts make the devil nervous. He had heard or read all the prophecies about the Messiah, yet he held out for eternal chronos. Then he saw the Virgin Birth and realized it was now a kairos time for redemption. He had been dreading this for 4,000 years. Though he couldn’t figure out how God was going to redeem us, he realized it was unfolding. When fullness came, there was nothing the devil could do to halt the process. He knows he can’t stop God, but perhaps he can influence God’s people and alter things through discouragement, unbelief, apathy, or complacency.
We cannot allow this to happen! We must realize that the times of difficulty we walk through are not the final verdict. The Lamb is coming with mercy! When God says it’s time to shift, we must be ready to shift with Him. Yes, He will pull us out of our comfort zones and require faith. But when God says, “Time to move!” it’s decision time very quickly. We must rearrange whatever is necessary, adjusting our lives, and move with Him.
In America, we are about to shift from plowing to reaping, from the wilderness to Canaan. I believe we’re about to shift from weakness to strength. God is going to shift us into a new season of power, signs and wonders, miracles, and deliverances. He’s going to shift many from sickness to health, from woundedness into wholeness, from torn families with prodigals into homes where prodigals now worship God. Yahweh is going to use the prayers we’ve prayed and plowing we’ve done in the chronos time of the old, to create a fullness of time.
God is going to shift things in our schools and move in a powerful way. He will break all of the man-made laws that say He isn’t allowed there. The Lamb is going to show Himself strong on behalf of a generation that doesn’t even realize what they are hungry for. Some will try to stop Him, but won’t be able to. The wind of the Spirit is just going to blow, revival is coming to America.
We cannot shift the times and seasons; only God can do that. But we can recognize the shift when He does so, enabling us to shift with Him. We can persevere and keep ourselves properly positioned, guarding against lethargy, complacency, and unbelief. We must anchor ourselves to the truth and stir our faith to believe that God can orchestrate changes rapidly. The chronos times are necessary, but we must remember that God has the ability to shift things very quickly into opportune kairos seasons, and then to fullness.
Pray with me:
Father, like the man at the pool of Bethesda, America is in a lame and helpless state. Unlike him, we have created our own condition. We need the Lamb. We need the pool of mercy and grace. Also, like the man in the story, we look to others to find the help we need. But the help can only be found in You.
The good news, the gospel, is that You are here. You have accomplished the work of redemption. The Mercy Seat is wet with the Lamb’s blood. And if we will only recognize it, a fullness of time for Your healing is here.
So we pray for America today. We pray that the church awakens to Your timing: revival is here. We pray for individuals who are struggling to believe they could ever find peace and wholeness. May they receive the spirit of faith, take up their bed and walk. Walk into deliverance. Walk into health. Walk into freedom. Walk into Your arms. Amen.
We decree that Jesus is the Sheep Gate through which we enter and that the pool of mercy is full. We will now receive this incredible gift.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book God’s Timing for Your Life.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Edward K. Rowell, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Christianity Today, 1997), p 100.