By Zhao Hui
During a Bible study, I spoke of the question that had confused me for a long time: “Brothers and sisters, the Lord Jesus said, ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’ (Mat 24:36). We can see in this scripture that no one will know when the Lord will return, so why do so many people testify that thehas come? What does this mean?” After I finished, some became immersed in contemplation, and some said, “Now that you say it, we’d better have a discussion about it.”
At that time, preacher Zhao Xun nodded his head and said, “All right, this question is worth discussing. The Lord said His coming is unknown by all. These days I have been thinking about this question, and it seems that our understanding is not pure and such reasoning does not make sense. Let’s think about it: If the Lord doesn’t let people know of His coming, how can people follow and believe in Him? How can God accomplish His work of saving people? If we hold to these words, won’t we miss the Lord’s coming?” Hearing these words, some sisters and brothers were astonished, some bowed their heads and began to contemplate, and some said, “You are totally right; it makes sense!” Zhao Xun continued, “Then, how can we get a pure understanding of this scripture? Now, let’s read this verse together with the previous verses. Matthew 24:32-36 says, ‘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, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.’ These verses are talking about signs of the Lord’s return. From these words, I think perhaps the Lord will come again in the flesh, just like the Lord Jesus, but we don’t know when, on which day, or at which moment He will enter the door. This is to say, ‘no one knows about that day or hour,’ which means that no one knows about the moment when Christ will come. That is, no one knows on which day or at which moment the Lord will descend, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (the Spirit). However, after Christ comes, He will surely let men know it, because the purpose of God being incarnated and coming to the world is to save men. If He comes but doesn’t let men know it, how can we receive salvation from Him? The Lord Jesus said, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Mat 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’ (Rev 3:20). From these two verses we can see that after the Lord comes, some people will know it, and they will spread His gospel to those who haven’t accepted it. Here scriptures say, when someone yells that the bridegroom, the Lord Jesus has come, we need to walk out to welcome Him. And He will sup with those who hear His voice and open the door. Thus I think it is completely wrong to interpret the word ‘of that day and hour knows no man’ in Matthew 24:36 as no one knows about it even after the Lord comes.”
After hearing the words of brother Zhao, I felt enlightened and had some understanding of the real meaning of these scriptures. However, when I pondered it over, there were still some aspects I was not clear about. I asked, “Brother Zhao, just now you said when the Lord Jesus comes as the Son of man, no one knows, but when the Lord works, He will surely let men know. How did the ones spreading the coming of the Lord Jesus know it?” Hearing that, the sisters and brothers all agreed with me, “All right, how did they know?” Zhao Xun thought about it for a while and said, “Brothers and sisters, before we answer this question, let’s first see how those followers of the Lord Jesus at that time knew that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. We can see from the Bible, Peter, Philip, James, John, Matthew and others; when the Lord called them, they didn’t know that Jesus was the Messiah, but they followed the Lord and heard His preaching without any hesitation. There are many verses recorded in the Bible that many people followed the Lord and obeyed His teachings after hearing of Him. These instances show us that we first need to have a thirsty heart if we want to gain the true way. When we hear the message about the Lord’s coming or when God sends someone to call us, we should listen to the message and seek the verification, thus we’ll have the opportunity to receive inspiration from God and recognize that the Lord is the Messiah. As the scriptures said, ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom 10:17). That is, believing in the way is based on hearing of the way. Those who followed the Lord Jesus saw the deeds of the Lord Jesus by hearing His words, and recognized that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who was to come. For example, when Peter followed the Lord Jesus, he received inspiration and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, and knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God because he received and pondered over God’s words carefully. Therefore, he said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of. And we believe and are sure that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God’ (John 6:68-69). Also, the woman of Samaria recognized that Jesus was the Messiah who was prophesied to come, for she knew that only God examines the innermost heart of man, only God has a thorough understanding of man. Also, Nathanael was the sheep of God, who can recognize the . Nathanael felt only God can speak his identity out before seeing him, only God is omnipotent and omniscient, and only God examines the innermost heart of man. Apart from knowing God from His words, we can also know God through His work. For example, still more people knew that Jesus was “from God” because they had seen that Jesus could make the blind see, the lame walk, leprosy be cured, and the dead be raised. As the Bible says, ‘Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did’ (John 2:23). ‘The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him’ (John 3:2). From these we can see when Jesus came to earth and did his work, they knew that Jesus was the coming Messiah because they heard Jesus’ preaching and saw his work. Also, after Jesus’ resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to preach of the cross to all nations. As the Bible says, ‘All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world’ (Mat 28:18-20). ‘But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). Thus, we can see that Jesus Christ’s gospel was passed down by those who first knew that Jesus was the Messiah. In this way, the Lord’s gospel of the cross is passed down from generation to generation up to this day. People believe in the Lord after hearing others preach Jesus’ gospel. Likewise, these who testify that the Lord has come must have heard the preaching of the Lord Jesus’ and then they knew about it. This is just as we believed in the Lord at that time through hearing others preach the gospel of the cross, and it is completely in accordance with the word ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.’”
As Zhao Xun finished speaking, brothers and sisters immediately had a discussion. I pondered over what brother Zhao Xun said, and experienced an epiphany. I thought, “But of that day and that hour knows no man” (Mat 24:36), this verse means that no one knows the moment when Christ will come. However, after Christ comes to do His work, someone will know it. Now, there are some who are witnessing that the Lord has come, if I want to know whether the Lord has come or not, I need to hear the utterances of the coming of the Lord and to verify whether it is the voice of God. Otherwise, I will probably miss the chance of being raptured by the coming Lord. So I should hear the Lord’s words they preach …
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