Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (Acts 1:6-7 NIV)
The tomb becomes empty on the first Easter Sunday. God raises Jesus from the dead. After that Jesus shows himself many times to his followers. He talks with them. He eats with them. He explains to them the kingdom of God. He tells them that just as people are baptised by John the Baptist with water, they will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
However, the Jewish followers of Jesus do not understand who or what the Holy Spirit is. They are only concerned about the nation of Israel which is at that time ruled by the Romans. So they ask Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The implication is that if they are followers of Jesus, they will enjoy high positions in the government of King Jesus.
Then Jesus answers with this statement, “It is not for you to know the times (chronos) or dates (kairos) the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7) In New Testament Greek, there are 2 “types” of time, chronos time and kairos time. Chronos time is chronological time i.e. time as we know it; 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc. It is the time we know and experience; we wait for the bus to come and we wait for the microwave to heat up our food. It is time that we count as human beings. Kairos time is different. Kairos time is God’s time. It is sometimes not quantifiable by human standards. For example: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8 NIV) Another thing about kairos time is that sometimes God answers our prayers according to what we ask him immediately but at other times it takes a “thousand years” for him to answer our prayers.
The followers of Jesus are hoping that Jesus will lead them to drive the Romans out of their land. They hope that the kingdom will be restored to Israel as soon as possible. However, Jesus has in mind a different type of kingdom. It is a kingdom based on the work of the Holy Spirit not on the armies of human beings. It is a kingdom made up of the followers of Jesus, sometimes called the church. It is not a kingdom of machines. It is a kingdom that will take some time to build and not immediately like they expect.
I celebrated a birthday this week. As I look back at my life, I can see that there were some things that took me a long time to work at. Sometimes I wondered if God was ever going to answer my prayers, like finding the right place for me to become a pastor. Then there are some things that came out from the least expected of sources, like finding out about Regent College, Vancouver BC while I was still at university in Sydney, Australia.
However, I am grateful, that though there was pain in the chronos time eventually I could see that God was blessing me according to his kairos time.