Lou: As Jesus was talking to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He said He didn’t know the time, the day, nor the hour (Matt 24:36) of His Coming. That statement was true then. Is it still true? Does Jesus not know now?
Graham: I would understand that He’s taken back all His kingly power, and so He knows now. According to Philippians 2:6, when He was here He truly “emptied Himself.” He lived as a human to show that humans, by the power of God, can lead good lives. He used no power that we cannot use. So I accept what He said then. He really didn’t know at that time, but He does know now.
I’m impressed, though, that He says the Father knows. Some wonder how much the Father can know about the future. After all, if the conflict is in our minds, if the conflict is over trust, then the conflict is about moral choices. So Jesus would actually be saying, “The Father knows when the world will have made up its mind and will have made these moral choices.” This is my basis for believing that God can foreknow our moral choices. If He did not know them, how could He know the day or the hour when the conflict will be over?
Lou: You talked about the signs in the sun, moon (1780 A.D.) and stars (1833 A.D.), and these events seem rather long ago now. Didn’t Jesus also talk about “this generation?” Matt 24:34. Wouldn’t the generation that saw some of these signs be the one that wouldn’t pass away? If you’re right about the dates of these signs, was Jesus wrong about “this generation?”
Graham: I think I know about twelve different explanations of “this generation.” And they’re all an attempt to extend it longer and longer. I remember when some thought it was good news to read in the paper that somebody living in Outer Mongolia had made it to his 167th birthday. And people said, “Oh good, that generation is still alive!” I believe that generation is long since gone. I would have to put this with similar expressions in the Bible. It means we could have completed the work back in those days. God has always held out these kinds of possibilities to us. We could have done it, but we didn’t. I believe that the generation that saw those signs should have seen the End.
Lou: Is it possible that there are still more signs that we should be looking for? For example, you didn’t mention Daniel 12:4: “Knowledge shall be increased, and men and women shall run to and fro.”
Graham: Yes, the beauty of that one is that it can be constantly updated as knowledge and travel continue to increase. It is very interesting to look at the pictures on the old Signs of the Times magazine that Dad edited for so long. You see in the earlier covers men running to and fro in antiquated Model-T automobiles and even before that in antiquated locomotives. But periodically they had to send the word out to the Art Department, “Update this, because people are now running a little faster to and fro, and knowledge keeps increasing.” And you can see the evolution of the airplane as well as the automobile. And then, of course, when the first rocket went up and Sputnik was going around, the word had to go out to the Art Department, “Update Daniel 12:4 again.” Anything that can be updated for hundreds of years isn’t much use as a sign, even if an increase of knowledge and transportation is supposed to tell us that the End is near.
So I have to go back and read Daniel 12:4 again. The text is saying that knowledge of the prophecies of the book of Daniel will increase as a result of people urgently searching. The words used in Daniel are the same as those used in Amos 8:11-12: “There will be a famine for the Word. People will be running to and fro looking for it but they will not find it.” So in the context of Daniel 12 in the Hebrew, I believe this means that those prophecies in Daniel, which were sealed up until the Time of the End, would then be studied afresh. And as a result of that study, people would come to an understanding of the predictions in Daniel, and a great second-advent movement would begin. And this is exactly what happened. So I would date the fulfillment of Daniel 12:4 around 1798, when the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were receiving new attention. This prophecy belongs at the same time as the heavenly signs we were talking about.