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When will the rapture take place?
Our Lord assured us that it was impossible to date the rapture of the church. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36; cf. vss. 42, 44, 50; and Mark 13:32-37).
Amazing! Not even the Savior knew the date of His coming again. During the days of His non-glorified human existence—for a third of a century—our Lord set aside the independent exercise of His divine attributes of greatness (omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence), not His moral attributes (holiness, truth, love, etc.). That is the meaning of Phil. 2:7 and 8—He “made Himself of no reputation… He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Over and over again, our LORD explained: “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28); and “the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak…Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:49, 50; cf. 5:20, 7:16, 8:38, 8:40, 15:15, 17:8).
Why did the Father withhold the date of the rapture from His own Son? As we have seen, our Savior temporarily set aside the exercise of His own omniscience. But consider carefully where the Lord Jesus placed Himself in this “day-of-His-coming pyramid of ignorance.” Bottom level—He knew that “no one [no human being] knows” the timing “of that day and hour” (Mark 13:32). Higher level—He also knew that “not even the angels in heaven” knew the time of the rapture. Highest level—Jesus referred to Himself with the words “nor the Son.”
Jesus placed Himself above all men and all angels, and knew that “only the Father”—the Capstone of this “pyramid”—knew the date.
Yes, of course, the Father has always known that day and hour. And since His resurrection, the Son knows when He will come for His bride, the true church. One thing is certain—it will happen in “the fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4)—not too soon, not too late. That is when His first coming occurred: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
There is a significant difference, however. The nation of Israel was told when the first coming of Messiah would take place, namely, 483 years after the decree of King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
The decree was issued in 445 B.C (cf. Neh. 2:8; cf. Dan. 9:25). It was probably this prediction that our Lord referred to when He wept over Jerusalem and exclaimed: “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).
God has given us no date for the second coming, however. The resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent—it can happen at any moment, night or day. This is God’s very effective way to keep us on the alert. Our Savior stated: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:42-44; cf. vs. 50 and 25:13).
Friend, are you ready to meet the Lord at any moment? Is He truly your personal Savior from the penalty of sin? Have you put your trust in Him for eternal salvation? Is His soon appearing your “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13)? “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand… Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:8, 9).