The next prophetic event that concerns the church, true followers of Jesus Christ, is known as the rapture. One day soon, Jesus will appear in the clouds and call us up to be with Him. He is currently preparing a place for us, and that place will soon be ready (John 14:2-3)! Traditional teaching is that this event is, and always has been, “imminent”, in that it could happen at any time and we cannot “know the day or the hour”. While popular and well-established, is that teaching true?
(The short answer – as the Day and the Hour approaches, we should be able to zoom in on possibilities. We may never truly know the exact day and hour, but we will definitely not need to be caught unawares!)
The Bible is fascinating in that it applies to every believer in every generation. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is the mystery and the wonder in the Word of God as the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14). This is how Bible prophecy works as well. Each generation can see it as applying to their time, to give them faith, hope, and courage. In hindsight, we can see details that weren’t perceived by those who came before us. This is by miraculous design. God illuminates just enough to see the path in front of us, in our generation. Truly the Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)!
That Day and Hour No One Knows
The most commonly cited phrase when discussing possible rapture timelines is that “no one knows the day or the hour”. Is that truly what Jesus was teaching? Should we not look for a possible day or an hour, because it can’t be known anyways? Let’s see:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36)
What’s the Context?
In context, the verse comes between Jesus stating that the heavens and the earth will pass away, but His words will never pass away; and, as in the days of Noah, everything was regular until the flood came and washed them all away.
The “day and hour no one knows” could thus possibly apply to the heavens and the earth passing away; it could apply to “THAT DAY” (the day of the Lord) and “THAT HOUR” (the hour of His wrath); it could apply to the one being taken and one being left (rapture); or it could apply to the Second Coming (institution of Messianic Kingdom).
- If the “day and the hour” is referring to the heavens and the earth passing away, that is at least 1007 years future. I don’t think this is the most likely interpretation, as the antecedent is “my words will never pass away”, and “never” isn’t a day nor an hour.
- If it is applying to the Day of the Lord and the Hour of His wrath, I agree that it is difficult to pinpoint an exact starting day and hour (although I would suspect Yom Kippur might be a candidate). There is some indication that the Day of the Lord begins very shortly after the rapture, but the Hour of His wrath may not occur until the final Bowl Judgments. With the close connection between the beginning of the Day of the Lord and the rapture, it’s possible that this statement could correctly refer to both (the rapture as an EVENT, which occurs at the beginning of THAT DAY – the Day of the Lord, which is a period of TIME).
- I believe in context “the day and the hour” is most likely referring to the “days of Noah” description that follows the statement. In examining the “taken and left” passage, I believe this clearly refers to the rapture (see Post HERE)!
- If the day and the hour is referring to the Second Coming, it would seem to be out of place (sandwiched between the destruction of the heavens and the earth after the Millennial Kingdom and the Rapture which is “as in the days of Noah”. As well, it seems that the day and hour of the second coming can be known to those who are watching…and counting (most likely 1260 days after the abomination of desolation is set up in the Jewish Temple – possibly in the evening. See THIS POST).
From these choices, the most likely context of this teaching is the Rapture of the Church, which will immediately usher in the Day of the Lord.
What about Tense?
So let’s suppose that Jesus was teaching about the rapture and beginning of the Day of the Lord in this passage. Let’s examine the entire passage, paying attention to the bolded sections:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:36-44
At the time Jesus stated this (prior to His death and resurrection), He says that no one KNOWS (present tense) the day and hour but the Father. Some, such as Robert Breaker, suggest that Jesus in His incarnate state laid aside His omniscience and instead relied on the Holy Spirit to lead Him and reveal to Him what He needed to know while in the flesh. Whether this is the case or not I’m not sure. What I do know is that there was a legitimate offer on the table for Israel to accept Jesus Christ as Messiah. If they had, the mystery of the church age would not have occurred, and there would have been no break in the 70 weeks of Daniel. The Day and the Hour could have come much sooner!
Daniel Matson at WatchForTheDay describes it in this way:
This is the verse everyone seems “to know” by saying “no one can know” when anyone discusses the nearness of Jesus’ return, but that is entirely wrong. The Greek word used for “knows” is εiδω and it is in the perfect active indicative. It should be rendered as “has seen” as in completed action up to that point.
Jesus is communicating the time of the end to disciples who do not truly understand the outflow of events that are coming. Jesus is yet to be crucified, buried, raised, and ascended. Jesus explains that no one has seen the time of the end, because it is not occurring at that time. Jesus is not restoring the kingdom as they are hoping will be done. Jesus is trying to drive that point home. He is not intending the message for us in the future to not know and see what he clearly revealed. His message is to the disciples who do not understand. No disciple has seen what Jesus just explained because it is still in the future. No one has seen or is seeing it. That is Jesus’ intent of saying that sentence. He is saying those events are not happening now, but are still in the future.
But of that day and hour no one has seen, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. – Matthew 24:36
And so what does Jesus say to do next? He continues and tells us to watch. Here εiδω is used again and is “has seen”. Here is Jesus command to watch in Matthew 24:42:
Watch therefore, for you have not seen (or have not known) what hour your Lord is coming.
So the Church begins its life ten days after Jesus ascends to Heaven and still no one had seen of that day or hour. What then is the Church to do? Watch. We watch so that we might know.
Jesus stated that no one KNOWS (at that time when He said it) the day or the hour, NOT that it would NEVER be known. This is why we are commanded repeatedly to WATCH.
How would we be able to watch if the Day would be completely unrecognizable as it approached?
A Thief in the Night
Another passage that causes some discussion is found in 1 Thessalonians:
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9
Note the contrast between THEM (on whom destruction comes suddenly) and YOU (are not in darkness). This day, the Day of the Lord, need not come as a thief in the night to those who are children of the light and children of the day. Of dates and times Paul did not need to write, because the children of the day (born again believers) should have had some knowledge of possible dates and times, or signs that would indicate it was near!
Note Jesus’ words to the church of Sardis:
If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. (Revelation 3:3)
If you perform a mathematical equation on this verse, you will note the inverse: If you WILL wake up, Jesus will NOT come like a thief, and you WILL know what hour he will come (but it won’t be against the ones who are awake)!
Note again the strong connection between the Rapture (hope of salvation) and the beginning of the Day of the Lord – That Day – That Great and Terrible Day.
Revelation Passed from Father to Son to Angel to His Servants
When, then, would it be possible to know the day and the hour? When Jesus stated that no one would know “about that day or hour”, note the pattern:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)
No One Human Knows – Not Angels – Not Son – Only Father
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2)
Father Gives – To Son – Who Sends Angel – To John for All His Servants
When Jesus ascended to heaven after His death and resurrection, He was fully omniscient. God the Father specifically gave Jesus the revelation of what is to come, to pass on to His followers.
The Father gave the Son a revelation of the latter days to show His servants what must take place.
The Feasts of God
God has 7 appointed times, or feasts, which describe the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits – were fulfilled at the First Coming of Christ through His death and resurrection. The summer feast – Pentecost – seems to have been fulfilled with the coming of the Holy Spirit to seal the body of Christ. The fall feasts – Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles – remain to be fulfilled. Since the church was born (or conceived) on Pentecost, it seems that the church will also be delivered (raptured) on a Feast Day. But which one???
Hebrew Idioms About The Day
Some suggest that an examination of the phrase “the day or the hour” connects it with the Feast of Trumpets. This particular feast day is the only one to start on the first day of the month (1 Tishrei). Since the Hebrew calendar was lunar, the months began with the confirmation of the sighting of the first sliver of moon after the New Moon, by 2 witnesses. Thus, there was some uncertainty surrounding when this Feast day would start. The book “Signs In the Heavens” by Avi Ben Mordechai, a Messianic rabbi, strongly suggests that the traditional Hebraic view would be that Jesus would come for His bride on a future Feast of Trumpets. An article on this can be found here – Hebroots.org. The Feast of Trumpets does seem very compelling as a possibility, since it was a day of SHOUTING (or blowing), and they weren’t quite sure why they were doing it!
Is there a clue to the Hour?
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
On the Feast of Trumpets, there is traditionally a series of 100 trumpet blasts on the shofar. The last trumpet blast is known as the “Tekiah Gedolah“, and is a long, drawn-out solemn tone. It seems that this last blast would be delivered near the end of the day, towards evening (remember the Jewish day begins and ends at sunset). Note that this trumpet blasting is based on tradition – the Last Trump that calls us up into heaven will be none other than the Trumpet Voice of God!
The Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of Unknown Day and Hour. Could it possibly be connected to the Rapture of the Church? The Hour Appears to *Possibly* Be Related to Twilight, when One Day Fades Into the Next
But Wait, What About the Delay?
Jesus tells several parables wherein there is an expected arrival time, followed by a delay. The most well-known example is the Parable of the 10 Virgins (Matthew 25). These ladies are waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive, so they know He is coming, but He is delayed and they all slumber. At midnight, the cry sounds that the Bridegroom is here! (Is it a WATCHER who announces the midnight cry?) Only those who have their flasks of oil (true believers, sealed by the Holy Spirit in the church age) are ready to meet Him.
Jesus tells a similar parable in Matthew 24, and a lengthier one in Luke 12:
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak… But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:25-38,45-46)
Those who are dressed and ready are the ones who are clothed in Jesus’ blood and righteousness – true believers. We are to be WATCHING when he comes, even if it is at the middle of the night (midnight cry) or towards daybreak. Note again that a delay serves to separate the true servant from the false servant.
While Jesus can never be delayed from His appointed times from HIS perspective, is it possible that He has been delayed from OURS? If the Feast of Trumpets is a possible expected time, could the actual appointment be on Yom Kippur (or even Feast of Tabernacles)?
The Hour Appears to *Possibly* Be Related to Midnight, or Towards Daybreak
What About the Year?
While many who have studied the Feasts of God are in high-watch mode every Feast of Trumpets (although Pentecost and Yom Kippur also seem to be possible contenders), this is something that occurs every year.
Are we able to pinpoint the year at all?
Sometime between 2009 and 2011, people started searching in astronomy software for signs in the sun, moon, and stars that might indicate Jesus’ second coming. This came on the heels of a fascinating documentary, that used astronomy software to locate the Star of Bethlehem. And what did they find? An exact match to Revelation 12:1-2:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
This sign is a once-in-humanity occurrence. People looked, every year, over a 10,000 year time span. This sign occurs ONLY ONCE.
Links to many articles on the Great Sign can be found on Unsealed.
Another hint at the year can be found in the Great Pyramid of Giza,which displays an alignment both with the Revelation 12 sign and within the angles of it’s corridors and the stars. This is known as the “Christ angle” and has relationship with both His first and (possibly) second comings.
Is the Great Sign of Revelation 12 (Heavens) and the sign on the Earth of the pyramid of Giza suggesting that 2017 *might* be the year?
Can We Know the Day and the Hour?
From a thorough study of the scriptures and God’s Signs, it would appear that God has revealed to us the Season (Israel’s Rebirth and the Lifespan of One Generation), the Day (one of the Feasts of God – Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, or Tabernacles), the Hour (twilight OR midnight OR towards daybreak), and the Year (2017?).
I’m not stating that the the rapture will definitively occur this year on a Feast Day, but it certainly appears that if God is going to warn us in advance, this might be it… I don’t believe we can know with 100% confidence the exact time of the rapture – unless God clearly shows us as we approach the actual day and hour (as He did to Noah and Lot). This is by design. However, it seems we have been given many clues. We would be wise to heed these warning signals that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
Regardless of dates and times, I strongly believe that we should be watchful and ready at all moments, actively engaged in Kingdom Work. We are to occupy until He comes.
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
Can We Know the Day and the Hour – Rev12Daily
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!