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. Two thousand years had passed since Abraham had been promised a seed that would bless all the families of the earth, 1,500 years since Moses foretold that a great prophet would arise to lead the people, and 1,000 years since David had been promised an eternal heir to his throne.
Now, having been with Jesus for a few years, they had learned a lot more about the kingdom of God. He had disclosed himself to them as the Messiah-King. They had watched him exercise almost unbelievable power with almost unbelievable humility. They had suffered through his excruciating death, which had dashed all their kingdom hopes for three days. Then they witnessed his glorious, triumphal resurrection. Now 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?
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).
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 more years?
There is more mercy than we realize when God chooses 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."
Like a wise father, God knows when knowledge is too heavy for us. He is not being deceptive with us when he does not give us the full explanation. He is carrying our burdens. 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.
When we get discouraged or frustrated because we don’t understand or we question God’s timing, it’s good to soak in Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 for a while. It reminds us that waiting on God and trusting his promises, even for what can seem like a long time, is a normal experience for the people of God. And it helps us be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).
That’s why this month we would like to point you to a sermon titled, Without Faith It Is Impossible to Please God. Focusing mainly on Hebrews 11:4-6, John Piper explains what it is about faith that pleases God and what the reward will be for those who trust him. We are able to make this message, and literally hundreds of other audio and video messages, available free for anyone because the Lord provides our needs through financial gifts from friends like you. If you would like to give a gift to help us extend this ministry to others, we would be very grateful.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). To the Ancient of Days, 2,000 years is not much time. God is very patient and merciful. 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.
Choosing with you to take his light yoke,