Why did Jesus say “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven but my Father only” (Mt 24:36)?
The Lord said that judgment would take place while those who were standing there with Him (2000 years ago) would NOT die until they saw His coming in judgment (Mt 16:27-28). Jesus said all things written would be fulfilled when Jerusalem was compassed with armies in THAT (2000 years ago) generation (Lk 21:20-32). Jesus said that resurrection and judgment would take place with that generation (2000 years ago) (Mt 12:40-42). Jesus promised Caiaphas that he would see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven (2000 years ago) (Mt 26:64). Jesus said He was coming with His Angels, in the clouds, with the trump of God to Judge everyone (2000 years ago) He said that generation would NOT pass TILL ALL THOSE THINGS WERE FULFILLED (Mt 24:30-34)!
Was Jesus wrong? How is it that Jesus could say just a few verses later “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven but my Father only” (Mt 24:36)? First we must recognize that the day which was under consideration was the Day of Judgment when the Lord would come and Judge the Old Covenant World (Mt 24:1-3). Nowhere in Mt 24 is there a reference to an Day of Judgment regarding the end of the physical planet! In fact in answering the third of the three questions posed to Jesus in Mt 24:3 “when is the END of the “AGE,” Jesus said when the gospel of the kingdom was preached in all the world THEN the END would come (Mt 24:14). Col 1:23 assures us that the gospel was preached (2000 years ago) to every creature under heaven. Did the END come as the Lord promised? Remember, this is the same END that was asked about in Mt 24:3!
It is argued that the “day and hour” is referencing the day of judgment when the physical planet would come to an end. But that thought is NOT even under consideration, Jesus was answering the questions posed in verse three and those questions ALL regarded the end of their world, that Old Covenant people of God where no forgiveness of sins could be acquired. It was the end of their system of worship and the end of the temple and God’s Holy People of the Old Testament.
It is said that since Jesus knew when Jerusalem would be destroyed then the statement “that day and hour” must be regarding something other than Jerusalem’s destruction. Jesus said, regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, that the faithful would flee to the mountains when they saw the armies coming. They were to NOT return to their homes to get anything out, just immediately flee to the mountains. Jesus told His disciples to pray that their flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath Day. Does this sound like He knew THE DAY AND HOUR? Absolutely NOT! He knew it was in that generation but He did NOT, at that time, know the exact day and hour!
Jesus said that day and hour would be like it was in the days of Noah. You would not believe how many people I have spoken with that do not know that the faithful of God, Noah and his family KNEW the day the rains would start and it was the unfaithful that would not know! Gen 7:4 God told Noah over a hundred years after he started building the Ark that the rains would begin IN SEVEN days! Do you believe Jesus? If so then I would expect the faithful of the lord to know the time when the time came near JUST AS IT HAPPENED with Noah! And that is exactly what we find happening in scripture.
As time progressed from Matthew to Revelation Gods people grew in understanding (1Cor 13:9-10, Eph 4:11-13). And indeed in some of the last books of the Bible, before the destruction of Jerusalem took place we find the disciples saying things like “it is the LAST HOUR” (1Jn 2:18). Please note that was said 2000 years ago, “IT IS THE LAST HOUR.” Please tell me how John KNEW the LAST HOUR if no man could ever know it? We find Paul promising those of Thessalonia and Corinth that some of them would NOT die till the coming of the Lord and that coming was about to take place (1Thes 4:17, 1Cor 15:51-52, Acts 24:14-15). We find Peter saying “the end of all things is at hand” (1Pet 4:7). We find James saying that the coming of the Lord was at hand (James 5:7-8). By the way, at hand was imminent, it was so close they could touch it! It could NOT mean 2000 years + and waiting! It would take place in their generation Mt 24:34.
When Jesus cited the day and hour knoweth no man but God, He was citing (Zec 14:7) which no one denies is talking about the time of the end for Gods Old Covenant People Israel! NOT THE END OF THE PHYSICAL PLANET!
How then, could Jesus say “but of that day and hour knoweth no man”? WHEN Jesus said that, He was still on this planet, it was BEFORE He ascended to heaven. It was before the time it was to be revealed just like in the days of Noah. Just like Jesus said it would be.
James Peterson | PentecostalTheology.com