Does this sound familiar? You’re sharing what you’ve learned about the times and the seasons of God’s prophetic timetable and somewhere in the midst of your conversation the other person blurts out, “But the Bible says we cannot know when Jesus will return.” As Shakespeare pointed out, “to know or not to know, that is the question.”
How do we respond? First, with respect. Most people are only parroting what they’ve heard others say. Few have examined the Word to see what it actually says. Being dogmatic with our reactions tends to bring out the guard dogs, and their incessant barking typically disrupts any meaningful interchange.
Second, we lead the person on the path of discovery so they see the truth for themselves. The statement is loosely based on a conversation Jesus had with His inner circle that is recorded in Matthew 24. He is introducing the topic of end-time events with them as He has come to Jerusalem for the last time. The disciples have no clue what is about to happen and even if they did, they wouldn’t understand it because of their preconceived ideas of what the Messiah should do.
Jesus’ topic is the signs of the times and the end of the age—the crux of a Leveler’s message. The Lord describes the signs they will see and punctuates His teaching with a word picture of the fig tree and the importance of recognizing the season. The signs or events He discusses and the ones He does not discuss help us put a time stamp on this teaching. It helps us identify where He is at in describing God’s timetable.
Here’s our first leading question we can use to reveal the truth of God’s Word. Why would Jesus take the time to explain the signs and give us a warning to watch the signs if His return cannot be known? If the Bible describes signs, then how can His coming be signless?
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
How have you responded to the “cannot know” rebuttal? What insights can you share with your fellow Levelers?