above: (taken from ‘Prayer for Israel Autumn
Magazine 2013)] - “View
The Day of the Lord
As in the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Hebrews
The Apostle Peter in his first Epistle says that the Spirit of Christ in the Prophets testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Our Lord’s atoning sacrifice runs like a scarlet thread through all the Scriptures. It is set forth symbolically in the Pentateuch; David speaks of it repeatedly in the Psalms (e.g. Psalm 22); Isaiah refers to it frequently as in chapter 53 - “For the transgression of My people was He stricken”; in the minor prophets also it is seen in such passages as Micah 7: 18 and 19 - “Who is a God like unto Thee that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again; He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”.
At the opening of the New Testament it is said, “He shall save His people from their sins” and, the Acts and the Epistles are replete with such statements as “He gave Himself for our sins”. In conclusion we have the heavenly song, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood ... To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever”.
Likewise the glory which follows Immanuel’s sufferings runs throughout Scripture as a golden cord woven, as we have seen in this series of studies, into almost every book of the Bible, culminating in the glory of the celestial city in the new heavens and the new earth.
Our lot at this time, however, is to consider the Day of the Lord as revealed in the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and the Hebrews.
Testimony to Timothy
his first Epistle to Timothy, Paul charges
him to keep the commandment (concerning his ministry) until the appearing of
our Lord Jesus Christ. Some 30 years later John
exhorted Polycarp “the angel of the Church at
He goes on to say that at the appearing of Jesus Christ He will show “the blessed and only Potentate; the King of kings and Lord of lords”. He came in the days of His humiliation to show us the Father. He said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father”. But when He comes in His glory in the Day of the Lord He will show the King of kings; the eternal God “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen nor can see”. He himself testified saying, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him”. Whether we see God as our loving heavenly Father or as the omnipotent Judge of men, we can only see Him in His only-begotten Son. “The King eternal, immortal, invisible” is seen in His Son Jesus Christ for “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”. So Jesus Christ at the time of His appearing in the Day of the Lord will be seen to be “God over all blessed for ever”; the Alpha and the Omega; the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
In his second Epistle to Timothy, Paul declares his own expectation of the Lord’s appearing when he said, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day”. And he follows this up by saying “If we suffer we shall also reign with Him” and this will be when He comes to judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His [millennial] Kingdom. The manifestation of His kingdom follows His appearing and we cannot reign with Him until His kingdom comes.
said to His disciples, “I
appoint unto you a kingdom as My Father hath appointed unto Me;
That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones judging
the 12 tribes of
Testimony to Titus
In writing to Titus, Paul testifies that the grace of God that bringeth salvation teaches us how to live. We are to live soberly, righteously and Godly in this present age “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing [or the ‘appearing of the glory’] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. This present [evil] age will then terminate and the Day of the Lord will begin. In this present age we are to live unto Him “who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity”, but without His manifest presence. Then, when He appears we shall according to His promise to the overcomers,* sit with Him on His throne.
[* Rev. chapters 2. & 3.]
Testimony to the Hebrews
When we come to study the Day of the Lord in Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, we find “waters to swim in”. In the first chapter he says, “When God bringeth again the first-begotten into the world, He saith ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’”. Then to the Son, He saith, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom”. As we have seen, in the Day of the Lord, a king - the King of kings - “shall reign in righteousness”. When He takes His great power to reign, to Him every knee shall bow and the angels shall worship Him - the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
“But” says Paul, “to which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Sit on My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool’”? When He comes to initiate the Day of the Lord all His enemies will be placed beneath His feet. John depicts Him as treading “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”. “This Man” says Paul, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”. He is to-day at the Father’s right hand expecting the Day of the Lord; we here are looking for it as our glorious hope.
Then Paul says, “Unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the oikoumene [world] to come whereof we speak”. The present oikoumene is in the hands of sinful men actuated and deceived by Satan the god of this world. Hence the war and strife; the crime and violence; the rebellion and witchcraft. But Daniel assures us that in the Day of the Lord, the kingdom “shall not be left to other people”. “No” says Paul “not even to angels”; but Immanuel Himself “shall be the Governor among the nations” in the oikoumene to come. Then “all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him”.
The Second Adam
Paul proceeds to quote from the 8th Psalm where the Psalmist speaks of all creation having been put under the authority of Adam. This, however, was forfeited by sin but must be restored in Him who came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Paul says, however, “we see not yet all things put under Him but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour’. And he goes on “He is not ashamed to call us brethren saying (in Psalm 22) ‘I will declare Thy name unto My brethren; in the midst of the Church will 1 sing praise unto Thee’”. And when will this be? Psalm 22 tells us. “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He is the governor among the Nations”.
At that time man will again have complete supremacy over all the creation. When the Son of David reigns, it is said of Him, “Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins and faithfulness the girdle of His reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them ... For the earth - [this sin-cursed earth] - shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”.
In chapter 7 dealing with the Melchisedec Priesthood, the Apostle quotes twice from Psalm 110, “Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec”. But this Psalm speaks of the time when He shall rule “in the midst of His enemies”; when “He shall judge among the heathen and shall fill the places with the dead bodies”. This surely is when He shall have His enemies beneath His feet, having left the Father’s right hand; when, in the language of Zechariah, He “shall sit and rule upon His throne - [i.e., upon the throne of David] - and He shall be a priest upon His throne”, in the Day of the Lord.
the Mosaic order, the kingship and priesthood were rigidly separate; the
priests must be of the Tribe of Levi and the kings of the Tribe of Judah. The Melchisedec priesthood,
however, ante-dated the law. Melchisedec, “Priest of the Most High God” had kingship enshrined in
his very name - King of
Righteousness - Melchi, king; zedec,
righteousness. He was also a territorial
king - King of Salem - the meaning of “
This Psalm 110 speaks of One who is to rule in the midst of His enemies with the rod of His strength out of Zion [not heaven], to whom Jehovah sware without repentance “Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec”. The “King eternal” is also the “Priest for ever” who, “having made peace through the blood of His cross”, came “to preach peace to them that were far off and to them that were nigh” and to be “a great King over all the earth” whose “kingdom is an everlasting* kingdom and His dominion that which shall not pass away”.
[* Always keep in mind that fact that Jesus, our Messiah / Christ, has two kingdoms. His millennial kingdom upon this earth will ‘pass away’ when He has put all His enemies under His feet and death is abolished (1 Cor. 15: 25, 26). This earth will destroyed by fire, (2 Pet. 3: 10); and this must take place before Christ’s eternal kingdom “in a new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 21: 1) is established, brought into existence, created.]
The New Covenant
Then Paul in the following chapter, quoting from Jeremiah 31 speaks of the time when Jehovah “will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah ... This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put My laws into their mind and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to Me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother saying ‘Know the Lord’; for they shall all know Me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”.
in the chapter in Jeremiah from which this is quoted the Lord says of the house
the new covenant will be made with
In the following chapter, after reminding us that “Christ was once offered to bear the sin of many”, Paul says, “to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation”. And as we have seen, at His appearing it will be to judge the living and the dead and set up His [millennial] kingdom in the Day of the Lord.
the 10th chapter there is a very entrancing passage concerning these
things. Paul says, “This Man after he had made one sacrifice for
sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting
till His enemies be made His footstool”. Then he goes on, “The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us, for
after that (the
mention of His sitting at the right hand of God) He had said before
(that is in the Old Testament) “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,
saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts and in their minds will I
write them; and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”. The first -
the sitting at the Father’s right hand - He had said by David in Psalm 110, and the second - the making of the covenant to put away sins - after that by
Jeremiah. Then Paul blessedly applies
this to us (the Holy Ghost is a witness to us) saying, “Where remission of these is, there is no
more offering for sin. Having therefore
brethren boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus ... let
us draw near”. The new covenant to be made with
And Paul closes this chapter with the assurance that “He that shall come will come and will not tarry”. So, as James says, “Be patient therefore brethren unto the coming of the Lord”.
The City with Foundations
“looked for a city which hath
foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. So, as children of Abraham because we are
Christ’s, we too, “have no
continuing city here but we seek one to come”. Abraham’s faith looked over the vista of the
ages to that same city into which we hope to come by God’s grace; the city
which Paul calls “
[*NOTE. The words ‘church of the firstborn’ has reference to a selection from amongst the redeemed people of God of all ages, who have not lost their ‘first-born’ status and privileges. That is, those with a double portion of the ‘inheritance,’ together with kingly and priestly positions under God’s rule.]
city is described in detail in Revelation 21
when John sees it in vision “descending
out of heaven from God, having the glory of God”. Again he says, “the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is
the light thereof. And the nations of
them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth
do bring their glory and honour unto it”. Isaiah
describes that city after its descent when he says, “The mountain
of the Lord’s House shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall
be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow unto it”. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of
The Old Testament worthies “having obtained a good report through faith received not the promises - they saw them afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth” but they “received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us that they without us should not be made perfect”.*
[* NOTE. This reference to being ‘made perfect,’ looks forward to the time of the “First Resurrection” (Rev. 20: 4-6).]
tells us that in the foundations of the city were the names of the 12 Apostles
of the Lamb and upon the gates the names of the 12 tribes of
“So we look for Jesus to return again,
To take His place on this sad earth for His Millennial reign”.
- E. G. Lessey.
* * *
The Day of The Lord
There is today a famine of the truth of the word of God in many parts of the church, and it is a famine which is increasing in severity. It is of the greatest importance that in the difficult days that lie ahead, God’s people should not find themselves either deceived by false teaching or taken unawares by events that their teachers had not told them to expect. It is a matter of urgency that we try to grasp clearly and accurately the whole of what Scripture predicts for the closing days of this age - but stripped of the speculation and sensationalism which so often surrounds it.
To establish truth, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit; and we need to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, allowing the word of God to be its own commentary upon itself, and letting the weight of the whole of the prophetic writings taken together build up a clear picture of the events which are being predicted. It could be likened to a jigsaw puzzle, scattered through the pages of the books of the prophets, which only the Holy Spirit can assemble correctly.
The topic of ‘the Day of the Lord’ is a thread that is interwoven into the Scriptures from the time of the earliest writing prophet, Obadiah, right through to the book of Revelation. Almost every prophet makes reference to it, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes, as with Isaiah in chapters 9-12, their prophetic vision leaps back and forth, from the time of the immediate future of which they are speaking, to the time of the end of this age. Sometimes, as with Joel and Zephaniah, the Day of the Lord is completely central to their writings, and the prophetic revelation arises either out of considering historical events that have already taken place - in Joel’s case a judgement on the Land of Israel by means of an invasion of locusts which had already happened in his own day (Joel 1: 1 - 2: 11) - or as with Zephaniah, out of a prophetic awareness of the imminence of the invasion and destruction of Judah by the Babylonians, which took place some 45 years later in 586 BCE (Zeph 1: 4 - 2: 3; 3: 1-13).
A major theme of biblical prophecy
The Day of the Lord is a theme to which the prophets were drawn like moths to a candle flame. What is this great event that so occupied their thoughts and which keeps breaking into their writings as if they had suddenly taken off their reading glasses and instead had picked up a telescope to gaze with astonishing clarity of vision into the distant future?
It is a major theme of biblical prophecy, running like an unbroken thread through the writings of the Hebrew prophets, in which the phrase ‘the Day of the Lord’, with its unique significance, occurs 21 times between Isaiah 2: 12 and the very last verse of the Old Testament, Malachi 4: 5. Parallel to that phrase is another that has similar theological significance when used by the prophets: ‘in that day’, which is found 107 times in their writings and out of which 80 references are directly relative to the future Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord is thus mentioned by the prophets more than 100 times. It is continuously into the book of Isaiah, appearing in no fewer than 17 of the first 35 chapters. Of the 17 books of the Old Testament prophets, only five fail to mention it directly by name; and of those five, Daniel in chapters 7-12 deals with the subject extensively, while both Nahum and Habakkuk also contain relevant prophecy relating to the closing days of this age. This prophetic theme continues through the New Testament, emerging, for example, in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24: 15-31; Mk. 13: 14-27; Lk. 21: 20-36), in 1 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 2 Peter, Jude and of course almost the whole of the book of Revelation.
How should we understand this term ‘the Day of the Lord’ and its counterpart ‘In that day’? What do they signify? There is no special significance in the actual Hebrew or Greek words used in the two phrases. In the Hebrew Old Testament the ordinary Hebrew word for day, yom, is used; while in the Septuagint and the New Testament the usual Greek word, hemera, is found. Yom is translated variously in the Scriptures as ‘day’, ‘time’ or ‘year’. It can express either a particular point in time, or a period of time that may extend during months or even years. When included in the phrases ‘the Day of the Lord’ or ‘in that day’, it is used prophetically to indicate a particular future period of time when God’s personal and direct intervention in human history will occur in order to fulfil His purposes.
What are these purposes? The evidence from Amos 5: 18 indicates that the popular understanding among the people at the time of his ministry in the northern kingdom of Israel (c.760 BCE) was that it would be a day when God would intervene in such a way as to exalt Israel to be chief among the nations, irrespective of Israel’s unfaithfulness towards Him. This was the view being taken by the people at a time of relative peace and prosperity, which had led to great complacency (Amos 6: 1-7). Amos, however, hastens to disabuse them of such an idea. The Day of the Lord will certainly be an occasion when God intervenes, but first to punish sin, which has reached a climax: ‘Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light ... will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light - pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?’ (Amos 5: 18, 20).
the prophetic writings confirm Amos’s understanding of
the Day of the Lord as a day of terror, involving the invasion of
The great day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. (Zeph 1: 14-16)
Both these and other passages in the prophetic writings underscore the fact that the Day of the Lord is to be a day when the terror of divine Judgement is to be poured out on the unbelieving nation of Israel (see, e.g., Isaiah 2: 6-21; Jeremiah 30: 4-17; Joel 1: 15 - 2: 11; Malachi 4: 1). Yet this by no means represents the whole of God’s purposes at that time. The unbelieving nations of the world will also be brought into judgement; and in addition a surviving remnant of the nation of Israel will enter into a national conversion, forgiveness of sins, cleansing, and restoration to possession of the entirety of the Land that God Promised to Abraham (see, e.g., Isaiah 4: 2-6; Jeremiah 30: 18-31:40; Micah 4: 1-8; Zechariah 12: 10 - 13: 2).
The tribulation period
Day of the Lord is always found in the context of a prophetic prediction of a
future disaster, involving certain signs that will portend its arrival, notably
convulsions of nature and periods of darkness in the sky. The Day itself involves the direct intervention
of God in the affairs of men, bringing judgement and great destruction upon
Israel through military invasion by the Gentile nations, which in turn results
in destruction by God of those armies at the return of the Lord Jesus and
deliverance for the repentant remnant of Israel. This leads directly into the fullness of
restoration of both the nation and the
What we are describing is thus that period of prophetic prediction in human history known in the New Testament as the Tribulation or the Great Tribulation. It may be helpful to tabulate some of the other terms used in the Old Testament to represent this period of time. It is variously referred to as:
The Time of Jacob’s Trouble . Jeremiah 30: 7
His wrath. Isaiah 26: 20
The Overwhelming Scourge . Isaiah 28: 15, 18
God’s Strange Work. Isaiah 28: 21
God’s Alien Task. Isaiah 28: 21
Day of Vengeance. Isaiah 34: 8; 35: 4; 61: 2
The Seventieth Week of Daniel . Daniel 9: 27
The Time of Wrath. Daniel 11: 36
The Time of Distress. Daniel 12: 1
The Day of Pitch-darkness, without a ray of brightness. Amos 5: 18
The Day of Darkness and Gloom. Joel 2: 2; Zephaniah 1: 15
The Day of Clouds and Blackness. Joel 2: 2; Zephaniah 1: 15
The Day of Judah’s Disaster. Obadiah 13
The Day of Wrath. Zephaniah 1: 15
The Day of Distress and Anguish. Zephaniah 1: 15
The Day of Trouble and Ruin. Zephaniah 1: 15
The Day of Trumpet and Battle-Cry. Zephaniah 1: 15
descriptions alone are sufficient to indicate that this period will be a time of
unparalleled distress for the whole world, but pre-eminently for the house of
Jacob, for whom it will be the final outworking of God’s judgement upon their
national sin and apostasy. This must
come to pass before the restoration of the kingdom to
The uniqueness of
the nation of
understand rightly what the Scriptures reveal, it is of critical importance to
bear in mind that what we are examining is the writings of Hebrew prophets,
prophesying to Hebrews about what is primarily, in the purposes of God, an
event which involves His final dealing in judgement with the nation of
It is impossible to understand the events that will mark the closing days of this age without understanding the relationship between Hebrew Israel, the physical descendants of Jacob, and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This relationship is special, unique and irreplaceable; and no third party, including the church, can ever be a substitute within it.
key biblical distinction is between the place of
Bible speaks of
consistent testimony of the many passages of Scripture that relate to God’s
future dealings with the nation of
Judgement and salvation
predict exactly what we see today in the nation-state of
An examination of the passages of Scripture dealing with the topic of the Day of the Lord leads to the realisation that, as we have already said, the period of time being described in the Old Testament writings is the same as that which the New Testament identifies as the great tribulation (Rev 7: 14). At every place in Scripture where the phrase ‘the Day of the Lord’ is to be found, it is in a context which relates it to the tribulation period.
the period of the tribulation is first and foremost the time of Jacob’s
trouble, it will include also God’s judgement on the Gentile nations and will
result in the salvation and restoration of the surviving remnant of the nation
To put some more flesh on these bones and to substantiate what has been said, we need to examine certain key passages of Scripture that make detailed reference to the Day of the Lord. Since, however, the theme runs like a continuous thread through the prophetic writings, from Isaiah to Revelation, we cannot attempt to cover every place where it is mentioned.
us begin with the book of Joel, after Obadiah the first of the writing prophets
to deal with the subject of the Day of the Lord. He prophesied to the southern
Military invasion of
chapter 1: 2-14, Joel describes an actual
historical invasion of the Land by locusts in four successive waves (v. 4),
bringing total destruction of the crops.
From an examination of Jeremiah
15: 3 and Ezekiel 14: 21, it
is apparent that, prophetically, four stages of a disaster indicate its
completeness. It brings lamentation
among the people and a call to the priests for national repentance (vv. 13-14). From the springboard of this
account of an actual invasion by locusts in Joel’s own day, he moves
immediately into the prophetic future, using the analogy of the invasion by
locusts to describe an invasion of the
there was at least some limited measure of fulfilment of this prophecy in both
the Assyrian and the Babylonian invasions of 722 BCE and 586 BCE respectively,
this passage has its real and ultimate fulfilment in an even more catastrophic
event yet to come. This invasion will be
the worst in
More than three centuries later, following the return
of the remnant of Judah from the Babylonian exile, the prophet Zechariah
received a more detailed account of that same invasion, which even the
post-exileic period was still revealed as a future event. In Zechariah 12,
the Lord states in verses 2 and 3: ‘I am going to make
Turning to the book of Zephaniah, whose central theme is also that of the Day of the Lord (1: 14), we find that the whole of chapter 3 is speaking to the unrepentant city of Jerusalem concerning God’s future judgement, and beyond that to the subsequent restoration of a saved remnant of her people. Again, we are told that God’s judgement will be executed at the hands of Gentile nations, who will in turn themselves be judged by the Lord. Zephaniah 3: 7-8 reads:
‘I said to the city, “Surely you will fear me and accept correction!” Then her dwelling would not be cut off, nor all my punishments come upon her. But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did. Therefore, wait for me,’ declares the Lord, ‘for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them - all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.’
To digress briefly at this point, the translation here may be somewhat misleading. The final sentence, translating the Hebrew word erets, which is translated only rarely as ‘world’, but more usually as either ‘earth’ or ‘land’, says that the whole world will be consumed, while the KJV renders it ‘All the earth shall be devoured.’ Both translations appear to assume that God has here turned His attention to speaking solely of His judgement on the Gentile nations of the world. However, God never states that He is jealous over the nations of the world, but states frequently that He is jealous over His people Israel and over the city of Jerusalem; and in the context of the whole passage, it may be that the final sentence of 3: 8 should read: ‘The whole land will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.’ This statement can be understood either to be literal, or as a metaphorical expression of the overflowing of the Lord’s heated indignation against the corruption about which He has already protested with solemn warnings.
likelihood of this possibility appears to be reinforced by an examination of
the language used by Zephaniah in chapter
In verses 2 and 3, which clearly refer to widespread destruction on the
whole inhabited earth in the day of the Lord’s judgement, the word translated ‘earth’ is adamah; whereas in verse
18, in the context of a passage which
begins in verse 4 and in which the prophet is specifically addressing
Judah, the word erets is chosen. This distinction in the choice of language in
the original inspired texts is surely significant for our understanding and
interpretation: adamah is used to
describe the earth as a whole, erets when
God speaks primarily
A factor of importance in our
eschatological understanding of biblical prophecy concerning the closing days
of this age is that although it is not at all unusual for the prophets to speak
of specific Gentile nations as being the recipients of God’s judgement, when
they do it is almost invariably made clear by the fact that those nations are
mentioned by name. Except where that is
the case, we need to bear in mind that the usual task of the Hebrew prophets
was to prophesy to their own people concerning the nation and the
The rest of the world will, of course, experience the supernatural manifestations of the wrath of God as revealed in appalling detail in the Book of Revelation; and the clear implication of scriptures such as those found, for example, in Isaiah 24 and in the Olivet Discourse is that the entire world will experience the shakings and disasters that result from the overflowing of God’s judgement upon the sin of all the nations (cf. Hag. 2: 20-22 and Heb. 12: 26-27). When the world’s cup of iniquity is full, His final judgements will fall in the Day of the Lord.
Worldwide warning signs
have already quoted Amos 5:
18 and 20, stating that the Day of the Lord will be ‘darkness, not light – pitch-dark, without a
ray of brightness’. Returning to Joel 2: 2 we find similarly, that
the day will be one of ‘darkness
and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness’, and in 2: 10 that ‘the earth shakes, the sky
trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine’. This is not just symbolic darkness; there
will also be a literal aspect to it.
Jesus said in Luke
21: 25 that ‘there will be signs in the
sun, moon and stars’. Even as there was physical darkness when
Jesus was enduring the judgement of God against sin at
terrible invasion described in Joel
2 brings forth God’s call to
Salvation of a remnant
this repentance, God responds to the surviving remnant and delivers those who
have called upon Him for salvation (2: 32; see also Mal 3: 16 - 4: 3). The second
part of Joel’s prophecy moves from the invasion and destruction of
far, we see the Day of the Lord as being a time of terrible judgement on the
Land and nation of
(a) upheavals in nature;
(b) a period of unnatural darkness.
are warnings to all those who have ears to hear and especially to
‘In the whole land,’ declares the Lord, ‘two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “‘The Lord is our God.’”
Romans 9: 26-29, Paul quotes from Hosea 1: 10, Isaiah 10: 22-23 and Isaiah 1: 9 to establish the fact that a remnant of Israel will be saved; and on examination of the scripture that he quoted from Isaiah 10, we find that it is at the time of the Day of Lord, the complete quotation beginning in verse 20 with the theologically significant phrase ‘in that day’. The whole passage, Isaiah 10: 20-23, reads:
In that day the remnant of
Jesus also confirmed that there would be a surviving remnant. In Matthew 24: 15, He turns His attention to the time of the great tribulation and gives prophetic warnings relating to it. It is to be, in Judea particularly (v. 16), a time of unparalleled distress (v. 21) from which there would be no survivors except for divine intervention (v. 22), but God will intervene and bring an end to the tribulation in Judea ‘for the sake of the elect’ - that is, the remnant of Israel that is to be saved out of it.
The ‘Little Apocalypse’ of Isaiah 24-27
Another key passage of Scripture that is prophetic of the Day of the Lord is the ‘Little Apocalypse’ of Isaiah 24-27. Many commentators appear to think that the whole of chapter 24 is speaking about God’s judgement solely on a worldwide basis, but this assumption does not seem to equate with the usual prophetic methods of expression.
noted previously that when the Hebrew prophets are speaking about nations other
appears significant when considering the language of Isaiah 24 that when the prophet wishes to make reference to the earth in a
worldwide sense, he uses a different Hebrew word. In this context he does not use erets but adamah, which means the ground or the soil of the
dry land. Adamah is used in Isaiah 23: 17, where
Of the two occasions when the word translated as ‘the earth’ or ‘the world’ is not the usual erets, Isaiah employs the word adamah, once in verse 21; while on the other occasion in verse 4, he uses the less common word for the habitable earth, tebel, sandwiched between two uses of erets in the very same verse. Why should there be these variations of usage on only two out of seventeen occasions when ‘the earth’ is in view?
is easy to see in verses
21-23 that the prophetic revelation
shifts its emphasis into a clear global perspective of judgement upon world
rulers, both human and spiritual; hence the change of emphasis signified by the
sudden use of the different word adamah. In verse 4, however, the sudden single use of tebel may be to enable the prophet to speak in the same
sentence of the simultaneous total impoverishment of both the
seems very probable, from the actual content of this chapter also, that the
prophecy does relate primarily to the
However, in the context in which Isaiah is writing in chapter 24, it seems much more likely that the broken covenant which is in the prophet’s view is God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, expressed in 1 Chronicles 16: 15-18 and Psalm 105: 8-11 to be an ‘everlasting covenant’ concerning Israel’s inheritance of the Land of Canaan, ultimately to be possessed by the restored nation in its entirety from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Euphrates (Deut 11: 24). What, one must ask, would amount to an infraction of this covenant by God’s chosen people? Could it be that in the sight of God the willingness to surrender His Land (Joel 3: 2) in return for a spurious peace amounts to such a denial of that covenant He has made with His people?
verses 10 and 12 we find reference to a ruined, desolate city, which
would fit with the condition of
verses 18b-20 of Isaiah
24 the Scripture makes reference to a
great earthquake. Is this to be a
worldwide earthquake? In Zechariah 14: 4-5 it is predicted that in the Day of the Lord there
will be a great earthquake in the Land of Israel which splits the Mount of
Olives in two immediately prior to the Lord’s Second Coming. Revelation 11, which speaks of events in
God’s subsequent judgement of the nations
Returning to the book of Joel, the prophet’s attention
turns in chapter
3 towards the judgement of the
Gentile nations of the world. This also forms part of the events of the Day
of the Lord, and will happen (v.
1) the time of God’s restoration of the
Judgement on their armies
Verses 9-11 underline that
the nations have come to
Judgement on the individual Gentile survivors on that Day
Following this deliverance, and the repentance and restoration of the surviving remnant and of the Land, which we have already mentioned and which is also described in Zechariah 12: 10-13: 1 and 14: 6-11, the returned Messiah will bring the survivors of all the nations before Him for judgement in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3: 1-8, 12-17). They will be there in huge numbers (v. 14).
judgement of God upon the Gentiles will be on the basis of either their
anti-Semitism or their pro-Semitism (v. 2). His charges against
them will be those of scattering the people of
Judgement of particular nations
Space will not permit the lengthy examination of God’s dealings with specific individual nations, but Scripture has much to say on the subject. For example:
• Babylon and Edom (the descendants of Esau) will both become permanent desolate wastelands, dwelling-places only for demons (Jer 50: 35-40; 51: 37-43 [Babylon]; Jer 49: 13, 15-18; Obad 15-18; Is. 34: 5-16 [Edom]).
• The descendants of Lot (the nations of
• After judgement, both
will be taken over by
The establishment of the millennial kingdom
The final outcome of the Day of the Lord is the
establishment of the millennial kingdom.
The Lord will dwell in
What will be the signs to warn us of the
impending approach of the Day of the Lord?
1. Specific to the nation of Israel will be the re-establishment of the ministry of the prophet Elijah, which will have the particular emphasis of calling the nation to repentance in the area of its collapsing family relationships (Mal. 4: 5).
2. We have already seen in Joel 2: 31-32 the prophetic prediction that ‘before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’, there will be certain signs:
(a) ‘wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke’ (v. 30), corresponding to the effects of the first, second, fifth and sixth trumpet judgements found in Revelation 8: 7-9 and Revelation 9: 1-21;
(b) ‘the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood’ (v. 32), corresponding to the judgement released at the Lamb’s opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6: 12-17.
The whole of the order of nature in the heavens and on the earth will be thrown into turmoil and upheaval as a result of the out-pouring of the judgements of God, before the culmination of the Day of the Lord in the Armageddon campaign and the Second Coming of Messiah.
Isaiah 13: 9-10, Amos 5: 20 and Zephaniah 1: 15 all speak similarly of periods of darkness coming over the earth at that time, and Jesus underlined these events during the Olivet Discourse. He says in Luke 21 that:
(a) there will be ‘wars and revolutions’ (v. 9);
(b) ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom’ (v. 10);
(c) we’ll see ‘great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places’ (v. 11);
(d) there will be ‘fearful events and great signs from heaven’ (v. 11);
(e) ‘before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you’ (v. 12).
All these events of war, and upheavals of nature on earth and in the heavenly bodies, have been predicted by more than one of the writing prophets. Daniel 9: 26, speaking of the times of the end when the Antichrist will rule, says: ‘The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed’ (see also Psalm 46: 8).
3. To these predictions, however, Jesus adds one more: the severe persecution of the church, together with the apostasy this will bring about (Mt. 24: 9-13).
4. This apostasy is mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2: 3, which leads us on to one final and crucial indication that the Day of the Lord is drawing near. This will be the emergence of the ‘man of lawlessness’, the Antichrist. Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [Greek apostasia] occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
What will initiate the Day of the Lord,
the period of the tribulation?
The final sign, just mentioned, is that of the emergence into recognition of the man of sin, the Antichrist. The same figure appears constantly as a king in Daniel chapters 7, 8, 9 and 11. We read in 7: 25: ‘He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws’; in 8: 25: ‘He will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power’; and again in 11: 36: ‘The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.’
same figure is in focus in Daniel
9: 24-27, the well-known passage to the
70 weeks of years that Daniel prophesied.
There is still remaining one period of seven years to run in God’s
prophetic time-clock for
The warning of Jesus is specific: ‘So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation”, spoken of through the prophet Daniel ... then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains … For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equalled again’ (Mt 24: 15-16, 21).
Speaking of the Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2: 4 says: ‘He sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.’ This event, breaking His covenant made with Israel, will be the clear signal to the Jewish nation that their time of false security (for that is what it will have been) is over and that the final and intense period of Jacob’s trouble, their last great persecution at the hands of the Gentile nations, is about to begin.
What are the purposes of the Day of the Lord?
1. To bring a great harvest of salvation from all
nations into the
2. To break the stubbornness of the nation of
3. To deal with the sin of the Gentile nations, of which
4. To usher in the millennial kingdom, with Jesus on the
* * *
The Day of the Lord as Predicted In The Psalms
The day of the Lord is not referred to under this
title in the Psalms but many Psalms mention it and some are descriptive of
it. In the Nov. / Dec. 1973 issue of “Watching and Waiting” our brother Mr.
Harvey dealt with a number of Psalms voicing the cry of the remnant of
The first Psalm gives a description of the character of God’s perfect Man in the person of His beloved Son our Lord and the second Psalm describes briefly His triumph over all the forces of evil, in the Day of the Lord.
Moses in Deut. 32, describing the
coming of the people of
But Psalm 2 speaks of the nations and their kings being gathered
together against the Lord and against His anointed, and the disciples of the
Lord after being threatened by the Jewish Council against preaching in the name
of Jesus, referred to this Psalm in prayer to the Lord, saying, “Thou art God ... who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast
said, Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up and the
rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus,
whom Thou hast anointed, both
Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of
And to-day, after nearly 2000 years the nations of the
earth are still gathering together and raging against the Lord’s anointed One. The recent
action of our own Prime Minister in his visit to
The Nations do not Improve
The words of the Apostle Paul to the Romans and to Timothy show all too clearly that the preaching of the Gospel has not improved the nations, as such. When the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, the Apostle described the Gentile world thus: “As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which were not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, deceit, debate, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful”. Such was the state of the Gentile world when the Gospel was first preached to them.
Then in writing to Timothy, Paul describes their condition at the close of this age. He says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof”. Thus in almost identical language he describes the Gentile nations at the beginning and at the close of this age; showing that the impact of the Gospel has not altered one whit the evil heart of man nor the general character of the nations. The purpose of the Gospel has been only to gather out from the nations “a people to His name”.
Thus, in Psalm 2, as the Lord surveys the raging of the kings of the earth and their peoples in their continued rebellion, He says, “Yet I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” and He thus addresses His Son; His anointed One; “Ask of Me and I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”. Thus, in the Day of the Lord, the lot of His inheritance will no longer be confined to Jacob, but “His dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him ... Men shall be blessed in Him and all nations shall call Him blessed”. (Psalm 72)
The Cross entitles to the Crown
22 shows that the blessings of the
Day of the Lord are the direct outcome of the Lord’s work upon the Cross. The Lord’s plaint in verse 2 is “O my God, I cry ... but Thou hearest not”. Then in verse 21 He says, “Thou hast heard Me from
the horns of the unicorns”. Thus being delivered in the uttermost
extremity, He sounds a note of triumph, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren;
in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee”. And Paul
makes clear in Hebrews 2 that the congregation here spoken of is the
Church. So the Lord leads His Church in
everlasting praise to God. Then He goes
on in Psalm 22, “Ye
that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye seed of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear
Him, all ye seed of
In Psalm 45 we see the King with His bride who is also a king’s daughter. As the King He rides in majesty prosperously in order to establish truth and righteousness in the earth and then the Father addresses Him as His Son, saying, “Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows”. That this is addressed to the Son of God, Paul makes clear in Hebrews 1. This therefore, is the King that “shall reign in righteousness” over the nations of the world in the Day of the Lord.
The middle verse of Psalm 46 tells us,
“The nations raged; the
kingdoms were moved”. Psalm 2, as we have seen,
asked “Why do the nations rage
and the peoples imagine a vain thing?” And the vanity of their ranging is seen
particularly here when in response “God uttered His voice; the earth melted”. God is in
the midst of His City and Israel, in the midst of international and
topographical upheavals finds that God is her refuge and strength and triumphs
in the certainty that “The Lord
of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”. The
In the latter part of this Psalm God, surveying the raging and the tumult of the nations and their armies led by the Man of Sin who has said “I am God”, says to him and them, Desist! I am God, I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. This He will be in the Day of the Lord.
up” here referred to is
not, as is sometimes supposed, the Lord’s ascension into heaven. The whole context of the Psalm discredits
this. It is, however, as indicated, His
going up to
Then Psalm 48 commences “Great is the LORD and
greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of
His holiness. Beautiful for situation,
the joy of the whole earth is
67 is the language of
This same truth is further unfolded in Psalm 85. “Lord Thou hast been favourable to Thy land; Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy
people; Thou hast covered all their sin.” When the Lord finally turns the captivity of
Prayer and Praise for the Day of the Lord
In the middle verse of Psalm 86 there is a clear reference to the Day of the Lord. “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, 0 Lord, and shall glorify Thy name”. The former part of the Psalm is occupied mainly with prayer and the latter part mainly with praise. The Psalmist prays thus, “Bow down unto me, 0 Lord; hear me; for I am poor and needy ... Be merciful unto me, O Lord; for I cry unto Thee daily … Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer ... In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me”.
Then he contemplates the Day of the Lord in the verse already quoted and he bursts into praise and adoration: “For Thou art great and doest wondrous things: Thou art God alone ... I will praise Thee O Lord my God, with all my heart and I will glorify Thy name for evermore ... O God, the proud are risen against me and the assembly of violent men have sought after my soul ... But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy and truth”. And are not we filled with the same feeling of adoration when we contemplate the final triumph of our Saviour as King of kings and Lord of lords?
nations whom Thou hast made” says the
Psalmist. The nations were ordained of
God. We read of Noah and his seed that “by these were the nations divided in the
earth after the flood”. And in Deut. 32 we read, “When the
most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons
of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the
And so to-day the Lord is still controlling the
nations for the working out of His purposes in anticipation of the time when
they shall be brought under the control of
Let us also thus pray and in anticipation, praise, for the Day of the Lord when His inheritance shall be extended to all the nations and when “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea”.
For His inheritance shall be shared by us as His joint-heirs. Peter speaks of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away; reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. And again, “the hope that is laid up for you in heaven whereby ye have heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel”. We therefore shall share the inheritance in the heavenly glory and also the inheritance of the nations upon earth, for “if we suffer we shall also reign with Him”; in accordance with His promise, “To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations” and “to him [the overcomer] will I grant to sit with Me in My throne even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne”.
O sing unto the Lord! - The Lord Reigneth
The introduction to Psalms 96-99 alternate with these words: “O sing unto the Lord a new song” – “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice”. “O sing unto the Lord a new song” – “The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble”.
This then is the subject of these Psalms - a new song because of the reigning Lord. “Sing unto the Lord all the earth”. Such a call to the earth would be most inappropriate for these days. The language of the Apostle James would be much more fitting, “Be afflicted and mourn and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up”. But the language of Psalm 96 is, “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him all the earth. Say ye among the nations that the Lord reigneth ... He shall judge the peoples righteously ... He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His truth”.
These words are repeated almost verbatim at the close
of Psalm 98 which speaks
of the new song of victory, “O sing unto the Lord a new song, for He hath done marvellous
things: His right hand and His holy arm hath gotten Him the victory. The Lord hath made known His salvation: His
righteousness hath He openly showed in the sight of the nations. He hath remembered His mercy and His truth
toward the house of
The emphasis in Psalms 97 and 99 is
the manifest reign of the Lord, the King.
“The Lord reigneth; let
the earth rejoice ... A fire goeth
before Him and burneth up His enemies round about. His lightenings enlightened the world; the
earth saw and trembled. The hills melted
like wax at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the Lord of the whole
earth. The heavens declare His
righteousness and all the peoples see His glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven
images; that boast themselves of idols: worship Him all ye gods.
So similarly in Psalm 99, “The
Lord reigneth; let the people tremble ... The Lord is great in
A King shall Reign in Righteousness
The tenor of Psalm 102 is somewhat similar to that of Psalm
The oppressed servant of Jehovah takes comfort in the
contemplation of the Day of the Lord. The Psalmist says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord and let my cry come
unto Thee. Hide not Thy face from me in
the day when I am in trouble. For my
days are consumed like smoke and my bones are burned as an
hearth. My heart is smitten and withered
like grass ... Mine enemies reproach
me all the day and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled
my drink with weeping ... My
days are like a shadow that declineth and I am withered like grass. But Thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever, and
Thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise
and have mercy upon
So in the midst of his affliction he is transported in
spirit to the time of the final restoration of his city. And he continues, “So the nations shall fear the name of the
Lord and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.
When the Lord shall build up Zion He shall appear in His glory ... For He hath looked down from the height of
His sanctuary; from the heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed
to death; to declare the name of the LORD in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem; when the peoples are gathered together and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord”. Thus he envisages the time described by the Prophet Zechariah
when “everyone that is left of
all the nations which came against
Finally we have Psalm 110 which was so ably dealt with in our Conference last
September by Mr. Jack Green so that
we need not enlarge upon it now. The
quotations from this Psalm in the New Testament make it clear that the opening
words are addressed by God the Father to His beloved Son, “Sit Thou on My right hand until I make thine
enemies Thy footstool”. Then “Jehovah shall send the rod of Thy strength out of
[* That is, the animating spirit. See Luke 8: 55. cf. Acts 7: 59 and James, - “As the body without the spirit is dead…”]
The Spirit of Christ in the Prophets
On the day of Pentecost Peter reminded the people that David “spake of the resurrection of Christ”. And in his epistle he tells us that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets when they “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow”. We saw something of the glory predicted as following the suffering in Psalm 22. And David in his famous “last words” when he spake of the coming just ruler over men, ruling in the fear of the Lord, said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me and His word was in my tongue”. This was confirmed by Peter when he said, “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy, men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. So in many of the Psalms we have the Spirit of Christ showing through David the glory of the coming Saviour and King of whom it is said, “The Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears but with righteousness shall He judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the Wicked One”.
“Jesus is coming! Sing the glad word!
Coming for those He redeemed by His blood;
Coming to reign as the glorified Lord!
Jesus is coming again!”
COULD YE NOT WATCH WITH ME ONE HOUR?
MATTHEW 26: 40
The night is dark: behold, the shade was deeper
In the old
When the calm voice awoke the weary sleeper,
“Could’st thou not watch one hour alone with Me?”
O thou! So weary of thy self-denials,
And so impatient of thy little cross,
Is it so hard to bear thy daily trials,
To count all earthly things a gainful loss?
What if thou always suffer tribulation,
And if thy Christian warfare never cease?
The gaining of the quiet habitation
Shall gather thee to everlasting peace.
But here we all must suffer,* walking lonely
The path that Jesus once Himself hath gone;
Watch thou in patience, through the dark hour only -
This one dark hour - before the [millennial] dawn.
Can’st thou forget thy Christian superscription,
“Behold, we count them happy which endure?”
What treasure would’st thou, in the land Egyptian,
Repass the stormy water to secure?
Poor wandering soul! I know that thou art seeking
Some easier way, as all have sought before,
To silence the reproachful inward speaking –
Some landward path into an island shore.
The cross is heavy in thy human measure,
The way too narrow for thy inward pride;
Thou can’st not lay thine intellectual treasure
At the low footstool of the Crucified.
In meek obedience to the Heavenly Teacher,
Thy weary soul can find its only peace;
Seeking no aid from any human creature –
Looking to God alone for His release.
And He will come, in His own time and power,
To set His earnest-hearted children free;**
Watch only through this dark and painful hour,
And the bright [millennial] morning yet will break for thee.***
** Matt. 12: 40. cf. Heb. 9: 28b; 10: 36; 11: 39, 40; Rev. 9: 9-11.
*** Rev. 20: 4. cf. Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b.
- (Author unknown: slightly altered. - Ed.)
* * *
The Day of the Lord as in
Zechariah and Malachi
The Prophecies of Zechariah and Malachi are a part of that more sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place - this evil world of sin, darkness, and woe.
Now to begin with, I
think it is well to have in our minds a little outline concerning the Prophets
of Israel in their relation to the time of the captivity of
Jeremiah prophesied before the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity; Ezekiel and
Daniel prophesied during that
period; and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi prophesied after the return from captivity. Ezra and Nehemiah are the historical Books relating
to the resettlement of
learn from these historical books how, after their return to their land again
an altar was erected. They offered unto
the Lord thanksgiving and sacrifice for His mercies in
bringing them back to the land of their fathers. Also, the foundation of the
Because of this, the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah were sent to stir up the people to complete the Lord’s house, and although the Temple which they had started to build was insignificant as compared with Solomon’s Temple, Haggai and Zechariah assured the people that God would take pleasure in their labours, and they were given rich promises of restoration and of blessing if they continued faithful.
The Structure of the Prophecy
Regarding the structure of this book of the
prophecy of Zechariah, there are eight visions which God gave to the prophet to
record, and these are found in chapters
1 - 6, while chapters 7-14 record more direct statements of prophecy. We also find in the visions and the promises
connected with them, that they
go beyond their immediate application to
is always important to remember that sometimes prophecies have a double fulfilment. We see this in connection with Joel’s
prophecy in chapter 2 of his book.
Peter refers to this on the Day of Pentecost. Truly, Pentecost was an earnest of
this, but how brief! And the final or
complete fulfilment is to be in the “Day of the Lord”, when the Lord will be once again in the midst of
Its Opening Message
the opening words of the Prophet Zechariah before the visions are enlarged upon
we find how God through His servant first calls the people to repentance (verse 3), and this is exactly how both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus
began their message and ministry to the nation of
We also read in verse one of the actual time when the prophet received this Word of the Lord. It was in the eighth month in the second year of Darius the king; and it was exactly two months before, in the sixth month of the second year of the same king that Haggai began to prophesy.
We pass on to verse 3 of this first chapter of Zechariah where we have the term “The Lord of Hosts” and in passing I would just state that this majestic Name is used no fewer than 80 times by these last three Prophets of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi; and note again, it is “Thus saith the Lord of hosts”. It is evidently to inspire the people with confidence that God was greater than all their outward circumstances, however great and powerful were their enemies.
Then in verses 5 and 6 we have the questions “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever? Their lives were of short duration but My words and My statutes, in contrast remain. Did they (that is God’s words) not overtake your fathers? Yes truly, and in judgement, and they turned, but not in repentance; only to acknowledge that their afflictions were from the hand of God”. The literality of the judgement was too apparent to deny; they recognised that they had reaped what they had sown and said, “according to our doings so hath He dealt with us”.
Now since my subject is concerning “the Day of the Lord” which is yet to dawn, I must pass over the visions which are described from verse 7 of chapter 1 to the end of chapter 6, and concentrate our thoughts more upon chapters 7-14, and also briefly refer to the Prophet Malachi. This of course is a vast subject and therefore one can only summarise some of the most important details of these latter chapters.
In chapter 7 we find that nearly two years had elapsed since that memorable night on which the series of the eight visions were shown to the Prophet - in which were unfolded in a wonderful panorama the thoughts and purposes of God concerning Israel and the nations from the beginning to the very end of this age. Then the word of Jehovah came again to Zechariah.
Again the day, the month and the year of the Divine Oracle are clearly given as being the fourth year of King Darius. Thus it would be about two years after Haggai had stirred up the people to re-commence the building of the Lord’s house, and about two years before the house was finished. Ezra 6: 15; Hag. 1: 1-15.
this time, a deputation comes from
enquiry was, need the people continue to keep these
fasts and afflict their souls in memory of their former calamities, namely the
invasion of their land and destruction of their
The Cause of Israel’s Calamity and
Promise of Future Blessing
Prophet Zechariah however, who spoke to them in the Name of the Lord did not
answer them directly, and the first part of the prophetic discourse as
contained in this chapter was intended to bring home to them and the nation the
cause of their former and present sad and reduced circumstances. The cause of their low estate was moral, the
perverting of justice, oppression of the poor, and their hardness of
heart. It was because of these things
that they had been scattered with a whirlwind, and their land made
desolate. The causes were divinely
reiterated. It was of their
own making. So with God’s
condemnation of the nation the chapter ends, but as it is seen so often in
these prophetical passages, after the condemnation of His people
And this prophetical discourse continues in chapter 8 with gracious promises that He will yet save His people and be their God in Truth and Righteousness, resulting in world-wide blessings.
This same climax of blessing is found in chapters 1-6, 9-10, and 12-14; in other words, throughout the whole Book. In wrath, God ever remembers mercy.
Restoration and Blessing
so we have the closing words, verses
20-23, in chapter 8 declaring
“It shall yet come to pass that
there shall come peoples and the inhabitants of many cities saying, Let us go
speedily to pray and seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem. ... In those days, ten men out of all languages
of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of
him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you for we have heard that God is
with you”. Such words imply eagerness and assurance for the Lord will take away the reproach of His people
nations will then realise that their fathers have inherited lies and vanities,
and that God’s favour rests upon
We pass on to chapter 9 and here it is reiterated like each of the passages already noted that much is beyond the then present circumstances or contemporary history, and culminates in the time when Israel shall be brought to true repentance and will return unto the Lord, never more to be forsaken, neither their land again made desolate.
Although some of the expressions in this chapter as
indeed in other chapters in this book may seem somewhat obscure, yet the
general trend of events is clear, and especially as they accord
with the prophetical passages in the New Testament concerning the end of this
age. Take such words as we have in verse 10 “And I will cut off
the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from
True Peace and Rest
shall speak peace unto the nations”. How parallel are such words with Isa. 2: 1-4, “The swords shall be
beaten into plowshares, the spears into pruning hooks, neither shall they learn
war anymore”. And Psalm 86: 9, “All nations which Thou hast made, shall come
and all shall be brought low before Thee and shall glorify Thy Name”. “And His dominion shall be from sea to sea
and from the river (
And as to spiritual life, it will still be peace through the blood of His Cross, and through Israel God’s Gospel will be declared to all nations.
Verse 14. “And the Lord shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as lightning”. And in the Isaiah 63 context with Zech. 14: 3 we read of how the Lord will fight for them, when He comes from heaven glorious in apparel, the day of vengeance in His heart “for the year of His redeemed is come”.
“And the Lord God shall blow the trumpet”. How fitting are such words with the New Testament passages “The Trump of God” (1. Thess. 4: 15-18) and “the last Trump” (1. Cor. 15: 52), linked with Rev. 11, 15-18 when resurrection and reward to saints takes place and God’s wrath follows on the ungodly and “the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ”.
“And shall go with whirlwinds of the South”. The elements of nature shall be used to effect God’s judgements. The Sun darkened, the Moon as blood, the heavens departing as a scroll, mountains and islands removed out of their places are accompaniments of the Lord’s second Advent as confirmed by Revelation chapters 6 and 7 and Hebrews 12.
“For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty” (v. 17).
will be the words used by converted
True Contrition and Confidence
in the Messiah
in that Day, Israel, when they first look on Him whom their nation once pierced
and despised, shall be brought to mourn and lament for Him, with deep
contrition of heart as the words of chapter 12 verse 10-14
state. But their mourning shall be
turned to rejoicing, for the Lord shall preserve them during the brief time
following His glorious coming, while the vials of wrath are poured out on the
wicked. Then He will make Himself known
to His brethren in everlasting embrace, nevermore to be pulled out of their
land. “And I will bring again the captivity of My
Now may I just draw your attention to verses 4-7 of chapter 10.
verse 4 we read “From him”; that is from
From him (Judah) the Nail fastened in a sure place and upon whom shall hang all the glory of His Father’s house. (Isa. 22: 20 - 25).
From him (Judah) the Battle-Bow. The Lord is a man of war. He will not let the wicked go unpunished. He will come in all His strength to save all the meek of the earth. Psalm 76, 7-9. His wrath will be poured out (Isa. 63: 1) upon the ungodly, upon Antichrist and all his evil hosts.
From him (Judah) every Exactor or Ruler together. All ruling power and authority united in Himself - both Kingship and royal Priesthood as Psalm 110 makes clear; and all who do not submit themselves shall perish.
“They of Ephraim, shall be like a mighty man ... yea their children shall see it, and rejoice; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord” on account of His mercies and deliverance.
V. 12 “I will strengthen them in the Lord”. On this bright note the chapter ends “And they shall walk up and down in His Name saith the Lord: subdued and conscious of God’s mercy and none shall make them afraid.” (Micah 4: 1-4).
Divine Events in that Future Day
thus arrive at the last three chapters of this prophecy. These chapters 12-14, link together
events connected with “That
Day” the expression so often used
in the prophetic scriptures in reference to “The Day of the Lord”
which embraces the 1,000 years of sabbattic rest in
contrast to “Man’s day” of misrule and oppression which has now continued
nearly 6,000 years. It is the “last day” spoken of in
John’s Gospel chapter
6 (mentioned four times); the day of resurrection unto life when the Lord takes control and [dead]
saints [will] enter into their rest*
and judgement follows upon the ungodly (2 Thess.
1). We can only give a very brief outline of these three
last chapters. Chapter 12 sets forth God’s Sovereignty over all creation, and
reminds us of the immutability of His promises to
[* See Heb. 4: 1, 6-8, 11. cf. 2 Pet. 3: 14, 17; Psa. 95:8-11.]
Chapter 13 speaks of
how in this Day of the Lord there will be a fountain opened for sin and
uncleanness to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; how
idolatry and false prophets will be exposed and cast out from the land. And we see the process of God’s saving work
with His people
that time, even as the chapter ends, the Lord will say “It is My people and
this brings us to our last chapter wherein is brought before us how all nations
will be gathered against
[* See Luke 14: 14. cf. 22: 28-30; Rev. 2: 26, 27; 3: 21, 22, etc. and always keep in mind:-
“Christ will give the crown to none but the worthy. And are we fit for the crown, before we have overcome? Or for the prize, before we have won the race? Or to be rulers of ten cities, before we have achieved our ten talents? Or to enter into the joy of our Lord, before we have well done, as good and faithful servants? God will not alter the course of justice to give you rest [i.e., the ‘rest’ mentioned in Heb. 4: 1 and Psa. 95: 11.] before you have laboured nor the crown of glory till you have overcome.” - Baxter.
“There is one overwhelming proof that no believer will enter
The True King
“And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that Day shall there be One Lord and His Name One” v. 9. No longer, “god’s many and lord’s many”.
The nations shall realise that their idols are vanity and less than vanity and that they have inherited lies. The satanic veil of superstition and idolatry shall be taken away. (Isa. 25: 7; 1 Cor. 8: 5).
Session of the Ancient of Days will have taken place, and the Son of Man given
dominion and glory and a kingdom that will not pass away, that all peoples and
nations and languages shall serve Him (Dan. 7: 13, 14). Truly, then, will a King be reigning in
perfect Righteousness as Isaiah
32: 1 states and it shall be fulfilled, “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne
of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and
of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1: 31-33). V. 21: “And in that Day” there shall be no more the Canaanite (or merchant)
in the house of the Lord, for then will be designated everything as “Holiness unto the Lord”, when
* * *
Now very briefly I must just refer to the Prophet Malachi. The name Malachi means “My Messenger”. This is the last of the Old Testament Prophecies and Malachi was to Nehemiah what Haggai and Zechariah were to Zerrubbabel.
a period of revival after the return from captivity in
And they shall be mine saith the Lord of Hosts, in that Day when I make up my jewels, or special treasure, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not”.
And chapter 4 continues, “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings, and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this saith the Lord of hosts”.
All these consolatory announcements given to Israel show clearly that “Jehovah is jealous for Zion [not heaven] with great jealousy” and will return to Jerusalem with mercies; and that not only will the people be restored and the land rebuilt, but that He Himself will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem which shall be known as “the City of Truth” and “The Holy Mountain” - the centre to which the Gentile nations shall come to seek Jehovah and be taught His way.
(The substance of an Address given at Alliance Hall, Westminster, June 1975).
* * *
The Day of the Lord
Foreshadowed in the Pentateuch
The Day of the Lord is not, in fact, named in the Pentateuch but it is frequently described under various aspects. On at least eight occasions we find some clear reference to, or portrayal of, the Day of the Lord. We will look briefly at each of these.
The Covenant with Abraham
said to Abram in Gen. 12, “I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee and
make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that
bless thee and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”. And again in
Gen. 15, “I am Jehovah that brought
thee out of
these passages we observe that the Lord promised to give the land to Abraham as
well as to his seed and that he should possess
it. Stephen in his address to the Council in Acts 7, emphasises this; he says, concerning Abraham, “The Lord gave him none inheritance
in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet He promised that He would
give it to him
for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child”. Now if, as here repeatedly stated the Lord
promised the land to Abraham for a possession, yet during his lifetime
he possessed nothing in it except a grave, then this promise must be fulfilled after the
Resurrection, when indeed Abraham, and his Seed - even Immanuel - shall together possess it for an everlasting
inheritance. Of this our Lord reminded
us when He said, “Many shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the
The same promise is confirmed later unto Isaac in chapter 26. “Unto thee and unto thy seed I will give all these countries and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father ... and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed”.
Jacob’s Vision of the Ladder
Jacob left his father’s house and journeyed to Padan
All this seems to be confirmed by our Lord in His words to Nathaniel, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”. It is difficult to imagine that the Lord had not in mind here Jacob’s vision of the ladder. At our Lord’s baptism we are told that “the heavens were opened unto Him” but to Nathaniel He says, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open”. At the time of which our Lord speaks there will be visible and continuous communication between heaven and earth. And the Lord said to Nathaniel, “Thou shalt see it”. Nathaniel will see it together with all the risen saints at His coming. This will be seen in the Day of the Lord.
A Prophet like unto Moses
The promise of the Lord to Moses in Deut. 18 was “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee and will put my words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him”. Peter refers to this in Acts 3 where he says, “Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people’”. Thus the word of Moses “I will require it of him” is interpreted by Peter as “shall be destroyed from among the people”.
when our Lord was here He definitely declared that He had not “come to destroy men’s lives,
but to save them”. He did say, however, of the time to come, “He that rejecteth
Me and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth
him: the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day”. The last day of this [evil] age when the dead in Christ shall rise, will usher
in the Day of the Lord. Then “the law shall go forth of
The Glory of the Lord
When the Children of Israel refused to enter into the Promised Land owing to the evil report of the 10 spies, the Lord threatened to destroy them but in answer to Moses’ intercession He said “I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord”. All the unbelief and rebellion of the people could not alter the ultimate determination of the Lord. This is enlarged upon a little by the Prophet Habakkuk in the chapter which pronounces the five-fold woe upon the Man of Sin. The Lord says, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. And in Psalm 72 which deals with the coming King and the greatness of His Kingdom, David prays, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen! and Amen!”
To-day “the glory of God is above the heavens” but when He who is “the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person” comes in all His glory and in the glory of all the holy angels, then “the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea”. This will be the Day of the Lord.
In Balaam’s second parable as recorded in Numbers 23, he said “God is not a man that He should lie ... Behold I have received commandment to bless and He hath blessed and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: Jehovah his God is with him and the shout of a king is among them ... According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘What hath God wrought!’”.
is clearly prophetic of the last days when the remnant of
in Balaam’s final parable, he said, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob and a Sceptre shall rise out of
[* Isa. 38: 18, 19; 63: 10. cf. 40: 10; 58: 8.]
The Feast of Tabernacles
Children of Israel had three major feasts which foreshadowed future
events. (1) The Passover which was a
memorial of their deliverance from
Prophet Ezekiel foretells that in
that day the feast of the Passover will be continued as a national festival and
as a constant memorial to the people of
Jacob’s last Blessing
Jacob gathered his sons together to bless them before his death, he said of
Lord said through Jacob, “The sceptre shall not depart from
is further said of Him, “He shall bind His foal unto the vine and His ass’s colt unto
the choice vine; He shall wash His garments in wine and His clothes in the
blood of grapes”. When
is said finally of the
[* Luke 22: 29, R.V.: “… I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink in MY kingdom…”]
Moses’ Song and Blessing
song in Deut. 32, after delineating the history of God’s dealings with
His people Israel from the land of Egypt, brings it to this climax in verse 43, “Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people (or, as in the margin, Praise His people, ye nations) for He will avenge
the blood of His servants and will render vengeance to His adversaries and will
be merciful unto His land and to His people”. This looks forward to the fulfilment of God’s
covenant with Jacob – “In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed” and also to the Lord’s covenant with the Seed of
David – “All nations shall serve Him”; while the remaining portion is confirmed
by the Prophet Isaiah. Speaking of the time of
may be that Moses’ blessing upon the individual tribes has reference, in some
cases at least, to
Thus ends the writings of Moses, looking forward to the time when that people whom he had led all through the wilderness to the promised land, after many vicissitudes* should dwell safely therein with Jehovah Himself as their Divine refuge and Protector; when their foes shall be all defeated and they themselves a lasting blessing in the midst of the earth. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, “As God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham; that He would grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life”.
[* See footnote.]
will be the blessing of
(The above article is the substance of an address given at the Alliance Hall in January last). 
AFFLICTION AND GLORY
“Affliction worketh glory:” “our light affliction worketh an exceeding weight of glory;” “our affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh an eternal weight of glory.” Every word is a marked and beautiful antithesis. Strange to say, the Apostle describes the glory by an old earthly metaphor, nay, by the very metaphor he used to apply to his afflictions; he calls it a weight. We speak of a weight of care, a weight of sorrow, a weight of anxiety: but the weight of glory! surely that is a strange symbol. We do not think of a man as being crushed, overwhelmed, weighed down by glory. We should have thought that the old metaphor of care would have been repulsive, that it would have been cast off like a worn-out garment and remembered no more for ever. Nay, but the old garment is not worn out when the glory comes, it is only transfigured; that which made thy weight of care is that which makes thy weight of glory. Thou needest not a new object but a new light - to see by day what thou hast only seen in darkness. Thou who art weighted with some heavy burden, pause ere thou askest its removal; thy weight of present care may be thy weight of future glory – may be, nay, must when light shall dawn.
- GEORGE MATHESON, D.D.
* * *
The Day of the Lord as in the Thessalonian Epistles
By H. A. Huckett
1 Thessalonians has been called “a missionary’s letter to his converts”, and in both of his epistles to the church at Thessalonica, Paul’s concern for the spiritual welfare of the believers there is clearly manifest. Acts 17 indicates that owing to the intense persecution of the Jews, Paul had been compelled to leave Thessalonica somewhat abruptly, and it seems that he had not been able to return there, as he did at Lystra, to strengthen the new converts in the things of God. He was particularly anxious about them, because he had heard that many of them were in a state of confusion about the Day of the Lord, and so, in both letters Paul deals with this important issue. We shall consider it under Four Aspects:
1. The Attitude of the Apostle Paul to the
Day of the Lord
It was evidently part of the
Gospel which he preached, for right at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians in vv.
9 and 10 he includes it in
describing their response to the message of salvation. “Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
and to wait for His Son from Heaven’. It surely is significant that soon after
Pentecost, Peter linked the return of Christ with those “times of refreshing from the
presence of the Lord” (Acts 3: 20), where he says: “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached
unto you, whom the heaven must receive
until the times of restitution of all things”. Is the Second Coming of Christ [and the
establishing of His
In 1 Thess. 2: 19-20 Paul refers to his converts as his joy and crown in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming, and in 3: 13 and 5: 23 he links his longing for them to increase and abound in love toward each other with the earnest desire and prayer that their hearts might be established unblameable in holiness before God the Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints [holy ones].
1 Thess. 4: 16 shews that Paul did not believe [at this time] in any “secret rapture” theory. He believed that the return of Christ would be personal and public. He says: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God”. This cannot possibly be construed as a secret or private coming for the church, unbeknown to the outside world.*
[* NOTE. That there will be an “escape” for living saints before the Great Tribulation, who walk “with God” as Enoch - the seventh from Adam - once did cannot be denied, (Gen. 5: 24; Jude 14; Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10); but this pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ is not the ‘rapture’ made mention of in 1 Thess. 4: 17 which will occur at its end. This latter ‘rapture’ embraces those “who are alive and remain” [who are “left” R.V.] until end-time when our Lord Jesus Christ will return to this earth to establish His Millennial Kingdom here. Most of the confusion, I believe, is brought about by seeing only one rapture - during this seven-year period - when the scriptures speak of two! Some “shall be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass,” (Luke 21: 36), while others will be “left” to ‘endure unto the end’ under the persecutions of Antichrist. See footnote 1]
2. The Advice or Admonition which Paul
gave to the Church at Thessalonica
While praising them for their brotherly love and their patience under much persecution, he nevertheless felt it necessary to warn them against immorality (1 Thess. 4: 3-8), laziness and idle gossip. Some of them thought that the Day of the Lord was so near that there was no need for them to work any longer, and this had led to disorderly behaviour (2 Thess. 3: 11), tittle tattle and wanting to live at other people’s expense - verse 12 and 1 Thess. 4: 11, 12. There was also an erroneous idea in some quarters that believers who died before Christ returned would not share in the glory of His appearing, and this had made some of the Christians feel hopeless about their departed friends and loved ones. So in 1 Thess. 4: 13-18, Paul stressed (1) that those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him (2) that believers still alive when Jesus comes would not have precedence over those who had previously died (3) that the dead in Christ would first rise and (4) that those still alive at the coming of the Lord would be caught up together with them to meet Christ and to be with Him for ever. He exhorted them to comfort one another, to edify one another, to respect the elders in the church who were over them in the Lord and to be at peace among themselves (1 Thess. 5: 13). In 2 Thess. 2: 15 he told them to stand fast and remain true to the traditions they had received through Paul, and actually commanded them in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ to withdraw from every brother who was behaving in a disorderly manner (2 Thess. 3, 6, 14 and 15).
The Apostle gave them the following signs, which as children of light, and no longer in darkness, they could recognise as guide lines to the near approach of Christ’s Coming - signs that are more than ever relevant for God’s people in these days:
(a) Widespread Apostasy - 2 Thess. 2: 3, “falling away” (Gr. “apostasia”) = deep-rooted rebellion against God. In recent times this began with a denial of His Deity, His Authority and even His Existence - a revolt which had its origin in the Higher Criticism of the Bible and the spread of Modernism in Theology.*
[* NOTE. This modern A-millennialist ‘theology,’ and the apostasy which accompanies all who believe it, is rampant amongst multitudes of regenerate believers who vehemently deny Christ’s / Messiah’s reign upon this earth in righteousness and peace. It is a false doctrine out of the mouth of Satan himself; and all who persist in their holding on to it must lose their inheritance the “age” to come. Num. 14: 20-22; Psa. 78: 8-10, 17, 18, 21-23, 32, 36, 37, 41, 42, 56-58. cf. 1 Cor. 5: 1, 2, 9-13; 6: 1, 5-9; 10: 1-12.]
(b) The revelation of the man of sin - the lawless one -
the son of perdition who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called
God and every object of men’s worship, and sitting in the
(c) Endued with Satanic power, This Antichrist will perform miracles and lying wonders, and deceive many. God will send strong delusion to those who have rejected the truth, which will make them believe what is false; carried away by this monster of iniquity.
(d) Evil men and seducers will increase (2 Tim. 3: 13). Men will walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, despising government and speaking evil of dignities (2 Pet. 2: 10). They will promise liberty while they themselves are the slaves of corruption (2 Pet. 2: 19). There will be widespread violence, crime and vice; as in the days of Noah. (Gen. 6: 5).
(e) A period of false peace and safety (1 Thess. 5: 3).
4. The Advent Itself
Paul draws a distinction between the position of the unbeliever and the believer.
For the wicked the Day of the Lord will be a sudden and totally unexpected event. It will come as a thief in the night, while men are asleep. “But” says Paul, “you are no longer in darkness (paganism), that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thess. 5: 4). Nevertheless, believers are to be watchful. Luther: “Live as if Christ had died yesterday, risen today, coming tomorrow.”
For the ungodly the Day of the Lord will be the Day of God’s Wrath, referred to in Isa. 13: 9-11. It will be a day when the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven in flaming fire with His mighty angels, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will be a day of punishment for the wicked, but a day of rest and relief for the children of God who have suffered so much at their hands. Paul says: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you and to you who are troubled, rest [with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with the angels of his power R.V.]...” (2 Thess. 1, 6, ).
Peter tells us that in the Day of the Lord, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein will be burned up. Praise God that we, according to His promise can look forward to new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing we are looking for such things, may the Lord help us to be diligent - working, watching* and waiting** for His return, that we may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
(Part of an Address at the Alliance Hall,
on 26th September, 1975).
* 1. The Lord’s people ought to be watching and praying for the Advent (Luke 21: 36). (1) For it is possible to escape the judgments which are coming on the earth before the Advent. There is no merit in allowing one’s self to be involved in judgments which others by their unbelief have invited. It is our duty to escape, if possible, the catastrophe. (2) It can only be by a watchful and prayerful spirit. Self-indulgence, everything that would dull our sense of the impending Advent [and Day of the Lord], must be avoided. It is to come as a thief and a snare upon those that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Hence the imperative necessary of watching. And it is prayer which will help in our watching. - The Pulpit Commentary.
** 2. “Wait on the Lord, be strong, and let thine heart take courage; yea, wait thou on the Lord” (Psa. 27: 14). “Wait,” says Hosea, (12: 6), “on thy God CONTINUALLY.” Waiting is a habit of mind brought into the prayer-room, and kept aleat there; a devout mind, that looks in all the things of God; a submissive mind, ready to receive what God will send; a receptive mind, able to absorb the plans of God; and an obedient mind, that is resolved to do just what God commands. … Waiting leads to strength; strength leads to courage; courage leads to battle; and battle leads to victory. – D. M. Panton.
* * *
The Day of the Lord in Ephesians
By H. A. Huckett
Ephesians is essentially an epistle which deals with the sovereign purpose of God to bring about the final consummation of all things both in heaven and on earth in Christ, and the high destiny of the church in the working out of this process. The epistle opens with a paean of praise to the Lord for the plethora of spiritual blessings that He has bestowed upon believers in Christ - verse 3. Three times Paul stresses that the purpose behind the bestowal of these blessings is that we should be to the praise of His glory (vv. 6, 12, 14).
The outcome of this summing up of all things in Christ, first mentioned in Chap. 1: 10 is a consummation which embraces the unending ages of eternity, as is indicated in verse 21, where Paul states that the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father has placed Him “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world (or age), but also in the ages that are to come.” The Day of the Lord will usher in that glorious time, when Christ, the Eternal Son of God, will return as King over the whole earth and establish His [millennial] kingdom of righteousness and peace. No wonder Frances Ridley Havergal bursts out into a song of worship and eager expectation in the hymn:
“Thou art coming, 0 my Saviour,
Thou art coming, 0 my King!” –
which ends with -
“0h, the joy, to see Thee reigning,
Thee, my own beloved Lord!
Every tongue Thy name confessing,
Worship, honour, glory, blessing
Brought to Thee with one accord;
Thee, my Master and my Friend,
Vindicated and enthroned,
Unto earth’s remotest end,
Glorified, adored and owned.”
In Chap. 2: 1-2, Paul looks back to the terrible state of the Ephesian converts before they became Christians, and, linking himself with them in verse 3, magnifies the wonderful grace and mercy of God in quickening such hell-deserving sinners, raising them up from the dung-heap of depravity and sin, and causing them to be seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Then in verse 7 his vision reaches out to the Divine purpose which inspired the great love with which He has loved us. It is that in the ages to come He might display the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. As Francis Foulkes puts it: “The purpose of God for His church as Paul sees it, reaches beyond the church itself, beyond the salvation and enlightenment of individuals, beyond its unity and fellowship, beyond even its witness to the world.” This truth is stressed again in Chap. 3: 10-11. The function of the church is not confined to its witness in this age alone. In the ages to come the church is to be the means of making known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And this great purpose, conceived in eternity and eternal in its scope will come to its full fruition in that period known as “the ages to come”, which will be ushered in by the Day of the Lord.
So it is not surprising that Ephesians 3 ends with this very fitting benediction: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen.”
In Chap. 4 there are several verses which suggest a definite link with the Day of the Lord. The first is verse 8, a quotation from Psa. 68: 18. “Wherefore He saith: ‘When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men’.” The ascension and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, already dwelt upon by Paul in Chap. 1: 20-21, is the source of all those spiritual gifts now enjoyed by the church ‘for the building up of the body of Christ’ - vv. 12-16, and this aim, that believers should come “in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” is an obvious preparation for the return of the Lord in glory.
Similarly, the practical exhortation to holy living contained in verses 23-32 includes a warning not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God “in Whom we have been sealed unto the day of redemption.” That is the day referred to by Paul in Rom. 8: 23 where he says: “We who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” That will take place in the Day of the Lord after the great tribulation. We know “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God*; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption ... We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” says the Apostle in 1 Cor. 15, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”
5: 1-21, we are again exhorted to avoid the unfruitful works of darkness and to walk as
children of light, redeeming the time because the days are evil. We are
to be spiritually awake and constantly filled with the [Holy] Spirit, so that when Jesus
comes we may be ready to meet Him.
This thought of readiness for the redemption of the body at His
appearing is further emphasized in the commands given to married couples and
the simile used in vv.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse
it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a
glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing: but that it
should be holy and without blemish.” One’s thoughts go out at once to Rev. 19: 1-9 where after the judgment of the great whore in the Day of the
Lord, the beloved disciple says in vv. 6-9: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude ...
saying Allelujah: for the
Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to
Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His
wife hath made herself ready. And to her
was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the
fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” In the
Christian community in
Finally, the promise in Ch. 6: 8 that faithful service will be rewarded - while it is sometimes fulfilled or partially fulfilled in this life, undoubtedly directs our thoughts to those wonderful words spoken by the Risen and Ascended Saviour in Rev. 22: 12: “Behold I come quickly and my reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” How watchful and diligent we should be so that when Jesus comes we may not be found wanting, like the man who buried his lord’s talent in the earth. Let us heed the warning given in 2 John verse 8: “Look to yourselves that ye lose not those things that we have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward.”
* Paul says we are to receive “a spiritual body, (1 Cor. 15: 44, R.V.) What does the word ‘spiritual’ mean? Does it mean that immediately after the time of death, we can somehow appear in the presence of God in heaven ‘like the angels’ as the N.I.V. translates, (Luke 20: 36)? NO. We must wait for the Lord’s return; only then can any Christian have a resurrected, glorified and immortal body like His - a body of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24: 38).
Sitting on a bench beside platform 4 at Belfast Central Station; as we waited for our train to arrive, some minutes later we heard the whistle of an old steam train which arrived and stopped at an adjacent platform.
Now nobody in their right mind would believe I was
describing a train made of steam: and in the same way, our spiritual body will not
of spirit; it will be a body of “flesh and bones”
– a body like that which our Lord presently has. So, when Paul says, “Flesh
and BLOOD” cannot inherit the
Our Lord is now seated upon His Father’s throne, in a body of “flesh and bones”: but this is vitally important for us to know, He did not get there until after the time of HIS RESURRECTION, when His “soul” was reunited to His “body”, (Acts 2: 17-31. cf. verse 34). For such a glorified, immortal body like that of our Lord’s, we must be “waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption OF OUR BODY” (Rom. 8: 23, R.V.): and that cannot happen before the Second Advent of Christ.
THE WORD MADE FLESH
John 1: 14
THE Son, in mighty love,
Came down to
Forsook His throne of light above,
An infant upon earth to be.
In love, the Father’s sinless Child
With sinners dwelt the Undefiled,
The Holy One in
Jesus, whom angel-hosts adore,
Became a Man of griefs for me;
In love, though rich becoming poor,
That I through Him enriched might be.
Though Lord of all above, below,*
He went to Olivet for me,
There drank the cup of wrath and woe,
When bleeding in
* Psa. 139: 8b.
The ever blessed Son of God,
Went up to
There paid my debt, there bore my load
In His own body on the tree.
Jesus, whose dwelling in the skies,
Went down into the grave [‘Sheol’]* for me,
There overcame my enemies,
There won the glorious victory.
* Acts 2: 25, 27. cf. Psa. 16: 10.
In love the whole dark path He trod,
To consecrate a way for me,
Each bitter footstep marked with blood,
’Tis finished all: that veil is rent,
The welcome sure, the access free;
Now then we leave our banishment,
O Father to return to Thee!
- Dr. H. Bonar
** While this statement is true, for all is ultimately received by God’s grace, it is nevertheless of vital importance to know that the “righteousness” mentioned here in Matt. 2: 20, is not the imputed righteousness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: it is a the undisclosed standard of our righteousness. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom…”. The context, in verses 1, 2, show us that our Lord was primarily addressing His own “disciples”: and many other teachings throughout the scriptures of truth make this divine condition perfectly clear to all whom the Holy Spirit has enlightened. See also, Matt. 7: 21, 26, 27. cf. Luke 20: 35; 22: 28, 29, etc.
* * *
The Day of the Lord as in the Minor Prophets
Address given by Pastor W. H. Reeves on 23rd May, 1975
want to give you a key word to each of these MINOR PROPHETS which I shall not expound but which I shall just use
as an introduction. The key word in
Hosea is RETURN. You will find it mentioned 15 times. Hosea prophesied to the ten tribes of
the day of the Lord is promised very early in the book - chapter 1: 10 and 11: “Yet
the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which
cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that in the place
where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto
them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
Then shall the children of
After this message of RETURN, RETURN, RETURN ‑ we come to
key word I have for this book is REPENTANCE. For this
remarkable prophecy has for its message the value and importance of repentance,
and as you well know the key phrase is THE
DAY OF THE LORD, which is named five times (ch. 1: 15, ch. 2: 1, 11 and 31, ch. 3: 14). Those who understand
this fact have an insight into the message of the book, which describes a
terrible locust invasion. It gives the
first intimation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and yet it
contains prophecies reaching from the time of Joel to that Day of the Lord
right to the end of time. The first
utterance in chapter 1: 15, deals with the dire calamity “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction
from the Almighty shall it come”.
Severe drought; a terrible invasion of locusts; ruin on every hand; and it
would seem that up to this point the people had not realised that God was
chastising them; that God was acting in judgment. Therefore Joel is urging the need for a fast and
for a calling unto the Lord. With spiritual
insight, being taught by the Spirit of God, Joel sees this
locust attack as an emblem of a more terrible attack by swarms of heathens; by
the nations in that day; and not only in that day for it is typical of the
invasions in the last days yet to come. Therefore he continues in chapter 2: 1, “Blow ye
the trumpet in
we see the power of the Lord’s sudden intervention to save
we move on to the book of Amos, to which I have given the title RESTORATION. Amos was a working man, a herdsman, a
preserver of sycamore trees, who was of
were three classes of people whom Amos had to denounce with a “Woe”, and we have them today. There were those who were at
[* NOTE. Some disobedient, immoral and cowardly regenerate believers will no doubt, unless their repentance is forthcoming, fall into this category.]
now come to Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, and for this I
have the word RETRIBUTION; for Obadiah shows in some measure an example of
Anti-Semitism, a hatred of God’s chosen people and how the Lord, not man,
brings retribution. Now the Edomites
were the Idumeans as you know, the descendants of Esau
and God had commanded His people in Deuteronomy 23, verse 7, to
treat them kindly. But they were proud;
they were bitter; they were resentful; and the Edomites [the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother] never failed to help any enemy that attacked the
Jews. They had an apparently
inaccessible and impregnable mountain fortress hewed in the rocks from which
they could emerge on raiding expeditions, and those wonderful rock dwelling are
still a marvel. At the fall of
we come to the book of Jonah, and “ give this the title
RE-COMMISSIONING. Now the
question we may well ask is, Can anyone see the day of the Lord in this
remarkable book, and if you ask concerning the actual letter, I would have to
say No! But spiritually the day of the
Lord to a truly spiritual mind can be seen in the book, for Jonah is definitely
a type. We know that Jonah was a type [of
select resurrection]*. There is one thing you can always be sure of;
when the Lord makes a type of anything in the Old Testament, you may be sure it
was a type. Jonah was a type of the Lord
Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection - that is quite clear from Matthew 12: 40. But, Jonah is also a type of
[* That is, a type of all those “accounted worthy to attain to that world (or ‘age’) and the resurrection from the dead” (Luke 20: 35, R.V.)]
move on to Micah with the theme RIGHTEOUSNESS. Micah was
contemporary with Isaiah and belonged to
Now Nahum, with the title RUIN; a book which foretells the overthrow of
We are getting through these little books, there is a lot in them and we are just touching on them.
speaks of REMEMBRANCE. This prophet was a chorister in the temple. He has been termed the grandfather of the Reformation and a prophet of faith, and although we shall not develop this theme his writings are in the form of a conversation between himself and his Lord. He speaks as a puzzled man who wants the Lord to show him the answer, and of course He always does. In chapter 2: 3, the Lord said to him, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” That is what we have to remember regarding prophecy, and so we have to learn both to hope and quietly wait for the coming of the Lord, living by faith and looking to the future. Here is the day of the Lord in verse 14: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Now we come to a book of REJOICING, Zephaniah, and it is believed that Zephaniah was used of God very much to bring about the time of revival at the time of king Josiah. It is a book which begins with judgment and ends with a song of rejoicing, and again as in Joel, the day of the Lord is the key to the study of this book. Apart from references to that day, he uses the phrase seven times: (1) chapter 1: 7, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.” (2) verse 8, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” (3) verse 14, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hasteth greatly,” and (4) “even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” (5) verse 18: “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath”. (6) chapter 2: 2, introduced by verse 1: “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, 0 nation not desired: Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you.” (7) verse 3: “Seek ye the Lord all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger”.
Finally, in chapter 3 we have what has been described as the sweetest love song in the Old Testament, verses 16, 17 and 20: “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes saith the Lord.”
we come to Haggai - REASSURED, and how much we need it. Haggai’s work is post-exilic. The people who had returned from captivity were disheartened and
they had much to discourage them.
Discouraged about rebuilding the temple, there was political intrigue
that stopped the work and so the zeal and enthusiasm of God’s ancient people
had mostly died away. So the people made
time for excuses, as we see in chapter
1: 2, and the thought that we may bear in
mind as we read this is, that before the day of the
Lord the temple will be rebuilt. In
fact, on my holiday last year I saw a film (I don’t know how authentic the
interpretation of it is) which indicated that the Jews out there in their
unbelief are asking permission to excavate on the site of the temple and what
they are really doing is not just excavating but they are actually, according
to the film, getting the foundations ready under the plea of doing some
archaeological work; they are actually laying the foundations for the
rebuilding of the temple. I can only go
on what the commentator of the film said, but THAT
I was sitting in a train one day with a dear old Jew, and he was reading his Scriptures. I said to the old man, Excuse me but do you believe that the temple will be rebuilt? That dear old man looked at me and said, I pray for it every day.
We will just close with this thought of RE-ASSURANCE. Chapter 2: 6-7: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” I do not know how the Lord can fill the house of the Lord with glory if it is not there. I know you can spiritualise all these passages, but when you have done spiritualising them there is still a great deal more. I do feel when I listen to an A-millennialist preaching on these passages, how empty the message really is. You can get something for the soul but you cannot get much for the future. No hope for God’s ancient people, how sad! But we do thank God for the wonderful truths in these minor prophets, and as our chairman has reminded us, they are not so minor after all. There is prophecy packed in small portions. We thank God it is there and for the encouragement and the hope that this message brings to everyone who is looking forward to the coming of the day of the Lord from a true Godly motive.
* * *
“The final section considers the biblical theme of the restoration of all things. … Some of the content will be very new to readers, but a close reading will bring its own reward. He considers elements of the restoration of both land and the people, and the categories of those involved in the restoration. …”
The Restoration of
* “David Noakes has had a long standing relationship with Prophetic Word Ministries in a number of roles, and is Chairman of the Board of Hatkvah Film Trust. He is respected as a Bible teacher and acknowledged for his deep understanding of the ministry of the prophets.”
the time of writing, it is a matter of weeks since a survey of the recent
disturbing increase of anti-semitic attacks against Jewish people and property
Behind this human hatred, however, lie more profound and significant causes. What for centuries has been known as anti-semitism is now presented in a new guise: that of anti-Zionism. The former is generally held, outwardly at least, to be unacceptable in our day as being racist and, therefore, politically incorrect, but paradoxically the latter is regarded as acceptable. In essence however they are identical, inspired from the same hidden source.
In November 1975, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution which declared that ‘Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination’. Yet Zionism is in essence no more than the expression of the longing in the hearts of the Jewish people, after 19 centuries of exile and persecution, to return to the ancestral homeland of their forefathers and to enjoy peace and security in the Land which God has given by everlasting covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants (Gen 12-17).
Zionism, understood through the true perspective of the revelation of Scripture, is no modern phenomenon, but has its origins in the heart of the God of Israel Himself, and is clearly stated many times in His word. Herein lies the key to understanding the true nature of anti-Zionism; it is rooted not in the political, social or even religious views of men, but in the age-abiding conflict between the God of Israel and His rebellious adversary, Satan, whose desire is to contest the word and will of God at every point - and never more than in matters concerning God’s own covenant Land and people of Israel, and His chosen city Jerusalem.
The driving force behind anti-Zionism is therefore not human and political, but lies in an unrelenting demonic hatred which seeks to manipulate the minds of men and control the affairs of the nations. The supreme irony of the UN resolution already mentioned is that it was Zionism, an entirely biblical concept, which led to the creation of the modern State of Israel by an act of the United Nations Assembly, the same body which some 28 years later was effectively challenging the right of existence of that nation-state which it had established.
Zionism is today perceived as being essentially evil. Christian Zionism is viewed as unacceptable in much of the professing church, being regarded simply as an expression of a fundamentalist right-wing religion-political position. However, Christian Zionism is founded squarely upon the revelation of Scripture, as many have recognised in the centuries since the days of the great Puritan writers. During more than four centuries, men of God who have believed the clear revelation found in the prophetic writings of Scripture have been convinced that the unequivocal predictions of the word of God must be fulfilled in the return of the descendants of Jacob to the Land given by God’s everlasting covenant to the Hebrew patriarchs and their descendants.
many centuries of anti-semitic attitudes and behaviour on the part of the
During the same period, the great theme of Jewish restoration to the Land of Israel inspired writings by men such as John Milton and Johann Comenius, while in the following century the truth of God’s word was upheld by Wesley and Whitefield, and in the nineteenth century the concept of a restored Jewish state was openly recognised and upheld by outstanding men of their day such as Palmerston, Shaftesbury and Disraell, Darwin, the well-known authors George Eliot and Robert Browning and the Scottish churchmen Andrew Bonar and Murray McCheyne.
From the time of the Napoleonic Wars, men of God who understood both the Scriptures and the signs of the times in which they were living, began to see and predict that Britain would become an instrument in the hand of God in His prophetic purposes of restoring the Jews to their ancestral homeland of Israel. Christian statesmen and preachers alike accepted the revelation of Scripture on the matter and declared the truths of it from their platform’s and pulpits.
Rejection of the testimony of Scripture
Replacement theology, however, lacks this understanding, denying the revelation of Scripture which accounts entirely for the phenomenon which we are seeing in our own day, that of a nation being restored to her roots. Never in recorded history has any other nation dispersed into exile retained a sense of national identity through 20 centuries and returned to its original Land and language; yet this has happened before our eyes in our own generation. To those who deny that this is a work of God, the same reply is appropriate as that which Jesus gave in His response to the unbelieving Sadducees: ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’ (Mt. 22: 29).
‘Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?’ cries the psalmist in Psalm 2: 1 (NKJV). ‘The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us,”’ he continues in verses 2-3.
This is precisely what we see in our own day: increasing worldwide rebellion against God and against the authority of Jesus His Messiah. Everywhere the authority of the word of God in Scripture and the divinity of Jesus are being called into question, not least within the professing church; but the same psalm provides God’s response: ‘He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion”’ (Ps 2: 4-6, NKJV).
words are full of significance for our understanding. Through the prophetic writings, God has revealed
the reason why today the most disputed area of land in the world is that of
is a bold professing believer who would dispute with the word of God which
contains statements such as these: Zion, at the
heart of the city of Jerusalem in the historic Land of Israel, is God's chosen
dwelling place upon this present earth, and the place where the Messiah will
return and establish His throne to rule the nations with a rod of iron and
restore divine order to the rebellious nations. The time is coming when
In our own day, we are privileged to see the beginnings of a work which God predicted long ago. In many places, the Hebrew prophets have foretold that the Day of the Lord would come; a day which would culminate in God’s restoration of the fortunes of the two houses of Israel and Judah (e.g. Jer 30: 3; 50: 4, 20, 33; 51: 5) and the reuniting of those two divided kingdoms into the one house of Jacob, the messianic kingdom of Israel living in her ancient Land and ruled by her returned Messiah (Ezek 37: 15-27).
the time of the fall of
the midst of the sufferings of exile and of the subsequent subjugation of the
returned remnant under the successive rule of the great Gentile empires
foreseen by the prophet Daniel, the descendants of
The urgent desire of their hearts was for that national restoration which God had promised so many centuries earlier. However, they were obliged to be content with the enigmatic response which Jesus gave: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority’ (implying that the word of God would undoubtedly be fulfilled, but at the proper time, which had not yet come).
the Day of Pentecost, the day when the giving of the Law was celebrated, the
Holy Spirit came, as Jesus had promised, to ‘put [God’s] law in their minds
and write it on their hearts’ (Jer 31: 33). Subsequently
we find Peter, emboldened by the Spirit of God, addressing a crowd in the
Peter’s address confronted the nation of that time: ‘Men of Israel …’ (3: 12). As he had done on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 22-36), he stated unhesitatingly the sin of the disowning of the Messiah by His own people, together with the fact of His resurrection (vv. 13-15).
Having acknowledged that the rejection of Jesus had been done in a state of ignorance on their part, Peter then proceeded to unfold to his hearers the revelation that it had nevertheless also been God’s way of fulfilling the prophetic writings concerning the redemptive suffering of His Messiah; and to present to them the person of Jesus as the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant and the source of blessing to the nation if they would repent (vv. 17-26).
Tragically, as history bears witness, despite those who did repent and become followers of The Way, the nation as a whole continued in unbelief, and the terrible events of judgement followed in CE 70 as Jesus had predicted, while the birthright of Jacob’s descendants in the salvation accomplished through Messiah’s sacrificial death was made available to the Gentiles (Rom 11: 11-12, 25; Eph 2: 11-22).
the ultimate purpose in the heart of God to fulfil the promised restoration of
His covenant representative nation of
It is of the utmost importance that we should be aware of the context in which these events take place, for otherwise we shall fail to understand the significance of the times in which we are now living, and our interpretation of the eschatological writings of Scripture concerning the end of this age will consequently be flawed; they will be like the spokes of a wheel that has no central hub into which they could fit. When considering these eschatological predictions, it is only possible to obtain a clear and accurate picture if they are taken in the context of the whole prophetic revelation of Scripture, which states clearly that the return of Messiah will be first to His own chosen Land of Israel and city of Jerusalem, in order to save His covenant people from total destruction by Gentile armies (Is 63: 1-6; Zech 12: 9; 14: 3ff.) and to reveal Himself, for who He is, to a repentant people.
His feet will stand upon the
Creation - the restoration of all things
In the context of prophetic statements such as these, let us now return to Peter’s address to the ‘men of Israel’ and in particular to the statement of Acts 3: 21 concerning Jesus ‘whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time’ (NASB). Jesus will return when that prophesied time of the restoration of all things comes. Who will accomplish this work of restoration? He will. Nowhere in Scripture is it suggested that any human person, group or nation can perform this task. It is He who will return to restore divine authority and order on the earth, ruling the nations with a rod of iron (Ps. 2: 9; Rev. 19: 15), ruling with His mighty sceptre extended from Zion (Ps. 110: 2). It is He alone who can judge with righteousness and cause the wolf to live with the lamb and the leopard with the goat (Is. 11: 1-9). Then, when He returns, will come the times of restoration, when ‘the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord’ (Is 11: 9).
What is to be restored?
What is to be restored in that glorious day, that ‘unique day ... known to the Lord’ when ‘The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name’ (Zech 14: 7, 9)? What are the ‘things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times’? Is the church to be in some way restored, as some have suggested? Nowhere is that to be found in the prophetic writings. Rather, the Bride is to he completed, and presented to Jesus her Bridegroom ‘as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless’ (Eph 5: 27).
What, then, has God undertaken to restore, as revealed through the prophets? The Greek word Luke employs in Acts 3: 21 is apokatastasis. This noun is found only in this one place in the Scriptures, and is derived from the verb apokathistemi, itself used on only three occasions, one of which is in Acts 1: 6, which has the meaning of restoring something to its former state.
The fallen creation
Taking first the most all-embracing aspect of this meaning, this prophesied restoration of all things embraces the entire fallen creation, which is ‘groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’ (Rom. 8: 22). Paul speaks of ‘the glory that will be revealed in us’ while at present ‘the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed ... in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God’ (Rom 8: 18-21).
entire fallen creation is thus revealed as being at present in anguish as a
result of the Fall, awaiting the restoration that will
be initiated when Messiah returns, bringing His redeemed saints with Him. Through
the atoning work of Messiah, God was not only reconciling the world of men to
Himself (2 Cor 5: 18-21),
but ‘was pleased ... through him
to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in
heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross’ (
This atonement is complete and all-embracing; when Messiah comes again He will establish reconciliation and order where there has been pain, disharmony, hostility and chaos, and Jew and Gentile will find in place of hostility and suspicion the joy of total reconciliation and of becoming at last truly ‘one new man’ in Messiah (Eph 2: 15-16).
As Isaiah has foretold, the enmity of predators and prey in the animal kingdom will disappear (Is 11: 6-9). ‘They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain’ (v. 9) declares the prophet. His declaration is repeated in Isaiah 65: 25 at the culmination of a passage (vv. 17-25) that looks to the immediate restoration of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel, but even beyond (v. 17) to the ultimate creation by God of the new heavens and new earth, later revealed more fully to John in Revelation 21-22.
crucially important aspect of the restoration of all things apart, however, the
prophets’ principal revelation has to do entirely with matters relating to the
Land and nation of
The Land and nation of Israel
The Land is to be restored to the people and the exiled people to the Land. The Hebrew prophets foresaw with awful clarity that disobedience would bring exile and dispersion, but also that God would subsequently restore His people to their own Land. Moses foresaw the horrors of God’s judgement in awful detail in Deuteronomy 28: 15-68, including ultimate dispersion among the nations (vv. 64-68). It was not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’ (Deut 30: 1); yet in the same breath Moses also predicts ultimate reconciliation with God and restoration to the Land: ‘Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you ... and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it’ (vv. 3-5).
similar passages could be quoted, but the most outstanding and comprehensive
prophetic revelation is to be found in Ezekiel 36, where first in
verses 8-12 God speaks to the barren and desolate
But you, 0 mountains of
The nation’s relationship with her God
verse 16 of the same chapter (36), Ezekiel is
then led to prophesy concerning the exiled people. Just as the Land of Israel does not prosper
when its people are absent, so the people do not thrive when separated from the
Land, for both together form God’s declared inheritance (Joel 3: 2). Thus in this
remarkable passage (36:16-38),
Ezekiel speaks the word of God to the whole house of
I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God (NIV) ... Thus says the Lord God, ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. And the desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passed by. And they will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it. (vv. 33-36 NASB)
This is a work of restoration which God has declared unequivocally, both here and in numerous other places in the prophetic Scriptures, that he will surely accomplish (e.g. Is. 11: 11-12; 43: 5-7; 49: 8-23; Jer. 32: 37-41; Hos. 2: 16-23; Amos 9: 13-15; Zech. 8: 3-8).
The Davidic kingdom
kingdom is to be restored to
The God of Israel never breaks covenant, but keeps His word down to the last detail. The covenant made with David has never been abrogated: ‘Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever’ (2 Sam 7: 16). Just as David, was king of Israel, so his successor the Messiah, born into his own house, will take His throne literally as King of Israel and the word of God will be fulfilled: ‘Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the greatest of the nations’ (Jer. 31: 7), for her King will also be King of the whole earth (Zech 14: 9). In Jeremiah’s great passage concerning God’s restoration of Israel in chapters 32-33, God first reaffirms His intention to bring back both Judah and Israel from exile and ‘rebuild them as they were before’ (33: 7). He follows a further messianic prophecy (vv. 14-16) by moving straight into the following emphatic passage:
For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’ The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘This is what the Lord says: “If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant - and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me - can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘Have you not noticed that these people are saying, “The Lord has rejected the two kingdoms he chose”? So they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation. This is what the Lord says:-“If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them’” (vv. 17-26)
From the previously quoted passage from Jeremiah 33, two further significant, but often overlooked, aspects of God’s promised restoration of all things stand out with clarity.
The unity of Israel and Judah
first is the assurance that both the southern kingdom (
This prophetic prediction begs certain questions that
cannot be considered here, but the weight of scriptural evidence is
overwhelming. Here in Jeremiah
33, the prophetic statement is that
God ‘will bring
Judah and Israel back from captivity’ (v. 7); that He ‘will fulfil the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel
and to the house of Judah’ (v. 14); and again in verse 24, ‘Have you not noticed that the Lord has rejected the two
kingdoms he chose?’ Hosea
also makes the firm declaration: ‘Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore,
which cannot be measured or counted. In
the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, they will be
called ‘sons of the living God’. The
Isaiah 11: 12-14 predicts the re-gathering of the exiles of both
This prophetic revelation of the restoration of the whole house of Jacob through the re-gathering of both members of the divided kingdom of Solomon, Judah and Israel, finds full expression in the key passage of Ezeklel 37: 15-27:
The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, take a stick of
wood and write on it, “Belonging to
* * *
The Sin of Silence
By E. L. Burton
“Now therefore why speak ye not a word
of bringing the king back?”
(2 Samuel 19: 10)
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen.. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”
(Revelation 22: 20).
a leader the people were as sheep wanting a shepherd and their thoughts turned
backward to the greatness and goodness of their old shepherd-king now in exile.
One to another they whispered: “The king saved us out of the
hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines
therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?” The desolation
of defeat and despair, the delusion of Absalom’s rebellion, and the disrupted
state of the land, drove them back on David; and yet, strange to say, while all
felt the need of the king, no one would speak out and declare to the distracted
nation, “We need
David back upon his throne! Let us call
him to return to
sad sin of silence has often shackled the sons of men. When Elijah
faced the apostate nation on
The grim charge that Jeremiah brought against the people of his day in the name of the Lord was, “I called you, but ye answered not” (Jer. 7: 13). Surely a fatal sin of silence!
Then again, when our Lord stood before the chief priests on the morning of His crucifixion, He unveiled the same subtle sin. “Art thou the Christ? Tell us!” they cried. He said unto them, “If I tell you, ye will not answer Me nor let Me go” (Luke 22: 67-68).
Now, in these latter days, when many people are
distressed and distraught with the confusion of world events, the lack of
leadership, the seeming ineffective efforts of world figures to procure peace,
and the inability of the Church to rectify the rent and restore order, may we
not challenge the average professing Christian with the danger of the
sin of silence? “Why speak ye not
a word of bringing the King back?” Who
else can right the wrongs of humanity? Who
else can rule the nations with equity? Who
else can defeat the devil, and bring in everlasting righteousness? Who else, but the rightful,
though rejected, King Jesus? “Surely, I come quickly,” was His final message to us, and yet, alas, how silent we are about it! How few in our assemblies rejoice to repeat the prayer
of the beloved disciple “Amen! Even so,
come, Lord Jesus!”? Why are we so silent about bringing the King
back? Do we not love Him enough to long
O Lord, I long to do Thy will,
To walk with Thee each day;
For I have often missed the path,
And turned to my own way.
But now I want to follow Thee,
My Saviour crucified,
And never wander from the way,
But keep close by Thy side.
Thy way is best tho’ dark or fair,
And I need never fear;
I’ll leave my future in Thy hands,
For Thou art ever near.
Tho’ floods of sorrow overwhelm
My soul from day to day,
Yet will I put my trust in Thee,
And seek to know Thy way.
So many things would claim my time,
But they are not for me;
Thy will alone must be my goal –
I yield, dear Lord, to Thee.
OSWALD J. SMITH.