“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (Matt. 24:3) In answer to the query, the Lord Jesus Christ gave a long discourse and then He says in verses 36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
The parallel passage in Mark 13: 32 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Many Bible students and young preachers are bothered by our Lord Jesus Christ’s declaration that He did not know the day and hour of Jerusalem’s destruction and His own return to earth when connected to the belief that Jesus Christ is true God since a basic assumption about Deity is that God is omniscient or all knowing. Does Christ’s statement quoted above deny Christ’s deity? If the serious Bible student answers the questions below, he would not use this issue to deny Christ’s deity.
The question posed is “If our Lord Jesus Christ is true God, why didn’t He know the day and hour of Jerusalem’s destruction, the end of the age and His own coming back in the light of our belief that He is God and God knows everything?”
For the serious Bible student, I would like him to first formulate his answers to the following questions for him to appreciate my answer to the above question. In the first series I have challenged the serious Bible student to answer the questions below. I hope that the reader has formulated his own answer. These are the questions and now I give my own opinion.
Question #1. If Yahweh God were true Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why did He not prevent Lucifer from rebelling which made him Satan and eventually made him God’s bitter adversary?
Answer: Yahweh God, being omnipotent and omniscient, knew what Lucifer and some angels would do after creating them. Given the present situation now, we would like to volunteer the explanation that there are several interrelated factors considered to satisfactorily answer the above question and these are: (a) That God, before creation, had decreed that He would create angels, (b) That these angels would be given free will, (c) That in the exercise of free will there would be responsibility for consequences of willed choices, (d) That there would be sufficient instructions and warnings for good as well as wrong choices, and (e) That God wants to fellowship with beings that voluntarily choose to be loyal to God the Creator and be holy as God Himself is holy. Lucifer’s ambition and greed led to his fall. Read Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
Question #2. If Yahweh God were true Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why did He not prevent the Devil from entering the Garden of Eden so that the Devil would have not seduced and made Eve and Adam sinners?
Answer: Yahweh God, being omnipotent and omniscient, knew what Adam and Eve would do after creating them. Given the present situation now, we would like to argue that there are several interrelated variables to consider to satisfactorily answer the above question and these are: (a) That God had, before creation, decreed that He would create humans, (b) That man would be given free will, (c) That in the exercise of free will there is responsibility for consequences of willed choices, (d) That there would be sufficient instructions and warnings for correct as well as wrong decisions, (e) That God wants to fellowship with beings that voluntarily choose to be loyal to God the Creator and be holy as God Himself is holy, and (f) That God does not interfere with human free will.
Bible history tells us that Eve and Adam chose to ignore God and believed the lying Satan.
Question #3. If Yahweh God were true Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why did He not make Noah succeed in persuading his generation within 120 years to turn away from the people’s wicked ways?
Answer: God suffered Satan to continue his work on earth with mankind and God permitted the exercise of free will among mankind but Noah’s generation followed fleshly pleasure rather than choosing the holiness of God. God didn’t interfere with human free will and He showed that there is a consequence of the people’s voluntary choices. The flood destroyed that wicked world.
Question #4. If Jesus Christ were true Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why did He become flesh according to John 1:14?
Answer: The name Yahweh, the true God’s name, means “I AM THAT I AM” in English. Other scholars say it could be “I BECOME WHAT I BECOME.” Yahweh God appeared in the form of man in Genesis 18:1 and He stayed with Abraham. Should we begrudge Yahweh’s prerogative in taking the form of human? We should not. Yahweh appeared as a burning bush in Exodus 3. According to 1 Cor. 10:4, Christ took the form of a material rock in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13. John 1:14’s declaration that Christ became flesh should not be a problem to the reasoning Bible student if he can grant that God could become man in Genesis 18:1 and a rock in Exodus.
Question #5. If Jesus Christ is the Creator of all that is invisible and visible, of all thrones and dominions and principalities and powers, why was He born of the Virgin Mary? If Jesus Christ is man only, what was He at the time He created the invisible and visible worlds?
Answer: Nobody complains when we are told in Genesis 18:1 that Yahweh, the true God, became a human being without being born; He ate with Abraham and Sarah, walked and talked with Abraham when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. What is the problem if God wants to be born of a virgin? Should man limit God’s power to become what He wants to become and appear as He wants to appear to mankind? As if man wants to say, “God, I refuse to believe that you can become what you want to become if my limited brain power can’t understand it.” That’s not a good way of interpreting the Bible.
Question #6. If Jesus Christ already existed before the creation of the universe, and He existed before Abraham was born (John 8:56) and He existed before John the Baptist was born (John 1:30), why was He born as a human baby after the creation of the physical universe, after Abraham had died, and after John the Baptist was born 6 months earlier than Jesus? If Jesus Christ is man only, what was His existence before Abraham and John the Baptist were born?
Answer: Jesus Christ’s existence before the creation of the world in Genesis 1:1, His existence before Abraham was born is His spirit nature and person. The question should be asked, “If Christ is man only, what was His nature and person before the creation of the world?”
The only reasonable dogma is this: The spirit nature and person of Jesus Christ is not his humanity, and His humanity is not His spirit nature and person.
When Jesus Christ said, “Before Abraham was, I am” shouldn’t you ask, “If Jesus Christ is man only, how can he be existing before Abraham was born?” If you can answer this question based on John 8:56, then you should be able to answer the question based on Matthew 24:36.
Question #7. If our Lord Jesus Christ were true Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why didn’t He allow the sending down of lightning and thunder upon a Samaritan village that rejected Him and his disciples as reported in Luke 9:51-56? Should man demand that God behave as humans ordinarily behave today when insulted?
Answer: James and John felt insulted by the rejection shown them by the people in the Samaritan village. Ordinary humans want immediate revenge when insulted. God’s power and authority don’t automatically come out to exact revenge on people. Christ didn’t call thunder and lightning that would have melted down the Samaritan village. So we conclude that God’s power doesn’t automatically come out when challenged. We should not demand that God could exist only in one dimension as much as man can only exist in one dimension.
Question #8. If our Lord Jesus Christ were true deity, omnipotent and omniscient, why didn’t He call down twelve legions of angels to guard Him in the night of His arrest as suggested in Matthew 26:53? Should man demand that God behave as human sovereigns ordinarily behave today in the exercise of military power?
Answer: He could have called down 12 legions of angels if He wanted to but He didn’t. Do we demand that God should bring out automatically His omnipotence when challenged? No. Many sick people came in contact with Christ during his earthly ministry, but He didn’t automatically heal them. Should that be taken as an evidence that He was not God? When Christ didn’t call down 12 legions to guard Him from the arresting authorities, should that be an evidence that He was not a powerful God? No.
Question #9. If Yahweh God is omnipresent or present everywhere, why was Yahweh localized into a small human being in Genesis18:1-15?
Answer: God could appear locally while He is at the same time present everywhere in cosmic space and beyond. This is what we call the transcendence and immanence of God happening at the same time. Theologians recognize this transcendence and immanence of God. If Christ’s localization within a period of 33 years while incarnated is a problem, why don’t we reject Yahweh’s localization for 24 hours in Genesis 18 and 19? Was God’s appearance of a man in Genesis 18:1 the totality of God’s nature and person? No. Man’s mind is the one limited. God could appear as a man to 1,000 people at the same time and still be God.
Question #10. If Yahweh God is omnipresent or present everywhere, why was He localized as a small burning bush in Exodus 3:1-22? When Yahweh God is here, is He not there also?
Answer: God is immanent (present in the world) and at the same time He is transcendent (outside of the universe). God could appear to humans in a localized manner so that man could understand and communicate with God. We should not limit God’s power. We should not tell God not to act in a way that our limited brain power could not understand. If God is omnipotent or all powerful, why didn’t His fire appearance burn the bush? It was not the inability of the fire to burn the bush, but it was the temporary suspension of the ability to burn. Was God’s appearance as a burning bush in Exodus 3 the totality of God’s nature and person? No. Can God suspend His glorious appearance when He wants to appear to man? Yes.
It is not lack of power and knowledge but a temporary suspension of them. If God wants to forget our sins, does He really forget them? Is it possible for God to suspend remembrance of our sins? Is it possible for God to remember what He previously forgets?
Question #11. If Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III were truly the President of the Republic of the Philippines, why is he castigated by so many citizens when he bought a second hand Porsche sports car?
Answer: We should learn how to sometimes separate the Presidency and the personal private life of Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III. Did PNoy purchase the sports car as President of the Republic of the Philippines? No. Did PNoy purchase the sports car as a private person? Yes. Is there a PNoy that is a President of the Republic of the Philippines? Yes, there is. Is there a PNoy that is a personal private person? Yes, there is. Can you make a distinction between the PNoy as a President and a PNoy as a private citizen? Yes, we can. Are you able to apply this kind of splitting ability in the study of the nature and person of Jesus Christ? You should.
My dear reader, after you have given your own answers to the above questions and after reading my opinions, does the question “Why did Jesus Christ say that He didn’t know the day and hour of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the day and hour of His coming back in the light of our belief that is God and God knows everything?” still bother you?
Is it possible for you to make a distinction between Jesus Christ as Deity and Jesus Christ as human? Are you able to identify some acts or statements that should refer to His Deity and these should not be applicable to his humanity? Are you able to identify some acts or statements that should refer to His humanity and these should not refer to His Deity? We should.
Anyone who wants to ask a specific follow-up question he should first submit his answers to the 11 questions expressed above to make sure he has struggled in his own mind how to tie together related passages and ideas. #E. Tanicala