Matthew 24 is also known as “the second Sermon on the Mount”. Seated on the Mount of Olives, with a clear view on the buildings of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, Jesus speaks extensively about “the conclusion of eon” and “the sign of His coming” (Matt. 24:3). He expressly continues on what was already recorded by the prophets of the O.T.
Whenever, then, you may be perceiving the abomination of desolation, which is declared through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him who is reading apprehend!); then let those in Judea flee into the mountains.
In this case, Jesus refers to the last heptad (last year-week) in the book of Daniel (9:27). In that prophecy, we read that from the moment “the abomination of desolation” will stand in the holy place, until the beginning of the Kingdom of Israel, will be a half year-week or 3.5 years or 42 months (Dan 9:24-27). Then will the Son of Man (= the Heir of Adam) appear and “all the tribes of the land” will see Him, after which the rest of the chosen people will be gathered from the four winds (Matt.24:29-31). It must be clear that this advent can be calculated, with precision, by the Jewish believers in those days. It will be a matter of counting 1260 days, after the idol in the holy place has been set up.
The question arises, to what was Jesus referring, when He said in this same chapter:
Now, concerning that day and hour no one is aware, neither the messengers of the heavens, nor the Son; except the Father only.
Concerning which day, here, was Jesus speaking? Evidently, not concerning the day of His appearing to Israel, since that day can be calculated, exactly. But what then? The answer can be found in the preceding verses.
32 Now from the fig tree learn a parable: Whenever its bough may already be becoming tender, and the leaves sprouting out, you know that summer is near. 33 Thus you, also, whenever you may be perceiving all these things, know that it is near-at the doors.
34 “Verily, I am saying to you that by no means may this generation be passing by till all these things should be occurring.
35 Heaven and earth shall be passing by, yet My words may by no means be passing by. 36 Now, concerning that day and hour no one is aware, neither the messengers of the heavens, nor the Son; except the Father only.
After Jesus had spoken about His appearing to Israel and the gathering in of the chosen people into the land, He compares these events with the budding of a fig tree, in the spring. The fig tree is an emblem of Israel, as a nation, and the budding of the leaves refers, in this connection, to the new life that the nation will experience. Israel’s restoration and the return of the Messiah, at the end of the 70 weeks of years of Daniel (which had been spoken of in the preceding verses), is illustrated in the budding of the fig tree. When one will see this, then one can know that summer is near. The summer, here, refers to the beginning of the Kingdom, worldwide. Within one generation will this take place, said Jesus. But He adds: concerning THAT DAY and THAT HOUR no one is aware. It will be known that summer will come within one generation, but how long it will take to come, exactly, is not known. “That day” refers to the start of “Summer” or to “the conclusion of the eon”. It will be the day on which, worldwide, the wicked will be taken away.
36 Now, concerning that day and hour no one is aware, neither the messengers of the heavens, nor the Son; except the Father only. 37 “For even as the days of Noah, thus shall be the presence of the Son of Mankind. 38 For as they were in those days before the deluge, masticating and drinking and marrying and taking in marriage until the day on which Noah entered into the ark, 39 and did not know till the deluge came and takes them all away, THUS shall be the presence of the Son of Mankind.
The word “coming” can give rise to confusion. The Greek word “parousia” does not indicate only one moment of arrival, but also the subsequent stay. “Presence” is the meaning of that word. The parousia of Christ is not one moment, but includes a series of events from the time of His arrival.
“The conclusion of the eon” (wrongly translated as “the end of the world”) is the moment that all the wicked will be taken away from off the earth, such as this once happened after Noah entered the ark. Elsewhere, Jesus also spoke in this way about the “conclusion of the eon”.
40 Even as the darnel, then, are being culled and burned up with fire, thus shall it be in the conclusion of the eon. 41 The Son of Mankind shall be dispatching His messengers, and they shall be culling out of His kingdom all the snares and those doing lawlessness, 42 and they shall be casting them into a furnace of fire. There shall be lamentation and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the just be shining out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Matthew 13; See also: verses 49,50.
At “the conclusion of the eon” the wicked will be taken away, while the righteous will remain on earth to inherit the Kingdom. That is what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of “that day”. He continued in Matthew 24 with:
40 Then two shall be in the field; one is taken along and one left: 41 two grinding at the millstone; one is taken along and one left. 42 Be watching, then, for you are not aware on what day your Lord is coming.
Translators have interpreted the word “taken” to mean something positive and the word “left” to mean something negative. However, the idea in this passage is precisely the opposite. One will be taken away by the judgment, while the other one will be left alone to remain on earth to enjoy the Kingdom of righteousness and peace.
“The day” that “nobody knows about”, except the Father alone, concerns “the conclusion of the eon” (=> beginning of the summer). It is the day when all the wicked will be taken away from the earth, and “the coming eon” will be inaugurated. This day must expressly be distinguished from Jesus’ second coming for Israel, less than a generation earlier (> the budding of the fig tree).
Translation: Peter Feddema