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    “OF THAT DAY AND HOUR KNOWETH NO MAN”

    Verses 36, 37: But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The day and the hour, and even the year, of the second advent are purposely hidden. Some of the prophetic periods reach to “the time of the end,” while others extend still further down, very near the end itself; yet none of them reach to the coming of the Son of man. Many seem to suppose that the text proves that nothing may be known concerning the time of the second advent. But in this they greatly err, as has been abundantly shown in this chapter. The reader will call to mind the following points:—EMTF 61.2

    1. The disciples inquired of the Saviour in regard to the sign of his coming. Let it be remembered that his answer embraced this as a matter which he would have his people understand.EMTF 62.1

    2. He gave a brief sketch of events covering the whole dispensation, by means of which the people of God might know something of their position all the way down to the end.EMTF 62.2

    3. In direct answer to their question he gave three signs, namely, in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, so great, and fulfilled in such a manner, that they can neither be counterfeited nor mistaken.EMTF 62.3

    4. It is right for us to regard the information that he gave as he himself regarded it. That he considered it a complete and sufficient answer to their question is proved in this: he said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” And he considered it clear enough to be the basis of a duty, for it is given in his words in the form of a commandment, “know that it is near.” In the original it is in the imperative form; it is necessary to our safety that we know, and he requires us to know.EMTF 62.4

    Reference is often made to this verse with as much confidence as if it were a sufficient refutation of every argument in favor of the truth that Christ’s coming is near. We accept the declaration of this verse; we accept all the Scriptures. May we ask the objector, Do you believe this scripture? Perhaps he will say, “Yes; I believe that no man can tell the day nor the hour of his coming.” We also believe that; but that is not all that the Saviour said. Do you believe his word? Do you believe that you may know, by the signs which he has given, when his coming is near, even at the door? Here is the test of your confidence in the teachings of our blessed Lord. We have this confidence; we fully believe we may know. “Nay, more; we believe we must know,—that we are commanded to know, and not to slight the Saviour’s warnings. And we believe it to be just as fatal for us not to know as it was for the inhabitants of the earth in the days of Noah not to know when the flood was coming. Matthew 24:36-39.EMTF 62.5

    It is quite possible to know that an event is near without knowing the day and hour when it will occur. Plain as this distinction is, the objectors seem to overlook it altogether. An illustration of this is afforded in an incident which occurred a few years ago. We were holding meetings in the northern part of Ohio; it was in the spring of the year. Having one evening presented the Bible evidences that the coming of the Lord is near, we were hailed next morning by a gentleman who was planting his garden, and requested to tell him at what time we thought the Lord would come. Of course we told him we knew nothing about that; we left it where the Scriptures leave it, that it is near, but just how near we have no knowledge. But he insisted that, inasmuch as we were very confident that his coming is near, we must have formed some idea of the definite time, and he would not be satisfied unless we told him. So it often is that the idea of definite is firmly fixed in the minds of opposers, while it never is in ours. Failing to satisfy him by denials, we changed the conversation to his work. He was planting corn. We asked him if he expected that the corn would soon “come up.” He answered, Yes.” “And why?”—“There is good reason to expect it. The season is well advanced; the ground is moist and warm.” “Then you feel assured, even to a certainty, that it will come up soon?” Again the answer was, Yes.” Then we continued: “As you are certain that it will come up soon, please tell at what exact time you think it will come up!” By pressing the point a little, he was led to confess that his request was not a reasonable one,—that we may be certain that an event is near, and not know the exact time when it will occur.EMTF 63.1

    And why not be equally positive in both cases? Our Saviour’s parable is based upon the very facts which led this man to feel assured that his corn would come up soon. This parable is given in Luke 21:20-31, where it is said of the trees, “When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own, selves that summer is nigh at hand.” That is, the evidence is so conclusive that you need no argument; you ask no farther proof when you see the signs which he has given, that his coming is nigh, “even at the doors.” “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”EMTF 64.1

    The only way imaginable in which this certainty can be evaded, is to say that the parable itself is based on certain facts which are yet matters of dispute, and therefore matters of uncertainty. But then the question arises, Would the Saviour build a parable of such certainty, and command us to know it as a certainty, and rest the whole fabric. on uncertainties?—Impossible! We insist that the signs are not uncertainties. They are made uncertain only by a mystifying process which leaves everything in doubt and obscurity to which it is applied. By the working of this process we have no “sure word of prophecy” left to us. But by taking the statements of our Saviour as literal truths, we have harmony in statement and certainty in fulfillment.EMTF 65.1

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