Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Matt 24:36-51 (ESV) No One Knows That Day and Hour
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 “Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 “and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 “and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Whenever discussion moves to the subject of the Return of Christ, someone will ask “When are these thigns going to happen?” Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
" Therefore be ye also ready : for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh " (Matt. z4: 44)•
"An hour " Ah, how much may happen in one hour Simon Peter failed to watch and pray for one hour (Matt. z6 : 40), and thus in about " the space of one hour " (Luke 22:59) thrice denied his Lord. One hour of devotion would have delivered from one hour of disaster. To have wrought " but one hour" in our Lord's vineyard (Matt. 20:12), will bring its great reward ; while for others, in the world's great city, one hour will herald eternal judgment and desolation (Rev.18 :10 and 19).
Oh, my Lord, teach me the vital value of one hour, and also the solemn urgency of those words " in such an hour
AN UNREVEALED HOUR
The Hour of Christ's Coming is an Unrevealed Hour. " But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only " (Matt. 24 : 36).
The secret of the Second Advent is hidden in the heart of " the everlasting Father." It is a secret He has not and will not share with another. Let me beware of invading this secret territory, lest I detract from my Father's glory, because " It is the glory of God to conceal a thing " (Prow. z5 : z) and " The secret things belong unto the Lord our God " (Deus. 29 : 29).
The signs that we have discussed so far in Matthew 24 relate primarily to that time known as the Great Tribulation, a future time when the Antichrist will set himself up as the abomination of desolation in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
Verses 13, 42, 44, and 50 all indicate that the exact moment of the Lord's return is unknown. The general time frame of the second coming will become obvious once people see all the signs in Matthew 24. The abomination of desolation will be a historical event. The wars, famines, pestilences, devastation, waters turning to blood, and increased darkness will all be noticed. But the exact day and hour of Christ's return won't be known; it will come unexpectedly.
Both Daniel and Revelation tell us that the Great Tribulation-- the second half of the tribulation--will be three and one-half years long, forty two months, or 1260 days (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Rev. 12:14; 13:5). The second half begins with the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15. That's when the Antichrist will demand to be worshiped. Matthew 24:29-30 says that immediately after that period the Son of Man will come. However we don't know exactly how long it will be before the kingdom is actually established. In Daniel 12:11-12 we read about a seventy-five day period following the tribulation, during which the kingdom will be established.
The tribulation will begin once the church is raptured. There will be three and one-half years of peace as the Antichrist politically rescues Israel and starts to revive what once comprised the Roman Empire. Then in the middle of the seven-year tribulation, he will desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem and demand that he be worshiped. The next three and one-half years will culminate with the return of Christ.
None of those things have happened yet. We don't know what generation they will come upon. It could be this generation; the church might be raptured any moment. And even those who do see the signs in Matthew 24 come to pass won't know the exact moment of Christ's return at the end of the tribulation. That is a secret.
Notice that the Lord says repeatedly Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know Matthew 25: 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
In all of those terms the “day and hour refer not only to the specific moment of His glorious appearing, but also more broadly to the eschatological time frame in which all of these events will occur. There are many signs that must precede His final coming with His saints; the abomination of desolation, the sun darkened, movements in the heavens, , but the beginning of these last days events is the rapture of the church out of the world. The rapture of the church is the event that commences all the other events.
And the rapture of the church is the unknown day and hour, that begins the days and hours of the last 7 years of human history.
The rapture is where the Lord Jesus Christ comes for His Church, later at the end of the 7 years of tribulation ,He will come with His church, riding the horses of the armies of heaven.
Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Is applicable to us who wait now, awaiting the rapture, which precedes all of the events of the last days. There are no signs whatsoever that precede the rapture. We need to be ready 42 for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
The last half of the Sermon on Mount Olivet, Matthew 24 and 25 continually reminds us to be prepared for His coming.
It is not known by men Jesus specifically stated in Matthew 24:36 that no man knows the day and hour of His coming. If men did know the exact moment of Christ's return, they would probably choose to live in sin right up until just before that moment. Christians might stop everything they are doing just to await the Lord's coming. Life would change considerably if you knew exactly when the Lord was going to come. People wouldn't make plans for the future; long-term relationships would be affected. So the Lord, in all His wisdom, has kept secret the time of Christ's return. He didn't want people to take advantage of such knowledge for their own selfish reasons.
It is not known by angels Matthew 24:36 also says that the angels of heaven don't know the day and hour of Christ's return. The natural world (mankind) doesn't know, and neither does the supernatural world (the angels). The angels have constant access to God. In Isaiah 6 they hover around His throne awaiting His commands. In Matthew 18:10 we read they are face-to-face with God in intimate communion with Him. According to Matthew 13, angels will be the agents of judgment at the second coming. They are the reapers who will gather the wheat and tares, and throw the tares into a furnace of fire (vv. 37-42). Matthew 24:31 indicates that the angels will gather the believers who survive the tribulation. Yet in spite of all those things, the angels still do not know the exact moment of Christ's coming. God has chosen not to reveal it to them. Scripture doesn't tell us why.
It is not known by the Son That Christ didn't know the time of His own return has created much discussion. How could Jesus Christ, who is God, not know something? Since He is God, isn't He omniscient? That's easily explained if we understand some facts about the incarnation. Jesus Christ is fully God (John 1:1, 14), but when He became a man, He voluntarily restricted the use of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:6-8). He didn't put His deity or divine attributes aside; He simply restricted the use of them. He lived without using His omniscience unless the Father prescribed for Him to use it.
Christ's omniscience is obvious in some passages. In John 2:24-25 we read that He knows what's in the heart of every man. In John 3 Jesus answers a question that Nicodemus had in mind but hadn't yet asked (vv. 1-3). In His incarnation, Christ restricted the use of His omniscience to those things that the Father wanted Him to know. Philippians 2:7 says He took upon Himself the form of a servant. He submitted Himself to whatever the Father wanted Him to do, say, or know. In John 15:15 Jesus says to the disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." That verse explicitly states Jesus' knowledge was qualified by what the Father revealed to Him. Some of what He knew came through the Old Testament, some came from personal experiences during which He saw God's power, and some through direct revelation.
Jesus didn't have to restrict the use of His omniscience. But He chose to act as a servant to redeem mankind. That Jesus humbled Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant means He limited the use of His divine attributes, including His omniscience. Scripture says that as Jesus grew older He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
I believe after Christ was resurrected, the day and hour of His return became known to Him. After He came out of the grave in His resurrection glory, He said this to the disciples: "All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18). Shortly afterwards He said, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons [of the second coming], which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:7). He said only that the disciples wouldn't know the time of His return; He didn't include Himself as He did in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. So when Christ rose from the dead, He resumed full use of His attributes and therefore had full knowledge of when His second coming would be.
God doesn't want mankind to know when the second coming will be because He wants every generation to live in expectation of it. He wants everyone to be prepared at all times. So ever since the New Testament era, Christians have always lived in eager anticipation of the second coming of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:6-7--"The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The first generation church in Corinth anticipated Christ's return.
Hebrews 10:24-25--"Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." That was written as if those who received the letter of Hebrews would witness Christ's return.
Philippians 3:20--"Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." We look to heaven in anticipation of Christ's coming.
James 5:8--"Be ye also patient, establish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth near."
1 Peter 4:7--"The end of all things is at hand; be ye, therefore, soberminded, and watch unto prayer."
1 John 2:18--"Little children, it is the last time."
Revelation 22:20--"He who testifieth these things [Jesus] saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
The writers of the New Testament didn't fully understand how much time would go by before the second coming of Christ, but they lived in expectation of it. Every generation should be prepared for His return. If we knew when Christ planned to return, then no one would live in expectation until just before the right moment.
Dr. H. Bonar :I know not in what watch He comes, Or at what hour He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at mom, Or in what season of the year; I only know that He is near.
AN UNEXPECTED HOUR
The Hour of Christ's Coming is an Unexpected Hour. " In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (Matt. 24 : 44).
Mark 13:32-33 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 33 "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.
Lu 12:39 "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Lu 12:40 "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."
Re 3:3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
Re 16:15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.")
Jesus is coming to earth again. What if it were today?"
In the midst of all the trials and sorrows of life, it is the hope of Christ's imminent return which never fails to encourage the troubled heart.
The Rapture is signless, and will be unannounced and largely unexpected. It is next on the revealed program of God, and is so presented in the Scripture that every generation may enjoy the hope, challenge and other blessings of His appearing. We are all exhorted to watch but no one can know the day nor the hour when the Bridegroom will come (Matt. 25:13).
No clearly prophesied event must transpire prior to the Rapture, for this might date the time of His coming. If the return of Christ for His Church is imminent, then obviously it will be before the coming period of Tribulation with its clearly predicted signs and judgments. In theological language, the Rapture of the Church must be Pretribulational We do not first look for an invasion of the Holy Land by Russia or some other northern confederation, nor the revelation of Antichrist and his godless ambitions, nor the predicted Battle of Armageddon with its vast devastation. We look next for the coming of Christ from heaven to take His own to the Father's house (John 14:1-3), and the Bible calls this our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13).
If the rapture of the church were in the middle of the tribulation, we could easily determine the day and hour of His coming – 3.5 years (1260 days) from the beginning of the 7 year peace accord between the nations and Israel which is brokered by the antichrist.
If the rapture were to occur at the end of the tribulation, the we could mark 3.5 years from the day the antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and declares himself to be God.
The rapture of the church is imminent – sure to come, but unexpected. Other views do not effectively allow for the imminence taught in Scripture.
The Rapture is imminent, which means it can happen at any moment. Christians are not to wait for signs of Christ’s return but for His coming itself. The demand for every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is that everyone must be ready for His coming. The immanency of Christ’s return or rapture is proved from the following arguments. Firstly, Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” The word “to wait” is written in present tense as if this great event could occur at any time. Secondly, in 1 Corinthians 15:52 Paul explains that our mortal bodies will all be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet . . . .” This shows that this event will be unexpected and happen at any time is supported by the apostle’s concluding exhortation to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
At Christ’s second coming in the clouds (Revelation 19:11-21), his angels will gather all believers living on earth (Matt 24:30-31)., “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, . . . that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. . . . Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:13-18). This clearly indicates that Paul fully expected to be alive at Christ’s coming since he included himself (“we which are alive and remain”) among those that would be alive at the time of the Rapture.
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. . . . Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. . . . and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thess 5:3-11). This maintains that the day of the Lord (which begins after the Rapture and continues through the Millennium) was imminent so that it would take people by surprise. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to fight “sleep” (spiritual lethargy) to prepare for Christ’s unexpected arrival. Sixth, when Jesus told the disciples, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). He actually used the present tense (“I am coming”) with a sense of the immediate future without any intervening signs
we see clearly that the Rapture is not identical with the Revelation, commonly called the Second Coming of Christ. There are some obvious differences. The Rapture relates to the Church, when the dead in Christ shall rise and the living will be translated to meet the Lord in the air (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). It expresses hope and a warm spirit of expectancy (1 Thess. 1:10), all of which should result in a victorious and purified life (1 John 3:2-3).
On the other hand, the Second Coming of Christ does not deal primarily with the saint but with the sinner. When Christ returns to earth, Armageddon must be terminated (Rev. 19:17-18), the Beast and the False Prophet will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:19-20), Satan shall be bound in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3), the nations of earth will be gathered and judged (Matt. 25:31-46), and Israel, which has gone through deep trial, will now behold and put their trust in Christ, their true Messiah (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:26-27).
The Rapture will happen in the "twinkling of an eye." 1 Corinthians15:51-52 promises that” in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye... the dead shall be raised imperishable and we (living at the Rapture) will be changed." This instantaneous disappearance will terminate the Church's earthly ministry.
The Rapture will take place in the air. Unlike the glorious appearing when Christ descends to earth, splits the Mount of Olives, overthrows Antichrist and binds Satan, the Rapture will occur when we are "caught up together... to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17).
The Identity of the Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2 gives us an idea that there will be a rapture. If the power that restrains the revealing of the Antichrist is non-other than the Holy Spirit operating through those He indwells (2Th. 2:7) and those who are indwelt are permanently sealed with the Spirit unto the day of redemption (John 14:16; 2Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), then when the Restrainer is removed, so will be the Church. In the same way the Spirit began a new ministry baptizing believers into the body of Christ at Pentecost (John 7:38-39; Acts 2), so the Spirit will complete that ministry and withdraw the Church prior to the revealing of Antichrist and the outpouring of God's wrath.
This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Maybe, in the hour of sleep, when the tired toiler is being refreshed in body and brain for the business of another expected day—the unexpected hour will come. Maybe, in the hour of pain, when the sufferer feels he cannot endure another pang and dreads the thought of long days and nights ahead,—suddenly the unexpected hour will being release.
Maybe, in the hour of toil, when mind and heart are set on things below, that the unexpected hour will call to " things above." Maybe, in the hour of sport, with a full programme for the day, the unexpected hour will introduce an unthought-of event.
Maybe, in the hour of sin, when trifling with the truth of God, the unexpected hour will arrest the trifling one.
Maybe, in the hour of prayer, when bowed at the throne of grace, the unexpected hour will introduce to Glory.
AN UNPREPARED HOUR
The Hour of Christ's Coming may be an unprepared Hour.
The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looked not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of " (Matt. 24 : 50). that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.
Oh, my soul, take care that thou art not this " evil servant " who, deluding his heart with the devilish dope " My Lord delayeth His coming " (Matt. 24 : 48), will, in an hour, be cut asunder and denounced as an hypocrite
Since no one knows the exact time of Christ's return, how should each generation respond, especially those who see the birth pains--the disasters, the changes on the face of the earth, and the abomination of desolation? We will examine three attitudes: alertness, readiness, and faithfulness.
Alertness (vv. 37-42)
"As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
The flood is the only event in human history that comes close to illustrating what will happen in the end times, for the flood destroyed everything on earth. The attitude that prevailed during the time of Noah will be the attitude that prevails during the second coming.
When Noah told the people that God's judgment was near, they didn't care. Similarly, people during the end times will notice all the signs and wonders going on around them, but many of them won't consider what's happening and why. Hard to imagine, but true.
Sometimes when we envision the tribulation in our minds, we think surely the terrible events in that time will cause people to recognize that the end of the world is coming. There will be some people who recognize it; they will be the redeemed remnant. But in general there will be a massive, worldwide rejection of anything that is associated with God. Everyone but Noah's family rejected God. And by the time Noah had shut the door of his ark and the rains began, it was to late for anyone to change his mind. Once the floodwaters started rising, I'm sure some people knocked on the door of the ark. But it was too late. Matthew 24:39 says they didn't realize what was happening "until the flood came." The Greek word translated "flood" is κατακλυσμος , from which we get the English word cataclysm. It means "to wash down." All the wicked people were washed away into damnation and judgment. Verse 39 continues, "So shall also the coming of the Son of man be." The same thing will happen at the second coming. Life will go on as usual until it's too late. The people in Noah's generation were warned for 120 years. The generation that lives through the tribulation will be warned. In reality, we are all being warned now. Ever since the New Testament was written, it has warned every generation that Christ could come at any time. But most people won't heed the warning until they are swept away in judgment.
Reasons for a Pretribulation Rapture
The doctrine of the timing of the Rapture, which we believe occurs before the Tribulation, is based on a number of lines of evidence. I've highlighted a few of these below:
The Imminent Return of Christ: The teaching that Jesus Christ can return for His Church "at any moment" - there are no remaining preconditions for His return. If the Rapture is mid-tribulational or post-tribulational, then Jesus cannot return until after the Tribulation has begun. So, anyone who believes in a future Tribulation and that Jesus "could return tonight," but rejects a pre-tribulational Rapture is essentially inconsistent. Either Jesus can come "any moment" or He can't. If He can - and this is clearly what the Scriptures teach - then His arrival cannot be dependent upon the Tribulation having started.
Populating the Millennial Kingdom: From many passages in the Old Testament, we understand that sinners will inhabit the millennial kingdom. The kingdom is ushered in at the return of Jesus (Mtt. 19:28; 25:31; Rev. 20:4). The sinners who enter the kingdom are believers who survive the Tribulation and produce offspring who eventually reject the rule of Christ (Rev. 20:7-9). If the Rapture is after the Tribulation, then where do these people in unglorified bodies come from? If all believers are caught up to meet Christ in the air at the Rapture (1Th. 4:17) and are changed (1Cor. 15:52) and only believers enter the kingdom (Mtt. 25:34 cf. Mtt. 25:46), whence the people producing children in the millennium (Isa. 65:20)? Clearly, the believers at Christ's return did not participate in the Rapture or they would have glorified bodies and would be incapable of sin or reproduction. If the Rapture occurs at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation (some sort of glorified "U-turn in the sky"), then there are no human beings in natural bodies to populate the millennial kingdom.
Escaping God's Wrath: Numerous passages indicate that believer's will not be subject to God's wrath (Luke 21:36; Rom. 5:9; 1Th. 1:10; Rev. 3:10). Yet Scripture also identifies the Tribulation as a special time in history connected with an intense outpouring of God's wrath upon those who dwell on the earth (Rev 6:16,17; 11:18; 14:8,10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1,17,19; 19:15). Although believers have eternal life (past tense) when we believe, we will be saved (future tense) from wrath through Him (Rom. 5:9). This salvation from wrath speaks of a future time of wrath which believers will not experience. It is a time period which we will not be present to witness - we are saved, not just from the wrath, but from the very hour of testing of the earth dwellers during the Tribulation (Rev. 3:10).
Waiting for Christ, not Antichrist: Everywhere Scripture maintains that believers are to watch for Christ, not Antichrist. God is a jealous God and our Lord has no intention that we should be distracted trying to identify the man of sin by watching for Antichrist. Instead, we are to watch for our Lord. If the Rapture were not pretribulational, it would occur after the start of the Tribulation, and we should logically be watching for Antichrist because the sooner we identify him, the closer we are to the Rapture. But this is just opposite from what God intends: the Lord can come for His Church at any time and it will be in advance of the revelation of Antichrist (2Th. 2:1-12).
Contrasting Second Coming Passages: When we look at various Second Coming passages, we notice apparent distinctions. In some passages, Christ comes in the air (1Th. 4:17). In other passages, He comes to the earth (Zec. 14:4; Acts 1:11). In some passages tribulation begins (2Th. 1:6-9). In others, the millennial kingdom is ushered in (Rev. 20:1-7). In some passages, signs precede His coming (Luke 21:11,15). In other passages, no signs precede His arrival (1Th. 5:1-3). How do we put all these passages together if they describe one and the same event? It is the same puzzle that the Jews faced attempting to reconcile Old Testament passages which speak of a victorious king (Ps. 2) and a suffering servant (Isa. 53). How do we reconcile these tensions in the Old Testament passages? We understand that they describe different Comings of our Lord: to suffer and die at His First Coming, but to rule supreme at His Second Coming. Similarly, New Testament "Coming" passages with consistent contrasts are describing two different events: the Rapture of the Church - when He comes for His own versus the Second Coming in judgement upon an unbelieving and rejecting world. If we ignore this distinction, nothing but confusion will result.
Identity of the Restrainer: If the power that restrains the revealing of the Antichrist is non-other than the Holy Spirit operating through those He indwells (2Th. 2:7) and those who are indwelt are permanently sealed with the Spirit unto the day of redemption (John 14:16; 2Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), then when the Restrainer is removed, so will be the Church. In the same way the Spirit began a new ministry baptizing believers into the body of Christ at Pentecost (John 7:38-39; Acts 2), so the Spirit will complete that ministry and withdraw the Church prior to the revealing of Antichrist and the outpouring of God's wrath.