Matthew 24:36-39

Verse 36
Time For Destruction

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but My Father only.”

That day” is here a generic term as “the Sabbath” is in verse 20. In other words, this is the time of destruction. The indication is not in reference to a specific 24-hour day, but to the time when the destruction would occur. While on earth, and in His incarnate state, Jesus chose not know this time. Neither did the angels know.

At the time Jesus was making these pronouncements, it was not necessary that either He or angels be aware of the actual time of the destruction. If He had known the exact year, then we assume that His disciples would have pressed Him for a date. But He knew that when men have a specific date for finalities, they wait until the day before in order to get themselves right with God. For this reason, Jesus made the statement that only the Father knew when these things would transpire about which He spoke. He would later say why He made the statement. Those who believe must be ready at all times.

We must also keep in mind that if Jesus gave a specific date, then He would have nullified the power of the disciples’ prayers that they were to utter so that the coming calamity would not happen in the winter or on a Sabbath. If a specific date was given by Jesus, then any prayer to change the date would have been futile. Or, Jesus would have been a false prophet in reference to the established date if the Father chose to answer the disciples’ prayers, and thus change the date that Jesus had given during His earthly ministry.

Luke’s account of Jesus’ statement helps us to better understand the flow of the text in order to understand “that day” to refer to the context of the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke recorded,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore (Lk 21:33-36).

Those Jews who were consumed in the affairs of the world would certainly not believe in Jesus or His prophecy, let alone expect the coming judgment upon Jerusalem when many would lose all that they had. In fact, Peter stated that they would be mocking this belief of Christians.

Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pt 3:3,4).

Of course these scoffers had forgotten the flood of Noah’s day. They had forgotten Sodom and Gomorrah. Regardless of their forgetfulness, however, God would bring this judgment upon national Israel. About five years before A.D. 70, the Holy Spirit inspired an entire book to be written that would remind the rich Sadducean Jews that their riches were corrupted (Read James).

The key word here is watch. Mark records more information that Jesus gave at this point in the discourse.

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going on a journey, who left his house and gave authority to his bondservants and to each one his work. And he commanded the door keeper to watch. Therefore, you watch, for you do not know when the master of the house comes, in the evening, or at midnight, or at the cock crow, or in the morning—lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say to you I say to all, Watch!” (Mk 13:33-37).

Verses 37-39
Taking Of The Wicked

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming [presence] of the Son of Man. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until that day when Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. So also will be the coming [presence] of the Son of Man.”

The “coming” that Jesus is talking about—the terminational of national Israel—will be as the days of Noah. Both the flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of Jerusalem were “comings” of the Lord in judgment in time. However, the final coming of Jesus in judgment at the end of time will be different. The flood and destruction of Jerusalem may be typical of the final coming. However, we must understand that nothing has ever happened in the history of man that will fully illustrate what will happen at the end of time. Therefore, all illustrations to the “end-of-time” judgment by “in-time” judgments must be metaphorical.

The New Testament writers took that which was literal, and had actually happened in history, to illustrate that which will happen at the end of time. We must keep in mind, therefore, that these historical events in time that are metaphorically used to illustrate final judgment do not fully explain what will happen when Jesus comes again.

Jerusalem’s destruction will be as it was in the days of Noah (See Gn 7:6-23). God sent the flood because of the wickedness of man. “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gn 6:5). Such wickedness would be characteristic of the unbelieving Jews who crucified the Son of God. They were hardened to the message of the gospel of King Jesus, though they personally experienced the miraculous confirmation of God directly from heaven (See Jn 3:2). Men were more concerned about the material advantages of life than spiritual matters. The Pharisees consumed on their own lusts the financial help the children were to give to their parents (Mk 7:9-13). They loved money (Lk 16:14). The rich Sadducean Jews had “lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury” (See Js 5:1-6). They had cheated in the wages that were due to their laborers (Js 5:4). As it was in the days of Noah, so it was in the days of Israel before A.D. 70.

In verses 37-40 Jesus is saying that people will be living in their own normal wicked and materialistic manner prior to “that day” of destruction. It was this way in the days of Noah. It would be the same in the destruction of national Israel. And, it will be the same at the end of time. Those who reject the message of the gospel see only those things of this world. They refuse to submit to the “coming of the Lord” in judgment.

[Next in series: Aug. 14]

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