How Can We Interpret the Verse “But of That Day and Hour Knows No Man”?

The Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mat 24:36). Many Christians think this verse means when the Lord comes, no one will know it.

If this single scripture is taken to read, it seems reasonable that we accept it in this way. But when we read this verse together with the preceding few verses, we’ll find there is the Lord’s greater intention hidden within it, which needs us to understand. The preceding verses say, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Mat 24:32-34). The Lord Jesus uses a parable to tell us that we cannot see summer with the naked eye, but the scenery of summer tells us that summer is coming. That is to say, no one knows the day, the moment of the Lord Jesus’ arrival. The angels of heaven do not know, the Son of man does not know, only the Father (the Spirit) knows. As long as we observe the signs in the last days that the prophecies of the Lord’s coming are being fulfilled one after another, we will know that the Lord is coming. The Lord Jesus said, “it is near, even at the doors.” The Son of man refers to God incarnate. That is to say, God puts on the flesh to do the work to save us on earth. God’s Spirit cannot be called the Son of man. So the Lord’s words mean to tell us that the Lord will become flesh again when He returns, for the Lord Jesus said, “But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luk 17:25).

The Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knows no man…. Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is” (Mak 13:32-33). We all know that the time refers to a certain day. Pondering these several scriptures carefully, we’ll find the greater mystery here. These several scriptures mean that no one knows the day, the moment of the Lord’s arrival, but we will surely know the Lord has returned when He begins to do the work.

Look back to the time of the Lord Jesus’ arrival: The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that the Savior, Messiah, would be born. The people in Judea only knew there would be a Savior born for them, yet nobody knew the exact time of the Savior’s arrival. They were all eager to yearn for the Savior’s arrival. The three Magi and the shepherds did not gain enlightenment and know the Savior’s arrival until the Lord Jesus was born. However, after the Lord began to do His work, spreading the gospel of the kingdom of heaven everywhere, showing a lot of wonders, many people knew that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, and followed Him. Therefore, how the followers of the Lord at that time knew the Lord Jesus was the Messiah became the most concern topic to man.

How to Recognize the Lord Jesus Was the Messiah?

Looking up related scriptures, we found many followers of the Lord recognized the Lord was the coming Messiah and Christ from the Lord’s word and work. For example, the woman of Samaria, for the Lord Jesus spoke out her innermost secrets that she had five husbands, she left her water pot and said to the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (Jhn 4:29). She believed that only God has authority that sees into everything, and she recognized the Lord from the Lord Jesus’ words; and Nathanael, he held an attitude of doubt when Philip told him that Jesus was the Messiah, saying “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (Jhn 1:46). But when he heard the Lord Jesus say, “Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (Jhn 1:48), Nathanael was astonished that the Lord spoke out his ideas under the fig tree. He believed that only God can examine the innermost heart of man and know man’s thoughts, so he said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (Jhn 1:49).

Besides these, the Lord Jesus also revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and taught people how to confess their sins and repent. Moreover, many words of the Lord Jesus have authority. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst. … For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me” (Jhn 6:35, 38). Since the Lord Jesus said these words, He accomplished such work too. He ended the Age of Law and ushered in the Age of Grace. At the same time, He issued the new commandments to man and showed us the way of practice in the new age. He brought us grace in abundance and bestowed upon us inexhaustible love and compassion. Finally, He was crucified and completed the work of redeeming mankind. The Lord Jesus’ work saved those people who were living under the law and involuntarily committed sins. Moreover, He brought the will of God in heaven to the earth.

Furthermore, the Lord displayed many signs and wonders. For example: He made the blind see, healed the lepers, fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, brought Lazarus back from the dead, made the wind and the sea calm and so on. From these, the disciples of the Lord understood that only God has authority to display these signs and wonders, and that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah. They had an understanding of Christ and no longer believed a vague and invisible God in heaven, but instead followed the Lord Jesus who practically lived among mankind.

From the facts above, we can see nobody knew that day and hour of the Son of man’s coming to earth. However, when God came to earth to speak and do His work, man could know it. Those who are eager to seek the truth know God from God’s word and work, so that they can keep pace with God’s work and welcome the Messiah. Yet those who cannot discern God’s voice, but refuse and resist God’s work, lose God’s salvation.

How to Welcome the Lord in the Last Days?

Looking up the Bible carefully, I see the Lord Jesus’ prophecies, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). It proves that there will be somebody who first knows the Lord’s arrival, and then they preach the gospel of the Lord to others. Then how should we discern whether it is the return of the Lord? It is predicted in the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:22). The Lord Jesus said in John 16:12-13, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth….” From these prophecies, we can see that the Lord will utter and speak words and bestow on us more truths when He comes to do His work. After the Lord becomes flesh and expresses the truth, those who yearn for the truth will listen to the Lord’s voice firstly and recognize the Lord. Later, they knock at our doors and spread the Lord’s word to us. Only those who thirst for and seek the appearance of God, and who seek the truth can welcome the appearance of the Lord and follow the footsteps of the Lamb when they hear the Lord’s voice. They are wise virgins. However, those who do not focus on listening to God’s voice, but determine God’s second coming based on their own conceptions and imaginations cannot discern God’s voice. Even though they hear God’s word, they will not accept or seek it, so that they become foolish virgins, completely being revealed and eliminated.

In the last days, God hasn’t told us the exact time of the Lord’s arrival. Rather, He will use His work and word to choose those who sincerely believe in God and seek the truth. In this way, the wise virgins and foolish virgins will be revealed, so that all of us will follow our own kind. If God told us the exact time, all people would accept Him. Then how can it be revealed who sincerely thirst for God or who believe in God in name yet rely on their own conceptions and imaginations to condemn God? And how will God determine the outcome for people?

Thank the Lord! God is too wise. Now, we know the true meaning of the Lord Jesus’ word, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” We will no longer understand it based on our own conceptions and imaginations. At the same time, we confirm that the Lord will utter and speak words when He arrives, and that man will know His arrival. So, can we recognize the Lord from His word and work when He arrives? In my opinion, this is the question we as Christians should seek and ponder most.

By Ma Xiaoxiao

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