The apostles once asked Jesus when the world would end (Matthew 24:3). Jesus answered, "But of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
Why didn't Jesus give the apostles a straight answer to their question? Why didn't the Lord say, "The world will end on December of 2012?" The answer to this question may best be answered by Jesus at Acts 1:6-7. The apostles had asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would be restored to Israel. Jesus replied, "It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority" (Acts 1:7). The reason it was not for the apostles, or you and I today, to know the "times or seasons" of God's own authority is because God desires that man live faithfully throughout this life as though the end would come any moment (Revelation 2:10).
Throughout the book of Revelation we encounter various time frames. There is the time, times, and a half time, forty two months, 1260 days, 1000 years, one hour and so forth. The book of Daniel uses the same type of teaching tool. For example, Daniel was showed events that were to transpire in the future at Daniel chapter 9. The angel of God tells Daniel that over a period of "seventy weeks" Jerusalem and the temple of God would be rebuilt, Christ would come into the world and then die, and the temple would be destroyed again. We know, being on this side of history that those events took approximately 500 years to accomplish. So why did God initially tell D aniel that this was a "seventy week" period of time? The answer is obvious. God gives general time frames of actual events that are to transpire in the future. The Lord does this because if man had exact dates he would not be so inclined to live a life of faith as did Abraham (Romans 4).
People may be tempted to wait to the very last moment to repent of sins because God is gracious and forgiving. Such an approach to spirituality fails to consider the uncertainties of life and death as well as God's will for man to live a life of faith (Hebrews 11:6).
God's revealed time frames are intended to illustrate the truths of events happening yet God does not tell man exactly when those events will occur. There are some things that God does not intend for man to know (see Deuteronomy 29:29 and Revelation 10:4). The faithful will believe and wait patiently in obedience until God's time frames unfold (see Isaiah 40:31 and 49:23).
John writes, "And he said unto me, Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand' (Revelation 22:10). Interestingly, the angel tells John, "The time is at hand." The time for the crushing and rising of Satan's head is coming to an end (Revelation 13:3, 12). The time of warfare between the saints and the beasts of Satan is soon to end (Revelation 16:13-16; 20:7-9). The time of Satan, and all those who live in sin, being cast alive into hell is at hand. The time of the saints entering into heaven is at hand. The time of Christ coming and judging the world is soon to come. Never does the Lord give exact dates and times but gives the prophecies as fact.
Daniel gives the most precise and comprehensive answer to why God does not give exact times regarding the end of the world and the coming of Jesus. Daniel chapters 10 through 12 examines many differing general time frames regarding when Jerusalem would be destroyed, when the church would be established, and when the world would end. Daniel writes, " Blessed is he that waits and comes to the thousand three hundred thirty five days" (Daniel 12:12). This is the only verse in the book of Daniel that speaks of the end of the world and places it among other apocalyptic writings such as the book of Revelation. The significance for this study is the idea of "waiting." This is a key statement in Daniel to help us understand the obscure time frames of lesser times being represented by greater actual times. God's perspective of time is different than ours because he exists in eternity (see 2 Peter 3:8). Too many today focus on the time frames rather than the I' waiting." God's favor is with those who wait faithfully for his prophecies to be fulfilled (Revelation 2:12 and 12:11). When will the world end? No man knows. This is all the greater reason to be prepared on a daily basis.
John C. Robertson