At the time of writing, there is a war on between Israel and Lebanon. A lot of people are suffering – Christians, Moslems and Jews. There is tension between Iran and the USA and it is believed that the conflict could escalate. Apparently a islamic terror plot to blow up some airplanes in mid-air has just been foiled, and security measures are being tightened everywhere. The economies of the world are looking shaky, and fear and anxiety are on the rise.
It is at times like this that many of us long for the return of Christ. And so it is natural to desire to understand more of the timetable that God has for the last days. Many Christians understand also that God has a special plan concerning his natural people Israel in these last days. Many interpretations have been put forward and there are sincere believers who will speak and write with absolute conviction concerning their particular view of end-time events.
The disciples of Jesus had just witnessed a world-shaking event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They saw him crucified, and they met Him alive for a period of around 40 days. They were anxious to know what was next. Jesus had been telling them about the power of the Holy Spirit, but they were more interested to know the answer to a political question concerning end-time events. We read:
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?’
Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
The disciples wanted to know if Jesus was going to restore the Kingdom to Israel. Every patriotic Jew was interested in this question. After many decades of Roman rule, the Jewish people were hoping for freedom and security in their own land. God had made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and had spoken of restoration through the prophets, and the disciples were anxious to know if this was the hour for Israel to receive these promises. Perhaps they as Jesus’ inner circle would be granted special power and honor and political power in this new dispensation! So they asked Jesus.
Jesus’ answer reflects the fact that God’s priorities are often very different than our own. Jesus told the apostles plainly that it was not for them to know the answer to their question. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has set by His own authority.” Instead they were to receive the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had been emphasizing to them, and they were to be witnesses of Him to the ends of the earth.
Beloved, God’s priorities have not changed to this day. While we seek knowledge of the meaning of end-time political events, God is concerned about the people He died to redeem. For whatever reason, God has decided that He will work through US to reach these people. Today God is concerned not only for the people of Israel. He is concerned for the people of Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as your neighbours and friends, that they come to know the LOVE of Jesus and the salvation that is in Christ. We the church need to be empowered not with a callous indifference to the fate of those outside the faith inspired by military and political apocalyptic visions and superior firepower, but with a Holy Love and Compassion for those who are soon to perish without receiving a genuine witness of Jesus Christ through US.
Today more than at any time it is possible to reach the world with the Good News. I dare to say that an ordinary middle class person could be fully responsible for reaching at least 1 million people through mass media today with the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you doubt that write me and I will show you how you could be. And beyond this, there is no limit to those who will obey the Spirit of God and yield to His purposes.
It is not for us to know the times and the seasons which the Father has set by His own authority. Let us not waste our time trying to know. Such pursuits will never substitute for doing what God has commanded us to do. We are responsible for this generation of lost souls. As the people of God, we have ALREADY been given FAR MORE than we need to actually finish this job in a few years. This is true both spiritually (Ephesians 1:3) and naturally, in terms of financial wealth. We need to blow the trumpet and sound the alarm (Ezekiel 33:6). May God deliver us from our selfish and petty ambitions and put in our hearts a holy ambition to be the channels for Jesus to reach those who so desperately need His Kingdom in their hearts and lives. Amen.