When Jesus spoke to his disciples for the last time, he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, the reign of God’s love in the world. True to form, they misunderstood him. Their thoughts went immediately not to love, but self-preservation. “Lord, has the time come for you to free us and restore our kingdom?” they asked.
Notice the pronoun of choice: “Our” kingdom, not “Thy” kingdom, as we often recite in the Lord’s Prayer. The only power structure they could understand was one in which they benefited, and their only conceivable outcome was one in which they landed on top of the heap as the cosmos crashed to the ground.
So they must have been disappointed when Jesus provided an emphatic answer to their question: “The Father alone sets those dates and times. They are not for you to know, but you will receive power and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” While the disciples pined for the end of the world, Christ called these same disciples to testify to his love all over the world.
This is a contrast even unto today, as the “mission” of faith remains the same: Be witnesses to the loving, sacrificial way of Jesus. Still, some are more concerned with building personal kingdoms, setting dates and times for the end of the age, and fawning glee over the prospects of it happening right away.
Whole religions have been built on and around the failed predictions of doomsday. Sect founders, and later followers, have had to theologize their way out of these failures, building massive apocalyptic constructs, all because of some foolish, unnecessary prediction. Setting the “dates and times” is utter recklessness, a prescription for failure.
Though I would be negligent if I I did not point out that some of these religious leaders succeeded wildly. They succeeded in expanding their personal kingdoms by duping enough gullible sheep to buy a kazillion dollars worth of books and “resources.” Little witness is given to the love of Christ in the process, and if I were God (thank your God I am not), even if one of these clowns did pick the correct day and time, I would change the date out of principle.
It astounds me that those so willing to quickly crawl out on the limb of prophetic conjecture are also the biggest of the Bible-thumpers. Yet they fail to hear what Jesus said. “The Father alone sets those dates and times. They are not for you to know.”
To quote an old cliche, “A man can be so heavenly minded, he is of no earthly good.” Likewise, one can be so eager to leave the world behind that he or she loses touch with the love God has for the world. “No one knows the day or hour” — no one — so until our last breath, let us be found witnessing to and working for love, not waiting and wishing for everything to come to a calamitous end.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, speaker, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.org.