[From the authors book: The Greatness of the Kingdom, pp. 178-216]
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. - Dan. 2: 44
The tremendous actions and events attending the establishment
Furthermore, to this twofold division of the Day of the LORD, the prophets add a third category, namely, those events which take place before that great Day (Mal. 4: 5; Joel 2: 31). Finally, there are a few important events which seem to belong to the dawning period between the darkness and the light. Following this outline we get a fourfold division of events associated with the establishment of the Mediatorial Kingdom on earth: first, events which take place before the Day; second, events during the darkness of the Day; third, events at the dawn of the Day; and fourth, events during the light of the Day. In determining the proper category of the various events, it will be necessary to examine not only the stated time sequence (if any) but also the nature of the event. Some are clearly preparatory in character; others are penal; still others are transitional; and the final events are constitutive. In our treatment, therefore, the statement and order of the four divisions will be as follows:
1. Preparatory Events ‑ Before the Day of the Lord
2. Penal Events ‑ During the Darkness of the Day of the Lord
3. Transitional Events ‑at the Dawn of the Day of the Lord
4. Constitutive Events ‑ During the Light of the Day of the Lord
Within each of these categories the order of the series of events can be established in a general way by observing the interrelationships which they display in the prophetic writings; but the reader should be cautioned not to presume that the order followed below is asserted with any unalterable dogmatism.
1. Preparatory Events ‑ Before the Day of the Lord
Before the great and the terrible day of the Lord. - Joel 2: 31
a. A Court of judgment Will Be Set in Heaven
The judgment was set. - Dan. 7:10
In the seventh chapter of Daniels prophecy there is a scene which has no parallel in other Old Testament forecasts of the Kingdom. The prophet describes the vision as follows: I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened (7: 9,10, ASV). Several points here should he noted.
First, the scene is unquestionably judicial in character. The solemn atmosphere is that of a high court. There is a central throne surrounded by other thrones. Books are opened. There are attendants waiting to carry out the decisions of the court. The words, the judgment was set (vs. 10), have been rather freely rendered by the RSV, the court sat in judgment; but this idea is in harmony with the general context.
Second, these activities take place in heaven, not on earth. This is made clear by the various contextual details: the presence of the Ancient of Days, the description of His fiery throne, the myriads of angelic ministers, the opening of the books - all point to that which is above. There will be subsequent judgments on the earth, but these will only carry out the prior decrees of this heavenly assize. By some, the language of verse 13 is used to rule out the location in heaven. But the words, came with the clouds of heaven are just as appropriate to picture the Son of mans coming to the heavenly throne of God as to describe His descent from heaven to earth. Clouds in Scripture are often made the distinctive environment of Deity. As a matter of fact, our Lords ascension is thus described he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight (Acts 1: 9).
Third, in the vision this session of the heavenly court is placed immediately at the end of Gentile dominion, represented by the four successive world empires and their final subdivisions as indicated by ten kings, among which the little horn begins his brief career. Thus the convening of the high court in heaven is made the first important event in Daniels vision of the establishment of the Kingdom. For it is in the days of these ten kings that the God of heaven will set up His indestructible* Kingdom (cf. Dan. 2: 44; 7: 24-27).
[* Note. This interpretation ignores the scriptural truth that there will be an eternal kingdom in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), after the millennial reign of Christ, and after the curse placed upon this earth because of mans disobedience to God has been lifted, ([Gen. 3: 17, 18. cf. Rom. 8: 19-21.): and after he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power:(1 Cor. 15: 24.).]
Fourth, although in the
record of Daniels vision there is no mention of certain other important
events which will attend the
setting up of the
Fifth, the plurality of thrones in Daniel 7: 9 certainly suggests the presence of associate judges in the judgments which are about to proceed from the celestial court. The occupants of these thrones are not named, but they cannot be angels as Keil wrongly insists.* Only the saints of God are ever thus associated with the divine judgment of the world. Angels are but servants who stand before the throne of God (Dan. 7: 10). Only when we come over into the New Testament do we find a clear identification of the occupants of these thrones (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 1-3). And even the most careless reader could hardly miss the striking parallel between Daniel 7: 9-10 and the scene pictured in Revelation 4 and 5.
* C. F. Keil, Commentary on Daniel, trans. M. G. Easton (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans publishing Co., reprint, 1949), p. 229.
b. The Voice of a Prophetic Messenger Will Be Heard on Earth
I will send you Elijah the prophet. - Mal. 4: 5
Three important Old Testament passages speak of the career and ministry of this messenger. In Isaiah 40: 1-11 there is a voice heard crying in the wilderness.* In Malachi 3: 1 God speaks of one called my messenger. And in 4: 4-6 he is definitely named Elijah the prophet. An examination of these passages presents the following features with reference to this messenger.
[* Note. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way for Christs first advent; but John was not Elijah. Elijah himself is yet to come to prepare the way for Christs Second Advent. See Rev. 11. cf. Mal. 3: 1; 4: 5; Mark 9: 12, etc. Two different persons are described in Scripture, at two different times: John, (born prior to the incarnation of Messiah), Elijah, appears prior to Messiahs millennial reign of righteousness on this restored earth.]
First, he is divinely commissioned to do a work of preparation in the nation of
Second, the ministry of this divinely sent messenger in
* So Hengstenberg and Keil.
Third, the messenger will also have something to say to all men concerning the frailty of human life and the evanescence of all its goodliness, in comparison with the glory of the coming Kingdom (Isa. 40: 6-9). He will also warn men of the impending judgments of God by which the mountains shall be made low and crooked things shall be made straight (vs. 4).
Fourth, as to the identity of this messenger of Jehovah there should be little question. The coming voice will be that of a man, and he is named Elijah the prophet (Mal. 4: 5). Whether or not there may he some secondary reference in the Old Testament passages to John the Baptist is a matter reserved for discussion in connection with the New Testament material. But certainly some attention should he given to the testimony of John himself who, when asked by the Pharisees, Art thou Elijah?, replied, I am not (John 1: 21, ASV). And our Lord, after the death of John, said to the disciples, Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things (Matt. 17: 11, ASV).
Fifth, as to time, it is definitely stated that the messenger will appear before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD (Mal. 4: 5). This means that he will begin his ministry, not only before the establishment of the Kingdom, but also before the awful judgments which immediately precede the Kingdom. The context of the Isaiah passage is in harmony with this: for the messenger here comes to warn of the levelling judgments of God (40: 4), as well as to announce the good news of the Kingdom (40: 9-11).
c. Internecine Warfare and Chaos
The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. - Isa. 33: 7
Warfare is nothing unusual among the nations of the earth. The seasons of peace, in the recorded history of the world, have been very few and disconcertingly brief. Viewed from the vantage point of Old Testament prophecy, Daniel saw no relief short of the Kingdom: Unto the end shall be war (9: 26, ASV). And, considering the sinful nature of men, nothing else could be reasonably expected: There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked (Isa. 48: 22; 57: 21). This must be an axiom in a moral universe. But at the end of mans long misrule on earth, there will come a special outbreak of wars with all the attendant disastrous results. From the many references, three are selected for consideration.
First, in the 25th
chapter of Jeremiah this evil of
international conflict is set forth under the figure of a cup of divine fury which the prophet is commanded to
take and make all the nations to drink (vss. 15-17).
If they refuse, the dictum of the LORD of hosts is: Ye shall
certainly drink (vs. 28). The cup
is interpreted as a sword sent of God among all nations (vss. 16, 27, 31). The chosen nation and
The chaos, which always attends great and prolonged seasons of warfare, seems to be pictured in Isaiah 24: 1-13. The earth is made (empty and waste (vs. 1). In the cities there is desolation (vs. 12); the houses are closed (vs. 10). An atmosphere of gloom and despair envelops the world; even the pleasures of ordinary social life no longer seem worth-while (vss. 7-11). The decimation of populations is beyond comprehension: few men left (vs. 6); the situation is compared with the few olives and grapes left after the harvest (vs. 13). No class of people escapes the terrible scourge; whether master or slave, rich or poor, priest or people: there are no protected places (vs. 2). And again we are reminded that, at bottom, the cause of all these disasters is moral and spiritual: The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws ... broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate (vss. 5-6).
In the face of this spreading evil of international conflict at the end-time, all the efforts of men to bring about a condition of world peace will utterly fail. This is suggested in chapter 33 of Isaiah. Although the historical background of this chapter is set in the reign of King Hezekiah, its predictions certainly reach far into the future (cf. vss. 17-24). Viewing the desolations which will precede the coming of the Kingdom, the prophet says, Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly (vs. 7). All the earnest efforts of sincere men to bring in a permanent condition of world peace without the presence of the Prince of peace will come to nothing. The world must learn its lesson: Without me ye can do nothing (John 15: 5); a lesson that even the people of God are sometimes in danger of forgetting, when dealing with mundane problems.
d. A Blasphemous Political Ruler Will Rise to World Power
The man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms. - Isa. 14:16
To all those familiar with the
relation of cause and effect in the stream of political world history, it is
nothing new to find the chaos and disorganization of widespread military
conflict furnishing the soil out of which the tyrants and dictators grow. The picture drawn in the last book of the
Bible is amazingly accurate in this respect: Along with the dreadful horsemen
of war and famine and death, there rides the Conquering Hero, whose white horse
speaks symbolically of fair hope to nations desperately weary and discouraged
before the prospect of endless conflict (Rev. 6: 1-8).
And once again, in the days just prior to the coming of
As to his political origin, this great leader will begin as a rather minor figure somewhere
among the final subdivisions of the
The time sequence of events must not be overlooked here. The divine court is set in heaven, not at the
end of the little horns career, nor at its height,
but at its beginning. The order in Daniel 7: 8-9 is
unmistakable: The little horn rises on earth and opens his mouth to speak great things* - and at this precise moment the
prophet looks up to behold the high court of divine justice set in heaven. This cannot he mere
literary coincidence; for the little horn is Satans man, and the start of his
mad career is apparently the signal for heavenly judicial action. Neither is there any abatement of the action
until this evil genius has been utterly defeated and the
* These great things may be either blasphemous things (Lange), or presumptuous things (Keil); probably boastful promises of what he can do for a world facing problems too great for human solution.
Therefore, although the political origin of the little horn precedes the establishment of the judgment throne in heaven, his actual rise to world domination follows that high and holy event. And the succeeding steps of his terrible march come swiftly: his seven-year covenant or treaty with the people of Israel and its speedy violation (Dan. 9: 26-27); the exaltation of himself above every god (11: 36); his military successes against the great powers of the north and south (11: 40-43); and his persecution of the saints of God on earth (7: 25). In all these events, for those who have eyes to see, the great rebel is acting only under the permission of the heavenly court. If he has power over the saints, it is because they have been given into his hand; even the extreme limit of his career is inflexibly set by divine decree until a time and times and the dividing of time (7: 25).
e. There Will Be Great Geological and Cosmic Disturbances
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard. - Isa. 24: 20
By scientific observation it has been established that many changes are constantly taking place in both the earth and other cosmic bodies. Most of these changes are so slight that men ordinarily are not even aware of their occurrence. Beyond the estimated 4000 earthquakes that are felt somewhere on the earth daily, there are many other thousands wholly imperceptible except by means of scientific instruments. But in the history of the universe, as recorded by immediate observation and scientific deduction, it is generally agreed that there have been particular seasons when numerous and catastrophic changes have taken place in a comparatively brief space of time. Such a season, according to the Old Testament prophets, will come in the days preceding the coming of Gods Kingdom to earth.
As to the character of these coming changes, the Word of God in Joels prophecies gives a short yet comprehensive account: And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come (2: 30-31). We should notice here, first, that the earth will he affected. Second, that on earth there will he fire and pillars of smoke, evidences of volcanic eruptions which have often accompanied great geological shifts in the earths surface. Third, at the same time there will be disturbances in the heavens. It is altogether possible, judged by the past, that some of these changes in the earth and other planetary bodies may be causally related. Fourth, the mention of blood in connection with the earth suggests the great destruction of life always involved in major geological disturbances.
Fifth, all this will take place before the Day of the Lord, a fact which harmonizes with the nature of that day. For, by sceptics who reject the idea of the supernatural, all the above described disturbances up to this point might possibly he attributed wholly to natural causes. But the chief events of the coming Day of the Lord will be indisputably supernatural in their origin. In that terrible Day there will he further convulsions in the world of nature which will far surpass in intensity the preliminary wonders described by Joel; for the latter are only harbingers of that Day, and are intended to warn the world of its proximity. As a matter of fact, excepting the judgment court in heaven (invisible to the world), all the tangible events mentioned above - the proclamation of the divinely sent messenger, the military conflicts, the rise of the little horn, and the disturbances in the natural world - will he largely providential in character and therefore not completely demonstrable as supernaturally caused events.
Finally, in connection with these devastating events preliminary to the establishment of the Kingdom, Joel holds forth bright hope for all who turn to the Lord whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered (2: 32). This gracious provision, as we shall see later, will be in force during all the judgments associated with the setting up of the Kingdom on earth; a fact which demonstrates that these judgments cannot be placed in the category of final judgment, for then the day of salvation will be past.
2. Penal Events‑During the Darkness of the Day of the Lord
The great day of the LORD is near ... That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. - Zeph. 1: 14-15
The arrival of this Day of the LORD will first bring darkness, not light; for initially it is a day of wrath. Therefore, the events of this period of darkness will be penal in nature behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (Isa. 26: 21). The wrath of God will fall progressively upon different segments of sinful humanity until at last the infliction becomes universal in extent.
a. Wrath Will Fall Upon a Great Northern Power
I will call for a sword against him ... saith the Lord GOD. - Ezek. 38: 21
Chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel are given to a description of this northern power and its place in the events of the end. No attempt can be made here to deal with the prophecy in detail, but the following analysis will indicate its general features.
First, the time of its fulfilment is undoubtedly eschatological. Ezekiel places it in the latter
years and the latter
days (38: 8, 16).
The time is further specified as coming before the final re-gathering
and conversion of
Second, the great northern power involved is named Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh (Ezek. 38: 2-3, ASV). As to the identity of Rosh, Gesenius has said that it can scarcely be doubtful that the first trace of the Russians is here given.* Apart from any linguistic considerations, however, this identification is confirmed by the geographical location as given by the prophet: in the uttermost parts of the north (38: 6, 15, ASV). Since the directional standpoint of the prophet was always in relation to Palestine, a glance at any map of the world will make it evident that there is no other great power on earth except Russia which could possibly answer to Ezekiels description.
* Cf. W. J, Schroder, Langes Commentary on Ezekiel, trans. by S. Manson (New York: Scribners Sons, 1899), p. 361.
Third, this great northern power will lead a coalition of
satellite nations against
Fourth, the invasion will he frustrated by the hand of Jehovah Himself (Ezek. 38: 19-22), whose wrath is described in superlative terms, falling upon the invading hordes in a fivefold manner: a fearful shaking of the earth centered in the land of Palestine (vss. 18-20); fratricidal fighting between the allied invaders (vs. 21); an epidemic of pestilential disease; violent storms of rainfall and hailstones; and eruptions of fire and brimstone (vs. 22). The resulting loss of life will be so great that the burial of the dead will require seven months (39: 11-16).
Fifth, this prophecy of Ezekiel concerning Gog
and Magog cannot be identified with the prophecy in Revelation 20: 7-10 for three
reasons. The former
takes place before the Kingdom is
established on earth; the latter after this Kingdom. Also,
in Ezekiel the invasion comes only from the north, but in Revelation it comes
from the four quarters of the earth.
Furthermore, the rebellion of Gog and Magog and their destruction in Revelation 20: 7-10 marks the
ushering in of the eternal state (20: 11-15);
but in Ezekiel it is preliminary
Finally, it should he observed that if Russia should prove to he the first object of Gods penal wrath at the end-time, the divine justification can be found in two facts: first, Russia is the only great political power in recorded history with an openly avowed policy to abolish God completely and everything connected with Him; second, it is this northern power, according to Ezekiel, which will launch the final and worst period of anti-Semitic persecution in the history of the world.
Will Fall Upon the Nation of
But I ... will not leave thee altogether unpunished. - Jer. 30: 11
Persecution and suffering are nothing new in the history of the chosen nation. Because of their elect position, they have always borne a primary moral responsibility before God. Through the centuries of their existence the suffering of this people has been proverbial. All this was forecast in the very Scriptures which they ,treasured. Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy describes in harrowing detail what they would suffer - so great that they would become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations (vs. 37). But great as these sufferings have been historically, there is ahead something which is far worse. It will come with the Day of the Lord: Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacobs trouble - thus the terrible day is described by Jeremiah (30: 7).
In that day when Jehovah rises up to do His strange work - the execution of wrath upon His own elect people (Isa. 28: 21) - that nation shall be as burnings of lime and as thorns burned in the fire (Isa. 33: 10-14). As a result of these terrible visitations both the luxuries and necessities of civilization, held in such high regard by apostate members of the nation, will be taken away. All the devices of bodily ornamentation will disappear; clothing will be in rags; even decent cleanliness for the body will be impossible. Instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a robe, a girding of sackcloth (Isa. 3: 16-24, ASV). Because of involvement in wars of the last days, the men will be so greatly reduced in number that seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name; to take away our reproach (Isa. 3: 25 - 4: 1).
The climax of these end-time sufferings; for Israel will be reached at the hand of the blasphemous little horn who, having risen to world power and callously broken his seven-year covenant with the nation, will inaugurate a season of persecution so violent and destructive that it will have no parallel, either in the past or the future. According to Daniel, he not only makes war with Gods people, but he prevails against them (7: 21), and shall wear them out (7: 25). Concerning these sufferings, the prophet is careful to point out two extraordinary things: first, it is not the Jewish apostates, but the saints, who are the primary object of persecution; second, the suffering is a visitation of God Himself who delivers the saints into the hand of the great blasphemer (7: 25). But they will suffer in hope.
As for the hypocrites in
c. Wrath Will Fall Also on All the Gentile Nations
The LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, - Isa. 26: 21
When the Day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, no nation on earth will escape its force. I will punish the world for their evil, is the ultimatum of Jehovah (Isa. 13: 9-11). This infliction of divine wrath will he directed primarily against two characteristic world sins: human pride and false religion. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall he brought low (Isa. 2: 12). In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats (Isa. 2: 20). The utter impotence of all false religion will be demonstrated before the eyes of all men. What a spectacle! - the proud adherents of the great world religions and cults casting away as worthless all the precious symbols of their misplaced faith, and crawling into holes and caves for refuge when the true God rises up to shake terribly the earth (Isa. 2: 19, 21). All the great achievements of mankind, which have ministered to human pride and self-sufficiency, will he forgotten; and the LORD alone shall he exalted in that day (Isa. 2: 12-17). The account in this chapter of Isaiah is notable in that not one of the grosser sins of humanity is even mentioned - human pride and human religion stand here alone as the immediate objects of divine wrath.
But in addition to these sins, the Old Testament prophets present the nations of the earth in deliberate rebellion against the true God and His appointed King. Human religions may indeed become very tolerant of one another, but they can never tolerate the one true faith of God. And thus, at the end-time, we find nations and peoples, their kings and rulers, all raging in rebellion against the LORD, and against his anointed, and saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us (Ps. 2: 1-3). There seems to he a reference to this same rebellion in Psalm 83: 1-2 where the writer calls upon Jehovah to break His silence: For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult; and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. There can never be any neutrality in relation to the true God. If men do not love Him, they will hate Him; as our Lord warned, He that is not with me is against me (Matt. 12: 30).
The immediate answer of Jehovah to all these insolent ragings of rebellious nations is derisive laughter: He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh (Ps. 14). But there will also be divine action: Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy (Zeph. 3: 8).
The climax of this rebellion against the God of heaven will be
reached when the armies of the nations, under the leadership of the great evil
genius of the end-time, will march against
* Keil remarks that Daniel 11: 40-45 can refer only to the final enemy of the people of God, the Antichrist (Commentary on Daniel, op. cit., p. 469).
But the providential hand of God is in this arrogant march
against the holy city of
Rather strangely, according to Zechariah, the attack upon
3. Transitional Events - at the Dwwn of the Day of the Lord
But it shall be one day which shall he known to the LoRD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. - Zech. 14:7
Up to this point, in the sequence of events of the end-time, the judgments of God have issued from His throne in the heavens (Dan. 7: 9-10). But now there will be something new: the incarnate Mediatorial King who sits at the right hand of God on high will rise from the throne and come down personally from heaven to put an end to the darkness and usher in the light of Gods Day. Although the area of time will he short, and the divine action will he swift, at least three events must be placed in this transitional category.
a. The Glorious Arrival of the Mediatorial King
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him. - Isa, 25: 9
In the hour of deepest darkness for
To the people of God on earth the glorious coming [or coming of the manifested glory (2 Cor. 4: 4, R.V.)] of the King will bring unspeakable comfort and
joy. The prophets recur again and again
to this glad theme. And it shall
he said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will
save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice
in his salvation (Isa. 25: 9).
The importance of this
grand event cannot he overemphasized. For the arrival of the divine King from heaven to take over the
kingdoms of the world will mark the most crucial turning point in human history
b. The Destruction of the Hostile Armies
I will seek to
destroy all the nations that come against
Against all the devices of interpreters who seek to show that
God is finished with the historic people of Israel and with their beloved city
of Jerusalem, the prophetic ultimatum stands firm: He that toucheth you toucheth the apple
of his eye (Zech. 2: 8; cf. vss. 4-7).
In this city the
As an evidence of Gods continued and loving interest in
Jerusalem, it should he observed that the final assault against the city by the
armies of the world, under the leadership of the blasphemous little horn, will bring swift destruction upon
these military forces. In fact, it is
precisely this presumptuous assault that will bring the divine King down from
heaven, and His first action on earth will he the defence of
The crushing of the attacking forces will be supernaturally
accomplished, and this power will be manifested in three ways. First, the human defenders left in the
besieged city will be endowed with superhuman power. In that day will I make the governors
The prophet Isaiah has given a vivid description of this terrible judgment of God upon a wicked and rebellious world: For, behold, Jehovah will come with fire, and his chariots shall be like the whirlwind; to render his anger with fierceness, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will Jehovah execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be many (Isa. 66: 15-16, ASV). So staggering will be the loss of life under the divine indignation that in the days of the coming Kingdom men will look back to this terrible occasion as the day of the great slaughter (Isa. 30: 25).
If such a judgment seems to run beyond the requirements of
justice, it should not be forgotten that the devilish intent here is the same
as that which always has motivated the great historic attacks on this chosen
city of God: And now many nations are assembled against thee, that say,
Let her he defiled, and let our eye see our desire upon Zion (Mic. 4: 11, ASV). Thus the eyes that
look with eager desire for evil upon
c. The Doom of the Blasphemous Little Horn
Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. - Dan. 11: 45
Various means - supernaturally enabled, as we have already seen - may be used to destroy the armies of the nations. But it is altogether fitting that the doom of their wicked leader should he reserved for the personal hand of the Mediatorial King Himself. For this man of sin has dared presumptuously to match his strength against the Prince of princes (Dan. 8: 25). And therefore his destruction will he accomplished by the immediate and invisible power of Deity apart from all human means he shall be broken without hand (Dan. 8: 25).
In that hour all his vast dominion shall he taken away (Dan. 7: 26). The prophet Haggai speaks of this final universal concentration of political power as the throne of kingdoms and affirms that it shall he overthrown (2: 22). Stripped of all his satanic power and authority, his vast empire crumbling under the force of the Stone from heaven, he comes to his end; and among all his once powerful allies none shall help him (Dan. 11: 45).
In the hearts of most of the worlds great tyrants, even in the hour of defeat and death, there has often seemed to be a deep concern about the proper disposal of their physical remains. The mausoleums of the Egyptian kings bear historical witness to this concern. In this respect the end of this final world dictator is particularly ignominious. Daniel says, I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame (7: 11). In still greater detail his end is described by Isaiah: All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch ... as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not he joined with them in burial (14: 18-20).
The defeat and doom of the beast produces a reaction which
will reach even to the underworld of the
dead. On earth there will be relief;
men will shout with joy: How hath the oppressor ceased! ... The LORD hath
broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. ... The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth
into singing (Isa. 14: 3-8). And as the naked soul of this once
great world dictator descends into the
underworld, the reaction becomes still more impressive: Hell [Heb. Sheol] from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming.
... All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou
also become weak as we? Art thou become
like unto us? (Isa. 14: 9-10). Is, this the
man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the
world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof ...? (Isa. 14: 16-17).
The king of
4. Constitutive Events - During the Light of the Day of the Lord
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. ... Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall he ended. - Isa. 60: 1, 20
With the doom of the beast and his armies, the penal and destructive actions of the Day of the Lord are finished and the transition from the darkness to the light is accomplished. The way is now cleared for what I have termed the constitutive events of the Day. In the establishment of the Kingdom there are certain constructive acts of the King by which He will deal judicially with humanity, separate the righteous from the unrighteous, effect the organization of His government, make right the things which are wrong in short, do the things necessary to bring in the wondrous benefits and conditions of the long awaited [millennial] Kingdom.
a. There Will Be a Resurrection
Thy dead men shall live. - Isa. 26: 19
The chief Old Testament passage is Daniel 12:1-3, which reads as follows: And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. Several things here are of interest.
First, this is a physical resurrection. The people involved are those that sleep in the dust of the earth (vs. 2). These words could only refer to the physical body.
Second, it is a resurrection of Israelites. As the angelic messenger clearly indicated to Daniel, the primary subject of the passage is thy people (vs. 1). It is Daniels historic people who will suffer the terrible time of trouble, and the same people are to he the subjects of this resurrection.
Third, even among the Israelites it will be a selective resurrection. Not all, but only Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. By no reasonable device of interpretation can many be turned into all. Furthermore, the resurrection does not include both good and bad, as the King James version seems to indicate. Verse 2 may he rendered as follows: Many from among the sleepers ... these shall be unto everlasting life; but those [the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time] shall be unto shame.* Thus, just as there is a selective deliverance among the living Israelites, restricted to those found written in the book (vs. 1); even so there is a selective resurrection among the dead, restricted to those who shall be awakened to everlasting life. Scripture knows nothing of a general resurrection, either of Israelites or of all men, both good and bad, simultaneously.
* So Tregelles
reads the passage, and A. R. Fausset says the Jewish commentators support him (Jamieson,
Fausset, and Brown Commentary on the Bible [
Finally, Daniels prophecy places this resurrection as the
first event at the terrible time of trouble which
Whether or not there may be a resurrection hope for godly Gentiles at this time is a matter of which Daniel says nothing. But Isaiah seems to indicate a wider scope in his words, Thy dead men shall live ... Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust (26: 19). For this resurrection of Gods men is associated with the glorious coming of the Lord to punish the inhabitants of the earth (vs. 21). New Testament revelation will shed further light on this point.
h. There Will Be a Repentance of Israelites in the Land
They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. - Zech. 13: 9
Among the numerous passages in the Old Testament which speak of
a great spiritual change yet to be wrought in the nation of Israel in the last
days, the most vivid picture is given by Zechariah (12: 10 - 13: 2). In this passage some important facts about
this great turning of
First, the time is definitely
stated. It follows immediately after the
judgment upon the nations which come against
Second, the cause of
Fourth, as to its extent, the tearful repentance will begin in
Fifth, the results of this repentance appear immediately: there is spiritual
cleansing for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13: 1);
and the false prophets and false gods are forsaken (13:
2). Other texts indicate comfort for the
grief-stricken nation: As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and
ye shall be comforted in
Finally, in this repentance of
c. There Will Be a Re-gathering of Dispersed Israelites
I will gather you from all the nations. - Jer. 29: 14
The re-gathering of historic
First, the re-gathering will he both
a divine and a human accomplishment. Primarily the
work is Gods; but, although there are intimations which point to supernatural
means, certain texts indicate that human instrumentalities will also be used: And the
peoples shall take them, and bring them to their place (Isa. 14: 2, ASV). Using a beautiful
figure, Isaiah describes the ships speeding to carry the Israelites back to
their own promised land. They come as doves homing to their windows, led by the ships of Tarshish, bringing not only the sons of
* The linguistic explanation of Franz Deliftsch here is very helpful until he slips into the semantic confusion
Second, the re-gathering of
Third, this re-gathering of
Fourth, this re-gathering of
* That is, as permanent as this present earth lasts.
* See the records in Ezra and Nehemiah.
d. There Will Be a judgment of Living Israelites
I will purge out from among you the rebels. - Ezek. 20: 38
The main passage is Ezekiel 20: 33-38,
which is reproduced here in full as it appears in the American Standard
Version: As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand,
and with an out-stretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over
you. And I will bring you out from the
peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with
a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and I
will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into
judgment with you face to face. Like as
I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the
First, the time of the event here described is
set very definitely. It will immediately
follow the re-gathering of
Second, the place is specified as the wilderness of the peoples ,(vs. 35). Certain of the commentators argue that this
wilderness is a spiritual description of the
Jews present condition where they are now among the nations. But this introduces a flat contradiction into
the prophecy. How can God gather
Third, the action of God here is judicial
in character. He will enter into judgment with re-gathered
Fourth, the results of this judicial event are clearly indicated. The rebels will be purged out from the re-gathered
nation. They shall be brought out of
whatever country where they reside, but they shall not enter into the
Finally, throughout this divine action, it should he observed that the Lord is acting in His regal capacity. His judicial work in the re-gathered nation is based on His determination to be their King. As I live, He declares, will I be king over you (vs. 33). To this end, nothing essential will be left undone. And judgment must begin with the chosen nation.
e. There Will Also Be a judgment of Living Gentile Nations
I will gather all nations and ... execute judgment upon them. - Joel 3: 2, ASV
In the formal judgment of a court, whether of God or of man, there are always two distinct factors: first, there is the judicial action, a determination of the law and the facts, issuing in a verdict; second, there is an execution of the verdict, consisting in the proper awards to the parties involved. Although in Biblical prophecy it is not always easy to distinguish sharply between these two factors, it should he admitted by all that there can he no execution of awards without a prior judicial examination of parties and the facts. The penal wrath of God already poured out on the Gentile nations, as we have seen above, has issued from a court set in heaven (cf. above: a. under 1.). But now the Mediatorial King has come down from heaven and set up His throne of judgment on the earth, and from the vantage of this throne He will now deal with the living nations there. In the words of Isaiah: He shall judge among the nations (2: 4).
For this purpose there shall he a gathering together of the
living nations left on earth following the world-wide inflictions of divine
wrath. Concerning these God has
forewarned: I know their works and their thoughts: the time cometh, that
I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and shall see my
glory (Isa. 66: 18, ASV). The nations of the
world have seen the King coming in humiliation, the lowly Carpenter of
Nazareth; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; despised and rejected of
men. They have seen Him standing
thorn-crowned at Pilates bar of judgment. Now they must see Him coming in
regal glory; and they must stand before His throne of judgment. Having thus
dealt with the living nation of
The outstanding Old Testament passage on this subject is Joel 3: 1-3 (ASV), which reads as follows: For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment upon them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations: and they have parted my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine that they may drink. Several ideas here should be noted.
First, the time of this judgment is stated precisely as in that time when God will bring back
the captivity of
Second, the place of judgment is specified as the
There was the garden whither Jesus oftentimes
resorted with His disciples; there was His agony and Bloody Sweat; there Judas
betrayed Him; thence He was dragged by the rude officers of the High Priest.
* C. F. Keil, Commentary on Minor Prophets, trans. J. Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., reprint, 1951), on Joel 3: 2.
** E. B. Pusey, Commentary on the Minor Prophets, (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1886), Vol. 1, p. 210.
To the objection that this limited space is not adequate for the assembling of all the nations, the answer is twofold: (a) Since there is no direct assertion that all are brought here at one time, the period of judgment may be prolonged* (b) The population of the world will have been greatly reduced by reason of the preceding world-wide judgments of God.
* See the very interesting discussion of this point by Dr. Merrill C. Tenney, under the title, The Importance and Exegesis of Rev. 20: 1-8, Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1954, pp. 146-148.
Third, the main indictment in the judgment of the nations will be their crimes against the
chosen people of
Fourth, this judgment of the nations will involve persons as well as governments. In any judgment of this nature the problem of moral responsibility cannot he side-stepped. In the crimes of nations, do the people share to any extent in the guilt of their rulers? Does the minor official escape responsibility in obeying the orders of his superiors? May the chief of state enjoy an immunity not vouchsafed to an ordinary criminal? These problems have never been satisfactorily solved in the history of human government; but they will be solved in the coming divine judgment of the nations. It will be found in that day that the citizens of the state, as well as its rulers, will bear a certain measure of moral responsibility for national crimes. To say it is always the duty of the citizen to obey the state, as some have carelessly argued, is to forget that there are times when God should be obeyed rather than men (Acts 5: 29). The truth is that morally there can he no absolute divorce between personal and governmental responsibility. For a government, apart from its rulers and citizens, is wholly an abstraction.
Finally, it must be observed that this is not a general
judgment of all men, but only of living Gentile nations on earth at the beginning of the