No man knows the day or the hour of the Messiah’s return. That is an undisputed fact that Yeshua taught his disciples. However, I think this verse has been used in these latter days to keep us from a wise understanding concerning the timing of the second coming of the Messiah.
Sometimes, when I’ve talked to people of coming end-of -age scenarios, I get the response, “we’re not meant to know the time of the second coming”. The conversation is abruptly ended. Talk of the end times and second coming are apparently off-limits. However, that’s not what we find in Scripture. In fact, I’ve recently read that Scriptural references to the second coming of the Messiah actually outnumber those concerning the first coming by a factor of eight to one! Even if that estimate isn’t fully accurate, I think it’s clear that thoughts and study on future events are certainly not to be off-limits for YHWH’s people.
Yeshua told his disciples that only the Father knows the day and the hour (in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32) and, with the context from the preceding verses, this seems to be speaking of the second coming. However, these words are far from telling us all to totally forget about the timing of his return. In fact, there is a lot written in the section (of Matthew in particular) of future events and the repeated admonition to be alert and watchful.
Yeshua says, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When its branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matt 24:32-34). To me, this seems a pretty clear message that we are to keep a close watch on all the signs, and then be able to recognise the times in which we are living. After another short parable, Yeshua also says, “Therefore you be also ready: for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of man comes.” (v44).
So, we see that we may not know the actual day or the hour, but we are to be studying the signs and be ready for that day. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians we read some appropriate words that add to our discussion. In fact, we see that Paul actually expects the Thessalonians to know the times and the seasons in relation to the “day of the Lord”. He also expects them to know that the day will come just like “a thief in the night”, which alludes to Yeshua’s parable in Matthew (24:33). But then Paul gives further insight into the position that those of faith should be in. He says, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (see 1 Thess 5:1-5). That’s something we don’t hear quite so often! “So, then, we should not sleep, as others do, but we should watch and be sober.” (v6).
So, Yeshua’s return should not be like “a thief in the night” for his people! The obvious conclusion is that the people of YHWH should actually know the times and the seasons, be fully prepared, and not surprised by the timing of the second coming. That’s certainly worth some serious consideration. In many respects, the same could have been said for those living during the time of the first coming also. Yeshua simply came and went for many of the people, yet others had their lives transformed by recognising that the time spoken of in the Messianic prophecies was unfolding before their eyes.
In the second last verse of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes, “I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read to all the set apart brethren.” Clearly, Paul considered the message he’d conveyed in his letter to be of great importance. This included a considerable amount of content discussing future, end time events. These teachings are not intended to just titillate our senses, or add some exciting trivia. They add depth to our faith, provide us with warnings and advice, and fill us with the certain hope of our final salvation at the conclusion of some very dark times. We discover that if we’re truly walking in the light, then these days will not come upon us like a thief in the night.
Many in our world are living in fear of their future as they see things around them falling apart. I pray that our faith and our studies will fill us with a confidence and strength that attracts others who have no such hope. YHWH has given us signs and prophecies to direct our paths in these closing days. Let’s not ignore them.
“For Elohim has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who died for us, that, whether awake or asleep, we should live together with him. Therefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as indeed you do.” (1 Thess 5:9-11).