We have an incurable fascination with the future, don’t we. We want to know what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, why it is going to happen. Small wonder that when Jesus foretold the coming destruction of the temple, his disciples wanted to know. Enquiring minds always want to know. When will these things be, they asked, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?
Jesus’ answer has a lot of information about the end time, but I can summarize it in two points: It is not for you to know the time. Get on with life and the work you have been given to do. When you see Jerusalem being surrounded, flee into the mountains, but between now and then, he said, you have things to be doing. What are those things?
As a Bible teacher for many years, I have often had occasion to look over the prophetic studies of a lot of students and teachers. Almost all of them have been consumed with questions of timing and events. They try to correlate the events and the number of days. There are prophecies that deal with 1,260 days, or 42 months, or 3 1⁄2 years. These are benchmarks that men try to connect with a time line. It is almost as if we assume that working out the details of these prophecies have some practical value. I think there is a practical value in knowing what the prophecies say, but I doubt seriously that there is much to be gained by attempts to predict the course of events. Not many stop to ask why God would bother to tell us the future at all. I can think of two important reasons.