I am glad to introduce our visitors to another guest writer, Holger Neubaur, of Michigan. Holger is a minister and a very good student and writer. We will be posting more articles by him in the future, we hope. I think you will enjoy them and benefit from them.
But of That Day and That Hour!
The traditional futurist view of the second and final coming of Christ is dependent upon dividing the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 at v. 36 where Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” When the alleged division is found to be contrived and false, the traditional position begins to fall like dominoes.
The futurists aver that the division marks two different comings of Christ: (1) The first with signs and with the knowledge of the day and hour; and, (2) the second without signs and without the knowledge of the day and hour. But this alleged division is refuted by the immediate context of this passage and the remote context of this passage as well. The passage in reality is indivisible.
First, Jesus was addressing three questions that regarded the same event, not different events. After Jesus warned the Jews that all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from Abel (Abel was not a Jew) to Zacharias would be required upon that generation (Matthew 23:34-39), and [after] affirming that not one stone would be left upon another in reference to the buildings of the temple, four disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us when these things shall be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3).
The “world” here is the Jewish world, translated from the Greek “aion.” Vine says, “The phrase ‘end of the world’ should be rendered ‘end of the age’ in most places.” It should [be] here. In this very context Jesus said, “and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (different Greek word here, referring to the earth) for a witness unto all nations: and then the end shall come,” (Matthew 24:14).
Jesus was referencing the very same “end” he spoke about earlier, the end of the Jewish age. Did Jesus switch subjects in the middle of an argument, referring to two different “ends?” Did Jesus intend to confuse the subject? No, Jesus was simply elucidating upon “the end.” Jesus was speaking of the end that every Jew would be familiar with. Jesus was speaking of Daniel’s prophecy of the “time of the end” (Daniel 12:1-13). The time of “the end” was not the end of time. Daniel predicted the end of the Jewish age as proven by the “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 12:11). Consider also Hebrews 9:26 which says, “…but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Jesus came in the end of the Jewish age, not the [end of the] Christian age.
Second, the context itself bears out that Jesus, [Himself] did not know the day and the hour of the fall of Jerusalem because He said, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter nor on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20). If the finality of the day was set, then why would Jesus even bother telling them to pray that their flight would not be in the winter where traveling would be difficult, or on the sabbath day when the gates of the city would be closed?
God is omniscient. It is no more remarkable that this day and hour was kept from our Lord while He was on the earth than a day 2,000 years or even 20,000 years in the future. Zechariah references the very same day spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:36, a day known only to the Lord (cf. Zechariah 14:7).
Zechariah 14 speaks of nations gathered against Jerusalem (vv. 1, 2); the Lord standing on the mount of Olives in judgment (v. 4); [a] fleeing to the mountains (v. 5); and then he says, “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day or night: but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light” (v. 7); and, the Lord reigning as King over all the earth (v. 10), a clear reference to [which] Revelation 11:15 [is making].
Zechariah speaks of the fall of Jerusalem. When Jesus returned to Heaven and assumed His spiritual form, He then no doubt became aware of the “day” as the fullness of His heavenly state became realized again.
Third, a careful reading of Luke 17 refutes the alleged division in Matthew 24:36. Matthew 24:37-42 mention the days of Noah, marrying and giving in marriage, and one taken up and the other left. But as Luke 17:26-37 refers to Noah, marrying and giving in marriage, and one taken and the other left, he says:
“Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. (Luke 17:30, 31)
The one being taken and the other left is not a reference to a rapture, but simply that some would leave while others would stay. The coming of Christ was to have an element of surprise, so the disciples would have to “watch.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:2 Paul reminds them that Jesus would come “as a thief in the night.” Two verses later he said, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Later, Paul prays that their whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved unto the coming of the Lord (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Jesus would come as a thief to those not watching. The Great coming of the book of Revelation is identified as a thief coming (cf. Revelation 16:15) and the book of Revelation is filled with signs. Even during the time of Noah, the ark was being built! Was not this a sign?
Fourth, the futurist position implies that the final return could happen now or any time in the future. Most futurists believe the 1000 year reign [of] Revelation 20:4, 5 represents “a very long time.” They also aver that “one day with the Lord is like a thousand years,” [referring to] 2 Peter 3:8.
Since one day could be a thousand years, one year could be 365,000 years. 1000 years could actually be 365 million years. So, according to the futurist position, Jesus could return in over 365 million years. If not, why not? And I’m the heretic because I take away the Christian’s hope? Pshaw!
Jesus has fulfilled all that He came to restore. He came to restore spiritual life. Jesus said to Martha, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:26). Was Jesus speaking of physical death or spiritual? Was Jesus referring to physical life or spiritual?
How do we get out of spiritual death and into spiritual life? Is it not by resurrection? Is there any more significant resurrection than this? If we possess resurrection life now, then why do we need a dead corpse resurrection in the future?
Jesus came to bring life, and to destroy death and Hades (cf. Revelation 1:18; 22:10-12). Jesus opened up Heaven when he returned (cf. Revelation 15:8). His return was imminent in the first century (cf. Revelation 1:3; 22:10; James 5:8; Hebrews 10:37). How long will it take the church to see the inadequacies of the futurist ideas and secure the spiritual realities already here?