For the past 20 years or so there has been a lot of dates set for the second coming of Christ, and the rapture for those who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture.
Jesus said no one is to know the day or hour and His words are used to justify the setting of the year as Christ omits using the word “year”. What Christ omits is thereby used to build the argument rather than what He actually says. It’s an interesting way of studying the Bible when we can build doctrines on what is not said rather what is said.
The second most used argument to defend it is that although Christ compares His coming to the coming of a thief at night, other places it says He won’t come as a thief to His people. And we are going to investigate this in particular.
Please note that I am not saying Christ isn’t going to come in 2027, 2028 or 2031, because I don’t know what year He is coming and He could come any year even one of those, however, I want to address the theology of time setting of the second coming in general and if it’s supported in the Bible.
The setting of the mentioned dates is tied to calculating the year of jubilee or the 6000-year mark after either Christ’s baptism, speech in Nazareth, or His resurrection. And before the year 2000, it was popular for many to think this marked the end of the 6000 years and many expected an apocalypse back then. And for those who believe Jesus had to have been born 5 to 4 years BC because of Herod dying in 4 BC, considered the 6000-year mark to be a few years before the year 2000. However, all these dates came and went. The next mark for many was placing the 4000 years to the baptism, sermon, or crucifixion of Christ instead of the birth, and these are the dates we are challenged with now
Calculating the end of the 6000 years by using the Bible alone can be a little tricky and that is why you will see different calculations landing on different dates. The Bible presents a timeline through the birth of key generations and also through their detailed king’s list. Especially in the time of the kings, there seem to be some holes that are evident to everyone. So counting exact is very hard. Did the kings overlap each other? Did they count a full year even if the King was inaugurated six months into the year? The Bible isn’t specific when it comes to months. Evidently the giving and taking of months for over 300 year will amount to a few years that can’t be counted. A few places there seem to be uncertainty in the timeline. The question is if God deliberately allowed these holes. In Luke and Septuaginta we find that in the generations leading up to Abraham one man is mentioned which age and name is not included in Genesis. It’s claimed he was left out in Genesis because of his sins but that leaves us with another time gap that is not accounted for.
This has caused many to instead focus on the year of jubilee believing that Christ will come at the commencement of such a year which then makes them think Jesus can only come at the end of a 50th year. If one has passed, therefore, by this conclusion, Jesus has to wait for another 50 years. Some say it has to be the year of jubilee from a cycle either from creation or from the fall of man.
However, I will not spend any more time on the different reckonings rather look at the theology of the Bible concerning the time of Christ second coming and if it is possible to know the time in advance.
Jesus doesn’t know
In the Bible we find a very strange revelation coming from Jesus:
«But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mar 13:32).
Jesus had said many times that
«I and my Father are one» (Joh 10:30)
Consider their oneness why would God not reveal to His son the time for His coming? The answer has to be tied to Christ’s mission.
«Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross» (Php 2:6-8)
Jesus mission was not just to die for us, but to become our priest and advocate in heaven (1Jn 2:1, Heb.2:17) He went from His High position equal with God and lowered Himself not just to a human but to a position as a mediator (Heb.12:24; Heb 9:15; 1Ti.2:5) A mediator places himself in the middle, like a bridge between two places.
While working on our behalf, representing the case of mankind in heaven as a mediator, He seems to have been relieved of the knowledge of when the door of mercy shuts. In that way, Christ can work constantly for our sake throughout His ministry in heaven. And God the Father is the one who decides when it is over. Then Christ will prepare and start His journey. Now Jesus has at this time been granted to save a large number of people from the coming destruction and final judgment. Notice when Christ comes He waits for permission from the temple in heaven before starting to gather His people:
«And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped» (Rev 14:14-16).
Notice that it isn’t Christ who says «the time has come», but an angel mediate the time from God in the temple. Till the very last Christ has to wait for God’s proclamation of this “time”. And Christ learns of the time to reap when the time has come.
As you can see here a picture emerges showing how far fetched it is for us here on earth to think that we can know the time years ahead. In Revelation, we see Christ is proclaimed the last time of gathering at the very time He is already standing prepared on the cloud.
So speaking against Christ’s word of Him not knowing the time by saying He didn’t know it then but would when He ascended heaven is making a theology of what IS NOT SAID rather what is. I want to emphasize this as it is good learning in these days of confusion to recognize how some theologians build their arguments. Usually when an argument is built on what is not said it will appear as if it is something said. So be alert on this and you might be spared being lead on paths that have dead ends. However, that is a sneaky way of abolishing Christ’s direct words. Christ knew He was speaking of the future event and therefore His statement of Him not knowing the time would make no sense if it was not true also after His ascension. Do you think God wants you to read between the lines or respect His word that can be easily seen and read?
Daniel 12 prophecy
In Bible prophecy and Daniel 9, we learn the exact time for Christ first coming. It’s written so that it cannot be misunderstood:
«Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks» (Dan 9:25)
No such direct announcement is given of Christ second coming which is why those who are setting dates are left to use unclear prophecy and give them a meaning that is not written plainly in them.
One of them is the end of Daniel 12 which says:
«Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.» (Dan 12:12)
Having no clear meaning besides «blessed is he that waiteth» they feel at liberty to themselves to determine what this “wait” is about.
Once the assumption is made that this blessing is Christ’s second coming they build on this assumption rather the verse itself as the verse itself says no such thing.
In the Bible, a blessing can be tied to many things. To end wickedness:
«Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers» (Psalm 1:1)
It can be a period of special trials:
«Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life» (James.1:12)
It can be a special time of atonement:
«Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered» (Psalm.32:1-2)
The list goes on. The word «waiteth» can also be placed with deliverance from a suppressor. We have many such blessings at the end of a waiting period in the Bible. Israel’s captivity in Egypt as they waited for the promised deliverance given in a prophecy. In Babylon the time prophecy said they had to wait for 70 years for deliverance. The 40 year time prophecy in the wilderness before the blessing given to the next generation, and many small and larger waiting times and prophecies leading to blessings. It’s very common in the Bible that God gives time prophecies related to temporary suppression and the relief from them. The relief is always in these cases seen as a blessing from God and a time of rejoicing.
The context of Daniel 12 shows it’s speaking of deliverance from an earthly ruler that has been given a time and not deliverance from sin:
«And from the time that the daily shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.» (Dan 12:11-12)
And so this is a clear «out of Babylon» type of blessing after God’s people have suffered suppression. It doesn’t have to be tied to the year of Christ’s second coming at all. The verse does not even state it and imagination has to be added to make it so. If you look at the difference between the prophecy regarding Christ first coming and this you will see a great difference. Over interpreting what blessing is to come after the waiting period can be compared to the great movement in the USA in the mid-1800s. They read
«And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed», and assumed that the earth was the sanctuary and the cleansing was Christ second coming (Dan 8:14 )
They calculated the time and was bitterly disappointed when Christ didn’t come. Then they realized they had been too quick in how they had interpreted the statement «sanctuary be cleansed». Rather it being a metaphor of the earth and Christ second coming they realized it was what it said directly: a real sanctuary that was cleansed. Finding out from the book of Hebrews that there was, in fact, a sanctuary service active in heaven. And so they took a clear statement and added meaning and interpretations, yet the verse might have only meant exactly what it did say.
And this is what many Bible students do when they interpret something in the Bible. They take a clear statement and give it another meaning and when they are utterly disappointed they realize they have added meaning that was never there.
The matter is clear, that if Christ second coming was prophesied at the end of Daniel 12 then Christ statement was strangely off: «But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” For, not only did Jesus know all about the subduing power mentioned in Daniel 12 as He even mentioned this power Himself, the angel Gabriel giving Daniel the vision also knew. (Jesus identifying the power in Daniel with Rome Mat.24:15)
Which would leave Christ’s statement of Him and the angels not knowing strange?
Counting of jubilee years:
Counting the jubilee years seems like a challenge today and different groups bring different conclusions. But the jubilee years were never a secret, they were meant to be kept by the Israeli nation. Satan and his angels, as well as Christ and His angels, have existed before the earth was created and before Adam sinned. In fact, the devil caused him to sin and probably commemorate that victory quite often. They can all count the 6000 years from both creation and the fall of man and they all know the cycle of the years of jubilee. Having perfect knowledge of this, if God had planned to fix the date of Christ’s second coming to His harvest feast in the year of Jubilee 6000 after either event would mean everyone would know when Christ was coming. And again that would make Christ statement that neither he or the angels knew strange at best.
But not just that. Christ said the devil didn’t know either and that there was a reason for it:
«And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. (Luk 12:39-40)
Christ’s second coming is secret because they don’t want the devil and his angels to know the date. And Jesus, if we believe He means exactly what He says, explains the reason. The devil «would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through». But isn’t God all-powerful, can’t He come and gather His children without any problems?
Well, Satan isn’t going to just give up without a fight. In Revelation we learn what happened when the devil was cast out of heaven:
«And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out…» (Rev 12:7-9)
Why was there room for them to fight at all? Well, we have to see that it was. And if they fought to prevent being cast out of heaven you can be sure they will fight with everything they have to not let go of their pray and dominion here on earth. How they fight we do not know.
From the Bible, we learn that God does not intend to make that battle at Christ’s second coming. Rather the devil is going to be «bound». (Rev 20:2 ) We learn from Revelation 16 that they will gather together with Satan to make war but that Christ’s second coming will interfere with these plans and stop them.
You can be sure just as God is planning the triumphant coming of Christ the devil and all his angels are planning on how to make that return as difficult as possible. From Revelation 20 we see that God is saving this «battle of planet earth» with the devil and his allies for after the 1000 years. God doesn’t want this battle before then.
Meaning at Christ’s second coming the sole purpose is to deliver God’s people, both them that have died and those who are still alive.
Jesus Himself said that His coming is secret to prevent the devil’s plans:
«that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through»
Jesus then in the same setting says to His people:
«Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not»
Meaning because God has to make Christ coming a secret to ruin Satan’s plans we cannot know the time either. So Jesus tells us to be prepared at all times. It is because of the devil and his angels God has chosen a time no one knows.
And God is no fool, he knows the devil can count jubilee years and count to 6000.
So can Jesus and so can the angels and so the set date cannot be that date or Christ words make absolutely no sense.
Does Paul contradict Christ?
In the verse we just looked at we see that Christ says that He comes as a thief because of the devil but also that we cannot know the time.
«For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.» (1Th 5:2-4)
To many this saying just abolish Christ saying. It’s never a good idea to use Paul’s writing to abolish Christ’s word even if it’s about the law or any other topic. Jesus didn’t say He comes as a thief to His people, but that His coming is as a thief to our captors. For us, His coming is not that of a thief for He is our deliverer and «the goodman» our captor. We cheer on Christ coming. «The thief» in this parable is only a threat as a thief to the devil. When we are prepared we welcome Him and are not threatened by His coming.
Every place it talks of Him not coming as a thief to us it’s placed in the context of us being mentally prepared by having Christ in our heart and being clothed in His righteousness. The darkness Paul speaks off is not being in the dark of the time of the event but being spiritually in the dark.
Paul said: «For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.» and then he says: «But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief» And then he elaborates the meaning:
«Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober» (1Th 5:2 & 4; 5-6)
Paul is not here contradicting Christ words but using the same words Christ used and saying the same as Jesus only with different words. «Be ye, therefore, ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not» and «Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober» Paul is not saying we can know the time, but that we can be ready at the time by how we live our lives. Same as Jesus. Again making the assumption that not coming as a thief in the night means we will know the year of Christ coming is building an argument on something that is not in the text rather just accepting that which is there: our character at the time of Christ coming. Again, don’t build arguments on information that’s not there.
Paul compares it to a woman giving birth: “sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child”. Now everyone knows a woman is pregnant for 9 months, and usually, the doctor will set a date for delivery. However, Paul wrote this before the invention of ultrasound measuring perfectly a baby’s size and development. But even today with our best calculations the day of birth comes as a surprise unless medically forced. I have two sons, one came a day earlier than the due date, the other came five weeks before the due date. Because the second one came so early I never had time to prepare a bag to bring with me. My sister with her child and my mother carrying me experienced both a time of tarry, a full two weeks later than the due date. Everyone who carries a child in the tenth month knows the time of tarry is hard, you are prepared for the event but you are struggling and hoping every day is the day of delivery. You can predict the time of birth but even today the day might come suddenly or tarry. And even if you give birth on the exact day predicted it was not due to your exceptional cleverness to predict, you just got lucky. The date was even more difficult to predict in the time of Paul when he used it as an example of Christ’s second coming. You can’t predict it even if you think you can. He comes when He comes.
The sixth plague
In the book of Revelation, we learn about the last events which include the Mark of the Beast. After making the mark we can read about seven plagues coming over the earth and Christ coming right after them or during the seventh plague. In the sixth plague Christ makes the following statement:
«Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.» (Rev 16:15-16)
Why does Jesus need to add this information in the middle of the mentioning of the sixth plague? Jesus brings the same message as He gave once before, He comes as a thief even then and we need to be prepared not by knowing the time but by staying holy. We still don’t know but are still prepared by how we live our lives. If we are where we should be, clothed in Christ’s righteousness, Christ can come today and it would still not be to us as He was a thief in the night. The only thing that determines if He comes as a thief to us is if we are prepared by being clothed in His righteousness or not. But notice, even during the sixth plague, Satan is in the dark of Christ exact coming. Also notice Christ says He comes like a thief at the very time Satan is preparing a great war and thus Christ is destroying his plans like He said He would. But at the same time, again, Jesus makes note that Him being forced to come as a thief to stop Satan means we might find ourselves unprepared too and so He gives us this warning again. He comes suddenly.
And so thinking we can know this event 3, 7 or 10 years in advance is just fooling ourselves.
Christ has made it very clear, that we cannot know the time even up until the very last moment.
The 10 virgins
This is consistent with Christ parable of the ten virgins waiting for the groom. It says that five of them were wise and the other five foolish. Now consistent with the other statements of Christ the wisdom here is not tied to knowing the event, Jesus had just told them prior to this parable that no one would know the hour. None of the ten virgins know, just like the example of childbirth. They had an expectation but it says «the bridegroom tarried», meaning He does not come the time they had expected. Suddenly they are all awoken by a cry saying at midnight «the bridegroom cometh; go ye to meet him». Here we see the coming of the bridegroom in the middle of the blackest night. Although they are all alerted at the same time, at the coming of the groom, the difference between them is that five of them had no oil left on their lamps, they weren’t prepared for the time tarrying. The other five had oil enough and were, therefore, prepared no matter what time the groom came. This is again consistent with Christ’s words: «Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not» and «Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments». All Christ messages to us about this is that we have to be ready at all times. We have to be ready today. And being ready is not knowing the time but having His kingdom already begun inside us: «Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you» (Luk 17:21)
Christ’s second coming starts in the hearts and ends in physical deliverance. First He will deliver us from our sins which is why He gives the message: «Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.» and to the last church: «I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear» (Rev 3:18)
Why does Jesus say the kingdom comes not by observation in Luke 17:20 and then in 17:24 He tells them to distinguish a claimed coming, if it’s true or not, by how the coming appear by sight? Isn’t this a contradiction? The fullness is clear when Christ proceeds to say His coming is suddenly, it cannot be predicted which is why we have to be prepared beforehand. A false coming involves a time where you can convert and go and seek this “Christ”. But when it happens for real it is over, there is no second chance. He will gather His saints immediately.
We are not left in the dark.
Jesus said the time of His coming is a secret that not even we will know until the time is at hand when Christ has already started His journey to come for us. However, He has told us the era it will take place and clues that the time is short. In the prophecy given Daniel in Daniel 2, God let us count down to the great event by following the rise and fall of the kingdoms. From Babylon to a divided Roman empire, He lets us know that Christ kingdom will be set up during the divided kingdom. Back when the vision was given and even a few hundred years later Christ coming would seem more imminent than what we now now it to be. The former kingdoms, Babylon, Medo Persia, and Greece all had a shorter period compared to the Roman empire and the divided empire. Babylon lasted only a few hundred years, even shorter if counted from Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. From Cyrus the Great until the Greek empire there was only 200 years and the Greek empire lasted roughly 350 years but as a successor to the Persians even less, because it was already divided at Alexanders death and became split first in four and then in two parts until the Romans took over. The iron kingdom however in comparison lasted for 1000 years! So anyone who had hoped the fall of Rome would be as rapid as the kingdoms before would be utterly disappointed. Even more so the over 1500 years the land would be divided, iron mixed with clay. Had God revealed the dates of the rise and fall of the kingdoms God’s people might have lost courage completely. However, He did give a special prophetic time for 1260, 1290 and 1335 prophetic days (years). This was a special time of suppression and just like the captives in Babylon had waited patiently for the seventy years to commence before returning to Jerusalem, God’s people had to in the Christian era wait patiently during this period of lengthy suppression. When they were delivered from this power over 40+ years went by until they had a full reform from the false teachings they had learned during their captivity and would come under God as lawgiver again (re-institution of God’s law in the church). Although they were delivered from Papal civil power they remained all these years under his religious laws. Now they had re-instituted God’s laws and the blessing that followed this change was a spiritual awakening, discernment, and enlightenment.
“ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD” (Psa_119:1).
“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psa_119:2).
When God’s people honor His law, God can by His own rule deliver them from their enemies. When they rebel God allows them to be subdued. So it has been throughout Bible history, even in the prophecies in the New Testament. The Jews in the time of Jesus wanted Messiah to deliver them from Rome, but He wanted to deliver them from sin. This was the blessing He wanted to give. The same can be said about God’s people in the end if we seek the deliverance in His coming and Him defeating the “beast of Rome” while He wants His coming to be about defeating the influence of Rome in our hearts. The spiritual deliverance comes before the physical. The blessing is in the spiritual deliverance.
Christ is asked when His second coming is.
When the disciples asked when Christ’s second coming was Jesus didn’t give them a date or a time prophecy, He gave them signs:
«And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?» (Mat 24:3)
«Take heed that no man deceive you» was Christ’s reply. How could Christ prevent them from being deceived by a false Christ coming? By giving the exact date of His coming right? Then everyone would know when it was Christ and when it wasn’t. But Christ couldn’t give that information and so instead He told us to not be deceived by false Christs by learning what His coming would be like.
He then spoke of all the things that would happen on earth and how catastrophes and wars would come before He comes. When speaking of His grand coming He gives this information:
«Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.» (Mat 24:32-33)
And so again, although the disciple asked: «when shall these things be» Jesus could only offer them the information of staying alert and faithful. And by paying attention they would be able to sense that the time is very short. When Daniel pleaded to know the times, God gave Him the exact time of Christ first coming (Daniel 9), but when the disciples asked they did not get a time prophecy but a series of signs to look for.
Jesus then ends by telling them that He didn’t know Himself even the exact time, nor the angels. Christ gave all the information He could in order for them to be alert and ready and for the devil to continue being in the dark.
The evil servant:
Jesus then continues to give a parable of an evil servant. The setting of this parable is important. Let’s look at the timeline:
- Disciples ask when Christ coming is.
- Jesus tells them of the signs to look for and many of the things that will happen beforehand.
- He then tells them to use these signs to know when the event is nearby using the fig tree as an example
- He then explains no one knows the time except God, and says it will come suddenly on everyone, even God’s people.
- He then shares a parable of a time-setter.
Seeing the setting, having just said no one knows the time Christ gives a parable of this servant who seems to think he knows when Christ comes and the result of this self-deception proves fatal in his case:
«But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of» (Mat 24:48-50)
Here are three references to time-setting in the same parable:
1. My Lord delayeth his coming. Meaning He has placed Christ second coming in the future, thinking there is still time to prepare later.
2. The Lord cometh «a day when he looketh not for him». This says that this servant’s idea of Christ’s second coming is false and the time is another then he had thought or pictured.
3. «In an hour that he is not aware of». Again, a third time Jesus says that although this man believes to have some sort of idea of when His coming is, He was wrong.
The statement «a day when he looketh not for him» shows that this servant didn’t just think Christ was delaying, He thought He had a good grip on the time of His coming.
The time setter today may say they don’t eat and drink with the drunken, however, this is a parable. And being drunken is a metaphor in the Bible for not being «alert» like Paul said:
«For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation» (1Th 5:7-8).
The setting of time in the case of this evil servant caused him not to be prepared spiritually. This is the drunkenness.
And again, this is part of Christ answering the question of the events around His coming. Basically, He says no one will know so don’t think you can know, but you can be prepared and alert.
Placing the second coming of Christ many years in the future can be problematic and lead us into an unintentional slumber. And even though the person setting the dates 7-10 years in the future isn’t going to falter during this time, many of those they preach the dates to will. Many who needed the hope of Christ’s imminent return to keep their hopes up can lose courage. Many live in difficult situations. Others may make decisions for their future that might lead them astray. Some might think they have time to change later as the time approaches. And then there are those who are lead by fear but who’s heart is not really converted, mingling with God’s people and causing them damage as they appear as something they are not and by it getting to influence the others in a wrong way.
The concept of not knowing is what binds us to God in the bond of faith and keeps us awake.
The book of Hebrews shows us that walking and not knowing is what purifies us and our faith:
«Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.» (Heb 11:1-2)
When Abraham and Sarah were promised a child a lot of pain might have been prevented if God had said when they would receive this child. But the time of waiting and not knowing and then giving up was part of their trial and their lesson to trust God.
God could have let Joseph know he would be released and even how long he would remain in captivity, but He didn’t. Joseph had to learn to walk with God in blind faith.
There are countless examples in the Bible of how God expects us to be faithful especially when not knowing the end of our trials.
We are taught to trust Him. For some the end and the coming of Christ is tomorrow. Their life may be over in two years. God wants us to walk with Him now, to be prepared now. To always have oil on our lamps, to always be clothed so we won’t be found naked when that happens.
«By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…» (Heb 11:7) Noah was never told the date of the flood. He started building in faith. Knowing the time might have caused him to either build in haste or taking his time. Not knowing meant he was building that ark while trusting God to have the control of the process.
Jesus uses this as an example of not knowing the time of His second coming:
«But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. ……herefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh» (Matt.24:36-39 & 44)
The flood came suddenly, they had no date and they were surprised at it’s coming. Noah was ready because he had built himself an ark and heeded God’s warning of the coming destruction. He didn’t know the time either, but he was prepared when it happened. It says: «And knew not until the flood came», they didn’t know the time and Jesus says you won’t know the time either so be ready, have that ark ready. And the ark we have to have ready is His righteousness covering us. Christ is our ark.
Christ’s second example of His coming when explaining the event in Luke 17 is the destruction of Sodom.
«Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed» (Luk 17:28-30).
Christ then proceeds to say that His people will be in a hurry at the time.
What signifies the destruction of Sodom was that Lot was not told of the event before the night of the event. He had no time to prepare, it happened suddenly. He had to just run.
Abraham was told in advance, but only during the day. He had no time to warn anyone, the angels arrived in the city that same evening.
Lot had to flee that very night. He was saved not because he turned to the Lord that night but because He had already sought the Lord beforehand. He was saved because Christ was in his heart not because he knew the city was going to be destroyed. Lot was just as clueless as the inhabitants of Sodom were until the very night when they were separated by the angels. «And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked» (2Pe 2:7)
The destruction of Jerusalem
In the time of the conquest of Jerusalem, the first time and the second, prophets let them know ahead that destruction was coming. Note that they were not told the time of the event itself. These events were also symbolically of the end of the world and show us the same message given by Jesus and Paul regarding the end times.
Jeremiah the prophet prophesying the end of Jerusalem in his days were told to preach to them the coming destruction and the importance of turning from their sins. If they did they could be individually saved.
But he was never given the date of the event. When the Babylonian besieged the city it was a surprise to the inhabitants because they weren’t expecting it at the time. They were locked in the city and were struggling in need of food. They were unprepared because their hearts had not listened to Jeremiah’s warnings.
When it comes to Jerusalem’s destruction the second time Jesus didn’t give the date or the year for this event either. He gave them a sign which was the coming of the Roman army. An obvious sign to many, but for many of the Jews it was a sign to fight and hopefully win. They thought at both times they were under siege that God would deliver them. Jesus said this was a sign that the city would be destroyed and so they had to flee if they wanted to be saved.
In both cases, they were to be prepared by the event by converting their hearts and paying attention to signs.
The story of the flood, the destruction of Sodom and the destruction of Jerusalem all point to the coming of Christ. And Jesus lets us know that we need to be prepared because it’s going to happen suddenly, and when it does happen it will be too late to prepare. This will also help God to see who is only pretending to convert because they have been told the date of His coming and who is converted because they love Him and wish to be with Him. The sincere is always prepared while the insincere only prepares when given a date.
Jesus says about the time probation being over: «He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still» (Rev 22:11)
When Christ comes, even when the door of mercy shuts, there will be no additional time to prepare. Our preparation is in living the life of faithfulness right now.
If we do, Christ won’t come as a thief even though He comes at a time we didn’t expect Him to. And His coming will be sudden.