On the Mount of Olives after leaving the temple mount for the last time and hearing Jesus speak of its destruction, His disciples have asked when those things would happen, and what would be the sign of His coming in judgment that would mark the end of that age of the Jews. After giving the signs of Mat 24:4-31, He has told them that as surely as branches becoming tender and leaves coming out on a tree indicate that summer and its season of growth is near, so they would know by the signs He has given that He was near to establishing His kingdom in a season of growth that would result in a harvest of His elect, chosen servants from the four winds like choice wheat being gathered into His barn. They would also know that He was near to acting in judgment upon His enemies in that time of harvest by burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And this is exactly what happened, both in regard to the spread of the gospel throughout the Gentile world in the years that followed and to Jerusalem and its temple at the end of the generation within which He predicted “all these things” would take place (Mat 24:34).
In what way were these two aspects of Jesus’ coming that were fulfilled in the initial spread of the gospel and destruction of the Jewish nation a type of the two harvests described in Rev 14:14-20? Is it possible that we are in the midst of those harvests now? In which of those harvests are we personally being gathered by the daily circumstances of our lives and the choices we make? See Rom 2:4-8. Are we by perseverance in doing good seeking for glory, honor, and immortality in order to obtain eternal life? Or are we selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness so that we are storing up wrath for ourselves in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, such as that which overtook the Jewish nation in 70 A.D.?
In contrast to the certainty of the forthcoming season that the signs of the times were foreshadowing, what does Jesus say about the specific day or time when those things would happen? See Mat 24:36. In what sense is the day or hour of a repentant sinner’s salvation out of the kingdoms of this world into Christ’s kingdom of righteousness unknown except to the Father? See Joh 1:12-13, 3:5-8, and think: while a healthy pregnancy assures that a day of birth will come, is the specific day or hour of that birth known? In what sense is the fulfillment of all God’s promises and the restoration of all things for the final establishment of His kingdom to Israel also unknown except to the Father? See Act 1:6-7, 3:21, and consider that what Christ’s apostles supposed the Israel of God to be is actually composed of both Jews and Gentiles, so that the fulfillment they imagined was far less than what God intended, with the result that their timing was off by at least the almost 2000 years that have happened since then! See Rom 2:28-29, 9:6-8, 11:26, Gal 3:7,29, 6:16, Psa 73:1, Isa 49:5-6; cf. Heb 11:39-40.
What do Jesus’ words in Mat 24:36 also indicate about the unknown day or hour of an unrepentant sinner being taken away in judgment, or God’s wrath being poured out upon a disobedient nation? Cf. Mat 24:27-28,40-41, 1Th 5:2-3, 2Pe 3:10, Rev 3:3, 16:15. In what sense does Jesus Himself not know the day or hour when judgment from the Father will overtake sinners? See Luk 13:6-9. Because judgment will eventually overtake sinners as certainly as summer overtakes winter, but the exact day or hour is unknown except to the Father, what is essential for those who would not be swept away in that judgment? See Mat 24:42-44, 25:13, Luk 21:34-36; cf. Heb 3:7-8,15, 4:7.
1. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.↩