What does "No Man Knows the Day Or Hour" really mean?
When you look at the specific context of Jesus statement and its cultural meaning, you find that this statement actually tells an important detail about the timing of his coming, rather than discourage us from studying to understand that question.
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I received the following email about Jesus' statement that 'no man knows the day or hour':
----- Original Message -----From:Sent: Monday, November 18, 2002 12:45 AMSubject: RE: [Nazarene-Judaism] Overpopulation mythGolly...whatever happened to "You shall not know the day or the hour"?
What it actually says is a little different, but significantly so:
Mark 13:32 (KJV) — But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
It does not say "shall not know" the month or year but do not know (present tense) the day or hour. This phrase is actually the Hebrew idiom for the "Feast that no man knows the day or hour", that is, "Yom Teruah" / "Feast of Trumpets/Shouting". This is the only feast day that you do not know in advance exactly when it is going to start because it happens on the day of the new visible crescent moon of the 7th month.
The statement was never meant to say we could never know the timing of the the Messiah's coming in advance. That would conflict with many other scriptures if it were the intent. But Christians generally understand it to mean "dont set dates or get distracted studying prophecy", which is understandable since historically every past date for the reign of Messiah has been wrong.
Nevertheless, we were given the 70 weeks of Daniel and the Parable of the Fig Tree to "show his servants" the timing of these things in advance (See Rev 1:1-2). Moreover, there are any number of timing markers given in Daniel and Revelation which once you see them happen, you know that the Messiah's return will be in either 1290 days, 1260 days, 1335 days, 42 months or 3½ years from that point! Thus once you see the event you know the the timing of Second Advent down to year, month and day, as long as you can accurately handle counting the passing of days.
However, just because we know when the Messiah is going to return once the Great Tribulation starts, it doesn't mean that we can put off repenting of doing things our own ways until then. We still have to have God's protection to make it through the Great Tribulation and WWIII...and we can always be hit by a car or die of food poisoning from some bad clams tomorrow (unless, of course, you wisely give up the foods that the Bible calls unclean)!
The idea that God has completely hidden his timeline from us doubts the literal meaning of all the time spans listed in the prophecies. And those that see how short the time is can get a sense of urgency from that to repent with greater focus. That's what we are called to do with our time, repent and bear fruit showing love of Jesus by our actions, not continue doing things our own way and saying something different.
We have been given this information so we can be best prepared for what's coming. Remember, "the bride has made herself ready." Knowing the timing helps tremendously. Dont be afraid of it. We need all the help we can get to prepare enough to be qualified to be counted among the 144,000 or "The Woman" and to endure until the end as Jesus commanded his followers to pray for so they could stand before him at his return (Lk 21:36). What a privelege that can be ours—but not without great sacrifice!
See also: Just as in the Days of Noah?
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