The quest to know God’s timetable for Christ’s return commenced before Jesus had even left the earth to return to His heavenly home, as Luke describes in Acts 1. He had instructed His disciples to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for the gift the Father had promised.
What gift was this? Did they misunderstand and somehow think that Jesus was about to lead in a military conquest of the oppressive Romans who had subjugated the nation for many years and had followed a succession of conquering super powers, namely the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians and the Greeks.
When the disciples met again with their risen Master, one question was on their hearts. Perhaps with one voice or with one appointed spokesman they plied Jesus for an answer to their most pressing question. “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They knew their history. If Jesus was the Son of David, perhaps a restoration of the Davidic dynasty would soon be manifest. Hadn’t Isaiah promised that the child who was born, the son who was given, who bore such wonderful names would reign upon the throne of His father David, from that time on and forever.” How could Jesus possibly be leaving? Yes, on the cross, He had declared, “It is finished!” but surely the mission wasn’t complete, was it? They had seen Him as the Suffering Servant, now wasn’t it time for Him to manifest His Kingship?
What does Jesus reply? How does He correct this misperception by a group of eleven men who had been with Him from the time of John the Baptist until this post-Resurrection period?
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7,8)
Date setting is not part of the plan. God the Father retains His authority over Christ’s return and the unfolding of prophetic events. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, has prevailed (Read Revelation 5), yet even He speaks, in His humanity (Matthew 24:36), He declares His ignorance of the timing of His return.
Empowerment IS part of the plan. The power of the Holy Spirit will rest upon those who follow Jesus Christ, and with that power they will testify of who Jesus is and why He came. Witnessing will be a progressive activity that will extend the influence of Christ’s finished work to the ends of the earth.
Let’s stop supporting the nonsensical date setters and give ourselves to spreading the gospel.