“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36 NASB
No one knows – oudeis oiden – not a single being has complete knowledge of. Except the Father. No one at all understands fully, intuitively when that day and hour will come. There is no debating the clarity of Yeshua’s statement. He even excludes Himself. His point is that there is no point in speculation. Leave it to the Father.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t ask why this is the case.
In other works I have argued that the West has adopted a Greek view of time. This view uses the metaphor of a river. It describes time as if all of the events of history were floating on the stream. We stand on the shore observing the passing of time. Those events that have already passed our vantage point are now in the past. Those events that remain upstream, floating toward our point on the shore, are in the future. From the Greek perspective, the events already exist as debris in the river. The only difference between an event in the future and an event in the past or present is our position on the riverbank. With this view of time, predictive prophecy becomes a matter of revealing events that now lie upstream, moving toward us.
But this isn’t the Hebrew view of time. I have argued that the Hebraic view of time is like a series of branches in the road. At each fork, a decision must be made. The real path is the path chosen. All other paths are hypothetically possible, but not real since they do not exist as real choices once I have determined which path to take. In this view, there are no already existing events in the future, waiting to float into view. There are only possibilities that may or may not become actualities. There is no river of events. There are only the present potential choices that will become realities once they are elected. These possible events do not exist until the choices are made.
If this view of time is correct (you can read the entire argument in detail in my book), then Yeshua’s statement makes prefect sense. The future isn’t fixed. Therefore, it is impossible to know it in advance. God alone has the sovereign power and authority to shape the ultimate end of human history because He has the power and authority to override all of the choices moral agents make, but until He exercises that sovereignty, the future is being shaped by every choice made today. The Butterfly Effect is real. You and I are shaping the future with every choice we make. While we might speak about probabilities based on human choices, all other decision-paths of every other kind of being must also fit into the equation and this means that the future is finally unknowable except to a totally sovereign being. That is precisely what Yeshua says.
What’s the bottom line here? Simple. You can’t know, but you can do something about it. Your not knowing is not paralyzing. You can choose to follow His instructions and in so doing, shape the world to come without needing to know what that world will become. You have a hand in God’s purpose and plan. A very big hand, as it turns out. Don’t blow it!
Topical Index: oudeis oiden, no one knows, know, future, time, Matthew 24:36