God’s Timing – Second Coming
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
– Matthew 24:36
People who wish to silence any excitement that Jesus may return very soon use this verse as an “intellectual refuge.” Many Christians interpret this verse to say, “No one [will ever] know the day or hour,” but Jesus said, “No one knows [at this time] the day or hour.”
A few days before Jesus ascended to Heaven, the disciples 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) What did Jesus mean by these words? Did Jesus mean, “no one will ever know the times and dates which the Father has set,” or did Jesus mean, “future times and dates the Father sets could not be revealed at that time?”
The latter meaning is correct because the Father has revealed times and dates in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. What would have happened to the disciples if Jesus had explained how the little horn in Daniel 7 would persecute the saints for more than a thousand years? What would have happened if Jesus had told the disciples He would judge mankind in about two thousand years? This knowledge would have destroyed early Christians and the Christian movement. This is why Jesus said on another occasion, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:12–13)
With God, the time for truth is as important as truth itself. When the time is right, He releases truth. No one can discover something before the Father permits it. For example, thousands of years ago, the Father foreknew that we would use light bulbs, airplanes, automobiles, antibiotics, refrigeration, and computers in the 21st century. He also foreknew the supporting infrastructures that would be necessary before each of these discoveries could thrive. Therefore, He began releasing truth about the physical sciences in little packets over time so that more complex discoveries could occur later on in an orderly way. The Father has blessed mankind tremendously during the past two centuries through this dramatic increase in knowledge.
God also releases more truth about Himself, His plans, and His ways when the time is right. For example, God hid many secrets in the books of Daniel and Revelation until “the appointed time of the end” arrives. (Daniel 12:4–9) Because we have arrived at the appointed time, the Father has unsealed these mysterious books because the time for their fulfillment has come. This is a prophetic mechanism that never fails: On or about the time of fulfillment, God ensures that students of His Word discover “present truth.” For example, this process explains why and how the wise men found Baby Jesus!
After the apostle Paul converted to follow Jesus, Paul was overjoyed when God explained a mystery that had been hidden for ages! Notice Paul’s words: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. . . Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: To preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” (Ephesians 3:2–3, 8–9 italics mine) The mystery that had been kept hidden for ages past was, “that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:6, italics mine)
When the time came for “present truth” (a truth which had been hidden from Israel) to unfold in Paul’s day, God revealed it. Unfortunately, Israel’s leaders rejected “present truth” because of traditions, arrogance, and ignorance. Given what Paul wrote, we know today that from the beginning of time the Father planned that a time would come when there would be no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews refused to “present truth” and refused to understand that in Christ there is only one body of people. This truth became one of many that separated Christianity from Judaism.
Like Israel’s leaders, many Christians use Matthew 24:36 to support their tradition, arrogance, and ignorance. They think that Matthew 24:36 is true forever, but this is not the case! God has unsealed the book of Daniel revealing four rules of interpretation. There are eighteen prophetic time periods in apocalyptic prophecy and the Bible tells everyone willing to listen that Jesus will appear on the 1,335th day of the Great Tribulation. Gabriel said to Daniel: “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days [the last day of the Great Tribulation]. As for you [Daniel], go your way till the end [of life]. You will rest [in the grave], and then at the end of the [1,335] days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” (Daniel 12:12–13, insertions mine) Gabriel’s statement perfectly aligns with Jesus’ testimony. He said: “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:39, italics mine)
When Jesus said that no one knew the day and hour of His return in Matthew 24:36, He spoke the truth for that time. Now, the Father has revealed more truth about the times and dates which He set by His own authority, so Jesus’ return (Daniel 12:4, 9) is no longer a secret. Of course, currently no one knows when the 1,335th day of the Great Tribulation will occur, but it will be very easy to calculate after “Day One” of the Great Tribulation begins. The whole world will recognize Day One when it occurs. Jesus will cast the censer in Revelation 8:5 down and there will be peals of thunder, flashes of lightning, rumblings, and a global earthquake. Shortly after, a meteoric firestorm will burn a third of the Earth. No one will be able to ignore Day One.
One last point about the day and hour of the Second Coming. The Bible indicates that Jesus will show up during the seventh bowl. (Compare Revelation 16:17–21 with Revelation 6:12–17.) During the seventh bowl, there will be a great war called, “Armageddon.” Preparation for this war occurs during the sixth bowl (Revelation 16:12–16). I understand the battle of Armageddon will be finished before the dead in Christ are resurrected on the last day, Day 1,335. The devil will send three powerful demons to visit the kings of the Earth. These demons will tell the kings that Jesus is on His way to destroy them (the truth) and their only hope for saving their kingdoms is to unite their armies under Lucifer’s command. Together, they can destroy Jesus and His army (the lie). There will be a timely battle with dramatic consequences (Revelation 19:11–21), but the question remains, how can this battle be completed by Day 1,334 if no one knows the day and hour of Christ’s return?
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37–39)
Jesus compared His return with the days of Noah in a way that many Christians do not grasp because they do not understand apocalyptic prophecy. They do not appreciate the importance of the eighteen prophetic time periods given in Daniel and Revelation. Consider Jesus’ words in this passage and you will see that Jesus does not compare the wickedness, violence, or depravity of the antediluvians with world conditions at the Second Coming. Instead, Jesus speaks about another matter—timing!
God announced His plans regarding the world’s upcoming destruction through Noah. (Genesis 6:11–18; 2 Peter 2:5) In addition to Noah’s pronouncements to the antediluvians, his ark was a visual monument that everyone could see. It was a unusual structure that drew attention to a most unusual warning. Even though they were forewarned, the antediluvians did not know when to enter the ark. As the decades rolled by, they became distracted and busy with things that were not inherently evil. In fact, Jesus used the expression, “They were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” to indicate the antediluvians were doing the usual things that people do. Jesus said nothing about evil conduct because it was the usual stuff that went with life that kept the antediluvians from checking on the ark. They did not see the animals enter the ark or hear God say, “All aboard.” (Genesis 7:1) The antediluvians became too busy to go out of their way to check with Noah to see if God had given further instruction (present truth).
The antediluvians did not know that the great door of the ark would be closed seven days before the rain began. The parallel for today is that God’s wrath is coming upon the world again. This time around, almost everyone will be caught by surprise again. Approximately two billion people will soon perish during the first two months of the Great Tribulation and very few people know about this. Billions of people will be caught by surprise just like millions of the antediluvians who were doing the usual, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.”
I do not believe that everyone who perished in Noah’s flood or everyone that perishes during the first four trumpets will lose eternal life because Jesus will review each life and makes His judgment based on each person’s record. The lesson we should learn from Noah’s day is that the cares of this life will shut off your spiritual ears and eat up all of your precious time. Present truth has appeared and God’s Word is speaking more clearly than ever before. Pay attention!
“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.’ ” (Matthew 24:40–42)
These verses magnify verses 37–39. Jesus indicates that intimate associations do not matter. Each person has to prepare his own soul by reading God’s Word, listening to the Holy Spirit, watching Wake Up America videos, and praying for the wisdom to separate truth from error. (I could not resist a comment about the videos!) We need to better understand the Bible, especially the books of Daniel and Revelation, because they have so much to say! Jesus will accomplish many objectives during the Great Tribulation and the better we understand His plans and purposes, the stronger our faith and endurance will be when the world descends into total chaos.
“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” (Matthew 24:43–44)
The issue is present truth. The door of the ark was closed seven days before rain began. If the antediluvians had known this fact, I am sure they would have been more careful. For our day, here is a fact that most Christians do not know. The Second Coming of Jesus is a process that takes 1,335 days! Jesus is not talking about Day 1,335 in this passage; He is speaking about Day One. The first events of the Great Tribulation will catch the whole world by surprise. Do not become consumed with “eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” Reserve time to study the Bible and meditate. Say “no” to things that you would like to do, but really should not waste the time doing. If your head is in the Word, your heart will not be in the world.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. ” (Matthew 24:45–47)
Watching and waiting for the Lord to return is a way of life. Jesus calls us to a higher level of joy and happiness than the foolish indulgences of this world can offer. Increase the silence in your life. Turn off the TV and increase your free time. Turn off work and pleasure. Provide more money to do good things by stopping spending on selfish indulgences. Our daily choices explain why one person will be taken and the other is left behind. Believers have a commission that will bring a lot of joy.
When properly understood, there is no story more beautiful to tell than the gospel of Jesus. So, tell the story and the Master will be pleased that you were giving food to those around you when He returns!
“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:47–51)
Point made. No commentary needed!