Matthew 24:36-44 (ESV)
"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.  As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,  and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.  Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
This is a rather famous passage, as it makes many moll hills into mountains concerning the divinity of Christ, and how Jesus can be God if he doesn’t know everything. But then again it is all part of the general kenosis of Jesus Christ, that he wills as God not to know some things so as to follow the will of his Father. Another Paradox.
But what is more often overlooked is the way Christ describes what life will be like right before his return. Everything is normal. Nothing is happening to cause any concern. People are making plans for the future, getting married and starting families. People are eating and drinking and having a good time. There is every reason to fall asleep and think that Christ is not returning today. This will be illustrated later by a few parables. Jesus describes today. Why just yesterday it seems I got married. And I have been feasting ever since! But then again Jesus describes Aug 3 1255 too! I imagine someone will get married tomorrow, and there will be a few people eating and some others drinking.
This is a much different picture than the one given by sensational interpretations of Revelation. It is amazing to me, how many evangelicals fear the end. They are consumed with a horror that they will be around for the great tribulation described in horrific if fantastical detail in so many books. Jesus doesn’t give a spirit of fear. We are not about a spirit of fear. If this is the result of your doctrine, then you don’t have the gospel. I’m judging by fruit here I suppose. But that is just it, the gospel is good news, not fear mongering. The gospel is good news, it inspires hope, and confidence, joy and resolve. We know we are saved, and we greet tomorrow with the joy and confidence that we are his and this world cannot destroy us. Our death is our salvation. To die is Gain, to live is Christ. We can’t lose! The victory is ours already! Live or die, we live! Because Christ has given us his life. We live in him, even as he lives to all eternity.
It isn’t that this passage and Revelation are at odds with each other, but the trick is to reconcile the two. A person can try this in many ways. But the rule is to take the clear and let that hold sway over the obscure. That is, you take the clear words of Christ here as they stand, and you know your interpretation of Revelation is wrong if it is at odds or ignores the words of Christ here. Christ will return, and we will rejoice. In the meantime we rejoice that he has stayed his judgment that others might hear the news and join in the joy we share. Might try something of that joy though,
I’m going to return to this whole fear mongering bit. Too often this passes for Christianity. It’s a disease! It’s the product of legalism. Christianity is marked with joy and compassion and love. Those three go together, and they are the product of the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s death and resurrection. We don’t have to be miserable pessimists always criticizing the culture we live in and judging “them.” Got enough to criticize about yourself, if you just need to criticize. Our morality is a product of love if it is true Christian morality. That means it doesn’t give you reason to stand in judgment of others for shacking up, and yet at the same time it gives you reason not to shack up, and to lovingly explain to others why it isn’t a good idea. There is a profoundness to the ten commandments that is ever being mined. They do actually show us how to love. But when you obey them for fear alone, a fear not balanced by trust and love for the lord who died for your sins, and the love he has for your neighbor etc. Then you aren’t following them at all. You don’t get them. And this results in the attitude you have toward them, and the attitude is not missed on your neighbor. When you are resentful of a death bed conversion, you have not love. When you think but they got to enjoy themselves and here I am trying to follow all the rules and be good, then you don’t get it! You ‘d be better off just joining in their orgy of nihilistic pain killing. But when you resist adultery, because you finally figured out what it means to love, well then you learn to eat and drink with sinners like you, and share the joy you have in Jesus Christ.