One of the popular phrases in “churchianity”, especially in these last days, is, “no man knows the day or the hour.” This of course gets applied to our ability to comprehend when Jesus is coming back for the church.
“no man knows the day or the hour.”
Allow me to try to debunk this statement.
First it has a context, and it is vital to understand the context before you can understand the scope of the statement, so let us look at that.
The verse itself is found in Matthew 24:36. It was the culmination of an ongoing barrage of questions from the crowd, the disciples, the elders and the chief priests. Matthew 22 shows us Jesus entering Jerusalem, riding on the colt, as a triumphant king might. This is exactly what Israel was looking for, but that all changed as he entered the temple with a whip made of cords.
Matthew 21:12-13 ESV And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. (13) He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers."
Prior to this they must have thought he would make his grand announcement, declaring his Kingship and instructions on how to overthrow the Roman oppression. Well that did not happen, instead He overthrew tradition and the tables of the money-changers. Quickly the adoring crowd turned hostile, especially the religious authorities.
Upon returning to the temple the next morning he is confronted by the chief priests and the elders, and they vehemently challenged him:
Matthew 21:23 ESV And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
Jesus calmly put them in their place with a question which they could not, nor would not answer.
Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?" And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From man,' we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:24-27 ESV)
The conversations and parables seem to have continued there at the temple until Jesus and the disciples finally walked away. With all that had happened over the last two days, if he wanted the twelve to see anything, it was that He was God and had everything in control.
Wouldn't you know it, after all that, several of the guys:
Matthew 24:1 ESV Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.
The temple must have been magnificent. A symbol of their God, and the place where God dwells. The idea behind this can come from Numbers chapter 2 where the tabernacle is central to their focus:
From “Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary” - tabernacle of meeting. In the line of march, the tabernacle was in the central position—a symbol of not only Israel's protection of the holy objects, but also of the presence of God among His people.
Perhaps Jesus heart just sank at moments like this. After all you have seen and heard over the last two days and you have to show me this edifice. The same structure I threw the money-changers out of. I get it, its architecturally inspiring, but not what I wanted you to focus on.
Jesus responds to the disciples very specific questions with:
..., "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:2 ESV)
Those foundation stones took an army of men to move and place there. That does not even seem feasible, and yet it happened in 70 A.D., approximately forty years after Jesus death and resurrection, when Jerusalem was under the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus Vespasian. (That is a whole other story.) The temple had been lined with Cedar and there were curtains draped everywhere, not to mention that virtually everything inside was made out of gold or covered in it. So when it got burned they dismantled the building to get at the gold that had melted and went between the cracks.
Several minutes passed and they are now on the Mount of Olives, one of Jesus' favorite places, when they ask:
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3 ESV)
To be honest, they have not figured out much of what He has said to them. We know this because scripture tells us that they did not get it until after His death.
So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (John 20:3-9 ESV)
The last two days for the disciples had been interesting to say the least, but now you are telling us that the temple, the symbol of who Israel is, will be completely destroyed. They were just a little confused, as they were the ones that put him on the colt. They watched the adoring crowds and knew what it meant, but this fizzled like a child's toy rocket. I suppose this is really what the context is all about - who are you and where is this going?
If I have a strong grasp on the context, then what is the answer to the question?
So, the second thing we have to pay attention to is one of the first things He said:
And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4 ESV)
This is vital, and needs to be your anchor, no matter what happens.
Here is a piece of truth for you; you will be led astray by just about anything that comes your way if you do not spend time in God's word.
How many people and things are out there that are willing to lead you astray? In truth, the number is astronomical. Just in the 20th and 21st century there were about 27 people who claimed the title of Jesus or Messiah. Several found their callings while in prison. One felt called to go shoot the President of the United States, so it seems like it would be rather easy to sort out the good from the bad. And yet we are led astray by the simplest of things, like false teachers, especially if they have a strong personality and a great smile.
So what did they ask him?
Matthew 24:3 LITV And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? And, What is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?
This is one of the reasons why I wanted you to understand what had been going on for the past two days of their lives. Now, What did they ask him?
- Tell us, when will these things be?
They had just pointed out the temple and found out that it is all coming down. They had to understand that there would be some huge calamity associated with that, and they wanted to know when. Soon is not really an answer in my book, so did He answer the question?
- What is the sign of Your coming?
Like I said, the disciples put him on the colt and led him triumphantly into the city. They had hopes of him being the messiah, but it all came to a crashing halt when he threw the money-changers out of the temple. Now their question is, how will we know when you are going to come back as the Messiah we expected? This is not only answered by Jesus, but the signs are spoken of all throughout the Law and the prophets.
- “When is time up?” as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message.
When does all this come to a crashing halt, and your kingdom begin? That understanding has to imply all the horrific events that lead up to the end. Sadly, only a third of Israel survives the onslaught. This too was an aspect of the answer Jesus gave them.
Take the time to study Matthew 24:6-31. The detailed description continues, but I will leave you to finish reading it. Ask yourself, as you scan through what Jesus said, is there anything here which you have not seen happening? NO.
One of the markers of the end times – a huge and significant one – seems to have come in the form of a parable:
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:32-34 ESV)
The fig tree is Israel, and Israel has significant dates such as:
- 1917 when the Balfour declaration was signed; Arthur James Balfour's purpose in confirming support from the British government, was for the establishment in Palestine of a "national home" for the Jewish people.
- In 1948 Israel became a nation, and the United States was one of the first to recognize them as such. How dreadful it is to see our American President turn against the nation of Israel.
- The most recent of events was the 1967 six day war. In this war Israel regained all the territories it had previously possessed. That possession was short lived as they were pressured by the U.N., to gave back much of the land. (Someone tried recently to argue that prophecy had not been fulfilled because was supposed to repossess all their former lands and that had not been done. While my mind is not as sharp as it might have been once, the Holy Spirit brought this piece of information about the six day war back to mind and shut down this argument.)
Other signs: There will be a treaty signed; a third temple built; a great deception, and again, the desecration of the temple - just as before. These are yet to come.
I would love to be able to say, you can count seven years with precision after the rapture, but God - the creator of time - does not seem to be restricted by time. It seems God uses time more like a guide, so he may come sooner or he may come later, but know this he will come.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35 ESV)
Now, can we hold God to a precise timing as to when he will come back as the Messiah?
Sorry, but no.
Matthew 24:35-36 NASB "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (36) "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
This does not mean that God cannot be trusted, nor does it mean that you cannot know the season. I mentioned Rabbi Mark Biltz because he alerted us to the blood moons – signs that indicate that we are in a significant season.
This idea of signs and seasons is not new; it is as old as Genesis itself.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, (Genesis 1:14 ESV)
The Prophet Joel told us that the moon turning to blood would be a significant sign, as well as the sun turning dark.
Joel 2:31 ESV The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
Are you aware of how bad the smog is in China? Look at this -
In Beijing they cannot even see the sky and must broadcast videos of what it looks like.
Since the subtopic is seasons for the moment, does a fruit tree respond to seasons? Certainly it does, but the fruit tree is really responding to environmental changes. No, I am not preaching climate change, I am only pointing out the obvious. Here in Southern California plants that used to produce fruit or leaves in March or later, are now producing foliage in February. Why? Because they are responding to the environment. They have adjusted and moved the time of their season. Is it possible that God can adjust time to fit his demand? Do we have the right to tell God when He gets to initiate his season? NO.
God can be trusted, but if he controls time, and he does, it just makes sense to not make predictions.
Considering the laugh-ability factor, enjoyed by both the world and certain aspects of the global church, especially when vocal people make a prediction and then nothing happens. It just makes sense to not make predictions. One personality that stands out in my mind was Harold Camping. I suspect that most of us knew nothing about Camping's claims until the very end when he had put up billboards declaring his predictions. He also had members of his church close bank accounts and give him the money (that is the aspect that ruffles my feathers). Camping claimed that the rapture would be on May 21, 2011 followed by the end of the world on October 21 of the same year. Well, 2011 has come and gone, Harold Camping has died, and what of the money? I digress.
On Wikipedia someone has listed Rabbi Mark Biltz as predicting the end in September of 2015. Mark Biltz was one of the earliest writers alerting us to the significance of the blood moons, their ties to Jewish Holidays, and their scientific documentation by NASA. The world is about to experience the last blood we will see in our lifetimes and it falls precisely on September 28, one of the highest Jewish Holy Days called Yom Kippur – the day of Atonement. Having listened to Mark Biltz on many occasions I can tell you that he backs away from date setting. Pastor John Hagee, it seems, jumped on the bandwagon initiated by others.
Is it just a coincidence that most of these have occurred within close proximity to Jewish holidays or horrid events involving the Jewish community throughout the world? I don't think so.
Here are some other statements we are good at bashing each other with:
- That has been done away with! (I am not going to take the time to explain it. If you have heard it, then you know what I am talking about. Those who say this are often referring to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.)
- That is out of context! (You typically get this from the bible thumpers; you know, the people who always have some biblical point they have to make that proves their righteousness. These points are mostly comprised of their opinions.)
- God was speaking directly to someone, therefore what was said was applicable to them but not to us. (Really? Then what do you do with, 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;)
I am sure I left some of the juicy ones out, but you get the point. There is always something that can be used to divert and discourage even the strongest of believers.
If I can feel comfortable using Matthew 24:36 to shut someone up, thinking I am religiously correct, scoring big points with God for slamming you, then I should just as readily quote Luke 10:8, even in its partial state, saying, “it is for you to know the mysteries.”
(Luke 8:9-10 ESV) And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'
Arguments against using this verse are extremely weak, just as they are for using Matthew 24:36, but allow me to point out a couple of quick ones:
- In Luke's gospel he is referring to secrets or mysteries, and not the overall time table of God's plan. If you want to be specific, the mysteries are embedded in the parables - stories designed to show those who are paying attention the depth and truth within the kingdom of God. Daniel spoke of mysteries, and yet the angel of the Lord explained that in the last days knowledge would abound. That tends to tell me that the knowledge of the end and God's holy plan would be more clear and some of us would get it. I get it.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV)
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:6-7 ESV)
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3 ESV)
- Another argument that might be used against Luke 8:9-10 would be idea that the disciples asked a specific question requiring a specific, directed answer. This, again, is why I took the time to talk about the context involved with Matthew 24:36, since that was a series of directed questions and they were hoping for a specific and direct answer.Is this applicable only to the disciples? We have really covered this concern previously, but I give it to you again:“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB
Therefore all scripture is fair game when used in context. We are all very skillful at discouraging others when they go outside of the box we decide they have to live in. Christ gives us a tremendous amount of freedom, and most of us have a brain, so let's use them to do proper bible study, and pay attention to the signs going on around us.