Q. Considering all the Signs that Jesus gave us regarding His return, what is your take on His comment when He said that He would come at such a time as you think not. I’ve have been challenged by this statement when I have been teaching on the Signs of the Times. Is the Lord addressing His remarks to believers or was it meant for a wider audience i.e. non-believers? I would be grateful for your opinion.
A. Variations of that phrase are found in Matt. 24:36, 42, 44, 50 and Matt. 25:13. All of these pertain to His 2nd Coming, and yet we’ve all been taught that He will come immediately after the end of the Great Tribulation. But that’s not what the Bible tells us.
Matt. 24:29-30 says, “Immediately after the distress of those days (the Great Tribulation) ” ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
So the Great Tribulation will end on schedule 1260 days from the appearance of the Abomination of Desolation. Then the world will go completely dark while all the heavenly bodies (literally, powers) will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the darkened sky above. Some have speculated that this could be a giant cross made of light, but the Bible doesn’t say. Finally people will see the Lord Himself coming in the clouds.
Because of the phrase “at such a time as you think not” from Matt. 24:44 we have to assume that some undefined period of time will elapse between the end of the Great Tribulation and the Lord’s appearance in the clouds. This could be done to give the Lord the time He needs to take care of things in Petra first (Isaiah 63:1-6) or perhaps to give tribulation survivors one last chance to choose life over death (all the nations will mourn), or just to focus the world on the His return. But for whatever reason it will result in the Lord returning at a time other than when He is expected.
I think the Lord’s comments on the timing of His return were meant for post Church believers who will have survived to the end of the Great Tribulation.