“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
As we do not feel competent, we shall not attempt to explain what seems to be hidden in the remarkable declaration of the text, but we will simply give such views as we have upon the subject, which if not satisfactory in settling all the queries which may be suggested, we hope may be edifying as far as they go.
The first inquiry suggested to our mind by the text, is the day and the hour alluded to. By comparing the thirteenth chapter of Mark with the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, we learn that three questions had been submitted by the disciples to our Lord, immediately after he had predicted the destruction of the buildings of the temple in Jerusalem, which were thus presented privately to Christ, as he sat upon the Mount of Olives. “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The version of Mark reads, “Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” The latter version seems to comprise the last two questions, as stated by Matthew in one, and make the coming of Christ which is alluded to, and the fulfillment of all things spoken of, as meaning precisely the same thing, and the same hour.
Whether the design of the disciples was to ask concerning the coming of Christ in the display of his power to overthrow the buildings of the temple, destroy Jerusalem, and execute the righteous judgments of God upon that devoted city, or to inquire of him concerning his second coming in all the power and glory of the Father, personally, to raise the dead and judge the world at the last day, has been a matter of some serious doubt with many of the Lord’s people. From the statement of the two evangelists, we are inclined to consider the signs of Christ’s coming, to extend from the period of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and ascension in heaven, throughout the gospel dispensation, and until his final coming in the clouds of heaven, at the last day. The signs of his coming are like the signs of the approach of summer, when we see the trees in blossom, with such other indications as are usual to usher in that season of the year. And when the disciples should see the predictions of their Savior being fulfilled, in the destruction of Jerusalem, and in the development of the abomination that maketh desolate, standing in the holy, or once consecrated place, as in all other evidences which he would give them of his exaltation and power, both in the days of the primitive saints, and down to the end of time, every manifestation, shall be to them a sign in conformation of the assurance which he has given them that he will surely come, according to his word, and receive them to himself to dwell with him in glory, forever and ever. If any object to this application of the subject, let such inform us, what less than this can be implied in the fulfillment of all these things? We admit the words, “these things,” restrict the inquiry to the things of which they were speaking; and if it can be satisfactorily established that the questions proposed by the disciples only referred to the literal destruction of Jerusalem, then we are not at liberty to apply it to the final consummation of all things. But if the end of the world, in their inquiry, means the same end, which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians xv. 24, and elsewhere in the word, we are right in our application of it to Christ’s final coming, when he shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on the ungodly and to be admired of all who love his appearing.
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man.” No man can calculate by any data within their reach, when it shall come. Whether the subject related to the end of the Jerusalem which then was, or to the end of this world, no man was able to tell the day nor hour, in either case. Had the intelligent Jews been able, by observation or calculation, to have determined the time and circumstances of their destruction, they would not have flattered themselves, as Josephus informs us they did, that God would deliver them, until the very last. When famine and pestilence raged within their walls, when the Roman army surrounded their city, when devouring flames enveloped their temple, and when reduced to the necessity of eating the flesh of one another, no terms of capitulation offered by Titus, the Roman Commander who was desirous to save the city, would be accepted by the infatuated Jews. If no man knew or could tell the hour of the overthrow of Jerusalem, is it reasonable to believe that any man can tell when the end of the world shall come? Yet there are many who have attempted to fix upon the day and the hour, and to demonstrate by mathematical calculation when the end shall come. But the charge which Christ on this occasion gave to the disciples is still applicable to the saints, “Take heed lest any man deceive you.” False prophets, like Miller, and others, may attempt to demonstrate by scripture references or rather by their construction of the Scriptures, when that day and hour shall come; but believe them not. Your Lord and Master assures you that they do not know. Astronomers may also try their skill, to demonstrate by the fixed laws of nature, when the end shall be, but no man knoweth, neither is it known by the angels in heaven, however superior they may be in intelligence to the sons of men, and whatever may have been confided to them; this mystery they cannot solve.
But the most remarkable expression of our text is the declaration, “neither the Son, but the Father.” Or as stated by Matthew, “but my Father only.” By this declaration, we simply understand that the precise time appointed in the counsel and purpose of God for the execution of what was alluded to in our subject, was not a matter of revelation; and as there is no medium of revelation from God to us, of the things which concern the spiritual kingdom but Jesus Christ, who is the Head in all things to his church, it is not committed as yet to the church, even in her Head, but held as a profound secret in the mind of the Father only. But because Christ is one with his church, as her Mediatorial Head, and in that character could say that the day and hour was not known to him, we do not infer that he is in anywise less or inferior to the Father in his eternal Godhead, or in his perfect knowledge of all things. For in him are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” - Col. ii. 3. We should remember that he not only sustains the relation of identity with the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all, but he is also one with the Father, and identified in the eternal, uncreated and self-existent Godhead. In his Godhead all things are naked and open to his eye, and he declares the end from the beginning, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure, while as the Days-Man, or Mediator between God and men, he can say as recorded, Rev. i. 1-3, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bear record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ and of all things that he saw.”
In conclusion, we will call attention to the words of the apostles to the church of the Thessalonians, in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son or perdition.” - 2 Thess. ii. 1-3. “And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” - 2 Thess. i. 7-10.
August 1, 1857.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 7 - 10