Can we know the day of Jesus' return at the rapture?


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Question / Comment -  Can we know the day of Jesus' return at the rapture?


Mat 24:36 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Is this verse speaking of the rapture or about when heaven and earth pass away (which is mentioned in the preceding verse)?
There are some scriptures that indicate that we may know the date of the rapture and that it will not overtake us like a thief.
Can we know the day of the rapture?


JPN Reply:


Can we know the date of the rapture before hand? The quick answer is 'no'.  We can and obviously should know the season that we are in. We can and should know that the day of His return is approaching. This is very important. But we don't know the actual specific day/date in advance despite the many people who say otherwise. There are many websites / youtube channels who like to set dates... in fact the wider Christian community is overflowing with date speculation and date setting. But it isn't helpful and ultimately harmful to the Christian message. Looking at the entire history of it, the statistics remain at a 100% fail rate for anyone who does so. Unfortunately that doesn't stop them. They just go to the next date not taking into account the damage that over-hyping people's expectations (only to be let down again) does to faith and the message of prophecy in general.  

But getting back to Matt 24:36, no, Jesus wasn't talking about the day that Heaven and Earth will pass away. He was speaking of His coming. This is clear when we read the next verse:

Mat 24:36-37 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

It is even clearer in the book of Mark where He says three times that we can't know the day and what day is He speaking about? It is the day of His return:

Mar 13:32-37 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (33) Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "

To be honest I think the people who state that Matt 24:36 and Mark 13:32 are about the day heaven and earth pass away, and not the Lord's return, have an agenda for doing so. And that is because they want to keep doing their date setting.

The Jewish background

There is another reason why Mat 24:36 is about Jesus return at the rapture. The Christian prophecy documentary 'Before the Wrath', with Jack Hibbs, Amir Tsarfati, Jan Markell, J.D Farag and Jay McCarl, says that this statement was a common expression in a Galilean wedding at that time. The groom would go and prepare a place in his father's home. When asked when the wedding would begin, the Jewish groom said that no one knows the day for the father of the groom was the ONLY one who decided when his son could return to receive his bride and take her to be with himself in their new home.

This could take a year or so and the bride NEVER KNEW the day her husband-to-be would come so she ALWAYS had to be ready and wait for the shofar call. This aligns perfectly with the gospel truth that the reason that we watch, as the bride, is BECAUSE we do not know the day He will return:

Mat 24:42 Therefore keep watch, BECAUSE you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

Mat 25:13 Therefore keep watch, BECAUSE you do not know the day or the hour.

Mar 13:35 Therefore keep watch BECAUSE you do not know when the master of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

With this Jewish background understanding, in connection to the verses above, it becomes clear that Matt 24:36 is not talking about the day that heaven and earth pass away. Nor is it talking about about the 2nd coming (which is actually a date that will be known in the future for those living in the tribulation - it is 1260 days, or 42 months, after the Abomination of Desolation - Rev 12:6, 13:5). The Jewish background, which the disciples would have understood (even if we can miss it today) is to a wedding when the groom will come for His bride to take her to His home. It's the rapture.

So believers are called to be ever watchful for the day of His coming. This is really important. But we are watchful, as the 1st Century Galilean bride was, because we (like her) do not know the day. We can see that the day is approaching and close. It is amazing to see. But scripture never teaches that we can know the day. And this is exactly how it should be. 

Not knowing, but always desiring, makes a person ever watchful for that day.

Verses people use to say we can know the date of the rapture

I'll just go through the common verses that people use to say we can know the day. As you will see, none of them actually say that we can.  

Bible Verse Thought
Dan 12:4

Dan 12:4 But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."

This is a general prophecy about knowledge increasing in the last days. It will. It has. There are prophecies that have and are becoming clearer to us in these days. But it doesn't say anything about the fact that we will know the day of Jesus return which Jesus Himself, in multiple passages, said we would not.

Matt 24:48–51

Mat 24:50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

The argument goes that it is the wicked servant that will not be aware of the day Jesus returns, but faithful servants will. This however is missing the point. The parable doesn't say or teach that the good servant knows the day in advance but the emphasis is on being found faithful, ready and watchful when He does come. The point is that the master is going away and His servants don't know when He will return. One, though He doesn't know the day, is watchful for His master's return. The other doesn't care and starts acting wickedly. Though neither knows the day of their masters return, the first will be ready and the second won't.

1 Thess 5:4
1Th 5:4-5 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

This is used because it says this day should not overtake you like a thief. Which it won't.  But this is not speaking of the day of the rapture but the 'day of the Lord' which is the period of God's wrath upon the world in the coming tribulation. Paul is saying that we are not of that day. The church won't be overtaken by that day of darkness (the tribulation) because we are not of that day. The Lord will return and receive us to Himself before that day. But again, this verse is not saying that we can know the day of Jesus return. It is about the day of the Lord.
Heb 10:25

Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

This is used because it says 'and all the more as you see the day approaching'. And we should know and see that the day is approaching. This is a general knowing of the season and closeness of His return. It is not knowing the actual day of His return. To give an illustration, if you had a elderly loved one who was approaching their end, you would see the signs and know that the day of their passing is approaching. But the actual day is still unknown. Will they last 1 more day? 1 week? A month? More? Only God knows. All we can say is that the day is approaching. So it is with the rapture. The signs tell us that it is close but we know not the exact day.

Rev 3:3

Rev 3:3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

This is used because it says 'But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.' The argument is that it is the unfaithful church that won't know the time that Jesus comes. Firstly, I don't actually think this is even about the Lord's return. It was a warning that if this church didn't repent Jesus would come to them unexpectedly (like a thief) in judgement. It is very similar to what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus:

Rev 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

While I don't believe it is, even if you took it as the rapture, all it is saying is that some unfaithful believers will be caught unawares at the Lord's coming. Jesus' coming isn't like a thief for those that are faithful because they are watching. But again, we are instructed to watch, according to Jesus, because we do not know the day of His return.   


I hope that helps. Is it important to know the season we are in and that the Lord's return is close? Absolutely!!! But we don't know the actual day (as Jesus said) and the endless dates (which have all been incorrect) that people come up are not helpful.