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In Matt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 Jesus gave a prophecy that has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse. In this prophecy Jesus addressed the events that occur in that period of time called the tribulation. While Luke 21 has a double fulfillment, once during the church age and again during the tribulation, Matthew and Mark present a chronological discussion of the tribulation only. It is in those two passages, neither of which contains any mention of the rapture whatsoever, that most people find objections to knowing the time of the rapture.

The events described in Matt. 24 (and Mark 13) are given in chronological order. As we have already seen, the antichrist will be revealed when he confirms the seven year covenant, and according to Dan. 9:27 he will cause the abomination at mid-tribulation, which is also found in Matt. 24:15. This means that antichrist would have to be revealed, thus the withholder would have to be removed (meaning the rapture would have to occur) at some point between verses 4-14. We simply do not see a rapture in those verses.

Matt. 24:34-36 says, "Verily I say unto 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 knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." While Jesus had been speaking about the second advent (vs. 27-31), then gave the sign of his coming, the shooting forth of the fig tree (vs. 32-34), in verse 35 he expands the subject. In the context of the sign that inaugurates the final generation, he makes a statement regarding the sure fulfillment of the word of God, and he mentions that heaven and earth will pass away. I do believe that when he made the statement about no man knowing the day and hour, he was referring, not to the rapture or to the second advent, but to the day that heaven and earth passes away.

That day will come at the end of the millennium. Rev. 20:3 states that during the millennium Satan will be jailed in the abyss, but at the end of the one thousand years he will be loosed for "a little season".  His next activity (Rev. 21:7-11) will be to go out to deceive the nations and lead them in an attack upon Jerusalem. At that time fire will come down from heaven and destroy them and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. This is immediately followed by, or may actually be, the destruction of the current heaven and earth, and that event is followed by the white throne judgment.

While Rev. 12:6 specifically tells us that the second half of the tribulation will last 1260 days, the length of this "little season" is not specified. Since it is followed by the passing away of heaven and earth, it clarifies Jesusí statement in Matt. 24:34-36. Because the actual duration of the little season is not given, just as Jesus said, no man knows the day and hour that heaven and earth will pass away.

In Matt. 24 Jesus did not address the rapture. While verses 37-42 mention one being taken and the other left behind, this is a carrying away to death at the second advent as was taught in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matt. 13, not the rapture of the church. Because Jesus did not address the rapture in Matt. 24, it is incorrect to believe that he stated in that passage that no one could know the time of the rapture.

Keeping the passage in its proper context, it is also problematic to state that no one can know when the second advent will occur.  Rev. 12:6 (which is an entirely future passage) clearly states that the second half of the tribulation will last 1260 days. It seems that if someone began counting at the flight of the woman (which is a response to the abomination of desolation - Matt. 24:15-21) they would know exactly when to expect Jesus to come.  However, Jesus also said (Matt. 24:21-22) that that time would be so terrible that if those days werenít shortened no flesh would survive. The 1260 days werenít revealed in scripture until John was inspired to write the Revelation, but those are the days that will be shortened.

In Matt. 24:42 Jesus said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." In verse 44 he said to the good servant, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Notice that even here Jesus does not state that no man will know the DAY of the second advent, he simply stated that he would come in such an hour that they think not and because of this (vs. 42) no man would know the hour. Later, in verse 50, Jesus did say that the Lord of the evil servant would come in a day when the evil servant was not looking and in an hour in which he was not aware. In vs. 43-44 the good servant was not given such a warning. The good servant will know the day because he is looking for it. I think that if it appears that the battle of Armageddon is about to begin but the 1260th day hasnít yet arrived, people may think Jesus isnít coming. But he can write a contract better than any human attorney. Jesus left himself an early return clause in Matt. 24:21-22.

Matt. 25 is a continuation of the Olivet Discourse and it teaches on the judgments that will occur at the second advent. Again, there is no mention of the rapture. Jesus said this regarding the ten virgins: watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. The passage says, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." This statement was made to a group, the ten virgins, who were all SLEEPING (I Thes. 5:5-8), not watching for the Lord to come. But someone else was watching: the person who made the midnight cry.

Notice the ten virgins are referenced as virgins, not as the bride. Rev. 19:7-9 occurs just as the Lord is preparing to return to earth at the second advent. Verse 7 says, "for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." Verse 9: "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." The marriage supper of the Lamb will occur on earth after Jesus and his bride return to earth (Rev. 19:9). It is the millennium. The ten virgins in Matt. 25 are invited guests to the millennium, but only five of them will enter.

If this interpretation of Matt. 24 & 25 is correct, then nowhere in that prophecy did Jesus say that no man would know day of the second advent, and he didnít address the rapture at all.

Mark 13:34-37 is another passage that seems to teach that no man can know when the rapture will occur. But again, Jesus did not address the rapture in Mark 13, he spoke about the second advent and as we have already seen, the 1260 days will be shortened somewhat. Mark 13:35 is very interesting. Just as in Matt. 24 Jesus says nothing about watching believers not knowing the day, but his teaching regarding not knowing the hour is expanded. He taught that the master could come at evening, midnight, cockcrowing or morning. The second advent of Jesus is a world-wide event. When it happens it will be evening, midnight, dawn and morning all at the same time in various places in the world. Again, he is stating that no man knows what hour he is coming, but there is nothing stated regarding no man knowing the day.

Another scripture that seems to say no one can know when Jesus will come is Acts 1:6-7. In this passage the disciples asked Jesus a question: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" This question does not address the rapture at all, but it does have impact on the second advent because the restoration of the kingdom will happen during the millennium. The disciples want to know if it will happen "at this time".  Notice that in his response Jesus did not say that no one could ever know when this would happen. He said, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."

Jesus could not have been stating that no one would ever know the times or seasons because, as we shall see, he had already taught in the Olivet Discourse that a certain generation would know when the season of summer was at hand. I think that Jesusí use of the word Ďyouí was directed toward the generations between the time that he spoke the words and the final generation that began on June 7, 1967. Those who are watching among the generation that saw the fig tree shoot forth would definitely know that his coming was near.

So when will Jesus return to earth? Rev. 16:13-14 speaks of spirits of devils gathering the kings to battle and verse 16 tells us they are gathered to Armageddon. Verse 15 seems to disrupt the flow of the passage and it should be printed in red. It is Jesus speaking, giving a warning (in this case actually a reassurance) similar to the one in Matt. 24:43-44. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." I can state without reservation that Jesus will return on the day of Armageddon and further, I believe that this will occur just short of the 1260 days prophesied. Jesus said the days, not the weeks, months or years, but the days, would be shortened.

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