Sermon: No One Knows the Day or the Hour of Christ’s Coming Matthew 24:36-44

Truth Taught- Jesus teaches us that no one knows or can know the day or hour of His coming.

Introduction

Jesus has answered His disciples’ first question, When will these things be?  Jesus now moves on to their second question…

Matthew 24:3 (ESV) 

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 


This second question will be the focus of what Jesus tells them and us concerning His return.  We must remember that Jesus does not address everything there is to say or learn about the end times here.  There is more to know than what Jesus tells us.  

Our Lord shifts from one subject matter to another, from the destruction of the Temple to His Parousia or His coming. 

We have a collection of shorter sayings followed by three parables.  All these verse focus on the theme of the imminent arrival or the Son of God, our Lord.  They also focus on the fact that His coming is the final verdict of the division between the saved and the lost.  Also, in these verses we will see that woven within is the element of surprise and the call to be ready.

For their first question, Jesus taught that there would be a when attached to it.  He told them that there would be some general signs and indicators.  There would be evangelism and the Gospel that would spread throughout the world.  There would also be the sign of the Abomination of Desolation found within the Temple. 

Now, concerning their second question and their request for a sign, Jesus gives them none.  He does not give them a time indicator but rather teaches that God desires not a last-minute confession but a lifetime of readiness.  

We have several things that indicate a change of subject matter, namely from the Temple to the Parousia

-Rhetorical Device…Peri De

Matthew 22:31 (ESV) 

31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 


The Apostle Paul used this a lot to mark new subject matter as well.

1 Corinthians 8:1 (ESV) 

8 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 


-Shift in terminology from those days (days plural) of the Roman occupation, siege, destruction to that day (day singular) speaking of a single day even a single hour of Christ’s coming.  This shift in terminology marks a shift in subject matter.

– No signs are given.  The first part 4-35, Jesus has given time indicators and signs to avoid and signs to watch for now, beginning in verse 36 He doesn’t give any indicators, in fact, the exact opposite is true.  There are no signs to watch for they do not exist.  There is nothing that will give us prior warning of Christ’s coming.

– Jesus begins to address His coming by using the Greek term Parousia which his disciples used in their second question.  Jesus did not use this term in the first section but here uses it to coincide with their terminology.
what will be the sign of your coming (Parousia) and of the end of the age?” 

-A long time may elapse.  Included within the parables found in this section are a number of references to the long time which may elapse before the Parousia takes place…
We see that scoffers had this type of attitude…

2 Peter 3:3–10 (ESV) 

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 

Pray

Matthew 24:36–44 (ESV) 

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 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, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 


1.  Concerning That Day No One Knows

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.


Throughout the OT speaks of the day of the Lord, the day of Yahweh, 

That Day refers back to the day of Jesus’ coming.  Jesus has already taught His followers about That Day.  The OT calls it the Day of the Lord, referring to a day of judgement.  Jesus has already taught His disciples about that day… 

Matthew 10:15 (ESV) 

15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 

Matthew 11:22 (ESV) 

22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 

Matthew 12:36 (ESV) 

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak

What’s striking is that Jesus tells His followers that He is the One who will appear as the Judge.  

Throughout the OT it speaks of the day of the Lord, the day of Yahweh.  Here, one thing amazing is Jesus informs us that He is, in fact the Judge for humanity.  So, we must see that when our Lord returns, He not only is our reigning King of glory but for those outside of Christ He is their eternal Judge.

So, That Day refers to Jesus’ Parousia, His coming.  Our Lord tells us that no one knows the day or even the hour that will take place.  No person knows, no angel in heaven knows nor does Jesus even know.  This is knowledge left for the Father alone.  It is unknown and unknowable. 
What does that tell us?  All the people running around trying to determine the date of Christ’s return are seeking knowledge not meant for them.  I would say this may in fact be sin.  Why do I say that?  Rather than obeying the call to be ready at all times, they are trying to pinpoint the Parousia so they can live however they like and then repent.  Or they are seeking to be some sort of cult guru who can gain a following for themselves.    

2.  Because No One Knows the Day, People Will Be Caught By Surprise

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 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.

Back in verse 27, Jesus mentioned the Parousia and compared it to lightning that flashes across the sky.  Here, highlighting that His return will be unmistakable and sudden.

Matthew 24:27 (ESV) 

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

Remember they were going to be looking for Christ to save them from the destruction and in false hope creating false Saviors saying there He is or He’s over there etc but Jesus told them not to be deceived because when He does return no one will mistake His coming or that it is Him.

Jesus warns against just living your everyday life without making advanced preparation.  We will see Him make this point in His upcoming parables.  Only those who are prepared to meet Jesus will be saved those who are not prepared will suffer great eternal loss.

It is very fitting that He uses the comparison of the people in Noah’s day and the people at the day of His return.  In both cases they are doing everyday normal things with no concern for the impending danger that would overtake them.  In Noah’s day, the people did not listen to his preaching.  The same in the day of Christ’s coming, people will not listen.  

We all know people like this.  Notice here that His coming, in this case is compared to the flood of God’s judgement.  For the lost world just like the world-wide flood, Jesus Parousia will be the coming of judgement.  It’s a time of great danger.  Here are the scoffers Peter refers to in 2 Peter 3… 

 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Jesus is highlighting the fact that His coming will be NO prior warning.  It will happen suddenly and it will be world-wide and only those who have made prior preparation will be saved.

Do you know Jesus as Lord and Savior today?  If not, please speak to me after the service.  


Jesus gives us examples of everyday life that will be going on when He comes.  

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.


Two people doing the same everyday task and one is taken the other left.  There is not sufficient information here to develop a theology of the rapture as some would want us to believe.  In fact, if we follow the course of what Jesus is telling us the people taken would be more closely compared to the people swept away or taken away by the flood. 

The point is this whether it is good to be taken or left is not what Jesus is teaching here.  The point is that at His Parousia your eternal destiny is fixed based on whether or not you have exercised prior faith in Christ.  The preparation is prior faith.  Saving faith and being indwelt with the Holy Spirit is what has made you ready to meet Jesus at His coming.

3.  Christ is Coming and We Must Be Ready

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 

Here, of course Jesus is not teaching that it’s wrong to sleep.  He is using sleep as symbolic for not being ready.  It comes from wartime situations when the one who’s at his post and must remain awake and ready at all times but instead he sleeps.  It’s like the watchman on the wall whose job it is to remain awake so he can warn the city of a coming army but when the army comes, he’s found sleeping. 

As God’s people we must be ready.  We must exercise saving faith we must be living for Christ and when nighttime comes, we can rest our head on the pillow and sleep in peace.  If Christ should return during the middle of the night there would be a wonderful reunion.  

1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 (ESV) 

5 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 

Jesus tells us then, how we are to live.  Live a life that is ready to meet Him at any time.  

In our Lord’s short parable if the master of the house would have known when he would not have been sleeping at that moment.  He did not know when and was asleep.  Beloved we do not know when the sudden coming of Christ will be so we must be ready at all times.  

Conclusion

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 

The Parousia can happen at any time.  There is nothing preventing it right now.  Jesus applies the moral of the story directly to His disciples and to us.  

44 Therefore you also must be ready

The first thing that’s important in being ready is to really believe He is coming.  

What if Noah didn’t really believe?  He would not have prepared the Ark.  Noah and his family had made preparation.  They did not know exactly when the flood was coming but they were ready when it came.  

I remember in Seminary in Church History Class.  The professor often gave the dreaded pop-quiz.  You did not know what morning he would walk into class with the papers in his arms.  The only option was, of course failing was not an option, to be ready every day.  Really, it was a blessing.  Every day when I went home, I read over the day’s notes and thought what might be on the next day’s quiz should it come.  The point was by being ready every day you actually did better than if you knew when the quiz was and crammed for it.  You actually learned the information rather than memorizing and quickly forgetting.  

Jesus calls us to be ready for His Parousia.  What does being ready look like?

He’s going to tell us in these next parables.  Being ready is a great anticipation, a longing for Jesus.  It’s a bride who is awaiting her husband’s return after he has been away on a long journey.  It’s serving Christ by caring for His people.  It’s the manifestation of your faith in your life.  Those are the types of ways we can be ready when our Lord comes.

You see, a person is vigilant, a person is watchful, a person is prepared, a person is alert, a person is ready. Not be passively waiting for Christ, or by trying to decipher secret signs, but by actively trusting and loving Christ and longing for the day of His coming. True conversion, C.H. Spurgeon said, true conversion gives a man security, but it doesn’t allow him to leave off being watchful.

Are you ready?  Are you watchful?

Resources Used:

Matthew by RT France

Matthew by DA Carson

Matthew by William Hendriksen

Matthew by Leon Morris

The Olivet Discourse by Sam Storms

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