Mt Olivet Discourse – Part 10

by Paul George

Matthew 24:36- 39

Jesus said that no one knows the time of His return, not the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father. What does He mean in light of the fact that Matthew 24:4- 31 speaks concerning the tribulation period that is seven 360-day year, divided at the midpoint by the abomination of desolation? In other words, alert believers in the tribulation should be able to know the exact day of the second coming since Luke 21:28 says, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Also, in Matthew 24:34 Jesus said, that the generation that sees “all these things,” will not pass away until Christ returns. So what does Matthew 24:36 mean in light of these things?

In this passage Jesus is referred to as “the Son.” When the New Testament uses terms like “the Son,” or ” the Son of Man,” as occurs in the next verse, it stresses His humanity and the incarnation. In His incarnation as the Son of Man, it was not given to Him, or revealed to Him the time of His return. During Christ’s incarnation, the Father alone exercised unrestricted knowledge of the time of Jesus’ return to earth.

In the second illustration Jesus compares the time of His second coming and that of the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). First, the passage says that the second coming of Christ will be just like the days of Noah. Does this mean that there is an extensive list of items that can be compared with the days of Noah? The likeness is seen in the suddenness of the coming of the judgment and the unpreparedness of the world. On more than one occasion the New Testament compares the second coming to the flood in Noah’ s days (Luke 17:26- 27; 2 Peter 2:4- 11), as well as to other judgments such as the days of Lot (Luke 17:28- 30). The central point found in these passages is that unbelievers were not prepared for God’s judgment. This is the intention of Christ in this passage as well. Lack of preparedness is reinforced by the examples that our Lord cites. The unprepared of that day will be so absorbed in pleasing themselves that they miss the fact that they are living in extraordinary times that would justify the abandoning the normal routines of life.

While eating and drinking relates to daily unpreparedness, marrying and giving in marriage illustrates unpreparedness concerning one’s long-range perspective. Marriage, while certainly an institution ordained of God is good in-and-of itself, the point here is that one should not be engaged in long-ranged planning while unprepared for impending judgment. Just as it would make no sense to plan marriage in the days of Noah leading up to the Flood, if one was unprepared to face God’ s judgment, in the same way, it makes no sense to plan for marriage in the face of the events of the tribulation that will lead up to the second coming.

In the days of Noah, Noah had been preaching concerning the coming judgment of God (2 Peter 2:5), yet no one, other than Noah’s family paid attention to his message. Instead, they went about business as usual, ignoring the warnings of God’s Word. Perhaps the most sobering statement in this passage is that “they did not understand.” They did not put two and two together, until the flood came and took them all away. Jesus said, “so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Jesus did not say the unbelievers did come to understand these things. However, their understanding did not come until the flood came and took them all away. This is what separates believers from unbelievers. Believers accept God’s Word before an event occurs because they trust Him and His prophetic word. On the other hand, an unbeliever has to be shown these things through experience, in this case a very bad experience, what about you? Do you trust God and His Word because He says it, or are you one who has to be shown things from experience? There is a big difference between the two.

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