I am so blessed to be able to sit under sound preaching of God’s word each Sunday. My pastor just began a new series through the book of Acts. As he was discussing verse 6 of chapter 1 he mentioned God’s timing. You know the verse. Before his ascension the disciples ask Jesus a question.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV)
As my pastor pointed out, this question reveals that the disciples still misunderstood quite a few things. However, my attention was drawn to the disciples asking about something happening “at this time.” Jesus replies in verse 7.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7 ESV)
In his own eloquent way my pastor told us Jesus was telling the disciples to mind their own business. It was not the place of the disciples to know the timing of the Father. I was struck by the fact that God’s timing is one of things we long to know but which God absolutely refuses to reveal. When will my pain end? When will I find a spouse? When will I get a job? When will we have children? When will my child repent? When will my spouse return? The bottom line is we don’t like to be in the waiting mode, especially when we don’t know when or if the wait will end. This is true for the serious and the trivial. I can’t count the number of times sitting in a waiting room I’ve wondered if I would ever get to see the doctor. Also, it seems we most want to know God’s timing when we do not like our current circumstances. We want to know when things will be better. When all is well we are not interested in when the good times will end.
I know there are some prophecies in Scripture with a time period attached (for example the prophecy of 70 years of exile in Jeremiah 25:11-12), but these prophecies are the exception. The prevailing truth revealed throughout Scripture is God’s timing is not our business. Just before the disciples ask the question in verse 6 the disciples are told to wait for the promise from the Father. Jesus does not give them a specific time when the waiting will be over. He simply tells the disciples they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit “not many days from now.” We wait for the return of Jesus. The bible tells of signs pointing to his return but nothing that reveals a definite time. Jesus even said he didn’t know the time of his return, only the Father (Matthew 24:36). The saints in heaven wait. In Revelation chapter 6 when the Lamb opens the fifth seal those who have been martyred for the faith are shown under the altar. They ask “how long?”
They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:10-11 ESV)
They were told to “rest a little longer,” that is, wait. There is a specific time when the waiting will be over (when the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete) but no information is given as to when that will be. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes sums it up well.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV)
The message we find in God’s word is we do not need to know God’s timing, what we need to know is God. When we truly know God we come to realize knowing God’s schedule is not what is important. Peter tells us we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Having us take a seat in the divine waiting room is one of the things God uses to grow us in our knowledge of him. Because we know God is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24), we know waiting is not in vain. Because we know God works all things together for good (even waiting) for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), we know the wait is beneficial.
The Psalms contain several calls to wait for the Lord.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14 ESV)
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7 ESV)
Isaiah chapter 40 contains one of most quoted passages on waiting.
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 ESV)
Strength for this life comes from trusting in the Lord and waiting on him. God’s timing is perfect, but according to his perfect will, he does not reveal his timing. He reveals himself through his son Jesus. He reveals himself through his word by the power of the Holy Spirit. What we need is Jesus, not his calendar.