"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.Mark 13:32(NASB)
Throughout Mark 13, Jesus addresses issues connected with the end times. From other passages, we understand that the 'end times' or 'last days' started in the times of the disciples with Christ's death, burial, Resurrection, and Ascension, and will continue until His Second Coming to set up His earthly kingdom. Indeed, in its broadest context, it also encompasses His millennial rule and that future day when God will make a new heaven and a new earth to usher in the ages to come.
Persecuted believers in the early Church yearned for the return of Christ to set up His earthly kingdom. They were under Roman oppression and longed to be free from the pressures, persecution, and pain of life in this fallen world. They wanted to know the signs that would herald His return to earth, but were informed: "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
Some people use this passage to deny the deity of Christ because God the Father alone knows the 'day' and the 'hour' of the Son's return. However, Christ's apparent 'ignorance' here, during His incarnation, is because the Lord Jesus only said what the Father told Him to say and He only did what the Father instructed Him. This does not lessen His omniscience as the eternal God, for Jesus is the Son of the Father. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. All authority in heaven above and on the earth below is His, but in His humanity He only informed His disciples what He was permitted to tell them by His Father in heaven. Although Christ was fully God, during His life on earth, He lived His life as fully man, demonstrating to you and me how we should live our lives, in total dependance on Him. The blasphemy of denying the deity of the eternal Son must be vigorously refuted.
All three synoptic Gospels cover Christ's Olivet discourse and His Second Coming from different perspectives. While Matthew's focus was unbelieving Jews, Mark's primary audience were Gentile believers living under Roman oppression in a hostile and godless world. And while Luke paid more attention in answering the question of when Christ Jesus will be returning to earth, Mark's greater focus was on the signs of His return and what we should look for to tell us He is coming soon.
In the light of the completed canon of Scripture, we understand that signs are given to unbelieving Jews, while unbelieving Gentiles seek wisdom. Christians however, are not told to look for signs but to look for Christ and live by faith in the Word of God. We are not to require signs or seek after earthly wisdom. We are to trust God's Word. Additional revelation about His imminent return in the clouds for the Church and the resurrection of the 'dead-in-Christ' when the trump of God is sounded, was a later revelation given to New Testament apostles and prophets.
The Rapture of the Church was not revealed to Israel. The Rapture is not the subject of this passage. However, Jesus did answer His disciples' questions about His Second Coming to earth, to set up His kingdom rule: "But of that day or hour," He told them, "no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
No doubt many of the end-time 'signs' in the heavens above and here on the earth which we all witness today, and cause us to become increasingly excited about Christ imminent return, are to prepare unbelieving Israel for their coming Messiah. But first the Church must be removed and Israel must sign a covenant with death, and then Israel must endure 'The Time Of Jacob's Trouble'.
Tribulation saints who endure to end will see signs of the end approaching. They will see false messiahs and false prophets who will rise up and will perform signs and wonders to lead many astray. They will see: "The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet," standing where it ought not to stand. They will watch when: "The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light." But they are also informed: "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
They too must watch for Christ to return to set up His Millennial Kingdom. We know that in that season the days will be shortened, or no flesh would be left alive. Like us, Tribulation saints need to be ready every day during that time of terrible trouble during the 70th week of Daniel.
Heavenly Father, thank You for telling us the end from the beginning and for the wonderful truth we have in Scripture. Thank You that Jesus is coming back very soon for His Church and that the Great Tribulation is not the end of the world but the herald of Christ's return to set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth. Help me to be ready for Christ's any day return in the clouds to rescue us from the wrath to come, and thank You that Your plans and purposes are designed to bring many sons to glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.