“Do you think Jesus will come back during your lifetime?” It is a question I have heard extending back as far as I can remember. Others phrase it as a statement of conviction, of surety, “I know Jesus will come back during my lifetime!”
I tend to smile and chuckle at the way so many obsess over such predictions. Similarly, many become engrossed in microscopic minutiae regarding what is commonly referred to as “the great tribulation,” specifically when and how that will occur, and how it relates to Jesus’ return. The events of the past year, continuing into 2021, have fired the imaginations of many who relish analyzing and predicting Christ’s return.
I get it!
As a theological tinkerer, I understand the excitement of digging into the scriptures while trying to determine the signs of Jesus’ coming. But before even jumping into something like that, I recognize it is a fruitless pursuit because Jesus himself does not know when that return will occur. Still, he encouraged us to “keep alert … keep awake” (Mark 13:33-37).
But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. – Matthew 24:36, NASB
And similarly …
So, when they had come together, they began asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” But He said to them, “It is not for you to know periods of time or appointed times which the Father has set by His own authority;” – Acts 1:6-7, NASB
Jesus dodged the question and even used the occasion of the question (as he so often did) to seize a teachable moment. In doing so, Jesus let the disciples know that there are some things that are intended for God alone, saying, “It is not for you to know.”
In our finite condition, there are numerous realities that are beyond our knowing. The “times and seasons” constitute just one of those realities. This past Sunday, I preached a sermon calling out “the love of Christ that is beyond our ability to comprehend” and “the unfathomable riches of God’s grace.” If we were able to succeed in wrapping our minds around either or both of those, our heads would probably explode!
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. – Psalm 139:6, NIV – 1978
To be blunt, everything God has revealed to us is a grace. He has shown us enough to confirm to us that he has a plan, but the specifics of that plan are for him alone to know.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Psalm 139:6, NIV – 1978
God knows our future. Better than that, he holds it in his hand (Psalm 31:15).
Who better to know time, to understand time, to control time than the one who created it in the first place? He is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13). He is the only one who can exercise authority over time.
He controls the destinies of entire nations.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. – Psalm 139:6, NIV – 1978
We have access to everything we need to know.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. – 2 Peter 1:3, ESV
So learn what you can learn. Know what you can know. Be content with that, and stay on the narrow path.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. – Jude 24-25, ESV