Satan twists God’s message by elevating one Scripture at the expense of all others. Sadly, many Christians play right along with him. Interpreting Scripture is not “this and not that”, but “line upon line”. In other words, we need to stop shredding Scriptures, ignoring others, and assuming what they mean, and start trusting every Scripture for what they plainly say. I see many examples of this assumptive Scripture-twisting in the Church and I’ve argued that it is the primary reason divisions exist within Christianity. I’ve written a lot about the need for faithful, comprehensive exegesis in regards to the topics of faith vs. works and the partial-rapture doctrine (see here, here, and here).
What I want to talk about now is the ad infinitum repeat of “no one knows the day or hour” (Matt. 24:36, Mk. 13:32) as an argument against the Revelation 12 Sign. For those of us watching for Jesus’ appearing, what confuses us the most is why so many Christians base their entire theory of eschatology on just two verses when there are literally dozens of other Scriptures that paint a more complete picture. Even more – over a quarter of the Bible is prophecy. There are literally dozens and dozens of signs listed in Scripture that indicate the nearness of Jesus’ return along with a number of commands to “Watch!” (Matt. 24:42-44, 25:10, 13, Mk. 13:35-37, Lk. 12:37-39, 21:36, Rev. 3:3).
A prime example of how satan twists Scripture can be found in Luke 4:10 during the Temptation of Jesus. Urging Jesus to throw Himself off the Temple to test God, satan quoted Psalm 91:11: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully.” Jesus retorted with Deuteronomy 6:16: “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Those who sow discord within the Church use what I’ll call the satanic hermeneutic: “this and not that” rather than Jesus’ comprehensive hermeneutic: “line upon line” (Is. 28:13). I think many Christians are using the wrong hermeneutic when it comes to “no one knows”.
Firstly, “knows” (οἶδεν in the Greek) is in the perfect tense in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. The perfect tense describes something that was true or completed in the past and is still presently true, but not necessarily true in the future. In other words, no one knew the day or hour, Jesus included, before He spoke those words and no one presently knew the day or hour at the time Jesus spoke those words. However, His statement cannot be taken as a dogmatic statement about whether or not we can know the day or hour in the future. It’s not in the future tense. It clearly doesn’t say “no one will know” or “no one will ever know”. Compare to the future tense of this Greek verb in Hebrews 8:11. These two verses do not give us enough information to determine whether or not Believers in the 21st century can know. For the answer to that question we need to look to other Scriptures – line upon line.
Secondly, context is king. What was Jesus referring to when He uttered the words “no one knows”? The rapture? The Abomination of Desolation? His second coming? The end of the world? There are a number of significant prophetic events still to come and blindly applying “no one knows” to just one event (the rapture) seems like a stretch. The context in the Olivet Discourse could point to any of these events:
1. The rapture. Some pre-tribulation proponents see Matthew 24:36-51 as applying to the rapture or the general beginning of the Day of the LORD. This view has fallen out of favor, but if true then the context for “no one knows” might be the rapture.
2. The end of the world. The verses immediately preceding Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 mention the end of heaven and earth. This is an event that occurs at the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign (Revelation 21:1). Or a differing interpretation would say at the time of Christ’s return, which is at the end of the seven year Tribulation.
3. The second coming. This view is the futurist scholarly favorite for several reasons. First, because the disciples asked Jesus three questions that have little if anything to do with the rapture: “when will this happen [the destruction of the Second Temple], and what will be the sign of your coming [Jesus’ return to establish the Kingdom] and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). Second, because the signs described in the Olivet Discourse seem to describe events during the Tribulation, some types and shadows of which occurred leading up to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Third, because the rapture was not clearly revealed until the Apostle Paul delivered the message to the primarily Gentile Church (1 Cor. 15:51-52, 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Thirdly, if #1 was the correct context, “no one knows the day or hour” may have been an idiom for the Feast of Trumpets. Of the seven major feasts of the LORD (Lev. 23), the Feast of Trumpets is the only divine appointment that begins on the new moon. While the case for this being an actual Jewish idiom is not unquestionably established, the logic behind it is pretty sound. The first sighting of the waxing crescent of the moon by two witnesses began the Feast of Trumpets. The sighting cannot be perfectly predicted because of atmospheric conditions and so Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets / Day of Shouting) can begin on either of two days, which is why the Jews celebrate what is supposed to be “the first day of the seventh month” (Lev. 23:23-25) over a two-day period because it is “the day no one knows the day or hour”. (Click to Site)