THE DAY OF THE LORD
"As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man," (Luke 6: 11)
"THE EARTH IS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE, AND BEHOLD, I WILL DESTROY THEM," (Gen. 6: 11)
A philosophy of violence which has penetrated and corroded every sphere of human activity - the arts, literature, and music, no less than the specifically political and economic, or the ethic of individual or collective conduct. Covenants, pacts, treaties cannot stand in the way of national power, for steel is not only stronger than paper, or oaths or pledges, but gives a superior title.
This philosophy of violence has spread over the whole world, and its danger and power are not simply in its political or economic expression, but in the subtle, subversive, and concurrent effect on tens of millions of individuals and on every form of activity - spiritual, intellectual, imaginative, and moral. Applied science, particularly through the cinema, television and wireless, has given it an inexhaustible field and a mass conversion instrument, in operation day and night, and, above all, in the home.
It is simply impossible to stress to the degree it needs stressing the studied deceit and diabolic camouflage already at the doors:- "ALL DECEIT of the unrighteousness for them that are perishing; because they received not the love of the truth" (2 Thess. 2: 10).
world’s most careful thinkers, and statesmen the most deeply versed in the
working of States, are filled with dread at this moment that civilization is
about to crash. Prime Ministers of
England, than whom no better judges of statecraft could be found, have
expressed the dread, Mr. Stanley Baldwin
says:- "I have never
disguised my own conviction that another war will be the end of the
civilization we know." Mr. Ramsay Macdonald says:- "If the Churches of Christ throughout Europe and America
allow this to happen they had better close their doors; for the next war, if
ever it comes, will be a war on civilization itself." Mr.
Lloyd George says :- "It seems to me that the world is heading for a great catastrophe. If the
Now God, who alone knows the end from the beginning, and whose own future action is involved - future action which known only to Himself - emphasizes the same fact. In the near approach of the coming collapse, with its infallible symptoms of dissolution, which makes it so evident, and evident even to men who never consult God; but it has been pictured in God’s Word for thousands of years. All Scriptures are burdened with one coming Day, a day which place long after the First Coming of Christ, and which is a dissolution of civilization: ‘that day’; ‘the great day’; ‘the last day’; ‘the Day of the Lord’. As Zephaniah (1: 14) cries: "The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord."
Now the double secret of the Day, cause and effect combing to produce it, is extraordinarily convincing. What the statesmen see, and dread, is such a growing ferment of lawlessness, such a dissolution of high-principled integrity, human passion and hate and greed and crime so rotting the very fabric of social life, that civilization breaks down, and all ordered civil life crashes: God sees exactly the same thing; and as the Most High, ultimately, is alone responsible for the order of the universe, He is at last compelled to intervene, for He sees what is coming. Suddenly and miraculously, after a silence and apparent absence of two thousand years, the Most High reappears to a race sunk in crime, and a world plunged in open rebellion; and as the Person responsible for order and righteousness, He has to handle the situation exactly as would the Governors of Dartmoor if confronted with a violent revolt of the convicts.
Therefore there are four outstanding characteristics of the Day of the Lord; and a supreme one is the fact that, so cumulative in its horror will that day be, as God sees and knows it, that God Himself, again and again, counsels fear. "HOWL YE for the day of the Lord is at hand; as destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger" (Isa. 13: 6, 9). For it will be the wrath of God let loose, after longsuffering has dammed back that wrath, with huge blocking power, for six thousand years. So Zephaniah (1: 15) says:- "That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness; and I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord, and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as dung."
The second outstanding characteristic, which ought to make a wise man fear, is that there is no escape. The Day of the Lord, encircling the globe, will exempt no nation, and will be absolutely universal. "Behold," God cries through Isaiah (13: 11), "the day of the Lord cometh, and I will punish THE WORLD for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity." So our Lord says to the Philadelphian Angel (Rev. 3: 10):- "Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come to try them that dwell upon THE WHOLE WORLD, to try them that dwell upon the earth." None can resist the omnipotence of the Judge: none can elude His omniscient scrutiny: none can evade the weight of His sentence. "The day of the Lord," cries Joel (2: 11), "is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" So Paul says (1 Thess. 5: 3):- "They shall in no wise escape."
Another unique characteristic of the Day will be its miracle. All the signal judgments with which God has ever visited nations or individuals are but harbingers and symptoms of coming catastrophes more intense and terrible than the world has ever seen. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before" - even before - "the great and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2: 30). The plagues of it will be so universal and miraculous as to be inescapable; for God’s judgment Prophets "have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague" (Rev. 11: 6). The effect is shown in a photograph taken by the Divine camera two to three thousand years beforehand. "Therefore shall all hands be feeble, and every heart of man shall melt; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be faces of flame" (Isa. 13: 7).
last and most dangerous characteristic of the Day of the Lord is its
suddenness; a suddenness which is startlingly linked with an international
passion of the present moment. In the
So, therefore, we learn that the forecasts of statesmen are only a dim premonition of rapidly approaching collapse; and that God has revealed, perfectly explicitly, much more than that - namely, that the world is not moving blindly, without aim or goal, but marches irresistibly towards a set purpose and a sudden judgment. It is a cardinal error in life to be so upset by the emotion of a coming fact - the thought, for example, that it is too awful to be believed - as to refuse to look the fact in the face, and to neglect the only thing that really matters - a calm, careful, thorough preparation for the thing that is coming. There is only one Word that fits the facts - John the Baptist’s:- "Who hath warned you TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME?"
But we must also guard against an unintelligent fear. Since the Day of the Lord is the broad, black belt of judgments lying between Grace and the Kingdom, the ‘no man's land’ of the ‘junctions of the dispensations’ (1 Cor. 10: 11), it can be recognized, when it arrives, by two concrete facts. It is open wrath on the Lawless One, and on the general apostasy from Christianity, and so is synchronous with the disclosure of Antichrist: therefore Paul says, "be not quickly shaken from your mind as that the day of the Lord* is now present [has set in]; for it will not be except (1) the falling away come first, and (2) the man of sin be revealed" (2 Thess. 2: 2). So also huge miracles must appear (Acts 2: 20) in the heavens before the Day of the Lord can come. For it is the dawn of judgment, and every soul is involved. Judgment begins at the Church of God (1 Pet.4: 17): therefore "at midnight" - that is, at the last moment of the day of grace and the first of the day of justice - "the Bridegroom cometh", and the removal, or non-removal, of saints is followed by the ultimate appearance of all believers before the Judgment-Seat on high.** And since the Day of the Lord is a junction of the dispensations of Grace and Justice, grace to some degree survives, and the first two series of judgments invite and are planned for ‘repentance’ (Rev. 11: 20 ; 16: 9); but from the last series, purely penal, the sad refrain is dropped - "And men repented not" (Rev. 10: 21). For the ‘great tribulation’ is God's last effort - a purging by fire - to make tribulation work goodness in both Church and world. It closes (for the armed masses found in hopeless antagonism to the Lamb) in Armageddon, followed by the muster of the living nations for judgment at Olivet; when the earth is finally swept clean for Messiah’s Kingdom, and ‘the Day of the Lord’ vanishes in ‘the Day of Christ’.
[* See Revised Version. The manuscript authorities are decisive.]
[** "The ultimate appearance of all believers before the Judgment Seat on high," at the same time and before the millennium, is an impossibility. Nor is it so stated anywhere (that I can find) in all of Scripture. The judgment of believers must take place before the first resurrection, else those not "accounted worthy" to reign during that time, would have to return again to Hades and the death state: and that, says our Lord, is impossible: "Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels" (Luke 20: 36).]
["The pressing of the great truths of responsibility on the Church of Christ is the only consistent, not alone with fidelity to God and His Word, but with love to our brother, who might well reproach us at the Judgment Seat if we have known truths critically important to him which we had never told him. If he rejects them, our hands are clean" - D. M. Panton.]
A CHRISTIAN'S RECOVERY
ln a revival meeting I was
conducting in a northern
In the presence of others, this man repeated the story of how he had learned through God’s words in my message that "the devil is a liar", that God punishes His children but that He never will, nor can, undo the work of grace wherein, in the new birth, we become children of God. The joy of that hour abides. -JOSHUA GRAVETT.
For the Christian there is:- A Day of Judgment, 1 John 4: 17; a Judge, 2 Tim. 4: 1, 8; a Judgement-seat, Rom. 14: 10; 2 Cor. 5: 10; and a Judgement, 1 Pet. 4: 17.