Timing and the Return of Christ

Date Fixing

Arthur Pink, 1938

Not only hysterical sensationalists—but some of the most sober minded and spiritual servants of God have attempted to draw conclusions and forecast the future from the “signs of the times” which appeared in their sky. The state of the world in their day, the corruption and apostasy of Christendom, and the calamitous judgments sent by God on an evil and adulterous generation, convinced them that such things were most certainly the immediate prelude to the appearing of Christ in Person. Others averred that Divine Prophecy intimated the very year in which the Papacy would be overthrown or the Day of Judgment would occur.

And what is the moral to be drawn from all of this? What is the practical lesson—for it is a practical end we have had in view, and not the amusing of the curious or the entertaining of those who have an idle hour to pass away. Surely it is this, “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild donkey’s colt” (Job 11:12)—yes, wise in his own conceits, wise above that which God has revealed, wise in the esteem of his fellows.

He would pose before others as possessing a spiritual light and discernment which lifts him above the rank and file; he pretends unto light received from the Word which is denied those who walk not so closely with God as he does. The Spirit has shown him “things to come,” only for the passing of time to demonstrate it was some other spirit than the Spirit of God.

When the disciples asked Christ, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), He did not say whether He would or would not, neither did He tell them that they entertained an erroneous conception of “the kingdom.” No, He struck more deeply, and made answer which applies to all His followers until the end of time, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power” (v. 7). That is definite and it is final. Shun, then, my reader, those who controvert the Son of God by seeking to persuade that you may, “know the times and the seasons,” that if you will accept their interpretations (?) of Prophecy you will be granted a spiritual insight into those things of which the world is ignorant. “The coming of the Lord draws near” (James 3:8)—it is ever drawing nearer—but for any man to affirm that the coming of the Lord is now at the very doors, is to affirm what Scripture nowhere warrants, and is a piece of bombastic impertinence.

Our pressing duty is to set bounds to an unholy curiosity, and rest content with the blessed fact that the future is entirely in the hands of the Most High. It is the present which limits the boundaries of our responsibility. God is working all things after the counsel of His own will, so that there is no cause for alarm or fear. Not only cannot the forces of evil go one inch farther than what has been Divinely ordained—but, even now, God is making them to subserve His own wise and holy purpose. Nothing we do, or fail to do, will either hasten or retard by a single hour the consummation of God’s counsels.

“All things work together for good to those who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) provides a sure resting-place for the renewed heart.

Speculations about future history are not only futile—but impious. An itching mind that craves information about coming events is a hindrance and not a help to present godliness.

Leave the future with God, and seek grace to discharge your present duty. Part of our present duty, as well as our precious privilege, is to be “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). But that is a vastly different thing from occupying our minds with the evil that is at work in the world. To be “looking for that blessed Hope” is entirely an attitude of the heart—the soul being engaged with the person of Christ Himself, anticipating that glad moment when He will perfectly conform us to His image. But as to when He will appear, the angels in Heaven know not, much less can we on earth ascertain it. To be prepared for His coming is the great thing, and not to be curiously prying into the how and when of it!

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