A Disclosure Of Things To Come
A DISCLOUSURE OF THINGS TO COME
Matthew 24:36 is often referenced to counter the contention that Jesus' second coming occurred in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The argument goes like this: there was a coming of Christ in AD 70 which was accompanied by signs, however Jesus' second coming remains yet future and will arrive unannounced (i.e., without any signs). This amounts to a rather desperate effort by some to divide Matthew 24 into a discourse addressing two distinct comings, separated in time by some 2,000 years or more. To further strengthen this argument an appeal is invariably made to 1Thess.5:2 - - for you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
We readily accept the “unknown” element of the coming of Christ - - Scriptures such as Acts 1:7; 1Thess.5:1-2 and 2Pet.3:10 cannot be ignored. Surely there was a time when no one knew the day and hour. However, we likewise affirm that that which was unknown at the outset of the apostolic ministry became known (at least to some in some detail) by virtue of the revelation supplied by God during Israel's last days (AD 30-70). It was during this interim (that period between Jesus' first and second coming) that the mystery of redemption came to be fully revealed (Eph.3:1-5). This incremental unfolding of revelation is in perfect keeping with the words of Jesus spoken to His apostles prior to His crucifixion: I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, The Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth...He will disclose to you what is to come (Jn.16:12-13).
In answering questions (Mt.24:3) about the temple's destruction and His coming at the end of the world/age, Jesus promised His first-century disciples: this generation will not pass away till all these things be fulfilled (Mt.24:34).
The apostle Paul urged the church at Rome: knowing the time...the day is at hand (Rom.13:11-13). In a letter to the Hebrews, another author (if not Paul) cites the need for encouraging one another all the more AS YOU SEE THE DAY APPROACHING (Heb.10:25). In the book of Revelation, those at Sardis were told to awaken so as to know the hour when He would come (Rev.3:3). With what seems to be some measure of progression, Peter proclaimed, the end of all things is at hand (1Pet.4:7); James announced, the Judge is standing right at the door (Js.5:9); and John declared, it is the last hour (1Jn.2:18). Without meaning to sound accusatory, one can't help but wonder: How can a sermon about a yet-future second coming underscore ever so strongly, LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT (1Thess.5:2), yet totally disregard Paul's subsequent comments in 1Thess.5:4, you are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief ?
Terry Siverd / Cortland Church of Christ