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Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Are You Ready for the Day of the Lord? Part 1

The The Bible speaks of the Day of the Lord as a time of great upheaval, cataclysm and also of hope. The Bible reveals that this "day" actually symbolizes a period of time beginning with great trouble for mankind and extending into an eternity of peace.

"Get ready for the Day of the Lord!" cries the fiery preacher. Those in the audience listen almost in terror as the pulpit-pounder describes horrifying phenomena that he says will soon engulf the entire earth.

In graphic detail they hear that the sun and moon will cease to give light, that heavenly bodies will collide with the earth, and that plagues will stalk the land–disease, starvation and war! Great earthquakes will topple whole cities as fierce and relentless storms punish men, women and children. Thus will Almighty God lash out in anger and exact a cruel revenge on a sinful mankind!

"The time of judgment is at hand, and you had better be ready!" the voice thunders through the loudspeakers.

But, we might ask, is this picture of the Day of the Lord accurate? Does the Bible teach that "gloom and doom" is all there is to this period of time? Is Jesus Christ going to return to the earth merely to destroy it? Just what is the Day of the Lord anyhow?

The Bible refers to this same time in a variety of ways. The expression "Day of the Lord" is synonymous with the "day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12), the "day of the Lord Jesus" (2 Corinthians 1:14), "the day of judgment" (1 John 4:17), the "great and awesome day" (Joel 2:31), the "day of vengeance of our God" (Isaiah 61:2) and "the great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14). Other passages simply refer to this time as "the day," "that day," or "the day of God."

Regardless of how it is referred to, it is going to be the most awesome time in all of human history! And it's imperative that you understand what will happen during this period and the incredible changes it heralds for our world.

So what is the Day of the Lord?

In its broadest sense, the Day of the Lord simply refers to the era wherein God will take control of the earth. Right now we are living in the "day of man," since God presently allows wayward mankind to rule over this planet apart from Him.

The Bible also indicates that we could refer to this time as the "day of Satan," since Satan is now the "god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4) and "deceives the entire world" into following his social and religious systems (Revelation 12:9). But his influence on the earth is only temporary according to God's purpose.

The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ will remain in heaven "until the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21). Thus, something that used to be here is going to be restored–put back in place. But what was removed that needs to be restored?

The answer is simple–God's direct rule over the entire earth! It will be restored during the Day of the Lord.

One day!

More than 2,500 years ago, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a disturbing dream. In it, he saw a vision of a huge statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay (Daniel 2:31-33).

As he was admiring the statue, a supernatural stone came out of the sky and smashed the statue's feet and toes! The entire statue then collapsed into dust and was blown away by the wind, with no trace left behind. Then the stone quickly grew into a great mountain that filled the entire earth! (verses 34-36).

The only one able to explain the vision was the prophet Daniel, who at that time was a captive serving in Nebuchadnezzar's court. Daniel explained to the king that the statue represented a succession of empires that would dominate the known world from that time forward.

The final stage of these governments–represented by the feet and toes of mixed iron and clay–would be an alliance of 10 distinctly governed nations or regions. During the time of their unified kingdom, the God of heaven will come to the earth to destroy every vestige of these national powers. He will then establish His own Kingdom that will last forever (verses 41-45).

The Day of the Lord is referred to in some scriptures as the day of the final battle–when Jesus Christ and His army of angels and resurrected saints defeat the army of the final human empire. Not surprisingly, this final empire is referred to as mighty "Babylon," now falling for the second time (Revelation 18:2).

Jesus foretold that on this day He will be visible in the sky like lightning: "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day" (Luke 17:24).

The final cataclysmic battle takes place at Jerusalem. The prophet Joel gives some vivid details of the devastation that will take place, beginning with an alarm of war being sounded: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand" (Joel 2:1).

He then goes on to describe an immense army coming down to Jerusalem–an army including soldiers from virtually every nation on earth!

These armies will be gathered by Satan and his demons in one last, desperate attempt to prevent the Kingdom of God from being established on the earth. "For they are the spirits of devils, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14).

But their efforts will be for nothing as they are defeated by the returning Christ. Indeed, His weapons will be earthquakes, a hail of fiery stones from heaven, and a "plague" that virtually melts soldiers away while they are still standing (Revelation 16:18, 21; Zechariah 14:12-13). Modern weapons, destructive as they have become, will be no match for the infinite power of Jesus Christ!

Then, after the battle is over, Christ will ascend the throne of rulership over the entire earth and at last establish His Kingdom: "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).

So the Day of the Lord can be correctly understood as the day of the final battle at Jerusalem–the day when all the combined armies of the world are defeated and the Son of God establishes His rule over the earth.

There momentous events, it should be noted, take place after the seventy trumpet (Revelation 11:15; 16:17). However, a number of scriptures also include events that precede this trumpet as part of the Day of the Lord. So it is also correct to see this "day" as a lengthier time period.

The year of trumpets and plagues

The apostle John opens the book of Revelation by telling his reader that he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10–not Sunday, as many assume, but he was having a vision of the Day of the Lord). According to Vines's Dictionary of the New Testament, the Greek word herera, translated here as "day," can mean a "period of undefined length marked by certain circumstances. . .The Day of the Lord is the Day of His manifest judgment on the world" (pp270-271).

This understanding is borne out by the message of the book–the visions John saw and recorded for us concerning this awesome march of events that culminates in Jesus Christ's Kingdom being established here on earth! Christ also included what will happen just prior to His return as part of "the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (see Luke 17:28-30).

Leading up to these events is a series of ever more frequent and intensifying calamities, the first manifestations of which occurred shortly after Christ's first coming. They are represented by the opening of "seals" in Revelation 6.

The visions of the first four seals are known as the "four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." They represent false Christianity, war, famine and disease epidemics. The same global problems were also foretold by Jesus Christ directly (Matthew 24:1-12).

When the fifth seal is opened, Satan initiates a great persecution of true Christians (Revelation 6:9; 12:12-17). This will also be the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7)–when the devil is allowed to vent his wrath on the nations that have been enjoying the blessings of Abraham. (For more understanding on this critical topic, request our free study aid The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy).

The "Beast"–the European-centered world government foretold in Revelation 13–will have risen to power at this time. As this union of civil and religious rule enforces its "mark" on all mankind, true followers of Jesus Christ who refuse to receive this mark will be afflicted, hated in all nations, betrayed and in some cases even martyred for their refusal to disobey God (Revelation 13:15-16; Matthew 24:9-10).

This time, referred to by Jesus as the Great Tribulation (verse 21), will be Satan's last attempt to harm the people of God!

These events signal the beginning of the 3 1/2 year countdown to the final battle! According to Revelation 13:5, the Beast will rule the earth for 42 months (3 1/2 years). This same period of time was revealed to the prophet Daniel as the time when this powerful church-state union would come like a whirlwind into the "Glorious Land"–that is, the Holy Land (Daniel 11:40-41)–and would shatter the power of the "holy people" for "a time, times, and half a time" (Daniel 12:7). This also refers to the 3 1/2 years–each "time" evidently representing one year in prophecy.

It is during the 3 1/2 year period, "immediately after the tribulation," that terrifying heavenly signs will be seen (Matthew 24:29). These heavenly signs–visible phenomena in the sky–constitute the sixth seal of Revelation in Revelation 6:2. They occur between the persecution of God's people and beginning of His wrath upon the earth.

The prophet Joel tells us that the heavenly signs will occur before the Day of the Lord: "And I will show wonders in heavens and in the earth. . .The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord" (Joel 2:30-31).

The tumultuous and chaotic events Joel writes about earlier in the same chapter occur after the heavenly signs and during a period leading up to the great Day of Battle. Over the course of this period the "seven trumpets" of the "seventh seal" are sounded (Revelation 8-9). Each trumpet brings a new plague upon the earth as God, in His great mercy, begins the process of leading deceived and defiant human beings to repentance so that Jesus Christ can rule them.

This time is heralded as the "great day of His wrath" (Revelation 6:17)–a "day" that, following the prophetic "day for a year" principle (see Ezekiel 4:6, Numbers 14:34), is referred to in Isaiah 34:8 as one year: "the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion." That year–the last year of the 3 1/2 year period–will include the most intense part of God's wrath upon sinful mankind.

On the heels of these tremendous events and their culmination in the immense battle at Jerusalem, a new era in history begins! And the Scriptures reveal that the Day of the Lord will then continue throughout the 1,000 years that follow.

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