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Gospel Reader

The Proper Understanding of Matthew 24:36: “No One Knows the Day or the Hour”

1319

By Xinjie

The four blood moons have appeared, and disasters such as earthquakes, famine, and epidemics are increasingly common. The prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled, and some have openly testified online that He has already come. Some brothers and sisters are puzzled, as it is clearly written in the Bible: “But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). How can they know that the Lord has returned? Has He really come back? What should we do to be able to welcome Him? Let’s fellowship together on this very question.

Matthew24:36,“No One Knows the Day or the Hour

“No One Knows the Day or the Hour”—What Does This Mean?

Some brothers and sisters believe, based on this Bible verse, “But of that day and hour knows no man,” that when the Lord does return, no one will know. This is why none of them give any credence or consideration to claims from people spreading news of the Lord’s return. Is this really a correct understanding, or not? Is it in line with the Lord’s will? The Lord Jesus once prophesied, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). We can see from these lines of scripture that after the Lord returns in the last days, He will knock on our door with His words, and will even have us come out and greet Him through a human cry of, “the bridegroom comes.” As there are people who call out to us the news of the Lord’s return, this shows that when He has come, He will certainly let people know. Clearly, understanding “No one knows the day or the hour” as no one learning of the Lord’s coming after it occurs is completely erroneous.

So how exactly should we interpret this passage of scripture? We can link these verses together: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his 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. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:32–36). “Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matthew 24:44). And Revelation 3:3 says, “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.” These passages use omens of the Lord’s return to tell us. They mention that “the Son of man comes” and “as a thief.” The “Son of man” indeed refers to God incarnate; the spiritual body cannot be called the Son of man. Only someone like the Lord Jesus—God’s Spirit clothed in flesh, that has come among humans to do very practical work, that possesses normal humanity—can be called the Son of man. “As a thief” means coming stealthily and in secret. From this it is evident that the Lord’s return involves descending secretly in the flesh as the Son of man. Given that He descends in secret, we will not perceive Him easily, because the day and the hour God appears as flesh incarnate is unknown to all. That is, “But of that day and hour knows no man,” means that no one knows the exact time of the Lord’s return. However, after He has come to speak and do work, there will definitely be some people who know of it, and this is when we should wake up. When we hear people spreading the gospel of the Lord’s return, we should seek and investigate; only then can we welcome the Lord and sup with Him. However, right now, not only are we not awake, but we don’t go to seek or investigate when we hear others spread the news of the Lord’s return. As such, have we not misunderstood the Lord’s will? Let us read a couple more passages of God’s words, and we will gain an understanding of these passages of scripture.

Almighty God has said: “At the break of dawn, unbeknownst to the multitudes of humanity, God came to earth and began His life in the flesh. People were unaware of the coming of this moment. Maybe they were all fast asleep; maybe many who were watchfully awake were waiting, and maybe many were praying silently to God in heaven. Yet among all these many people, not a single one knew that God had already arrived on earth” (“Work and Entry (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “At the beginning, when Jesus had yet to officially perform His ministry, like the disciples that followed Him, sometimes He also attended meetings, and sang hymns, gave praise, and read the Old Testament in the temple. After He was baptized and arose, the Spirit officially descended upon Him and began to work, revealing His identity and the ministry that He was to undertake. Prior to this, no one knew His identity, and apart from Mary, not even John knew. Jesus was 29 when He was baptized. After His baptism was completed, the heavens were opened, and a voice said: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Once Jesus had been baptized, the Holy Spirit began to bear testimony to Him in this way. Before being baptized at the age of 29, He had lived the life of an ordinary person, eating when He was supposed to eat, sleeping and dressing normally, and nothing about Him was different from others, though of course, this was only to the fleshly eyes of man. … The Bible does not record what He did before He was baptized because He did not do this work before He was baptized. He was merely an ordinary man and represented an ordinary man; before Jesus began to perform His ministry, He was no different from ordinary people, and others could see no difference in Him. It was only after He reached 29 that Jesus knew He had come to complete a stage of God’s work; before, He Himself did not know this, for the work done by God was not supernatural” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

We can see from Almighty God’s words that no one knows when God descends to earth as flesh incarnate; not even the Son of man knows. Only the Spirit in heaven knows this. However, when God begins to do His work, the Holy Spirit bears testimony to the work of God incarnate, and then uses God’s followers to spread the gospel; people then gradually learn of it. It is just as in the beginning, Jehovah God used a prophet to predict the Messiah’s coming, but as to when or where the Messiah would arrive, only Jehovah God knew. When the Lord Jesus returned in the flesh to work, even He Himself did not know at first that He was the Messiah, that He had come to do the work of redemption. He lived a normal life like an ordinary human. Other people did not know that the Lord Jesus was Christ, the incarnate God Himself, either. After the Lord Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit began to bear witness to Him and the Lord Jesus began expressing the way for human repentance, displaying God’s signs and wonders, and healing the sick and casting out demons. Some people gradually came to recognize that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. Those who first accepted the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, such as Peter and John, then began to travel all over, spreading the Lord’s gospel. The Lord’s salvation thus became known to more and more people, And this has been passed down through the ages to today. Now there are believers in every part of the world.

The Lord Jesus also gave these predictions for the last days: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). And the Bible records: “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). When the Lord returns, He expresses truths that more numerous and lofty than those of the Age of Grace, in accordance with our stature. He judges and cleanses us with His words so that we may break free of the bonds of sin and thus be purified and transformed. So, when the Lord returns in the last days to appear and do work, there are certainly some who hear God’s voice and accept His work, and then travel to the four corners to spread the good news of the Lord’s return. This is the same as when we first gained faith in the Lord; we only accepted it after hearing others spread the gospel of the crucifixion. As is written in the Bible, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Therefore, when we hear the news of the Lord’s return, we absolutely must not blindly reject it; we should seek with an open mind, ask those spreading the gospel what work the Lord has done since returning, and what words He has uttered. If their testimonies fit with the Lord’s prophecies, then this is proof that He has indeed returned to appear and do work, and by accepting and submitting we will be welcoming the Lord. Almighty God says, “[S]ince we are searching for the footprints of God, it behooves us to search for God’s will, for the words of God, for His utterances—because wherever there are new words spoken by God, the voice of God is there, and wherever there are the footsteps of God, God’s deeds are there. Wherever there is the expression of God, there God appears, and wherever God appears, there the truth, the way, and the life exist. In seeking God’s footprints, you have ignored the words ‘God is the truth, the way, and the life.’ And so, many people, even when they receive the truth, do not believe that they have found God’s footprints, and still less do they acknowledge the appearance of God. What a grave mistake!” (“The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

Throughout the entire world, there is only The Church of Almighty God openly testifying that the Lord has returned—that is, that Christ of the last days, Almighty God, has expressed many truths and has done the work of judging and cleansing people. The vast majority of Almighty God’s utterances are recorded in the book The Word Appears in the Flesh. God’s words have elucidated every aspect of the truth. They speak very plainly on the mysteries of God’s incarnations, the inside truths of the Bible, the purpose of God’s six thousand year management plan for mankind, the differences between His work and the work of man, as well as how God judges and cleanses people, how people should know God, how God determines the outcome and destination for every human, and so on. These truths are all related to God’s own work; they are all mysteries that clearly point out the path to salvation for us. We should engage in seeking to see whether this is indeed the Holy Spirit saying to the churches, and whether it is indeed God of the last days doing His work of judgment starting with His house. This is how we can verify whether or not Almighty God is indeed the Lord Jesus returned. I believe that as long as we have an aspiration to seek, God will lead us to welcome the Lord’s return! This is because, as the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

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