Let's return once again to the Olivet Discourse.
"Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:32-35).
Jesus didn't want His disciples to be caught off guard, which was the primary point of the Olivet Discourse. They would know that He was "right at the door" when they began to "see all these things"—worldwide tribulation, the apostasy, the rise of many false prophets and Christs, the antichrist's declaration of deity, and then even closer to the time of His return, the sun and moon being darkened along with falling stars.
However, directly after telling them of signs that will precede His coming by a few years, months or days, He then told them that the precise time of His return would remain a mystery:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matt. 24:36).
How often this scripture is quoted out of its context! It is usually quoted to support the concept that we have no idea when Jesus will return, because He could return at any time and rapture the church. Yet within its context, that is not at all what Jesus meant. He had just made quite an effort to insure that His disciples would be ready for His return by telling them of many signs that would occur just before He returned. Now He simply tells them that the exact day and hour will not be revealed to them. Moreover, Jesus was obviously not referring in this passage to His supposed first return before the seven-year Tribulation begins, when the church would supposedly be secretly raptured, but of His return at or near the end of the Tribulation. That is not debatable from an honest look at the context.
|Read the previous article in this series,
The Day of the Lord
This article is an excerpt from the book, The Disciple-Making Minister. The actual book itself may be ordered by visiting our online store. To view our copyright policy, click here. © 2013 by David Servant