“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matthew 24:36, 42
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:13
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Mark 13:32
“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Revelation 3:3
I find it enlightening that Jesus provides this information in the books of Matthew, Mark and Revelation.
In Matthew He is the Messiah King of Israel speaking to His chosen people, the Jews. He is informing them to watch for Him because He will return. However, they will know neither the day nor the hour. He tells them three times.
Mark transcribes the message our Lord gave to Peter for the Romans (Gentiles). As Servant of the Most High God, again He informs them they will not know the day or the hour.
In the book of Revelation Jesus is speaking to the church of Sardis with the same message. He is telling the Church to hold on to what we have learned from Him and repent. He reminds us that when He comes, it will be as a thief and we will not know what hour He will come.
Therefore, the three groups are Israel, the Gentiles and the Church. Israel, His elect, has been warned. All those outside Israel and the Church, the Gentiles, have been warned. Finally, the Church has been warned. That covers all of us since there are only these three groups of people in the world.
Many who are much more astute on prophecy than I believe these words pertain to the Rapture of the Church and others with the same astuteness say it is referring to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the seven years of Tribulation. Each has their own slant and some very strong and persuasive arguments, and I certainly respect both views.
I personally believe that these verses are speaking not just to those of us waiting for the Rapture and not only to those alive at the end of the seven years of Tribulation. I believe they are speaking to all of us; the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church. How can that be though, you ask? This is my opinion. If others disagree, that’s certainly okay, but this makes more sense to me. Let me explain.
Without fail, God has always warned people and nations prior to any judgment He may bring upon them. Jesus return in the clouds (Rapture) and His return to earth (Second Coming) can either be a warning or a glorious event. It depends of course whose team you’re on when the dust clears, so to speak.
I view the Rapture, the seven years of Tribulation and Christ’s Second Coming as one episode with three parts. In other words, somewhat like a play.
The Rapture is Scene I. The Tribulation is Scene II, and the Second Coming is Scene III. The play itself could be called “Jesus, the Son of God Returns.” We see the name of the play posted in lights on the marquee out front of the theater. The audience would be the inhabitants of Heaven waiting to see the play, but not knowing when the curtain will go up. The seats were almost empty, but now most all are seated since the lights are dimming. The curtain could go up at any time, but still, no one knows when the play will begin except the Director (God the Father).
So we have one event broken down into three parts; Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming.
Prior to the Rapture, Jews, Gentiles and Christians are being told that Jesus Christ is going to return at any time. He will first remove His Bride (Scene I, the Rapture) and then He will allow the Tribulation (Scene II) to begin. Once it has run its course seven years later, He will come back (Scene III, Second Coming) with the armies of Heaven to the earth to render the final judgment.
During the Tribulation (Scene II), Jews and Gentiles are being told that Jesus Christ will return for those who do not follow the Antichrist. The Jews, specifically, are being told during this time that their seventieth week, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, will soon end and then He will come and liberate them and set up His kingdom.
He has told us in the Scriptures to look for the signs He will provide that will indicate His coming is near. There are no signs for the Rapture, so any signs we see are referencing the seven years of Tribulation, which follows the Rapture. Since the signs for the Tribulation are casting their shadows upon us today, His tri-fold event must be very close.
“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. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Emphasis mine) Luke 21:28
Only a fool would attempt to “date-set” our Lord’s return, and unfortunately, there are plenty of those around. No, we do not know the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return, but He has given us all these signs for a purpose. He wants us to know when His return is “at the doors.”
Jesus strongly chastised Israel for not recognizing the signs of His First Coming. There were more than enough signs to recognize that He was their long-awaited Messiah.
He is providing us even more signs that His Second Coming is near. We have been told to watch, because it will all begin unexpectedly. The curtain will rise before we can blink and the play will begin. Scene I. Scene II. Scene III. One after the other, and then The End will come.