14.01.05 Mt. 24:36-44; Lk. 21:36 (See also Mk. 13:32-33)
EXACT TIMES OF HIS RETURN UNKNOWN
Mt. 36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son — except the Father only. 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be:
40 Then two men will be in the field:
one will be taken
and one left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill:
one will be taken
and one left.
42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Lk. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”
In this parable, Jesus said that when He returns, the people of this earth will be like those in the days of Noah, doing all the daily activities and people normally do. Then suddenly, there is a day of reckoning: the saved will be delivered and the unsaved will be judged. The two men in the field, the two women at the grinding stone, the sheep and the goat, etc., are all common metaphors found in Jewish literature.
Jesus presented four different parables to emphasize the differences between those who are faithfully obedient and believed and those who do not. This is not a contrast between those inside and those outside the church, but of those within. Bible prophecy is not to scare believers, but to prepare them for the uncertain future.
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows.” Again Jesus reflected upon the typical Jewish wedding tradition when only the fathers of the bridegroom and bride knew when the young man could “capture” his bride.
A previously stated, this phrase clearly demonstrates that no one will know the exact time of His return. Jesus did, however, go to great lengths to describe the season of His return. When “all hell breaks loose” it is time to rest in the comfort of His words. He predicted the future and, obviously, knows what will happen prior to the end of the age.
An interesting interpretation was originated by messianic scholars. They have studied the meanings of the seven God-ordained feasts, and believe there is a strong prophetic significance relative to the Feast of Tabernacles, which includes the Feast of Trumpets, concerning His return. Since all seven feasts in some manner point towards Jesus, they have concluded that the Feast of Trumpets could be the time of the rapture of the church. This interpretation is not set in the proverbial concrete, but is considered to be a strong possibility.
Prophetically the Feast represents the ingathering of all saints at the close of the age. The celebration of the Feast came after grain crops were ripe. The farmers took their sickles to the field, cut their wheat and barley, and brought the harvest home. John used this identical imagery in his Revelation in which an angel said to him who was sitting on a cloud,
“Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
John used the imagery of the farm harvest to explain the gathering of the saints by Christ Jesus. That is parallel with the imagery of the feasts that reveal the prophetic plan of God the Father through His Son Jesus, so it may be possible that Jesus will gather His saints at the time of the Feast. This is underscored by the fact that the feasts were not Jewish feasts, but belonged to God for He said, “These are My appointed feasts” (Lev. 23:2). The church and all the saints of the old era will be with Him during the marriage feast of the Lamb, after which time He will return with the heavenly hosts to reign upon the earth for a thousand years. During the millennium reign, the Feast of Tabernacles will be observed in Jerusalem with excitement and dedication by both Jews and Gentiles. The Feast of Tabernacles was designed by God for both Jews and Gentiles (Zech. 14:16) and in the 1980s it was reinstituted in Israel by a Christian ministry known as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Jesus urged His disciples to be careful of future events. He gave several parables that emphasized watchfulness, readiness, and encouraged labor for the Kingdom of God.
. Joel 2:9; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15.
. See the following: 1) the Parable to encourage Watchfulness (14.01.05; Mk. 13:33-37); 2) the Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servant (14.01.05; Mt. 24:45-51); 3) the Parable of the Ten Virgins (14.01.07; Mt. 25:1-13), 4) and the Parable of the Talents (14.01.08; Mt. 25:14-30).
. The significance of the messianic banquet was very important to Jesus (Heb. Yeshua). The wedding imagery between Himself and His church as it was reflected in a first century Jewish wedding is discussed by Dr. John Fischer, a messianic scholar and rabbi at 09.03.04.V1 and Professor John Metzger in video 14.02.05.V2. See the following as well: Wedding garments needed at the wedding in Mt. 22:1-14 (13.03.07); discussion of the “best place” in Lk. 14:7-14 (12.02.05); the great messianic banquet in Lk. 14:15-24 (12.02.06); the wise and foolish virgins in Mt. 25:1-13 (14.01.07); the preparation of a new home in Jn. 14:1-4 (14.02.14).
. See Appendix 5.
. Mt. 13:39, 24:31; Jn. 14:3; 1 Thess 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:52; Rev. 14:14.
. Some believe that the rapture will occur at the Feast of Trumpets, when the trumpets will be blow and the church of Jesus will rise to meet Him in the air. This is a plan of God the Father and Jesus does not know when it will happen.
. Garr, Restoring Our Lost Legacy. 150-52.