So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”7 He said to them, “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.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:6-11
Imagine for a moment that you were there watching Jesus, who had already been taken from you some 40+ days earlier, but this time not through a tortuous death on a cross, but miraculously by a physical ascension into heaven.
Can you imagine that?
You would probably feel extremely confused and awestruck all at the same time. I would assume that after the shock wore off, your first question might be, “I wonder when he will return?”
Through the centuries many have searched the scriptures to try and answer that very question. Some have been foolish and predicted exact dates and times, even though the Lord had warned them that they would only be confounded by their efforts (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:22).
What Did Jesus Say About His Return?
Here is the good news, according to Jesus, he is returning for His church and he plans to set-up a physical earthly kingdom and rule over it from Jerusalem. We just don’t know when. Could it be today? Sure. Could it be 1500 years from now? Yep. It sure could. But it’s perfectly clear in the scripture that God has no desire to tell us exactly when.
“For as the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:37-39
What About All the Different Views About Jesus’ Return?
Like many other areas of theology (study of God) there are differing viewpoints about how to best interpret the scriptures in regards to the study of eschatology (study of the end). While everything in the Bible is important and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16) not everything rises to the level of being essential, meaning, for the sake of common fellowship and worship, universal agreement is not necessary (Open-handed Issue).
While the study of eschatology is an important issue it should never be elevated to anything higher than a secondary issue. Having said that if you are interested in further study on the topic here are a few resources to read:
- Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond – Bock and Gundry
- The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views – Clouse and Ladd
- Four Views on the Book of Revelation – Gundry and Pate
- Three Views on the Rapture – Archer Jr. and Feinberg
- Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath or Posttribulation (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) – Blaising and Moo
Remain Faithful Knowing God Will Do the Same
While the study of secondary doctrines is perfectly allowable and even encouraged in the scripture (Revelation 1:3) God has revealed what his hopes are for the church until he returns; He has called us to remain faithful, but alert:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58
“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” – Luke 21:28
– See more at: http://gateway.redemptionaz.com/resources/blog-posts/detail/the-end-of-the-age-when-will-jesus-return-for-his-church/#sthash.8FOA3ecK.dpuf