RSS Feed

No One Knows the Day or the Hour

Posted by Peter Helmut Voigt Labels:

(Written by Jack Kelley)
There are two popular phrases people use in connection with the End Times to discourage speculation about just when the Rapture might take place. One is “like a thief in the night”, and the other is “no one knows the day or the hour”.

It's been suggested from time to time that I'm sometimes “overly specific” in my teaching on the subject of End Times prophecy (even though I've never proposed either a day or an hour) so I've undertaken a study of these two phrases to see if I'm guilty as charged.

Let me say from the outset that I don't believe the day or hour of the Rapture can be known in advance by anyone on Earth because I don't believe it's set to happen on any specific day or at any specific hour. I believe it's set to happen when a specific number of born again believers is reached, and I base that conclusion on my understanding of Romans 11:25.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

There are two Greek words in this verse that lend critical support to a proper understanding. The first is translated "full number". It's a nautical term that describes the pre-determined number of sailors necessary to operate a ship. Until the ship had its full number of crew members, it could not sail. This is why ship captains sometimes got unsuspecting men drunk and kidnapped them late at night and then set sail immediately. And the second, translated "come in" is also a nautical term that described the ship's arrival at its intended destination.

By using these terms, Paul was saying that the hardening of Israel's heart will not be fully removed until the Church reaches its pre-determined number and has been taken to heaven. There's nothing arbitrary about God's action here. He has already determined the number and will take the Church to its intended destination as soon as that number is reached. But as far as I can tell no one on Earth knows either the full number or the current number. All we can know is that we'll be Raptured when the full number of Gentiles has come in and it could literally happen on any given day. Then we'll disappear, the blinders will come off Israel and the 70th Week will commence.

Now, back to the topic at hand. What do these two phrases mean and are they intended to discourage speculation about the timing of the Rapture?

Like A Thief
This phrase appears 4 times in the New Testament. Let's look at each one and see what it's telling us.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thes. 5:1-4)
This is Paul's only use of the phrase. It's clear He was speaking of the day of the Lord, and that while it will come as a surprise to unbelievers, events leading up to it should not surprise us. He made no mention of the Rapture here.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)