Some of us are snoopy. Curious. We poke into things, eavesdrop, not from any perverse motives, we just want to know. The apostles were a bit like that too.
“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)
Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you… you will hear of wars and rumors of wars… nation will rise against nation… there will be famines, and earthquakes… many will turn away from the faith… many false prophets will appear and deceive many people…” (24:4-11)
“There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be equaled again.” (24:21)
The apostles asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts. 1:6)
That wasn’t any of their business, Jesus said – more tactfully, of course. “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (1:7)
The other day I was re-reading these verses, meditating about how things look in the world today. A lot of the front-page news sounds a lot like those verses in Matthew. I asked the Lord a question that I didn’t really expect an answer to, “When is all this going to happen, really?”
I knew Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Okay, I have no way of knowing when the gospel has been preached in the whole world. Nobody does. I was just being my normal snoopy self, asking a question I expected the Holy Spirit to ignore.
But he didn’t ignore it – he answered it. “When the last sheep is in the fold.” But when he said that, he didn’t show me a mental image of sheep, but a mental image of warriors. Suddenly I knew that God is assembling an invasion force in heaven (see http://www.speakingofheaven.wordpress.com). He knows when the last person on earth who will accept his invitation by his deadline has done so. His deadline is described in Matthew 24:14.
I don’t need to know that date, I just need to be ready by that date.