When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?…
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED in the text. That there are times and seasons which God hath appropriated to Himself, both to order and to dispose them.
1. The times and seasons of the world in general. As God first made it, so He governs it. He set a time for the beginning and for the ending of it. And He orders all its affairs (Acts 17:24, 26, 31).
2. The times and seasons of States in particular. These are also appointed by God. He gives them being and continuance (Job 12:23; Deuteronomy 32:8; Daniel 2:20, 21; Daniel 4:17, 25, 32). And when He has once written vanity upon them they come to nothing.
3. The times and seasons of individuals (Psalm 31:15; Psalm 39:4; Job 14:5). All men's times are put in God's own power, in regard of their space and quality, whether prosperous or afflicted. All this is to show us what great cause we have to wait upon God upon all occasions. He who is the Lord of our times should have the command of our services.
II. WHAT IS EXPRESSED. That it is not for you to know these times and seasons.
1. It is not your business. For the right understanding of this we must be mindful of the context. It is not said, it is not for you to know any times or seasons but those "which the Father hath put in His own power." Consider —
(1) How far it is proper for us to know the times and seasons.
(a) Take it in a natural sense. It is proper for us to know the times and seasons of day and night, seedtime and harvest, winter and summer, and the like. These, it is true, God hath put in His own power, but they are not such as He hath kept to Himself, and accordingly we may take notice of them, for the improving of the opportunities of them.
(b) Take it in a civil sense — the times for buying and selling, war and peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8).
(c) Take it in a spiritual sense — the seasons of grace, the opportunities of salvation, the times of improvement (Luke 19:43; Jeremiah 8:7; so Ecclesiastes 9:12; 1 Chronicles 12:39.). To speak distinctly on this point, it concerns all men to know the sins and the miscarriages of the times (2 Peter 3:17). The judgments and calamities of the times (Proverbs 28:5; Isaiah 26:11). The duties and engagement of the times (Romans 12:11).
(2) The sense in which it is impertinent. The change of affairs in States, the end and consummation of the world, etc.: such times and seasons as these it is not for you to know (Deuteronomy 30:20).
2. It is not profitable for you. It might please, as a matter of speculation, and so there are divers that busy themselves about it, but it cannot profit to edification. Nay, it is rather prejudicial and inconvenient: partly as it perplexes, and partly as it takes men off from their duty.
3. It is not within your reach. The Father hath put them in His own power, and so out of ours (Mark 13:32). It is not for you, that is, for you —
(1) As men, by the strength and power of reason (Ecclesiastes 7:27).
(2) As Christians, by supernatural illumination. There are many things which are not known by the light of nature, which yet are known by the light of the Spirit; but this is not known by either (1 John 2:20, 27). Refers to things necessary to salvation, whereof this is none.
(3) As apostles, by Divine inspiration, or extraordinary revelation. As Christians have knowledge of more things than ordinary men, so apostles had knowledge of more things than ordinary Christians; and yet for all that they had not the knowledge of this. Consider this point —
(a) As it meets with men's vain curiosity and affectation. There are many who trouble both their own and other men's heads with such questions. But this answer of our Saviour puts them off from such scrutinies; for if it be not for you to know, then it is not for you to inquire. There are many things which are necessary — the deceitfulness of our hearts, the depths of Satan, the will of the Lord. Therefore seek to know these.
(b) As with men's curiosity in inquiring, so with their presumption in resolving. It is not for you to know it, therefore it is not for you to determine it. There are a great many persons who not only make a search into this mystery, but also positively fix it.Conclusion: It is not for you to know, but —
1. It is for you to believe; not to know the time, but to believe the thing; to believe that this day will come, though we know not when it will come (2 Peter 3:3, 4).
2. It is for you to expect; not to know when it will be, but to wait for it; to be always upon our watch and in readiness against the coming of our Master (Job 14:14; 2 Peter 3:11-14).
3. It is for you to pray; not to know when it will be, but to pray that it may be; and to desire that it may be as soon as may be (Revelation 22:17; Song of Solomon 8:14).
4. It is not for you to know the times and seasons which God hath put in His own power, but it is for you to know the times and seasons which God hath put in yours. The times and seasons of affliction and correction, to be troubled for them; and the times and seasons of mercy and deliverance, to be thankful for them.
(T. Horton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?