Chapter 13:32-37 (ESV) - But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.
Question to consider: Why did the Father not give Jesus the day or hour of these events?
Even though this prophecy was given to the disciples as a warning to the early church to flee the judgment which would mark the end of the temple age, we know that one day Jesus will return to judge all of the living and the dead. This is recited in our creeds and described by the apostle Paul in his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. Jesus will bring with Him the entire kingdom of heaven which is with Him at this very moment in the heavenly Jerusalem written about in Hebrews 12:22-24, and establish its ultimate fulfillment here on earth. The kingdom age in which we are currently living has no end, but there will be a point in time in which sin and death will end. Judgment will come upon the fallen angels and those who have aligned themselves with them by rejecting Christ and His gift of righteousness to all who are baptized into His covenant.
The Father did not give Jesus the day or hour of the end of the temple age so Jesus warned them to expect it to come without warning. The master of the house did not let his servants know when he would return so that they would not be tempted to ignore their assigned tasks. It was the same with the disciples. If God announced to them when this judgment would come, they would be tempted to put off establishing the church or writing down the New Testament scriptures. By the mercy of God, the judgment did not come until the very end of that generation so that the church could spread throughout the world and the scriptures be written down. According to Peter in 2 Peter 2:8-10, God did not desire for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance.
This same expectancy of the imminence of Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead should be in our hearts as well, for we also do not know the day or hour. Even if Christ does not return in our lifetime, we should be about the task of making disciples and living according to faith in Christ, for we do not know the date of our own death and judgment or that of those we encounter. Whatever end-times view of scripture you adopt should contain both the hope and imminence of Christ’s return. If either is missing from your view, I would challenge you to find a different one.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for showing patience and mercy in bringing people to faith. May we be prayerful, persistent, and persevering as we make disciples of all nations and rest in the hope that Your Spirit is bringing them to faith. Amen.