SEED & BREAD
BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD
(Originally published 10 Aug. 79)
As background material for this study I would like for all to read once
again Issue No. 54, "Four Great Days," and Issue No. 110, "The Lordís
Day in Rev. 1:10."
Those who follow the Darby-Scofield system of prophetic interpretation,
also known as the dispensational-premillenial school, put great emphasis
on the coming of the day of the Lord in their written and spoken
messages, especially so in the popular fast-selling books on prophecy
which are so ubiquitous today. They, as a rule, begin the day of the
Lord with the second coming of Jesus Christ, although many start it
seven years before with what they call "the rapture." They put great
emphasis upon the terrors of this seven-year period, seldom failing to
quote Isa. 13:9-11:
* "Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath, and fierce
anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners
thereof out of it. For the stars of the heaven and the constellations
thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his
going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will
punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and
I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the
haughtiness of the terrible."
This is a very popular passage with many self-styled "evangelical"
preachers today, who believe it is their duty to scare people into
making a decision for Christ. They find such passages to be very useful
tools, especially when elaborated with accompanying dramatics,
histrionics, and the dogmatic matching of Biblical prophecies with
current events. Part of the orchestration of evangelistic services is to
time the invitation for people to "come to Christ" at the same moment
they have been seized by a paroxysm of fear concerning the terrors of
the day of the Lord. This opportunistic exploiting of peopleís anxieties
merits the severest condemnation.
However, one thing that is apparent concerning these heralds of coming
doom, these proclaimers of "Armageddon Now", is that they ignore
altogether that the glorious day of Christ (Phil. 1:6,10; 2:16) precedes
the day of the Lord, and none of them have anything to say about those
marvelous divine activities which Godís Word explicitly says will take
place before the great and notable day of the Lord comes. These are
ignored, disdained, and passed over as if they were unworthy of any
consideration. And it is quite plain that this is done because the
recognition of them would throw the proverbial monkey wrench into almost
all prophetic schemes and time tables.
No certain event is revealed in Scripture that will mark the beginning
of the day of the Lord. It comes "as a thief in the night" (2 Peter
3:10). Its time period will be a reality the moment that God removes the
last of the restraints that He placed upon mankind during the time
period of His government. Once again all nations are permitted to walk
after their own ways, and this will make possible the divine testing of
all who have lived under and enjoyed the rich blessings of the kingdom
of God. In the day of the Lord we find such events as the emergence of
the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3), the final week of Israelís seventy weeks
(seven years) as prophesied by Daniel (9:27), the desecration of the
temple of God (Matt. 24:15), the great tribulation, the short time of
Godís vengeance, the second coming of Jesus Christ, His 1000 year
parousia (personal presence), the binding of Satan for a thousand years,
the "little season," the great white throne judgment, and the purging of
the earth by fire to make way for the day of God. However, certain great
events must precede all events that are related to the day of the Lord.
The first of these is the appearance and the successful ministry of
Elijah the Prophet. This is expressly declared in Mal. 4:5-6:
* "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and dreadful day of the Lord: and He shall turn the heart of the
fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
The meaning of certain statements in this great promise are admittedly
obscure, but its primary message is quite plain. We are told that before
"the great and dreadful day of the Lord" comes, Elijah the prophet will
be sent to the people of Israel, and he will do a work of vast
importance and of such nature that it will remove any need for the Lord
smiting the earth with a curse. Our Lord enlarged upon and further
explained this great work when He said to His disciples: "Elias (Elijah)
truly shall first come and restore all things" (Matt. 17:11).
There is great consolation in the fact that before the first vision in
the book of Revelation is fulfilled, Elijah the prophet will have
appeared, and he will restore manís lost understanding of the divine
idioms, signs, and figures used throughout this prophecy. The world will
know what every word in Revelation means before any man is called upon
to face the things revealed in it. We thank God for this.
If the man of faith will take God at His word and think in harmony with
the truth declared in Mal. 4:5-6 and Matt. 17:11, no belief will be
possible than that there is to be a period of beneficent and benevolent
divine activity before the day of the Lord, and this will be achieved by
God working through Elijah the prophet. All this will be in the day of
Christ and under the kingdom of God. This is enough in itself to
demonstrate that there will be a period of divine government before the
second coming and the personal presence of Jesus Christ. Having dealt
with "The Mission of Elijah" in Issue No. 91, the foregoing comments
should be sufficient for this study.
Another positive statement of things that must take place before the
great and notable day of the Lord comes is so immense and magnificent
that it serves well as a challenge to all who do take God at His word
and think accordingly. It is a real test of submission and faith.
* "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour
out of My Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men (presbuterosóelders)
shall dream dreams: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour
out in those days of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy: And I will show
wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and
fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the
moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come."
In this passage we find two definite time elements that enclose the
promises made in it. "It shall come to pass in the last days . . .
before the great and notable day of the Lord come." To find out what
"the last days" are, we will need to read Isa. 2:2-4 and Micah 4:1-8. In
these passages we will find that the conditions described are those that
will characterize the earth when God governs. The Acts passage is quoted
from Joel and is Hebrew in character which explains why "last" here
means "resultant," or as The Cambridge Bible declares its literal
meaning to be "in the sequel of the days." There are at least ten
specific prophecies, each one a promise of good, listed in Acts 2:17-20,
all of which will be fulfilled to the letter in the last days, and
before the great and notable (epiphanEómanifest) day of the Lord comes.
No more positive words could be used to describe a time of divine
activity before the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation begin.
One can only be amused at the vain struggles of those who try to
stultify this passage, to make it say less than what it does, or to make
it mean something different from what the Spirit has said. Since these
words were spoken to "Ye men of Judea," we are told that this limits
"all flesh" to Israel. Preposterous! One may as well say that since Gen.
6:13 was spoken to Noah, that "all flesh" meant only him.
Then we are told that verses 19 and 20 describe the great tribulation.
If this is so, then the great tribulation is something that comes before
the scenes of Revelation. And this would create two "great
tribulations;" one before the day of the Lord and one in the day of the
Lord. They link these two verses with Rev. 6:12, never stopping to think
that one of these events precedes the day of the Lord, and the other
happens in it. They cannot be the same event.
Such struggles against Godís truth reveal a lack of submission to His
Word. May we meet the test of believing what God has said here and
recognize in this passage a description of divine activity, benevolent
and beneficent in its character that comes before the day of the Lord
and precedes all events described in Revelation. This will call for a
new concept of the last book of the Bible, and could make obsolete every
commentary on this oracle of God. But, may we be equal to this also!
Godís future program for Israel and for the nations is first blessing
followed by testing. The first great testing will come only after God
has governed long. (See Issue No. 40). When God sees fit to remove all
restraints and permits men again to walk after their own way, the true
righteousness of the majority will be demonstrated and the hypocrisy of
a minority will be revealed. This will result in an uprising against God
on the part of some, and this is the revolt that must come before the
day of the Lord (not the day of Christ as in KJV). We read of this
rebellion in 2 Thess. 2:1-3, which I will literally translate as
* Now we request you, brethren, in view of the personal presence of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him, that you be not
quickly shaken from your mind nor be alarmed, either by spirit, or by
word, or by a letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day
of the Lord is present. Let no one deceive you by any means: for that
day will not come until the rebellion occurs, and the man of lawlessness
be unveiled, the son of destruction.
The word translated "falling away" (KJV) here, and which I have
translated "rebellion" is apostasia, which Septuagint usage demonstrates
means a revolt. A record of this revolt is found in Psalms 2 and 83, and
is spoken of as the rebellion in this passage.
Thus, the Word of God sets forth positive facts that indicate a period
of divine activity that is no part of Godís present administration of
grace, but must precede the day of the Lord. All prophetic systems leave
no time for this. The question we now face is whether we will preserve
our traditions or come to grips with the Word of God.
Issue no. 111