Mk 13:28-37 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
What time is it? This is a question many in Israel ask! What time is it? If we are speaking the answer to the one asking, we might say, for example, 11:30. And he/she would understand whether it was morning or night. But if, for another example, we sent out an invitation and said, ‘Let’s get together at 9:00’, someone might ask: ‘Do you mean in the morning, or in the evening?’ Had the invitation been for 21:00, it would have been understood here that it was for the evening. Or had it said, 9pm, it would also have been understood by those who received the invitation.
What day is it? I know that when we first immigrated to Israel, it took some time before Randi and I got used to Monday not being the first day of the week, i.e., Sonday! We often would think that Monday was Tuesday! We were confused for a while until we finally adjusted to Sonday being Sonday, the first day of the week, and also a work day. So, if we would say to someone in the U.S. that our services here are on the Sabbath, unless we explained, they thought we meant on Sonday, because in the West they made Sunday the Sabbath, moving back the proper seventh day Sabbath to being the sixth day of the week. The weekend was Saturday-Sunday. If someone writes a date like this: 7/12/15; does it mean July 12, 2015; or, Dec 7, 2015?
It seems as if the confusion of languages at Babel has also included the confusion of time!
Let us take this further: Israel changes its clock to ‘Summer Time’ (Daylight Saving Time) each year; but “the territories” do not. So Jerusalem has one time, and Bethlehem another, during the same time of year. In the United States, the country changes its clock for the Summer, but the state of Arizona does not. Yet within Arizona, an area for Indians does!
The Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) (which used to be called Greenwich Mean Time) is the Prime Meridian running through Greenwich, England, from which all other time zones on the globe are calculated. Israel is two hours in advance (UTC+2) of the UCT; the East Coast of the U.S. is five hours behind (UTC-5). South Africa, south of Israel, is in the same Time Zone as Israel. So Israel is 7 hours ahead in the day from the eastern U.S. However, depending on when each country changes its clock for the Summer, and then back again to Standard Time (which is based upon the position of the Sun relative to the Earth), Israel could be 8 hours ahead, or maybe 6 hours ahead. Australia’s western province is normally five hours ahead of Israel, and seven hours ahead of the UCT (UTC+7). All through the 24-hour day/night cycle, part of the Earth is in the evening, at midnight, at dawn, or in the morning.
What if YHVH God has set His Prime Meridian to run through Israel as the standard for calculations? Does anybody know? Or do you think He is beholden to man’s arbitrary manipulations of the clock? Are you confused yet?!
What time is it!? Most countries set their clocks by the hour within which they fall in the Time Zones. But India, for example, changes her clock by ½ hour; Nepal changes theirs by ¼ hour! (Interesting and Confusing Facts about Time and Time Zones)
And you know that there is an International Date Line (IDL) that has been arbitrarily set which divides the calendar date between that which is east of this imaginary line from that which is west of the line. Even this legally recognized line has been altered by some governments and islands, so that their whole country remains on the same day together! Every day while some sleep and some are at work, there are two hours during which there are three different calendar days at the same time! Praise the Lord!
Here is an explanation of the IDL and the UTC from Wikipedia:
“The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but deviating to pass around some territories and island groups.
The IDL zigzags around the antimeridian, which is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is used to define Universal Time and is the meridian from which all other time zones are calculated. Time zones to the east of the Prime Meridian are in advance of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (up to UTC+14); time zones to the west are behind UTC (to UTC-12). The IDL is the line between those highest (up to UTC+14) and those lowest (down to UTC−12) time zones.
The IDL and the moving point of midnight separate the two calendar days that are current somewhere on Earth. However, during a two-hour period between 10:00 (2200) and 11:59 (23:59) (UTC) each day, three different calendar days are in use. This is because of daylight saving in the UTC+12 zone and the use of additional date-shifted time zones in areas east of the 180th meridian. These additional time zones result in the standard time and date in some communities being 24 or 25 hours different from the standard time and date in others.
A traveler crossing the IDL eastbound subtracts one day, or 24 hours, so that the calendar date to the west of the line is repeated after the following midnight. Crossing the IDL westbound results in 24 hours being added, advancing the calendar date by one day. The IDL is necessary to have a fixed, albeit arbitrary, boundary on the globe where the calendar date advances in the westbound direction.” [Italic emphases mine]
To add to the lack of clarity, I remember rooming with a man from Ethiopia who told me a story of how he missed his flight one time. The time on the ticket said 01:00, which to most of us means 1:00 at night on the next calendar day, even though the time would be 1:00am (“before noon”, “in the morning”).
Well, for this brother, he thought of 7:00 in the morning, according to his own nation’s custom and law. Of course he missed his flight!
When does a day begin? In the beginning, there was evening and the morning. Does the day begin at 6:00pm? In the New Testament, the wrath of God was upon Jesus on the cross from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, meaning, from 12:00 noon until 15:00 (3pm). Does the day begin at 6:00am? Yeshua did say that there are twelve hours in a day for man to work, and that the night is coming when no one can work. (Jn 9:4; 11:9)
Has the day-time changed in the light of the coming of Messiah, the Light of the world?
Today, with the IDL, the new day and date begins from 12:00 midnight, depending on which side of the “line” one is. When the antichrist has his power and authority, the Scriptures say that he will change times and laws. (Dan 7:25) Will he decree a new universal time and dating system?? The Word of God marks the beginning of each lunar month by the New Moon (darkened); Islam marks their months by the sighted ‘birth’ of the moon at the first sliver of light.
Does anybody know what hour it is, and what day it is? And does it really matter? It mostly does, I would say. We have seen how not knowing the time can cause confusion in schedules and in orientation and for documentation. On the other hand, the Lord lets us know in no uncertain terms that not only is it unnecessary, but it is impossible for any created thing to know exactly when He will come again. (Mk 13:32)
We have seen how that can be! The Lord did not say that we could not discern the time — the season — of His coming, but rather the precise day and hour. There are many Scriptures giving us signs and indications of His coming – such as the fig tree analogy in the passage we read from Mark 13 — but the precise set time is something that only the Father knows. Jesus has told us all things that He heard from His Father to make known to us; and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth of all that has been revealed. (Jn 15:15; 16:12-15) The Holy Spirit is not going to reveal what the Father did not even tell His Son (in the wondrous mystery that is the triune God)!
This is no small matter: Jesus rebuked the Jewish people during His first coming for not knowing the time of their visitation, with its subsequent severe judgment. (Lk 19:41-44) And terrible consequences have resulted from listening to those who have claimed to know precisely when the Lord will return, discrediting both the faith in the truth of His coming, and in preparing ourselves for His return.
Why is it important to God that we do not know precisely? Because if the Father would make it known at all, then Satan could also know – even quicker than we! Yeshua is coming as a thief into the master’s house. (Mt 24:42-46; 1Thes 5:1-11) If it could be known when that would be, including a particular holy-day, then the devil would prepare for that time and day in a manner that it is not possible for him to do so now. If a military commander were to let his enemy know his plan of attack and the time of it, he would face fiercer opposition and greater possibility of defeat.
Surely the LORD of Hosts (Armies) has carefully planned His surprise attack!
And if we, the believers, were to know, then we would live our lives not by faith in God and His covenantal promises and in the absolute victory of Jesus by His death on the cross for us, but, rather, as is common to the sin still in us, we would only wait until just before that moment to “make ourselves ready”; or, else, we would wait and see if it really comes true. Neither of “our ways” submits to the “way of the LORD”.
Yet the Lord warns us not to let any one deceive us, and for us to be watchful and prayerful. This day will not come until sometime after the revelation of the antichrist. (2Thes 2:1-4) We will not watch and pray if we are not anticipating with expectation. In our love and hopeful expectation of the Lord’s return, the Holy Spirit will see to it that those who are faithful will not be like the five foolish virgins, but will be prepared like the five wise virgins.
As we learn to obey the God with faith, walking in the Spirit, we will be transformed, and conformed more and more into the image of the Son of God. The Lord knows who His own are, and those who call on His name will depart from iniquity! As the blessed hope of His coming again to establish forever the Kingdom of God grows within us, we will purify ourselves, even as He is pure.
What time is it? What day is it? I don’t know; but even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, February 27, 2015, and reposted with permission.