The Open Scroll - Will No One Know the Day?

Will No One Know the Day?

By Bob Schlenker  (Prints about 5 pages)  updated 3/17/01

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.  Proverbs 25:2
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Matthew 24:36
One of the most widely quoted (or misquoted) passages these days is Matthew 24:36. I have heard it many many times over the years from a wide variety of people, and always in the context of meaning that the time of Jesus' coming is a secret that will not be revealed in advance of the events to man, angel or even the Son. It is believed to be a secret hidden in the Father that will not be revealed. This view is absolutely incorrect. After years of seeing information about the timing of our Lord's return opened to me and having studied the matter at length, it seems quite incredible that the truth has remained so well hidden even about this basic fact. The matter of the timing of our Lord's return has indeed been a secret, kept very well hidden, but is not a matter meant to remain hidden from everyone. Even if you have questioned the popular interpretation, you might be surprised to note the simple fact that interpreting the phrase "no one knows" to mean no one "can ever know," or "will ever know," is just plain wrong. Just read what is written. This is not a matter of a complicated mistranslation of the Greek into the English but simply a misreading of what is written. Those who read it in the Greek misread it in the Greek as well because the word "oiden" is a very simple word that is translated "knows." Oh, the power of a preconceived idea! You might be thinking there must be some other place where a similar passage supports the popular interpretation - but there isn't. Isn't that amazing? It is so simple yet scholar and student alike, year after year, continue to promote the misconception that "no one will know." I will address how this can be so later in this study, but suffice it to say for now that the matter of knowing the timing of our Lord's coming is itself a matter of such importance as to be necessarily concealed. The truth we find as we read what is actually written in the Bible is that some will know.

Another verse that is sometimes used to support the "no one will know" theology is from the first chapter of Acts.
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Acts 1:6-7
It was not for who to know? For those who asked the question being answered. Can this verse legitimately be interpreted as applying to any other people at any other time? Of course not! Is it for you or I to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority? Well, if there's an answer to that question it must be found elsewhere because this verse doesn't have anything to say about you and I today. The Bible does have lots to say about whether or not the times and dates are going to be known in advance, and I am going to address that as well as give some examples of how this is already a well established fact of biblical history.
Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.  Amos 3:7
The above verse is a simple and broad declaration. If you accept it literally, the case is made that the Sovereign Lord's servants the prophets will know even the times and dates of his coming. To suggest that any subset of knowledge about what the Lord will do will be kept secret from the prophets is to contradict the scripture. In this same vein, consider the following verse.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.   Luke 8:17
You might suppose our Lord was referring to things such as secret sins, but no. The context openly declares what kinds of hidden and concealed things he was talking about.
He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'Luke 8:10
The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God is hidden but is intended to be disclosed. Are the matters of times and dates excluded in this matter? What is there that will not be brought into the open? Nothing! All that is hidden will be made known. The only variables are when and to whom. Some of you aren't going to like this, but the knowledge of the kingdom secrets is esoteric. That means some will know and some won't. The difference between those who will and won't know is found in their character.

The character of the people as the determining factor in whether or not people will know the times and dates is addressed where the prophet Daniel was given some very specific information about the timing of our Lord's coming.
One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?" 7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." 8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?" 9 He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.  Daniel 12:6-10
Because the words were closed up and sealed until the time of the end, we learn that the wise would understand when the words would be unsealed at the time of the end.

The next verse is amazingly clear when you allow yourself to consider that the knowledge of the hidden matters of times and dates is indeed knowable. It also instructs us further about the difference between those who will know and those who won't.

Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.  Revelation 3:3
The only possible inference is that if they do wake up, they will know at what time He will come. Only if they remain asleep will the the Lord come to them in stealth like a thief. Will no one know? Will no one be awake? From this verse, you should observe very carefully that those who will know when he comes are awake and those who will not know are asleep. Being awake has to do with obeying what you have received and heard. If you have been asleep, repentance, which is turning from disobedience to obedience will cause you to awaken. So, adding what we have learned from Daniel 12, we see that the wise are the awake and obedient, while the wicked are the unrepentant, disobedient and asleep. The Lord will come like a thief to the wicked but his coming will be known in advance to the wise.

We may note these same features in the following passage about knowing the times and dates, as well as blessings and consequences associated with this knowledge.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 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. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Those in darkness will be surprised at the day of the Lord's coming like the secret coming of a thief in the night, but the brothers who do not need to be written to about times and dates will not be surprised like a thief. The wise will already understand about times and dates, which is why they don't need to be written to about them. They will not be surprised because they are not asleep but alert and self-controlled. The knowledge about the time of the Lord's coming will divide the church in such a way that some will find severe consequences for their wickedness - sudden destruction. When the Bride is stolen away out of the house by the Bridegroom Thief, those remaining behind will suffer loss. I do not believe knowing the time is the only qualification for the Bride, but it seems to be presented time and again as a significant factor.

Are you beginning to see how important it is to be able to interpret the signs of the times? If I am correct in my estimation of the gravity of the situation, the "no one will know" theology and the closely associated doctrine of imminence (that the Lord might come at any random moment) might possibly be the most dangerous doctrines in the apostate church today. (To suggest that the Lord's coming might be on some schedule other than that which is set forth in the holy day calendar is gross ignorance - as though what happened on Shavuot in Acts 2 was merely coincidental!) The plain truth that the wise will know and the wicked won't offends religious people because it acknowledges a distinction between the members of the body of Christ. There really are those who are righteous and worthy in contrast to those who are unrighteous and unworthy. The wicked always want to mask their wickedness by making it appear as though we are all the same in matters of righteousness. But there are wolves in sheep's clothing scattered throughout the flock. Have you been deceived? Their wickedness is exposed when the truth is made known that confronts their lies.

The Lord has actually commanded us to watch, so that to neglect to watch is disobedience. Watching is an absolute requirement for each of us because we cannot personally know if we do not personally watch. If we were to accept the first date posed to us, we would almost assuredly be deceived because many many dates have been proposed for our Lord's return over the centuries. Each of us must watch to receive our own blessings, or receive the consequences we deserve for disobedience.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.  Matthew 25:13
The sense of the above directive is to watch because you do not yet know. If is taken to mean you "will not" or "can not," the many clear passages we have already read would be contradicted and the obvious intent of encouraging the watcher would be undermined.
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men 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. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." 41 Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" 42 The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 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 12:35-46
What grand blessings are associated with the knowledge of the times and dates! And what severe consequences! This knowledge upon which such blessings and consequences hinge is of enormous importance. If you've followed this presentation so far, you should now begin to understand why the Lord so frequently directed his followers to watch. Why does he instruct about signs and command us to watch? So that the wise would be confirmed in their knowledge about times and dates. Did you notice that the owner of the house would not have let his house be broken into if he had known at what time of night the thief was coming? Some important questions we should ask are, "What is the house?" "Who is the owner of the house?" and "Why didn't he know?" Since the house is broken into by the Bridegroom Thief who steals away his Bride, the house is the house of God, the church of the Body, the "christian" church. The owner of the house is the collective body of people who have been given authority in the church to rule. The owner did not know what time of night the thief was coming because he was (is) asleep, unrepentant and wicked. Don't accept the lies of the owner of the house, friend. The doctrine of "no one will know" will merely deter you from the noble pursuit to which you have been called - to watch the signs of the Bridegroom's coming and rejoice at His near approach! Do you know at what time of night the thief is coming? Are you receiving your food at the proper time? Many of the profound discoveries you will find on this web site were learned as a direct result of knowing about their timing and the sequence of related events. There is abundant proof that the Lord is disclosing long hidden knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven today, if you have eyes to see. These matters deal with specific dates and specific times.

The Lord not only commanded us to watch but also expects us to correctly interpret the signs we see.
He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?  Luke 12:54-56
They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Luke 19:44
Do you know about dates and times? It is not yet too late to learn!

In bringing this article to its conclusion with brief reference to a few significant historical examples of people having advance knowledge of critical junctures in God's dealings with man, the point is made that God is faithful to his promise that he would reveal matters of dates and times to those who are wise, awake and watching - obedient.
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 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; 39 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. Matthew 24:37-39
Those who were eating, drinking and carrying on with their wicked thoughts and deeds knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. Noah knew because it had been announced to him. He was distinguished from the others who did not know by his righteous character.
Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. Genesis 7:4
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Mark his words - some will know the time! The book of II Peter has something to add.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. II Peter 3:6-7
The times and dates were known the first time around. Do you think that there will be no one with wisdom remaining at the coming of the Son of Man? If you study II Peter 3, you will see that the now familiar themes of the time element and the manner of living are woven in. Are you more wise than before?

Daniel had great wisdom and the Lord gave him much revelation that had to do with times and dates. He was first grounded in the scriptures, as we should be - reading and obeying what is written without being deterred by the failings of the appointed religious leaders.
in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. Daniel 9:2
At our Lord's coming over 2000 years ago, you should be familiar with the record of certain people who had advance knowledge including Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon and, of course, the Magi, about whose knowledge I have written at length on this website. Far from being exceptions to the rule, they are examples of the faithful fulfillment of God's promise to reveal his plan to his servants in advance!

On a personal note, you see that there are risks involved with daring to ignore the dissuasive arguments of the owners of the house and speak out with the truth on this issue. If you reach the same conclusion I have reached, you may be labeled a date-setter and an heretic. You risk losing the secure feeling of abiding in the traditions of the church. You risk losing favor with the church people around you, your friends and family. But, dear friend, when the blind lead the blind into the ditch, you will not be with them, but rather in the company of those of true courage who have so nobly advanced in the steps of our very Lord.