God Is Merciful Not to Tell Us Everything

There is more mercy than we realize when God chooses not to tell us everything. When the disciples were with Jesus on the Mount of Olives just before his ascension to the Father, one of them asked a question that must have been on everyone’s mind: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

It had been a long wait. 2,000 years had passed since Abraham had been promised a seed that would bless all the families of the earth. It had been 1,500 years since Moses foretold that a great prophet would arise to lead the people and 1,000 years had gone by since David had been promised an eternal heir to his throne.

Now, after Jesus's glorious, triumphal resurrection they finally understood why the King had to suffer and die before the kingdom could really come. Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God whose death would atone for all the sins of all his people for all time.

It all made glorious sense.

So the stage looked set. Having conquered death, this King was invincible. What threat was the Sanhedrin or Herod or Pilate or Caesar? Surely the time had come for the long-awaited King to assume his earthly reign, right?

Jesus’ answer: It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:7-8).

In other words, “Now is not the time. And you don’t need to know when it will be. But for now, I have work for you to do.”

Can you imagine how the disciples might have felt if the Lord had explained to them that he would not assume his earthly reign for another 2,000-plus years, during which the Church would gradually and with great struggle and sacrifice spread around the world? 2,000 years?

God is merciful not to tell us everything. He tells us enough to sustain us if we trust him. But often it does not feel like enough. We really think we would like to know more.

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recalls a time when, as a young girl, she was returning home on the train with her father after accompanying him to purchase parts for his watch-making business. She asked him to explain how children are conceived. Her father stood up and took out the suitcase he had brought along:

"Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. "It's too heavy," I said. "Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

God is also a wise Father who knows when knowledge is too heavy for us. He is not being deceptive when he does not give us the full explanation. He is carrying our burdens (1 Peter 5:7). If we think our burdens are heavy, we should see the ones he’s carrying. The burdens he gives to us to carry are light (Matthew 11:30). 

God is very patient and merciful with us. Someday, when we are older and stronger, he will let us carry more of the burden of knowledge. But until then let us happily keep letting him carry our burdens.

________

Previous posts from Jon Bloom:

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.