Signs of the End

A Discovery of Biblical Timelines

Signs of the End

A Discovery of Biblical Timelines

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that this day should overtake you like a thief.”       1 Thessalonians 5:4 

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No One Knows or No One Knew?

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May  2009
The following article was sent in by a reader adding his own thoughts to arguments found in the book, this website, and other material. These thoughts are thought provoking and clearly arranged. --Daniel Matson

by Jeff Exner

Note: If you are like me, you have been frustrated, or confused by the lack of defense given to this topic of watching and knowing the day. As an attempt to remedy that, in a very small way, it has been my intention to bring together a diverse number of works, with my own thoughts added, in order to put together a cohesive argument and understanding of this sometimes very confusing subject. I suggest that if you want more thorough details on this subject, that you obtain the below resources. May God bless you as you seek the truth. Ezekiel 33:1-6

There is a controversy that has been going on in the church over whether or not we are to look for specific signs, dates, and times of the return of Christ. On the overwhelming side of the “No” crowd, is the prevailing argument that Christ forbid us to watch for signs of His return because He said that we could never know when He was coming back. It is this mindset that I would like to examine.

Now 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 (NKJV)

And Jesus said to them: “You can never know when I’m coming, so stop asking, and stop looking. Don’t watch and don’t be ready. Do not pay any attention to the signs, do not study prophecy, and stop telling people I’m coming soon. Don’t waste time waiting for, or expecting Me to return. Don’t worry about being deceived. Just go about making the world a better place, and maybe if I figure it all out myself, I’ll drop in and set up my Kingdom unannounced.”

Alright, so He didn’t really say that.  Nevertheless, listening to many Christians berate the belief in the soon return of the Lord, you would think that is what He did say. Because if there is one universal truth concerning the time of Christ’s return, it is that no one knows when He is coming back; not even Christ Himself. If that is true, then the above response by Jesus would be exactly what He would had to have said, instead of what He actually did say in Matthew 24. Note the question: “…when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’

These were not general questions--they were specific. And Jesus gave them specific answers. But, before we go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.     Matthew 24:36 (NKJV)

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 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. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.     Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV)

At the crux of this issue is this question: If Jesus did not know the day or the hour, how could He give them specific information regarding that day and that hour? If He could come at any time, and He didn’t know when that time was, how could He give them detailed information about what must come to pass before He could come? I have never heard an answer, let alone a good one, to this question. The next question to be asked is: why should they watch? They would exhaust themselves by never sleeping and never doing anything, because they might miss the time and be caught unaware. But how could they not be caught unaware if they could never know?

Therefore, we have a conundrum. Christians are left watching for an event that is impossible to anticipate. Why watch for something that even though it might seem to be right around the corner, it can never be determined since no one will ever know? Is it realistic to expect someone to wait for an event, and to be ready, when you can never know when that event will occur? Let’s take a practical look. If I told you that I was going to come to your house to visit, then gave you some general signs of when I was coming, such as it will either be during the daytime or nighttime, during a time of war or peace, a time when some will be faithful and some will not, would you say “Well that really helps me, thanks for that”? Wouldn’t you actually say, “Are you nuts? How can I possibly distinguish when you are talking about, when it can mean practically any time in history?!”  Yet, I’ve heard Christians say that Jesus could come back in 1 year, or 1,000 years, and that everyone since His ascension thought that He could return in their lifetime. Is that true? Did Jesus really leave us in that precarious of a predicament, or have we misunderstood what He actually said? If choose the latter, not the former. Consider that there is one generation that must know when He is coming.

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.     Luke 21:32-34 (KJV)

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that either Jesus was confused, and gave us misinformation, or that our understanding of what He actually said has been misinterpreted. There is no other option. Can you think of one?

(To those who say this already happened when the temple was destroyed in A.D.70, I ask this: Can you go to Jerusalem and shake Jesus’ hand, eat from the tree of life, swim in the river of living water, tour the millennial temple, look down into Hades and see the Antichrist and false prophet being tormented? Can you watch a video of: the Abomination of Desolation, Battle of Armageddon, the destruction of Babylon, the angels gathering God’s elect from the four corners of the earth, etc.? If not, then His return, and thus the signs of His return, is still in the future. This is not to say that there aren’t many parallels to the destruction of the temple in AD 70, and the Second Coming; there are. But unless the above questions can be answered in the affirmative, then there are still many signs left to be fulfilled in the future).

So then, again, the question that should jump out at us is, why is the “master” of the house to watch?

…if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched…     Matthew 24:43

The only reason why the master would be commanded to watch, would be to free him from not knowing. If the master knows the hour that the thief will come, he can watch to prevent his home from being broken up. Not knowing indefinitely is not something we are commanded to do, it is the opposite of what we are commanded to do. If you look carefully at the passages that talk of not knowing, you cannot say that “no one can know”, they only say that “no one knows” in the present tense. If knowing the time of Christ’s return was forbidden, where is the command not to know? Where are we commanded not to know and not to watch? Why is the actual command to watch and to know? If Christ commanded it, why is the church at large so adamant that we cannot know, therefore we should not watch? Do you realize that Christ Himself considered not knowing what hour that He will come as punishment?

If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I will come upon you.     Revelation 3:3b

If we are to watch for the day, should it not be possible to see that day approaching?

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Obviously if we can see the day approaching, it cannot be a surprise. Many people would insist that this day is a surprise, but as the writer of Hebrews wrote, we can see the day approaching.

This is not the first time the church has taken sides on an issue, when apparently sides were not necessary, only a proper understanding of what was actually said. Take for instance the “works” versus “faith” controversy. Is it either works or faith? If we have works, are we to not have faith? If it is faith, are we to not have works? Consider the following.

….man is justified by works, and not by faith only.     James 2:24 (NKJV)

That settles it, right? It is by works that we are saved, not by faith. But wait, what does Paul say about this subject?

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.      Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

Ok, now I have a question. Is the Bible contradictory? Is God unable to give us a coherent message concerning a topic, especially one as important as faith vs. works?

The real problem starts when we frame the discussion as one or the other, when it is really one, then the other. A simple look at the context in James shows that it wasn’t faith versus works, it was faith then works.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?     James 2:14 (NKJV)

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.     James 2:22-23 (NKJV)

So, the problem is not solved by framing the discussion as either faith or works, but faith then works. True faith must manifest itself with works, or action, in order to be effective. A faith that does not produce works is dead. A work without faith is also dead. Neither can stand without the other. It is sequential: first is faith, then faith is followed by works that are motivated by that faith. You can’t have works until you have faith. You can’t have a faith that doesn’t produce works. It is one, then the other.

The point in this is that whenever the Bible appears to have a contradiction, the problem is not with the Bible, it is with our understanding of what the Bible is actually saying. It is called reconciliation. We reconcile apparent contradictions in order to gain a proper understanding. This is all predicated, or based on, the assumption that the Word of God does not contradict itself. If it did, then there would be no point in believing, because God would prove to be fallible, or imperfect. I will assume that anyone reading this does not believe that God makes mistakes, and therefore we can move forward in our examination.

Let’s look again at what Jesus said.

 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 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.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.     Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV)

Is it knowing versus not knowing? Remember faith versus works? The resolution was faith then works. May I offer the resolution that it is not knowing, then knowing? Look carefully at what Jesus said. “…you do not know (now) what hour your Lord is coming. But know this (this is a command to know then, or after not knowing)…” Christ tells them they do not know now, but then tells them they are to know then, “Therefore you also be ready, (then) for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not(now) expect. {italicized are my additions}

Jesus was speaking of their present condition, telling them what they already knew; i.e. they didn’t know when He would come. After acknowledging their ignorance, He tells them not to stay in that condition of not knowing, but to know when He would come, so that they would not be surprised by His coming. If this is not the case, then why did Jesus go out of His way to say  verses 43 and 44a. Why not just stop after verse 42, then proceed to 44b? Again we look at Jesus’ words to the church of Sardis.

If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I will come upon you.     Revelation 3:3b

Here we see that not knowing, or watching, was an undesirable condition that was to be punished. Jesus returning without them knowing is to be a punishment, not something to be desired or rewarded. As Jesus said:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.     Revelation 3:22 (NKJV)

The overall problem in this study is largely due to the fact that the Lord coming as a thief is misunderstood. The common understanding is that the Lord comes as a thief to the believer. A careful reading of 1 Thessalonians 5 will expose the fallacy. Here the division is clear.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You 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.     1 Thessalonians 5:2-6

Let’s read that a different way.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes when the people in darkness say Peace and safety. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day. Therefore let us watch and be sober so that that day should not overtake us as a thief.

You’ll notice that all I took out, minus one reference, was Paul’s statement about “them”, the people in darkness. We are not in darkness; therefore to say that we should be surprised is to say that we should be in darkness. Notice also that Paul tells them when the day of the Lord comes:  “…when they say, Peace and safety…”. If we aren’t supposed to know, how come Paul is not only saying “a possibility might be; when they say Peace and safety”, he states it as a fact: “…when they say…” Wouldn’t that be a contradiction, if we are not supposed to know when?  

Let us also consider that Jesus didn’t leave His return up to guesswork. He stated specifically:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.     Luke 21:32-34 (KJV)

Here we have Jesus narrowing the time of His return to the generation that sees these specific signs.  I believe much confusion concerning Christ’s return stems from confusion between general signs and specific signs. Can we distinguish between general signs and specific signs? In other words, is there a point at which we know that we are seeing the signs of the last generation? The answer is yes, there is.

Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:     Luke 21:10 (KJV)

The first sign given concerning the last generation was world war. Note Jesus had just previously discussed wars and rumors of wars, but said the end was not yet. Therefore, after speaking generally of the build-up to the last days, He gives the datum, or reference point to the specific sign; World War.  That World War 1 is the sign of the end of the age is presented very well in Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s book, Footsteps of the Messiah, on pages 61 to 64. The term of “nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom” is understood by the Jewish Rabbis as being a total conflagration of the area. When Jesus speaks, His context is of the entire world, so the conflagration is a worldwide war-the first being World War 1. This term is used in Isaiah 19:2 and 2 Chronicles 15:6.

Was there any significance to Israel concerning Word War 1? The answer is a resounding yes! Because of World War 1, the Balfour Declaration was signed on November 2, 1917, giving the Jews the right of return to their homeland after 400 years of occupation by the Ottoman Turks. The clock on the final generation began to tick.

The next major fulfillment would be the restoration of Israel as a nation. What is interesting about this is that it also places a permanent boundary on the final generation.

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people,… And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.     Isaiah 11:10-12 (KJV)

Here God makes it clear that after the Jews were scattered for the second time after the destruction of the Temple and then Jerusalem in A.D. 70, that He would restore them a second time. Since there can only be one second time, then this is the time that God will deal with Israel and restore the Kingdom.

When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.     Psalms 102:16 (KJV)

Does Jesus confirm that Israel, and Jerusalem will be restored in the last days? He does even more than that. He confirms Daniel’s prediction of the abomination of desolation.

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:     Matthew 24:15-16 (KJV)

Daniel 9:27 is speaking of the Anti-Christ, who in the middle of the 7 year Tribulation, will cause the animal sacrifices to cease, (they have to first exist, or be re-instituted), and then defiles the Holy Place in the Sanctuary. Paul confirms that the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt when discussing this very topic.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.     2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (KJV)

{A quick note on “…a falling away”, after investigating this, I am convinced the correct interpretation should be “…the departure”. Read it that way and see if it makes a difference: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except the departure comes first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition… The departure = the rapture}.

This restoration of Israel, first with the UN partition in 1947, and then on May 14th, 1948; Israel becomes a nation in one day, referred to in Ezekiel 37, and is specifically prophesied by Isaiah.

Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.  Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.     Isaiah 66:8-9 (KJV)

Note also what God says about Israel, saying that He would not bring Israel back, and then leave her to wait endlessly for deliverance”… Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God…”.  Note also the following reference with the woman representing Israel:  

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.     Revelation 12:1-2 (KJV)

Once God begins to deal with Israel again as a nation, He will not delay. We have His word on it.
So, we see that Israel becoming a nation is a direct fulfillment of prophecy that must occur in the last days, and will culminate in the return of the Messiah to defeat the Anti-Christ’s armies at the Battle of Armageddon.

The next question is; how long is a generation? Let’s look at the pattern.

And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.     Genesis 5:32 (KJV)

And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.     Genesis 7:6 (KJV)

So the generation of Noah is 100 years.

After 400 years of foreign occupation, Israel is given the right of return. This parallels Gods word to Abraham.

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;… But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again…     Genesis 15:13,16 (KJV)

So we see that the returning generation is 100 years.

Now what about the restoration generation? When Jesus told His listeners that their generation would not pass away until the destruction of the temple, this pegs the parallel of the restoration generation to that destruction. Consider also the following.

That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;     Luke 11:50 (KJV)

The original punishment of the Jews was to be exiled to Babylon for 70 years. They were then brought into the land the first time, and given 70 years to believe in Christ’s first coming. They rejected Him, were exiled the second time in 70 AD, and returned as a nation in 1947-1948. Thus, they have 70 years to return to Him, before He returns to them.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.     Zech 12:9-10 (KJV)

Even if one does not accept every detail of what was presented concerning the final generation, it should be obvious by now that God has a specific time frame for dealing with us, and Israel in particular, and that once He stars this process, He will not stop until Christ returns, “…to bring in everlasting righteousness…”     Daniel 9:24 (KJV)

The question for the believer is; can we continue to believe that these are the last days, and that Christ will come soon, while ignoring the fact that there is a time limit on “the last days”, and we may at the end of that time? If Jesus said that this generation cannot pass away before He returns, would it make sense that we can understand which generation He was talking about? If not, why did He say it? If we can understand which generation He was speaking about, would that generation continue on into the future indefinitely, or would it have a time limit? If it had a time limit, would we be able to know what that limit was? Or did God just give us prophecy so He could “play with His creatures” and amuse Himself with our confusing attempts to understand it? (Answer: For God is not the author of confusion 1 Corinthians. 14:33)

Let’s turn our attention back to Christ’s command to watch.

Instead of sleeping, the believer is to be watching and alert to the coming Day of the Lord. Those who are caught off guard will be the unbelievers and those who have chosen darkness. The analogy Scripture uses is that Christ is like the High Priest who returns to the temple to find two people—those watching and those sleeping. According to Alfred Edersheim and the Talmud, those who were sleeping on the Temple watch and were caught doing so were beat and had their garments burned. The Captain of the Guard was the "thief in the night" who came in the night watches to verify that all was secure.

Understanding this unlocks the passages that concern the Lord coming as a thief, for the ones surprised by the thief are those found not watching—these are the ones found naked and ashamed. For a believer to think that the thief should surprise him is contrary to Scripture. After all, we do not want as our goal to have our garments stolen in a failure of duty.

But know this: that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore you also be ready: for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of man comes.     Matthew 24:43-44

Likewise, in this parable, Christ speaks of the Day coming as a thief, but his command is to watch, to be alert, and not be caught off guard. Notice further in the parable when Christ speaks of the evil servant.

But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,  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, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.     Matthew 24:48-51 (NKJV)

That servant says that Christ’s return is delayed and begins to sin. This results in being blind-sided and being totally unaware of Christ’s impending return. Christ returns in the day when he is not looking and at the hour he is not aware. The result is less than desirable, to say the least. Again the breakdown is clear. Those not watching are unable to determine the time. Those who are alert will see the day approaching.

Another verse that must be addressed is the following.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.     Acts 1:6-8 (KJV)

Here Jesus’ followers ask Him if He will immediately restore the Kingdom to Israel. Jesus responds by turning their focus to what He had just previously told them.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."      Acts 1:4-5 (NKJV)

Jesus tells them the issue at hand is not the restoration of the Kingdom, but the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. Notice He states that the times and the seasons are in the Fathers power. Then He tells them they will receive what?  Power. By the power of the Spirit, whom the Father would send, would it be possible to know the times and seasons when we see the signs? Remember, we are commanded to watch. Consider another verse by Luke.

Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.     Luke 12:36-37 (NKJV)

Notice, no rebuke for looking for His return. In fact, the following is almost incomprehensible.

Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.     Luke 12:37 (NKJV)

Here we have a reward for watching. Clearly then, looking for the time and being alert are not prohibitions in Scripture. Instead the opposite is true. The command is to be on guard, so as to anticipate the time.

Therefore, those who find that ignorance is bliss and somehow a proper stance in Christianity will have a rude awakening when Christ returns to find them sleeping. These will find themselves blind, naked, and ashamed at the return of Christ. Those falling into the category of the Church of Laodicea are also described with this same problem.

Therefore, those who claim that Christ returns as a thief to everyone are and will be sadly mistaken. The thief comes to destroy and bring harm to those who are asleep. There are no rewards promised to those who are sleeping, only punishment.

Truly the Day of the Lord comes as a thief, but only to those who are not watching. For the believer who is in the light that day does not come like a thief. Those in the light are vigilant and will be able to see the day approaching as it draws nearer. Knowledge will increase and events will line up with Bible Prophecy.

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.     Daniel 12:4 (NKJV)

We have seen some of those events and should know that available time is in short supply. But let it be known; Christ is not a thief to the believer who is prepared.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 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, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 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. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.     Matthew 24:36-44

Concerning the "thief in the night" and the "day no one knows" there is one common point. The overriding command in all of these Scriptures is that the believer is to be watching. Not watching for something that is impossible to see, but watching because once it approaches it will be seen. Otherwise there is not much point to watching if it must remain a total surprise.

The problem is that "no one knows the day or hour" is taken to mean a reality that endures until the end. But the use of the verb "knows" is in the present tense of the audience 2,000 years ago and surely Christ being the Son of God knows the timing—though consistency in the popular application of the passage would require that he is still unaware! The only consistent explanation is that this passage found in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 and is part of a figure of speech.

However, let’s assume that the idea that Christ is still ignorant is true. What then would be the purpose of not just the following verses, but the entire book?

 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.     Revelation 1:1-3 (NKJV)

Here we have the Father giving Jesus a revelation of “things which must shortly take place…” “…for the time is near.” What is the purpose of this book if we are not to look for the signs or the time? Could this be the Father “revealing” the signs and times of Christ’s return? If not, what is meant by this verse, or the entire book?  

Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things, which must shortly take place.  "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."     Revelation 22:6-7 (NKJV)

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.     Revelation 22:16 (NKJV)

Do we really think that Jesus still doesn’t know when He’s coming back? Again, why send His angel to testify to something we are to know nothing about? Note the following.

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.  He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!     Revelation 22:18-20 (NKJV)

What would it mean to “…take away from the words of the book of this prophecy… Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Would denying that God gave us specific signs to watch for, that could be known, anticipated, and then pronounced be “…take(ing) away from the words of the book of this prophecy”? We should carefully consider how we approach this subject, and not just flippantly dismiss it. With such strong words from God Himself, it would be a foolish approach.

Let us therefore assume that Christ, even if He was ignorant (which I don’t believe is the case), is ignorant no longer. That leaves us with what was previously stated. The only consistent explanation is that this passage found in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 is part of a figure of speech.

The first aspect of this figure of speech is that it is a reference to the coming marriage of a groom and bride. For the Church, the Rapture is prior to when the Day of Lord comes. For Israel it begins at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation. Therefore, this figure matches the wedding parallel found in the Jewish custom of the day and the reality of the returning groom. But the "day no one knows" is also a reference to the day known as the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). No one could know this day until two witnesses observed the New Moon. Therefore, it was known as "the day no one knows the day or hour".

It is of utmost importance to review the correlation of the Rapture and Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish Wedding Ceremony. Consider the following:

*1. All the Spring Feasts were fulfilled at Christ's first coming, and on the exact day of the feast. All the Fall Feasts picture the Second Advent, and the Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts, picturing the rapture.

2. The Feast of Trumpets is when the "last trump" of the rapture of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown. The last trump of the Feast of Trumpets is known as the Tekiah Ha Godolah. It is the longest and loudest of all the trumpets blown during the feast. In the first century, the last trump (shofar) meant a specific day in the year.  *In Judaism, there are three trumpets that have a name.  They are the first trump, the last trump, and the great trump.  Each one of these trumpets indicates a specific day in the Jewish year.  The first trump is blown on the Feast of Pentecost (Exodus 19:19).  It proclaimed that God had betrothed Himself to Israel(
this feast was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit).  The last trump is synonymous with Rosh Hashanah, according to Theodore Gaster in his book, Festivals of the Jewish Year, in his chapter on Rosh Hashanah.  Herman Kieval also states the same thing in his book, The High Holy Days in the chapter on the shofar. (The last trump will be fulfilled on Rosh Hashanah with the rapture of the church).  The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur, which will herald the
return of Jesus back to the earth (Matthew 24:31).

3. The Feast of Trumpets is known as the Wedding of the Messiah, and the Church is the Bride of Christ, and the rapture is when the Church is caught up to heaven to be wed with Christ.

4. The Feast of Trumpets happens on the "new moon", which is 29.5 days after the last one, meaning it might occur on the 29th or 30th day, nobody knows for sure. "Of that day or hour no man knows" is an expression referring to this feast, and thus, the rapture.

5. "Of that day or hour no man knows, but my Father only" is an expression used by a groom when asked when his wedding will be. He says this because it is his Father that will tell him when his preparations on the bridal chamber are completed and it is time. Again, the wedding pictures the rapture.

6. The "Open Door" of the rapture in Matt 25, and Rev 3, & Rev 4:1 is a symbol of the Feast of Trumpets. [Ezek 46:1]
"Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days; but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened.

7. We are told that the new moon and the Feasts of the Lord are a shadow of things to come in Col 2:16, 17. Since the Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of the Lord that falls on a new moon, we should take particular note.

8. There are seven days of awe in between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. These picture the seven years of tribulation. Atonement pictures Satan being defeated and cast away at the end of tribulation. If you add the two day Trumpets feast, and the Day of Atonement, the 7 days of awe are "
ten days of tribulation" which might be referred to in Rev. 2:10.

9. In the Jewish Wedding, a marriage takes place over a period of time known as the "bridal week". During the bridal week, the groom and bride have marital relations in the bridal chamber. At the end of the 7 days, there is a marriage supper. Compare Judges 14, Rev. 19, and Gen. Genesis 29:22-28. This bridal week will be the tribulation week on earth, while the bride of Christ is in heaven.

10. In the Jewish Wedding, the groom comes for his bride
"like a thief in the night" to take (seize / rapture) her away and into the bridal chamber for the bridal week at his father's house.

11. The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the coronation of the Messiah, when he will start reigning as king, thus the beginning of the "Day of the Lord", which includes the tribulation.

12. It is also time for the bema judgment, or the judgment of the works of the righteous, and judgment must begin at the house of the Lord.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. [2Cor 11:2]

13. It is also known as Yom Zikaron, which is the “Day of Remembrance”. This is what is referred to in Malachi 3:16-17  

 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.  "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him."     Malachi 3:16-17 (NKJV)

The word “jewels” is translated “peculiar treasure” three other times. The connotation is of a very special treasure. (Deut.7:6; 14:2; 1 Peter 2:9,10). Note the word for generation Peter uses is  genos, which is only translated generation here. It means “kindred”, or simply “kind”, with the idea of being specially and separately chosen by God. Note also what Malachi shows they are spared from. Malachi 4 is about the “Day of the Lord”, or the Tribulation. The phrase “…make them my jewels” actually has the meaning of going on a journey.

**A Brief summary of the Jewish marriage analogy is as follows.

The first major step in a Jewish marriage in Bible times was betrothal, the establishment of a marriage covenant. By Jesus’ time, such a covenant was usually established when the prospective bridegroom took the initiative. He would travel from his father’s house to the home of the prospective bride, where he would negotiate with the father of the young woman to determine the price (mohar) he must pay to purchase her(1 Cor.6:20; Eph.5:25).
Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife (cp.Mal.2:14; Matt.1:18-19). From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom (Eph.5:26-27*note Eph.5:32). As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the groom and bride drank from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction had been pronounced (Matt.26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:20).

 After the marriage covenant was established, the groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months. This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life. During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father’s house to which he could bring his bride later (John 14:2-3). Only the father would determine when the dwelling place was finished (Matt.24:36; Mark 13:32).
At the end of the period of separation, the father would give his blessing, and the groom would leave to meet his bride. He would usually come at night. The groom, best man, and other male escorts left the groom’s father’s house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride. The bride was expected to know the time of the bridegrooms’ coming, and therefore to be ready for him (1 Thess.5:4-6; Luke 21:34-36. See also Rev.3:3,10).The bride was expecting her groom to come for her but did not know the exact time, as a result, the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, which forewarned the bride to be prepared for his coming(1 Thess.4:16).

After the groom received his bride, together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party returned from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house, where the wedding guests had assembled.

Shortly after their arrival, the bride and groom were escorted to the bridal chamber (huppah). Prior to entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. While the groomsmen and bridesmaids waited outside, the bride and groom entered the bridal chamber alone and there consummated the marriage covenant.
 After the consummation, the groom came out of the bridal chamber and announced the consummation of the marriage to the members of the wedding party waiting outside (Ps.19:5; John 3:29). Then, the groom would return to his bride in the chamber, and remain there hidden for 7 days, known as “the seven days of the huppah.” Afterwards, the bride and groom emerged from the huppah, but with the bride’s veil removed so that everyone could see who she was. They would then join their guests in the wedding feast (Rev.19:7-9).

Getting back to Matthew 24:36, But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. There is confusion involved with applying this verse to the Rapture of the Church. In the verses preceding this, Christ is referring to his coming at the end of the Tribulation with no mention of the Rapture event. This goes along with the fact that Paul later first broke the mystery of the Rapture once the new dispensation of the Church was understood.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.      1 Corinthians 15:51-52

But even though Paul uses the term "the last Trumpet" referring to the Feast of Trumpets (remember this was written well before the Revelation given to John), in Matthew 24 Christ is speaking of events closing the Day of the Lord. Therefore, the resolution is that the reference is to the same holiday, but for different years. For when Christ speaks of the days of Noah it cannot be a reference to the Rapture, though it does sound like it. Not only is the Rapture not in the context, but it does not make sense with more information as shown in the Gospel of Luke. Here the distinction is clearer.
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all."

"Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left." And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?" So He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."        Luke 17:26-37

Here in an earlier discourse Luke brings the parallel to proper light. Not only are the days of Noah mentioned, but also the days of Lot. The point is that those who are removed are destroyed and does not speak of those taken at the Rapture. This is made clear when the people ask Jesus where they are taken. He says, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together." Therefore, those taken are dead and food for the birds of prey (in the battle of Armageddon?). Here then, those who remain alive on the earth are like Noah and Lot. The judgment comes with only a few survivors remaining. This then proves that the Second Coming is in view when Christ says that "no one knows the day or hour" in Matthew 24:36.1

This then is why we should be able to see the coming Day of the Lord. For it is plain that the time of the Second Coming will not be a mystery to the student of the Bible. In Daniel and Revelation there are the clear day counts from the time of the Abomination of Desolation until the Second Coming (1260 days). Properly understanding these events will make it possible to know the time.

Therefore, the common understanding of "no one knows the day" cannot be correct since this passage refers to the Second Coming. Instead it is a figure of speech that points to the significance of the Feast of Trumpets. Therefore, what has been used to conceal and forbid in looking for the coming of Christ is actually a very big clue as to what time the Lord will return. It is true that no one has known when Christ will specifically return, but as the verb "knows" is in the present tense, ultimately it will not remain unknown. This is why we are told to watch.

Therefore, this understanding makes sense of Revelation 3:3 where by watching the believer is able to see and determine the hour the Lord returns. Only this understanding makes sense of Scripture. Though it is true that people did not know the time 2,000 years ago, there still remains the aspect of watching through the lens of Scripture that will help us see the day approaching.

The conclusion is that signs have begun to come to pass and show that we are at the end of the age—not that we are in the Tribulation, but that we are on the verge of it. For once the Church is removed via the Rapture, then the time of Jacob’s Trouble (the Tribulation or Daniel’s Seventieth Week) can begin. We have seen the specific fulfillment of the prophecies by Jesus concerning the last generation. We have also seen that this generation has a time limit, and that that time is almost up. All of these things are on a very clear schedule.

How many of you know unbelievers who know that something is happening, and sense that the end is near? Even the older generation who went through the Great Depression, say that they have never seen a time that they, or others believed was the time of the end, more than what they are seeing now.

But yet there are different opinions as to when the time will come from this point forward. As time unfolds, a clearer understanding will be determined of those items seen in relation to the signs as found in Scripture. But in any regard, the window of time is closing.

An objection to knowing the signs and times is constantly raised, that goes something like this. Didn’t so and so predict Christ’s return at such and such a time, and it didn’t happen? The implication is that because someone misinterpreted the signs and the times, or selected a date that turned out to be incorrect, that any such attempt is doomed to failure. I would respond with a simple question, did anyone ever fail to achieve something attainable? And if so, did they ever get it right? Example, did the Wright brothers achieve mechanized flight on their first attempt? Did anyone else try and fail before them? How about this one: Will there ever come an actual day when Christ will return? Is it possible that someone, anyone, will be able to study the signs and the times and accurately predict when He will come? Would it be unreasonable for God to announce His return in order to warn His people? Did He ever do that before? (ok, more than just a simple question) Consider this verse.

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.  Amos 3:7 (NKJV)

What if someone were to tell you that they have been called by God to tell you that “He is coming”, and that they believe that they know when. Is it possible that God has revealed the day, and called someone to tell His people to prepare for His return, like the friend of the bridegroom announcing His return?  To call everyone to return to the Lord, to forgive others of their sins against you, to get on your knees and seek the Lords leading and will for your life with the remaining time? To return to the Word as your authority. To turn your hearts back to the Lord, your wives, husbands, children, and family? Would this be such a horrible thing? Even if they would be wrong, would you be in better shape spiritually, or worse? Should we give up and say let’s choose ignorance instead of knowing? Would Jesus punish you and say “Why were you watching and looking for that day like I told you too? You were supposed to be ignorant and surprised by my coming!”
What if it’s true? What would you be doing differently right now? Are you even guaranteed that you’ll live to see tomorrow? These are not trivial questions to ask yourself, they are heart and soul questions. For many, we may stand empty handed at the Judgment Seat of Christ, knowing that we made it by the skin of our teeth. Is that how you want to stand before Christ, ashamed and embarrassed, yet saved as one by fire?
It might be well to make mention of another reward for looking toward His appearing.

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.     2 Tim 4:8 (NKJV)

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

 For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.    Romans 14:10-12 (NKJV)

…each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.   1 Corinthians 3:8 (NKJV)

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Cor 3:11-15 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but if Jesus is going to give me a crown of righteousness for loving His appearing, I want it. What I don’t want is to stand before Him “…saved, yet so as through fire”. Or the unthinkable:  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt 25:30 (KJV)

Since only the Holy Spirit can teach, one can only speak His words and then let each individual decide whether or not the truth has been spoken.

Hopefully, whoever reads this avoids the coming Tribulation by believing in Jesus Christ and his work of salvation. It is only through Christ’s sacrifice that a person can bridge the barrier between God and the human race that was created by sin. No human work is a worthy substitution. We can only decide to accept the gift and place our trust in Him.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.      John 3:16-17

Jesus Christ, who is the eternal Son of God and Creator of the universe, died for our sins and was raised from the dead, all according to Scripture, nearly 2,000 years ago to do just that. He is coming back very soon and the ultimate question is where have we placed our faith? Is it in ourselves, our money, a politician, musician, author or movie star? Or is it in the Creator and his plan of salvation? Now is the time to decide, for time is indeed running out.



Note:
If you are like me, you have been frustrated, or confused by the lack of defense given to this topic of watching and knowing the day. As an attempt to remedy that, in a very small way, it has been my intention to bring together a diverse number of works, with my own thoughts added, in order to put together a cohesive argument and understanding of this sometimes very confusing subject. I suggest that if you want more thorough details on this subject, that you obtain the below resources. May God bless you as you seek the truth.   Ezekiel 33:1-6

*Most of the information about Rosh Hashanah in this section is from  http://bibleprophesy.org/introtrumpets.htm, & http://www.bibleprophesy.org/feasts6.htm

**The information about the Jewish wedding analogy was mostly gathered from the book “Maranatha” by Renald Showers (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. ISBN 0-915540-22-3)

1 An Interpretation of Matthew 24—25 by Thomas Ice.

Much of this information was taken from Articles and the book by Daniel W. Matson, Author of Signs of the End. (Inspirational Press, 2008. ISBN 1-879134-21-5)

For detailed information regarding Jewish customs and prophecy, I recommend that you check out http://www.voe.org/

 

This web site looks for the best scenario of the coming time in light of the Bible and history. It is not an absolute prediction.

Please send e-mail to join the mailing list for updates. Send your e-mail to: Daniel Matson

 

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