In Mark 13:32, Jesus says, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (cf. Matt. 24:36). That’s somewhat puzzling. Is it a limitation on Jesus’ omniscience, as if God the Father knows things that God the Son doesn’t? That can’t be. So is it saying that Jesus as a man doesn’t know things that God the Son knows? Even so, that’s still puzzling.
A friend of mine argued once for a different approach: When Jesus says that even the Son does not know the day and hour, he said, he is speaking of knowing something in order to pass it on to others. Neither the angels nor the Son has been given the knowledge of the day and hour in the sense that neither is commissioned to reveal it and make it known to us.
I haven’t studied this passage and so I won’t claim that this is the right interpretation. But the other day, I was reading Augustine’s exposition of Psalm 10 (Psalm 9, part 2, for Augustine). In that exposition, he mentions those passages in Mark 13 and Matthew 24. Lo and behold, he says exactly what my friend said:
What, then, is so hidden as that which is said to be hidden even from the judge himself, not as far as his knowing it is concerned, but as regards his revealing it? (Expositions of the Psalms, 1:158, emphasis mine).
While in another sort of book, this would be incredibly purple prose, in James Thurbur’s The 13 Clocks it’s delightful and I had a great time reading it to my daughter as she snuggled in bed, eyes peaking over the covers she’d pulled up around her:
The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets (p. 73).
My daughter loves suspense and loves the scary parts of good stories. I love that about her. I often pause in the middle and ask if I should stop there, and she says, “No!” When I ask why, she says, “Because I love it!”
And so she loved the parts about the Todal, which looks like a blob of glup, is made entirely of lip, makes a sound like rabbits screaming, smells of old, unopened rooms, and moves like monkeys and like shadows, and I loved seeing her pull the covers higher until they’re just below her gleaming eyes.
Another reason the church needs to return to singing the Psalms:
God’s readiness to hear and willingness to grant His people’s prayers are continually proclaimed throughout Scripture (Ps. 9:10; 10:17-18; 18:3; 34:15-17; 37:4-5; 50:14-15; 145:18-19). God has given us numerous examples of imprecatory prayers, showing repeatedly that one aspect of a godly man’s attitude is hatred for God’s enemies and fervent prayer for their downfall and destruction (Ps. 5:10; 10:15; 35:1-8, 22-26; 59:12-13; 68:1-4; 69:22-28; 83; 94; 109; 137:8-9; 139:19-24; 140:6-11). Why then do we not see the overthrow of the wicked in our own time? An important part of the answer is the unwillingness of the modern Church to pray Biblically; and God has assured us: You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2). —David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance, p. 250.
Augustine on Psalm 10, in which the wicked prosper in their sins and believe they are going unpunished:
Nobody should congratulate the person who prospers in his own way, whose sins go unavenged and who has someone to praise him. This is the Lord’s anger, an anger all the greater. The sinner has provoked the Lord, and deserved to suffer precisely this absence of any lashes of reproach (Expositions of the Psalms, pp. 152-153).
Later, he adds:
People consider physical blindness, which means the withdrawal of daylight, a great evil. Just imagine, then, how great the punishment people suffer who, while their sins are a roaring success, are led to the point where God is no longer in their field of vision…. (p. 153).
So when we see the wicked prosper, it’s right to cry out to God to avenge and to punish them for their sins. That’s what Psalm 10 itself does. But at the same time, Augustine wants us to recognize that God’s rebukes are a mercy and the lack of those “lashes of reproach” is itself God’s wrath, as he gives men over to their sins, leading to greater punishment down the road.