Throughout my adult life, and from what I have read about Christianity throughout the 20th century, folks have been preoccupied with thoughts of Jesus’ return to this earth. Waiting for him, and praying that he would come soon is commendable and a sign that we take his words seriously that he will one day come back to this earth. Nevertheless, it is not simply this hope that I have in mind. So many folks desire to know a specific date so badly that they will read those desires into the Scriptures and call it ‘truth’ or something close to it—like it is so ‘inspiriting’ that “it is not fiction but fact!”
I don’t want to go rattling on, because this is a pet-peeve of mine, but I do wish we would take a moment and consider what Christ tells us in this opening chapter of Acts:
Acts 1:7 Whiston NT And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Jesus says: “It is not for (me) to know the times…” The Greek word here is chronos (G5550) and means time a long or short period. Jesus went on to say: “It is not for (me) to know… the seasons…” The Greek word for “season” is kairos (G2540) and means “a measure of time… a fixed and definite time… a time when things are brought to a crises.” In other words, Jesus says to me, and to all of us by the way, that we cannot know when he will restore the kingdom to Israel which we know will be done at his second coming. We cannot know the general time period or the particular date or even the season or generation of mankind in which this will occur. Why not? It is because God has placed these things under his own control or authority. He has not offered it to us for our understanding.
Knowing this, I find it odd that we, as Christians, should be so fixated with when Jesus will return. Why would we even try to figure out what he says we cannot know? Don’t we believe him?
Probably the one Scripture used most often in end time studies, which result in fixing a date of Jesus’ return is Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy found in Daniel chapter 9. However, in order to use this prophecy to determine the Second Coming, we must chop off the final 7-year period from the other 483 years which brought us to the time of Jesus’ ministry and save it for our own modern day prognostications. Daniel’s prophecy shows when Jesus would have begun his ministry—when he would have appeared upon the scene or when his public ministry would have started. It has absolutely nothing to do with his Second Coming. Although we cannot definitively support any theory about a future 7-year period immediately before Jesus returns by using Scripture, we continue to abuse God’s word by force-fitting it into what we think the end-times ought to look like.
Using our fertile imaginations, we paint a fearful event whereby some are scooped up and others are left behind. The whole thing reminds me of the “who’s-the-greatest” debates the disciples had while walking with Jesus during his ministry—the faithful will be scooped up, and the unfaithful will be left behind. I think what we have to say about Jesus should be more than that. Don’t you? Look at what we’re doing; we risk adding our words to the word of God and neglect to abide in the teaching of Jesus (2John 1:9). Not one of the end-time prognosticators of the 20th century were correct, and they’re still at it in the 21st century. I, for one, believe they’ve proven themselves false prophets. The fact is, preaching one’s own theories as the word of God robs the word of God of its power (Matthew 15:6). One thing is certain, if we continue listening to them, we are not leaving room for God or Jesus to teach us anything, for Jesus said: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons!” It doesn’t get any plainer than that.
May God have mercy upon us and help us to see the value of his word, and may we be found lifting up Jesus, trusting in his words and not the words of men.