So now we get to the “sequel” to the Gospels, the book of Acts. As a kid, I loved this book, mainly because it had almost as much “action” as the stories in the O.T. It was the same reason I loved the book of Judges. I was into comic books, and I was on the lookout for magnificent deeds and glorious adventures experienced by my heroes. And there are plenty of miracles in this book.
As I got older and (hopefully) more mature, I realized that this was a really skewed view of how the Lord normally works. Throughout history, the times in which God works openly and publicly like he did during the time of Moses or (to a lesser degree) the events of Acts is actually quite rare. Most sick people are either cured by natural means or they stay sick and/or die. Most dead people are still in their graves. And believers who are in prison usually are not released by angels. Our Lord has chosen—most of the time—to work behind the scenes and/or through human means.
The reason I mention that is because I think it’s easy to get caught up in the exciting parts of Acts and miss the main point. Luke’s main goal here is not to record a bunch of miracles in the early church. If God parted the veil and acted out in the open for a while, then there’s a reason he broke his regular pattern. We’ll get into that at a later time.
The book starts out, just like Luke’s Gospel, with an introduction to “Theophilus” (whoever that was). Luke tells us that Jesus spent forty days with the disciples, making it perfectly clear that he was alive. These were not Elvis sightings. He showed himself to them no less than ten times as recorded in Scripture, depending on how you count. Again he told them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit before they did anything else.
I find their question and his response in vss. 6-8 to be very useful for us today. Every God-fearing Jew was longing for the Messiah, and there was one thing in particular they were waiting for him to accomplish: The restoration of Israel. The prophets seemed to promise a national renewal in which Israel was on top of the world. They wanted to see Israel free, prosperous, and not under the boot of any oppressors, which they hadn’t seen for some time.
What was his response? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” In effect, he very lovingly and kindly told them “That’s none of your business!” That’s the Father’s business. I think there are quite a few believers who need to read this. If you’re really concerned about the “Signs of the Times,” then here’s a reality check. I think the Father’s doing a fine job of taking care of the “times and dates,” don’t you?
So what's our part? Two words: Obedience and testimony. Instead of worrying about when Jesus is coming back or how he’s coming back or what’s going to happen right before he comes back, how’s about we concentrate on obedience? Do what he told us to do.
And part of that is providing testimony. If you’ve studied the book of Acts before, you might know that a lot of commentators consider the rest of this book to be an unfolding of 1:8. They started in Jerusalem, then they move to Judea and Samaria, and then they start taking steps towards spreading the Good News to the ends of the earth. That’s our job. That should be our focus.
There’s more to talk about here, but it really deserves a day of its own. Hopefully you’ll think it’s worth it.
Lord Jesus, I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. I look around for any signs that your return is soon. In the time I have left, I want to be faithful with what you’ve given me to do, right here and right now. By your grace and power.
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