But of that Day and Hour – Part 2
By Randy Nettles
“But of that day and hour, no man knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:36-37). These verses are in reference to an event known as the Day of the Lord which will come upon the earth in the last days. Matthew, a Jewish tax collector and one of the original twelve disciples, wrote these words in AD 60. He heard the exact quote decades earlier from the lips of Jesus himself. The question from part 1 of this article still remains: Was Jesus talking about his 2nd Coming in Matthew 24:36-51 or was he referring to the Rapture of His Church? I hope to answer this question completely in the remainder of this article.
Mark, a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ, and companion of Paul and Barnabas wrote similar words in his gospel of Mark. “But of that day and hour, no man knows, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. Take heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is” (Mark 13:32-33). Mark relied heavily on Peter’s testimony in his writing of this gospel. Peter was an eyewitness to these words spoken by Jesus at the Temple. Mark wrote these words (approximately AD 58) some 25 years after Jesus first uttered them
Luke, a Gentile physician, was a Christian believer who traveled and ministered with Paul during his third missionary journey. He had fellowship with the other disciples and could interview them as well. He also had access to other historical and reliable accounts at that time. Luke was an eyewitness to the birth and growth of the early church. He wrote his gospel in about AD 60 and wrote Acts about two years later.
Luke’s version of the “coming of the son of man” is recorded in two different places: Luke 12:35-48 and Luke 17:20-37. Luke 12: 35-38 is a parable that compares Jesus’ return to a wedding where the groom has left a wedding to prepare a place for the bride, and no one knows when exactly he will return. “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching.” Luke 12:39-40 compares the timing of Jesus’ coming to a thief that breaks into one’s house: “Know this, that if the owner 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 you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not.” Verses 42 through 48 describe another parable where the master of the house is on a long trip and no one knows the day or hour when he will return.
In Luke 17:20-37, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the coming of the Kingdom of God and his 2nd Coming to the earth. He compares those future days to the evil days of Noah (also recorded in Matthew 24:34-37) and Lot when the heathens were destroyed by God. “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:30). In this verse, Jesus is referring to the start of the Day of the Lord. The narrative then shifts to the middle of the Tribulation (in verses 31-33) and describes the after-effects of the antichrist’s Abomination of Desolation and subsequent persecution of the Jews (also mentioned in Matthew 24:15-22 and Mark 13:14-20). The narrative shifts again in verses 34-37 (also in Matthew 24:40-41) back to the very beginning of the Day of the Lord…the Rapture.
The exact phrase, the “Day of the Lord’ is used 28 times in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament. It is always referred to as a time of judgment and punishment by God against ungodly sinners who worship false gods. The day of the Lord is a term used by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Solomon, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, and others. Sometimes it is referring to the end days (such as Isaiah 2:12 and Joel 3:14) and sometimes it is referring to a near-future event when God would judge their enemies at that time in history (such as Amos 5:18-20 concerning the Assyrians and Obadiah 1:15 concerning the Edomites).
In the Old Testament, The Day of the Lord can refer to the actual 24-hour long day of the 2nd Coming or the entire 7 years of the Tribulation, otherwise known as Daniels’ 70th Seven or Jacob’s Trouble. Joel 2:11 is an example of the actual day (24 hours) of the Day of the Lord: “And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executes his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” An example of the alternative 7 year-long Day of the Lord is found in Isaiah 13:9-22): “Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners out of it” (Isaiah 13:9). In the remaining verses, Isaiah describes the conditions of the earth during the Great Tribulation and of the slaughter of mankind during that period. Babylon, the evil ancient city mentioned so many times in the Bible is especially in focus for total destruction. Chapter 18 in Revelation reinforces this prophecy.
In the Old Testament the term “son of man’ is used in reference to mankind. It is most often used in Ezekiel and is the name God called him. In the New Testament, it is nearly always used in reference to the name/description Jesus gave himself. Even though he was the son of God, he was also born of a woman, thus the son of man. This term is mentioned in all of the Gospels of the New Testament as well as in Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation.
The phrase “coming of the son of man” is only used in three of the Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Another term that is used for Jesus’ return is the “coming of the Lord” or the “coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: It is mentioned in the following books of the New Testament: 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, James, and 2 Peter. This phrase is used mostly in regard to the Rapture.
Long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary and one of the most prominent evangelical scholars and biblical prophecy experts of his generation, John F. Walvoord, had this to say on the subject: “How does the Coming of Christ for his church relate itself to the Day of the Lord which precedes the second coming of Christ by a number of years? This Day of the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly. What is the point? The point is that just as the translation (rapture) of the church is the end of the day of grace; it also marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord. In other words, one event seems to do two things: it serves as the closing of one day and the beginning of the other.”
Day 1 is the Age of Grace. It started with the giving of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost (start of the Church) and will end with the Rapture of the saints (end of the Church). Day 2 is the Day of the Lord. It will start with the Rapture and will end with the 2nd Coming of Jesus to the earth. Day 3 consists of the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords over all the nations of the earth.
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he has torn, and he will heal us, he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).
The prophets who spoke regarding the Day of the Lord only knew it was to be a time of great judgment and punishment for the inhabitants of the earth and then their Christ would come and set up his kingdom on earth. The prophets and authors of the Old Testament knew nothing of the Rapture or the Eternal Order. When Jesus came the first time and delivered his word as recorded in the gospels and later revealed to Paul the secret of the Rapture, the Day of the Lord was expanded. It now included the Rapture itself and the gap of time between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation (confirming of the covenant).
Matthew 24:37-39 compares the Rapture to the time of Noah and the great flood. Notice verse 37: (“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”). Notice verse 37 says days, not day. In other words, it is talking about the days/years before the flood, not the day of the flood itself. This verse is comparing those Antediluvian days to the days before the 2nd Coming, not the exact day (24 hours) of Jesus’ return. The Rapture is included in those days and is essentially the start of the Day of the Lord (but not the start of the Tribulation). The Day of the Lord is a day of judgment. Those left behind after the Rapture will either die or have to endure the terrors of the Tribulation.
Regarding the “hour” in Matthew 24:36, here are some interesting verses that contain this word: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:25-27). The Book of John was written in approximately AD 85. This was after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and before John’s exile to the island of Patmos.
Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians more than 30 years earlier than John wrote his first book. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Paul first describes this hour mentioned much later by John: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (dead) that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then those which sleep in Jesus God will bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This is, of course, a reference to the Rapture. The Rapture is the day and hour (minute, second, micro-second, etc) mentioned in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and is the beginning of the Day of the Lord. So the question that was originally asked is now answered. Matthew 24:4-8 is describing the time we are in now, the day before the start of the Tribulation. Verses 9-26 include the entire Tribulation: start, middle, and end. Verses 27-31 describe the 2nd Coming of Jesus. Verses 32-35 explain which generation would see the Day of the Lord. Just as Jesus answered his disciple’s questions out of order, so did he describe the Day of the Lord. He described the very first part (the Rapture) last in Matthew 24, verses 36-51. The Rapture is the supernatural sign the Jews (and Gentiles) will receive before the 2nd Coming of Jesus to begin his 1000 year reign on earth. If the Rapture doesn’t convince you that Jesus is coming again to the earth, I don’t know whatever would!
Amen. Even so, come soon Lord Jesus…in the twinkling of an eye.