“So when they met together, they 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. But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, indeed to the ends of the earth!’” —Acts 1:6-8
“When they were together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Israel?” We like to make fun of the disciples, but at the time it sounded like a reasonable question. Shoot, they had no idea this building of his Church would take over 2,000 years. And frankly, I’m glad it’s taken this long. It gave me a chance to get in on it. But the disciples reasonably figured the battle was won, let’s build the Kingdom now . . . and we know that Jesus had just been talking to them about the kingdom of God and the Old Testament makes a close connection between the coming Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the coming of the kingdom (Ezekiel 39:28-29; Joel 2:28-3:1; Zechariah 12:8-10). So when he told the disciples that very soon they would “receive power,” whatever that meant, they reasonably concluded that the establishment of the kingdom must also be close at hand.
But no, Jesus tells them it wasn’t the time for that yet . . . it would come, but not yet. Why? Because first they needed the promised Spirit to teach them; to guide them; to strengthen them . . . Why? Why didn’t our Father just complete the work there and have it over with?
The simplest answer is that we aren’t ready for eternity, yet. There’s a work that must be done in each of our lives. Yes, there are some who accept the Lord’s Messiah as their Redeemer, and die, but those are the exceptions and not the rule.
In each of our lives there must come a time of purifying and cleansing. We need to grow and learn and experience life. When you accepted the claims of Jesus over your life, I suppose he could have just beamed you up, but He has a purpose for leaving you here. It will take time to prepare you for Eternity. The first reason is that we are the ones who must preach the message of Redemption and Salvation—the angels can’t do it—that’s our task. But even that’s not the full reason for being left here . . .
I’ve heard it argued that the wilderness experience of the Israelites wasn’t necessary. The argument says that the reason the people of God had to spend 40 years wandering around in the desert was because of their own sin, that it wasn’t God’s desire or plan.
That might be true, but, the scripture also says, “when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine Country, although that was shorter. For God said, ‘if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13: 17-18).
Even before the people of Israel sinned and had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness, God already knew something about them. He knew that they weren’t ready to go right into the Promised Land.
It has been said that it took one day for God to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to take Egypt out of Israel. Moses told them to remember how the Lord led them in the desert for 40 years, “to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.”
Clearly, God’s purpose for the wilderness journey was for training, for discipline, for instruction. God was acting like a father who provided for His people. Part of His provision was to bring His children through the wilderness.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Book of Acts: