What Does “No One Knows the Day or the Hour” in Matthew 24:36 Mean?
We all hope to welcome the Lord’s return. Nowadays, the four blood moons have already appeared; earthquakes, famines, plagues and all sorts of other disasters are becoming more and more frequent. The prophecies of the Lord’shave basically been fulfilled. And there are many people who are publicly testifying online that the has returned. But many brothers and sisters are confused: “The Bible clearly says: ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only’ (Matthew 24:36). How could those bearing witness know that the Lord has come back? Has the Lord truly returned? How can we welcome the Lord?” These are important questions that relate to whether we can welcome the Lord. Let’s explore them together.
What Is the Meaning of “No One Knows the Day or the Hour”?
The Bible says: “But of that day and hour knows no man.” Based on this verse, some brothers and sisters believe that no one will know when the Lord returns. And so, when they hear the news of the Lord’s second coming, they do not believe it or investigate it. If we act like them, when will we welcome the second coming of the Lord? The Lord Jesus prophesied: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 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” (Revelation 3:20). We can learn from these verses that the Lord will knock at the door of our hearts with His words when He returns in the last days, and that someone will cry out that the Bridegroom has come. Only by being a wise virgin, focusing on listening to God’s voice and taking the initiative to go out to welcome Him can we attend the wedding feast of the Lamb. Since there will be someone crying that the Lord has come, then it’s clear that when the Lord returns, He will surely let us know. If we do not actively seek or investigate, nor do we pay attention to hearing God’s voice, how can we welcome the Bridegroom? In addition, the Lord’s return is for the salvation of mankind, if no one learned the news of His coming, how could we obtain the salvation of the returned Lord? It’s obvious that the viewpoint that no one will know when the Lord returns is untenable.
Then how should we understand the verse “But of that day and hour knows no man”? Let’s read this verse together with the previous verses. “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, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:32–36). These verses speak of the sign of the second coming of the Lord, and “it is near, even at the doors” refers to the coming of. The Son of man refers to God incarnate, and the spiritual body of God cannot be called the Son of man. Only when the Spirit of God practically performs His work in normal humanity among man can He be called the Son of man, just like the Lord Jesus. And it is because of this that He will endure a lot of suffering and be rejected by this generation, which fulfills the Lord Jesus’ words: “Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matthew 24:44). “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24–25). Therefore, “But of that day and hour knows no man” indicates that no one knows the exact time and date the Son of man descends to work, but that doesn’t mean that no one will know when the Lord returns to appear and do work. Let’s read a passage of God’s words so that we can gain a better understanding of this verse.
God says: “At the break of dawn, unbeknownst to the multitudes of humanity, God came to earth and began His life in the flesh. People were unaware of the coming of this moment. Maybe they were all fast asleep; maybe many who were watchfully awake were waiting, and maybe many were praying silently to God in heaven. Yet among all these many people, not a single one knew that God had already arrived on earth.” “At the beginning, when Jesus had yet to officially perform His ministry, like the disciples that followed Him, sometimes He also attended meetings, and sang hymns, gave praise, and read the Old Testament in the temple. After He was baptized and arose, the Spirit officially descended upon Him and began to work, revealing His identity and the ministry that He was to undertake. Prior to this, no one knew His identity, and apart from Mary, not even John knew. Jesus was 29 when He was baptized. After His baptism was completed, the heavens were opened, and a voice said: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Once Jesus had been baptized, the Holy Spirit began to bear testimony to Him in this way. Before being baptized at the age of 29, He had lived the life of an ordinary person, eating when He was supposed to eat, sleeping and dressing normally, and nothing about Him was different from others, though of course, this was only to the fleshly eyes of man. … The Bible does not record what He did before He was baptized because He did not do this work before He was baptized. He was merely an ordinary man and represented an ordinary man; before Jesus began to perform His ministry, He was no different from ordinary people, and others could see no difference in Him. It was only after He reached 29 that Jesus knew He had come to complete a stage of God’s work; before, He Himself did not know this, for the work done by God was not supernatural.”
From these words of God, we can see that the moment when God becomes flesh and descends on earth is not known by anyone, not even by the Son of man Himself, but only the Spirit in heaven knows. It is not until God begins to perform His work that the Holy Spirit will bear witness to the work of the incarnate God, and God’s followers will spread His, and in this way His identity will gradually become known to all. It’s just like when Jehovah God used the prophets to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, no one except Jehovah God knew how or when the Messiah was going to come. At the beginning, when the Lord Jesus became flesh to perform His work, He didn’t know He was the Messiah who was going to do the work of redemption. He lived a normal life on earth as an ordinary person did before He began to perform His ministry, and so at first nobody knew that He was , the incarnate God Himself. However, after the Lord Jesus had been baptized, the Holy Spirit began to bear testimony to Him and the Lord Jesus started to promulgate the way of man’s repentance, perform miracles, heal the sick, and exorcise demons, and thereafter some people came to recognize that He was the Messiah. Those who had first accepted the Lord Jesus’ redemptive work, just like Peter, John and others, began to spread the gospel of the Lord wherever they went. In this way, more and more people came to know the Lord’s salvation and the Lord Jesus’ gospel has come down from generation to generation until today, when there are many believers in the Lord across the world. We all believed in the Lord through hearing others preach the gospel of the cross. Just as the Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Similarly, when the Lord returns to appear and do His work in the last days, He will let some people know about it first and then have them spread the good news of His return everywhere. So, if we just sit and wait for death, and refuse to investigate God’s work of the last days, then we would very likely miss God’s salvation. This is just like how the Pharisees and their followers—those Jewish believers—upheld the notion that “since the Lord Jesus was not called the Messiah and was not born in the royal palace, He was not the One who was prophesied to come,” so, even though the Lord Jesus had expressed many truths to supply man’s life and performed many miracles, fully demonstrating God’s authority and power, they still refused to investigate, and finally they were exposed and eliminated by God.
When We Hear the News of the Lord’s Return, How Can We Judge If It Is True or False?
How can we figure out whether what other people preach is the true way? With regard to this issue, let’s recall how people at that time recognized the Lord Jesus as the Messiah after the Lord Jesus was resurrected and rose to heaven. Though they hadn’t seen the Lord Jesus face to face or heard Him preach with their own ears as the Lord Jesus’ disciples Peter and John did, they came to believe in the Lord after hearing other people preach what the Lord Jesus had done, such as bringing people back from the dead, calming the wind and the waves, and feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish and other such miracles, and that He had expressed many truths to teach people that they ought to confess their sins and repent, love the Lord with all their heart and soul, love their neighbor as themselves, and bear the cross to follow Him, etc. From these they saw that the work of the Lord Jesus carried authority and power and couldn’t be done by a person, and that the Lord Jesus’ words were all truths which could show them the path of practice and were what they need to possess to live out proper humanity. No human being could express such words. And they also felt that as long as they practiced according to the Lord’s words, they could experience peace and joy. So, they recognized the Lord Jesus as the Savior and followed Him. Likewise, we accepted the Lord’s salvation after we confirmed that it’s God Himself who expressed these truths and performed the work, and that everything He did was for the sake of our salvation. Therefore, it’s not hard to figure out whether it’s the appearance and work of the returned Lord. The key is to see whether it’s the work of saving mankind and whether the words He expresses are truths that can save man, because God’s appearance and work are meaningful and are all for the sake of man’s salvation.
The Lord Jesus has spoken some words of prophecies concerning the work He will do when He returns: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). And the Bible records: “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). These verses show us that when the Lord returns, He will, in accordance with our stature, express more and higher truths than those expressed in the Age of Grace. He will judge and cleanse us with His words, enabling us to escape the bonds of sin and be purified and changed. So, when we hear someone sharing news of the Lord’s return, we should not blindly reject it, but should seek with an open heart. When we hear the voice of God, we should accept and obey so that we can welcome the Lord. Just as God’s word says: “Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He intends to do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon him, and point the way for him.” “[S]ince we are searching for the footprints of God, it behooves us to search for, for the words of God, for His utterances—because wherever there are new words spoken by God, the voice of God is there, and wherever there are the footsteps of God, God’s deeds are there. Wherever there is the expression of God, there God appears, and wherever God appears, there the truth, the way, and the life exist. In seeking God’s footprints, you have ignored the words ‘God is the truth, the way, and the life.’ And so, many people, even when they receive the truth, do not believe that they have found God’s footprints, and still less do they acknowledge the appearance of God. What a grave mistake!”
Only The Church of Almighty God is now testifying that the Lord has returned, and that He has expressed many truths and is doing the work of judgment and purification. The majority of words expressed by Almighty God are recorded in the book, The Word Appears in the Flesh. Brothers and sisters who have read this book all know that this book is thicker than the Bible, and that the table of contents alone is over 10 pages. It contains many chapters, such as: “The Mystery of the Incarnation,” “Concerning the Bible,” “The Purpose of Managing Mankind,” “You Should Know How the Whole of Humanity Has Developed to the Present Day,” “God’s Work and Man’s Work,” “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth,” “How to Know the God on Earth,” “Restoring the Proper Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination,” “On Destination.” Almighty God’s words clearly explain various aspects of the truth, such as the mystery of God’s incarnation, the inside story of the Bible, the purpose of God’s six-thousand-year management of the human race, the difference between the work of God and the work of man, how God judges and purifies man, how He determines the end and destination for each kind of person, how mankind should know God, and so forth. These truths are all mysteries concerning the work of God Himself, and cannot be expressed by any man.
So, what is the most urgent task before us now? It says in chapter 3, verse 20 of Revelation: “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.” When we hear some people bearing witness that the Lord has come back to utter words, we should focus on hearing God’s voice, seek and see whether it’s God’s appearance and work and whether these words are the words spoken to all churches by the Holy Spirit. Only thus can we determine whether Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. As long as we have a heart of seeking, God will lead us to welcome the Lord.