Whenever people talk about when the Rapture might occur or if the End Times are near, someone else inevitably tries to shut them up by quoting Jesus’ line, “Of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matt 24:36
I haven’t read any comments or emails about my “Rapture in April 2014” posting yesterday, so if you said this to me, please be assured that I am not singling anyone out. I’ve been hearing the same criticism for months from many quarters.
I don’t pooh-pooh anything Jesus said, so obviously I looked up the actual passage and read it carefully in context. Frankly, I was astonished! It’s full of parables I’ve been hearing out of context my whole life.
And it is part of a long teaching by Jesus that is called the Olivet Discourse, which I’d never heard of, despite the fact that it is as long or longer than the very famous and familiar Sermon on the Mount.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us how to live a holy life; in the Olivet Discourse, He taught us to be ready for His return and for Final Judgment. The Olivet Discourse appears in Mark 13 and Luke 21, but the fullest treatment is in Matthew 24-25.
In Matthew and Mark, the line about not knowing the day or hour (Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32) is preceded by the EXACT same lines:
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, know that he is near, at the gates.” Matt 24:32-33; Mark 13:28-29
In Luke, the line about not knowing the day or hour does not even appear, yet the lesson of the fig tree does!
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” Luke 21:29-31
What I get out of all this is that, while we cannot know the precise time when Jesus will return, we are supposed to watch carefully for the signs of His coming so we can be READY.
This reminds me of when our kids were deployed. We never knew the “day and hour” they’d return either, but we certainly knew the season. And as the great day approached, we’d get progress reports as they made the long trip home.
Then, as the actual hour approached, we would gather in the bleachers with our signs and our flags and our squirmy kids. And we would wait. And wait. And wait. WATCHING for the JOYFUL MOMENT when that door would burst open and our loved ones would march in!
I strongly encourage you to read the entire Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25.