We often hear that “no man [or woman] knows the day or the hour” of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This phrase comes from Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, recorded by Mark and Matthew:
What is less common is a grasp of what this and other phrases reflect about a traditional Jewish wedding.
At the time of Jesus, when a bridegroom legally betrothed a bride, the last thing he would say to her is, “I go to prepare a place for you.”2 Well, that sounds familiar. Jesus echoed these last words of the bridegroom during the Last Supper:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2; emphasis added.)
After the betrothal, the two were legally married but the bridegroom would not see her again until the marriage feast, which would happen immediately after he was finished building a house where the two would live. It often took a year to build the new home and was usually attached to the house of the bridegroom’s father.
It is also commonly understood by Christians that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church represents His bride. He is already betrothed to His bride but the marriage feast—His Second Coming—has not yet happened, but perhaps soon will.
Back to the marriage tradition. A friend of the bridegroom would often visit the bride and update her on the progress of the couple’s new house. She, her family, and those close to her would then know when the time was short and would be prepared for the announcement of the wedding feast.
The bridegroom’s father would inspect the construction of the new home and once it was completed to his satisfaction, the marriage feast could take place. In this sense, no one knew the day or hour of the wedding feast except the bridegroom’s father, as he was the one to ultimately decide when the house was ready and worthy of the bride. (Reminds me of the parable of the marriage of the king’s son in Matthew 22:1–14.)
Once ready, heralds would shout the good news that the bridegroom’s procession would soon arrive to lead the bride to her new home:
Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord. (Doctrine and Covenants 133:10; see also v. 19.)
The waiting period between the announcement and the procession’s arrival was no later than a half hour.3 This is reminiscent of the silence for half an hour before Christ’s glorious appearance at his coming (see Revelation 8:1; Doctrine and Covenants 88:95). This means that the bride had to be well prepared and ready for the bridegroom shortly after the announcement came to her ears (compare the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1–13).
Likewise, the time to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—is now. I believe the time is short. We have had plenty to warn the senses in 2020, have we not? When will the Father declare that His Son’s house is ready?
Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12.)
It is my faith that if we take the Holy Ghost as our guide, and repent of what is keeping us from having the Spirit with us from day to day, we will be prepared:
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:56, 57.)
- The Joseph Smith Translation deletes the phrase “neither the Son.” The other synoptic gospel, Luke, does not record this verse.
- See the Matthew 24 Rapture blog, http://endoftheworld.net/Jesus/2011/06/07/the-day-that-no-man-knows-the-day-or-the-hour-only-the-father-traditional-bible-prophecy-vs-hebraic-roots/. Accessed August 2, 2020.
- Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish and Family Customs, 127.