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What If?

Robert Fitzpatrick spent most of his retirement savings on getting the word out that Jesus would return through the clouds at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 21, 2011. When I read rapture predictions I immediately wonder, “Why does this man think God would tell him this date when He told us that date is not for us to know?” You don't need to know Greek or Aramaic (original languages) to see that clearly. Jesus does not know the date. The angels don't know the date. Jesus told us that only the Father knows the date (Matthew 24:36). By the way, Jesus is just fine with not knowing. He trusts God.

The Bible is very clear that we will not be told a date and time. You can read it from Jesus’ mouth—Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Acts 1 or from Paul’s perspective 1 Thessalonians 5. We have been told what we need to know. It’s not that we should not think about Jesus return. We should. I found it ironic that my daily devotional reading on May 21, 2011 was Acts 1:11. It says, “Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” I had to wonder why God would have me read this verse on this day. I knew He wanted me to make the connection between the verse and the prediction that was in the news. Do you know the context of Acts 1? It happens around the day of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. He had died and had risen again. He was seen by individuals and groups throughout the previous forty days. For the disciples by His side, it was a normal day—if you can call seeing your resurrected Lord a normal day. They seemed to become familiar with these types of Jesus sightings and Jesus moments. The most important question on their minds was, “When will You reign on the earth?” It’s the same question we all are still asking, especially after Robert Fitzpatrick’s surefire answer did not pan out.

Jesus said it then, and He says is now, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). Then comes one of those amazing “but's” of Jesus that redirect our souls to the answers we really need to know. What we need to know is that the kingdom will come about as believers receive the Holy Spirit and become His witnesses. Mr. Fitzpatrick’s investment of $140,000 on being a witness is not a bad investment idea; it was just a poor investment implementation. If he had spent the same $140,000 in witnessing to eternal truth, rather than miscalculated math, he would be following Jesus’ investment advice.

Jesus tells us not to worry about the time and the date. He knows us well. If we have a date or time we would do just what the immature church at Thessalonica was doing. Several of them had quit their jobs and were basically planning to waste their lives waiting on the greatest welfare from the sky—the return of Jesus Christ to establish His earthly kingdom. I think it is more than obvious why we cannot know the date or the time. Our nature would be to do just as they did. The way this all plays out is that God has promised to do something that will happen. Every generation needs to live believing that it will happen in their time, not so they will grow lazy, but so they will grow urgent. We have a wonderful witness to bring. Jesus Christ came once, to die for our sins and through belief in Him we will see Him return to bring us to Himself and live eternally with Him. I don't think He wants us to spend our time using man-made math to figure out something that He already told us is undiscoverable. Rather, a better use of your time would be living each day in a way that you would want Jesus to find you living when that day is revealed. Don't ask “What if?” on the day someone has predicted He would come because you can be sure it won't happen that day. Ask “What if?” every day. And in the meantime, be His witness.


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