Does Really No One Know When Jesus Will Return? How Should Christians Welcome Him?
On a new day, sitting at her desk, Zhang Qing began her daily spiritual devotions, opening up the Bible and reading Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only.” She thought to herself: “If no one knows the day of the Lord’s return, then how should we welcome Him? Now is the end of the last day. The disasters are getting greater. The omens of the Lord’s return have basically all been fulfilled. Maybe one day the Lord will come back, but so far I still haven’t known how to welcome His return.” Thinking of this, Zhang Qing couldn’t help standing up and then paced back and forth in her room. At that point, she thought of how, when visiting her the other day, her sister-in-law said that she went out to listen to a few sermons about the Lord’s coming and that there was light in them. So Zhang Qing decided to seek from her.
After she arrived at her sister-in-law’s house and they exchanged greetings, Zhang Qing spoke out her confusion, and then they two sat down and began to fellowship. Her sister-in-law said, “Based on this Bible verse I always used to think that nobody would know when the Lord returned, but through recent meetings I’ve come to understand this: When the Lord returns He will surely allow some people to know it. If it was unknown, how could we welcome and follow Him? At a meeting, we read several verses where the Lord Jesus 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, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only’ (Matthew 24:32–36). ‘Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not’ (Luke 12:40). At the time, carefully pondering these words, we found that ‘the Son of man’ is mentioned in the verse. It means someone who is born of a human, and the Spirit of God cannot be called the Son of man. These verses clearly told us that it is very likely that in the last days the Lord Jesus will once again come in the flesh. And ‘But of that day and hour knows no man,’ which means that nobody knows about the time and date of the Lord’s birth. Not the angels of heaven, nor even the Son, but only God Himself, But when He officially works and expresses His words to save mankind, He will surely let us know. This is just like when the Lord Jesus appeared and worked. When the Lord was born in a manger, if God did not revealed the year, day and hour of the Lord’s birth, then nobody would know His coming. Even the Lord Jesus Himself didn’t know about His identity before officially doing His work when the Holy Spirit testified about Him — the heaven was opened and a voice said: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). Afterward, the Holy Spirit enlightened Peter, and he testified to the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), and from then on, the people knew that the Lord Jesus is God, Christ. Similarly, in the last days the moment when the Lord will be born as the Son of man is unknown, but when He utters words once again then some people will be aware that the Lord has come back.”
After hearing her fellowship, Zhang Qing had a sudden flash of insight, thinking: “What she fellowshiped makes a lot of sense. It turns out that ‘that day’ and ‘that hour’ mean no one knows when the Lord will be born in the last days, but when He begins His work, some people will know.” Then she said happily, “Sister-in-law, I understand that the time of the birth of the Lord of the last days is not known by anybody, but when He formally does His work and speaks His words then someone will know. However, is there any basis for this kind of view in the Bible?”
Her sister-in-law answered with a smile, “Thank the Lord! About this problem, the Lord’s words have made it very clear. The Lord Jesus said, ‘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). ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). From these verses, we can see that when the Lord comes back during the last days He will utter more words, and that it’s certain that someone will bear witness to the Lord’s return. Moreover, He has also reminded us that if we hear this, we must listen to the voice of God carefully and seriously, for only in this way is it possible to welcome Him. In other words, when the Lord returns, there are some who will first hear the Lord’s voice, meet Him and recognize His return. Just like in the Age of Grace when the Lord Jesus became flesh and appeared to do His work, in the beginning, Peter, John, and the others first followed and accepted Him, and then His disciples went to testify His words and work in every place. Afterward, there have been more and more people hearing the gospel of the Lord Jesus and receiving Him. These verses say, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made,’ ‘I stand at the door, and knock,’ which are further proof. If nobody first knows the Lord’s return, how will someone cry that the bridegroom has come and tell us to go out to meet him? Thus, after the return of the Lord during the last days, some will accept Him earlier while some will accept Him later, and then those who have accepted first preach to those who have not accepted. Such is the process.”
“Sister-in-law, listening to your fellowshiping, I see that in the matter of welcoming the Lord’s coming, we must pay close attention to listening to the utterance of the Lord, and as long as someone preaches the gospel of the Lord’s return, we should seek humbly. Once we make sure it is God’s utterance, we should welcome Him. Is this right?” asked Zhang Qing, not sure whether her understanding was correct or not.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right. Seeking humbly you mentioned just now is too important. I think of Nathanael in the Bible. When Philip told him that he had met Jesus, the coming One foretold by the prophets, although Nathanael had notions and thought that Messiah couldn’t possibly be born in Nazareth, a small town, he still went to meet the Lord Jesus. Without even seeing Nathanael, the Lord knew that he was under the fig tree, and that there was no cunning in his heart, and so he recognized the Lord Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel. The Samaritan woman is another example: When the Lord Jesus gave voice to her darkest secrets, she recognized Him as Christ, and this was because she knew that only God could have a thorough understanding of man. Besides, there were more people who recognized that the Lord Jesus was of God because they had seen the Lord’s power to make the blind see, make the lame walk, heal the lepers, and resurrect the dead. Just 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). When the Lord Jesus came to do His work on earth, many people knew that He was the coming Messiah, because they had heard His words and seen His work and words were full of authority and power. From these examples, we can see that, if we want to attain the true way, we must first have a heart of longing for the truth and seek from the Lord Jesus’s words as well as His work. Only thus can we have the opportunity to gain God’s enlightenment to meet the Lord. Just like it says in the Bible, ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). This is to say that hearing about the way is prerequisite to believing in the way.”
Hearing this, Zhang Qing was suddenly enlightened, and said gladly, “Yes! You’re absolutely right. At that time those who followed the Lord Jesus followed Him only after hearing His preaching and seeing that His work and words possessed authority and power. God’s work is so practical. Now I have known how to welcome the Lord. That is, as long as we hear someone preaching that the Lord has returned and is uttering words, we should then make haste to seek and investigate. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).”
Hearing Zhang Qing say this, her sister-in-law nodded happily.