156 - The Day of the Lord [b]
The Day of the Lord
Matthew Lesson #156
March 19, 2017
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word. We’re thankful that we have all 66 books of the Bible revealed to us by You to teach us, to remind us, to instruct us, to correct us, and to show us how we are to think, and to teach us how to think and how to live.
“Father, we pray that as we study this important passage in Matthew 24 and 25, that even though it speaks of the future, we know that we are to live today in light of the future, and that the impact of eschatology upon our present way of thinking is crucial. It shapes our understanding of our purpose and the meaning in our life, and it helps us to understand that that You are in control and You will resolve all injustices and all wickedness and evil in your time.
“Father, we pray as we study today you will help us to understand these things that we may be better students of Your Word and that we may be encouraged to live more consistently for You.
“In Christ’s name, amen”.
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 24, and specifically today we’re going to look at two verses we looked at last time. But embedded in those verses is an allusion to a really interesting set of circumstance that’s most frequently associated with what the Bible refers to as “The Day of the Lord”.
This passage doesn’t use the term The Day of The Lord, so someone may say, “Well, why are we talking about the day of the Lord?” When we look at verse 29, we see that it talks about the circumstances that passages in the Old Testament use to talk about The Day of the Lord. Also, it’s important theologically in the interpretation of this passage.
I’ve pointed out as we’ve been going through Matthew 24 that even among futurists—that is, those who interpret Matthew 24 and 25 in terms of future events, among those who interpret the Scriptures literally—that these things will specifically and literally take place in the future, and that literal interpretation basically means to interpret Scripture in light of the normal use of language.
Even among those who are dispensationalists and are consistent traditional dispensationalists in their understanding of Scripture, there are differences of interpretation on different elements of this section.
Basically, when we look at Matthew 24, we see it is divided into two sections:
The first section is verses 1 through 31, which nearly everybody agrees has to do with the Tribulation.
Now there may be differences in how they understand and break down verses 4 through 8, and 9 through 14, but everyone agrees that once you get to 15, you’re talking about the midpoint of the Tribulation. There’s a description there of what happens up to its culmination in the Second Coming, the coming of the Son of Man that is described in verses 29 to 31. That’s the Second Coming.
Then there is a break that occurs in verse 32. There’s the Parable of the Fig Tree in verses 32 to 35. And then there’s a statement in verse 36—now pay attention to this. This is sort of a preview of coming attractions.
To understand what’s coming up, we need to step back a minute and just review what the Bible says about The Day of The Lord. This is really germane to some of the different interpretations that are made by some people you may have heard, I don’t know, but “of that day and hour no one knows”.
As I read in Isaiah 2 this morning, several times Isaiah says of that day (which is usually a reference to The Day of the Lord).
But The Day of the Lord needs to be specifically stated within the context. That’s one thing that I think is important.
There are those, such as Dr. Robert Thomas, who spoke here on hermeneutics several years ago at the Chafer Conference and is a brilliant man, and I have benefited from his ministry, but he takes an unusual view connecting this to 1 Thessalonians 5. He argues that when it says “but of that day and hour no one knows”, He says that’s talking about The Day of the Lord.
Well, if that’s talking about The Day of the Lord, then it’s talking about, as He concludes, that whole seven-year period of the Tribulation.
But is The Day of the Lord to be understood to be the reference here? I think not.
We’re going to have to get into all of this. I am going to go over this a few times as we go through this.
I’ve been working my way through this, because for years I’ve heard a minority of Pre-Trib dispensationalists who take verses 36 down through 44 as talking about the Rapture, and I’m bound and determined to get to the bottom of these arguments and what this distinction is and why a minority of dispensationalists take that view.
Now of those who take that view—that when you have two men in the field, one taken and the other left, that the one taken is taken in the Rapture, and the one left to go through the Tribulation—of those who take that view, there is another group that comes along and says that since the church is now introduced into Matthew 24, into the Olivet Discourse, that these parables of the faithful and evil servant at the end of chapter 24, of the wise and foolish virgins at the beginning of chapter 25, and of the Parable of the talents, that these are all talking about Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
That has become a dominant view through many who are associated with the Grace Evangelical
Society. So if you get their letter, you will notice that they really have taught that a lot.
I don’t think they’re right. I think they are violating some serious hermeneutical rules, not to mention the context of Matthew.
But it’s also predicated upon this view, as I said, they are influenced by Dr. Thomas’ view, that “of that day and hour” refers to The Day of the Lord.
What’s interesting is that Thomas does not believe the Rapture is in this passage. So they’ve taken it a step further. But that’s really important. There is a lot of confusion over this, and if you’ve read any of their writings you will see it, so we have to understand this.
So this morning as we look at what the Bible teaches about The Day of the Lord, you can find that I have addressed this in much more detail in some other lessons, such as in Revelation specifically #218, #219, #220, #221 in there, as well as a few other places.
I did a lesson a couple years ago when John Hagee’s book on the blood moons was out and very popular, and we were anticipating these four different lunar eclipses where the moon would appear to be red, and this was supposed to be a sign of the end times. That’s another lesson. You could go back and listen to it, and I deal with a lot of these themes there, so we’re just going to focus on this this morning.
So in doing that, I want to address about three questions:
- What is the connection of Matthew 24:29–31 with The Day of the Lord? How do we establish that?
- And secondly, we need to address the question: what is The Day of the Lord?
- And then third, what is learned from these key passages?
So that’s basically it.
The first question: what’s the connection of Matthew 24:29–31, not with the previous context but with The Day of the Lord? Let’s read them,
Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the earth will be shaken.”
(verse 30) “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Power and great glory.”
When we look at this, we see that at the end of verse 30, it is clearly talking about Jesus coming to take His Kingdom. We see that phrase, that title for Jesus, “the Son of Man.” That comes out of Daniel 7, “When the Son of Man comes before the Ancient of days”—who is God the Father —“to receive the kingdom and then He will come to the earth and establish His Kingdom.”
That’s the chronology there. This happens at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, what we usually refer to as the Tribulation.
So this tells us we’re talking about the Second Coming; we’re not talking about the Rapture. I think everybody, all dispensational futurists, agree with that. We’re talking about the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven at the Second Coming.
Now what happens is that there is a progression here. We see in verse 29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” And we’ve seen that in this previous section, there is a reference to the fact that there will be great tribulation or great adversity.
I do not believe that’s a technical term for the second half. It’s just that we go from one level of adversity in the first half to a ramped up increased level of adversity in the second half, so that the second half of the Tribulation is the worst stage in all of human history. And several places including Daniel 12 and Matthew 24 says that, as verse 21 says, there will be great adversity.
I like using that word “adversity” because it’s not really using this as a technical term. We’ve adopted that as the title for Daniel’s 70th week, but the time of Jacob’s trouble is actually a better scriptural title for that.
We have tribulation, or adversity, all through our lives, but this will be the most intense such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, nor shall ever be, in verse 21.
So immediately after that, that tells us is that the final, final days of Daniel’s 70th week, something will happen. There will be specific cosmic disturbances, astronomical disturbances in the heavens and on the earth, “the sun will be darkened”—that means the sun will go black—“and the moon will not give its light…”
Well, the moon reflects the sun, so if the sun is dark, the moon is going to be dark. “The stars will fall from heaven….”—I don’t think this is metaphor. I think this is talking about some sort of meteor shower or something of that nature—“the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
We will see in other places that the earth is shaken. There are a number of earthquakes, massive worldwide shaking, that take place during the Tribulation. Not like any earthquake we’ve ever experienced before.
So there’s the intensified stage of Daniel’s 70th week of this great tribulation at the end of the seven years. Then immediately after that there are these disturbances in the heavens and on the earth.
“Then”—shows progression—“then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then”—following the sign of the Son of Man in heaven—“then”—once they see Him—“the tribes of the earth will mourn.”
I pointed out last time, that very likely should be translated “the tribes of the land,” specifically referring to the 12 tribes of Israel, they will mourn.
Zechariah 12, “They will see Him whom they pierced, and they will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
So this is the key phrase: “the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light.” Now this is parallel to several other passages in Scripture. But we have to be careful not to conflate them, not to confuse them.
First thing we should do is look at the parallel passages in the other Gospels, in the Synoptics, to see what they say.
Mark records in this way. Remember, Mark is the amanuensis or secretary. He’s taking the dictation from Peter, and He writes, “But in those days after that tribulation”—so this comes at the very end. I think that’s important. I’m pounding this.
This is at the end, not the beginning. It’s chronology. That goes over some people’s heads, but that’s really at the core of interpreting what comes up later—“in those days after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”
Luke says, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring.”
If there are massive earthquakes, what do you think the oceans are going to do? Massive waves and storms and all these things are going to accompany this.
As I pointed out last time, this darkness that comes upon the earth is going to then be pierced by this incredibly brilliant light, as the Son of Man pierces that darkness and enters into human history. It’s beyond anything that we can imagine, but He comes just in time to save man, I believe, from total self-destruction.
Now, by way of review, this is preceded, this event is going to be preceded by several things:
First of all, the seal judgments that are outlined in Matthew 24:4–7, and are also covered in Revelation 6. That’s important because, as we will see coming up in Revelation 6, there’s going to be some cosmic disturbances. There’s going to be a darkening, partial darkening, of the sun and the moon. But that’s not a total darkening of the sun and the moon, so you can’t confuse the two, and you’ll often find readers that do that.
Second, this is preceded by the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15, so that has come before.
Third, it’s the most intense period of the Tribulation, which is the period of the final bowl judgments, the last half.
And then immediately after that period, the sun is darkened and the moon will not give its light.
Now if you are thinking, you will have already related this to a passage in Joel, one we will come back to: Joel 2:31. It says, talking about The Day of the Lord, that “the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of that great and awesome day of the Lord.” So this is something that is connected with it and immediately precedes The Day of the Lord.
Now look at that verse. You have these astronomical signs, these cosmic signs: sun turned to darkness, moon to blood. It happens before the great and awesome Day of the Lord.
Now The Day of the Lord is usually described as a term that refers to the entire period of Daniel’s 70th week, but in some passages, like Joel 2:31 and Joel 3:15, it has a very narrow focus, doesn’t it? Talking about the sun being turned to darkness, moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
That’s talking about a specific time that’s right at the end of the Tribulation, isn’t it? It is not talking about five years earlier or six years earlier or seven years earlier. It’s talking about right at the end just prior to the Lord returning. That’s when these cosmological disturbances take place.
That means that this term “great and awesome day of the Lord” is referring to Jesus Christ, when He pierces that darkness, enters into human history, rescues Israel.
And then what follows? He establishes judgments on the earth. That idea of judgment, divine judgment, is the core idea in Day of the Lord passages, as we will see. So this takes place at the end of the seven years of the Tribulation, right here at the very, very end.
When we look at this question, “what’s the connection of Matthew 24:29 to 31 with the day of the Lord?”, it’s describing the same things, the same kind of cosmological disturbances, that Isaiah, that Joel, that others describe.
Now we need to address the question, what exactly is The Day of the Lord? What does that mean? And I’m going to combine the two. The third question is what are the main passages? We will look at those as we come to understand what The Day of the Lord means.
First of all, the phrase “day of the Lord” occurs in 19 Old Testament passages, Old Testament verses, in reference to a special time of divine judgment. Not everybody agrees with that. It’s the eschatological—that is the future judgments—where there’s going to be some disagreement.
You also have in addition to that, one phrase “The Day of the Lord.” There are some synonymous phrases that refer to that same event. Sometimes you will have one verse that says “then comes the great day of the Lord” and then two or three verses later it says “in that day,” and then in a few verses later “in that day.”
So they’re all taking you back to a specific reference that’s in the passage. It specifically identifies it as The Day of the Lord.
In addition to this specific phrase, you have “that day,” “the day,” “the great day of the Lord” in Zephaniah 1:14, “the day of God” is used in 2 Peter 3:12 and Revelation 16:14. Those are all talking about that same event.
The second point in terms of just understanding what it is, “The Day of the Lord” is a term that has a general meaning related to a special time of divine judgment in history. So it could be something that happened in the past.
For example, a judgment of God on the Northern Kingdom of Israel is described as The Day of the Lord. It is not necessarily restricted to a future event.
When Joel describes this plague of locusts that comes into Israel and destroys all of the crops, that’s The Day of the Lord. But it is also used as a type or a picture of a future army that will come into Israel and completely devastate and destroy the people. So it has a general meaning of God’s judgment in history.
But it is primarily used for that future climactic time when Satan is judged, the enemies of God are judged, and the Lord Jesus Christ establishes His Kingdom on the earth.
Third, The Day of the Lord refers to God’s special interventions into the course of world events to judge His enemies, to accomplish His purpose for history, and thereby demonstrate who He is, the sovereign God of the universe. I list various passages there. We will probably look at the Isaiah 2:10–22 passage, which I read this morning, but also in Ezekiel 13 there are several verses, and in Ezekiel 30.
As you see this, the emphasis in The Day of the Lord is that God will judge sin and evil. He has done it sometimes in history, and He will do it in the future in a final judgment that occurs with what we refer to as the battle campaign of Armageddon, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
That is point 4, focusing on that future Day of the Lord, that this will be a time of universal judgment on the arrogant human race who has opposed God and His people Israel.
Isaiah 2:11–12 really emphasizes this. The haughty will be brought low. God is going to bring the enemies of Israel down. He is going to bring judgment upon them.
Also in Isaiah 34:2 and Obadiah 15. Those are some of the key passages that we will see that are part of understanding The Day of the Lord.
I took a little time yesterday to put together a little chart here, a little graphic to identify these key passages. There are a few others, but these are key passages for understanding the Day of the Lord, and I put them in here as we go clockwise, to show in a chronological order.
The earliest reference is Obadiah 15. With computers we have to put chapters with everything now. There’s only one chapter in Obadiah. It’s the shortest book of the Old Testament. It’s Obadiah 1:15 if you’re trying to find it in your computer program. But for those of you who have print editions, it’s just Obadiah 15.
Then we have Joel 2:12 and following. That’s written about the same time as Obadiah. Probably Joel, we really don’t know. It could be a century later. We can’t be dogmatic on when Joel was written. Joel 3:1-2 also is important. Joel 2:12 and following. And then into Joel 3 shifts the topic a little bit.
Then Isaiah wrote about 100 years later in 720 BC. So we have 840 [BC]. Then we jump forward another hundred years to Joel, another or about the same time, and then 100 years to Isaiah 2:10–22, Isaiah 13:1–10. We will not look at that, I’ll refer to it.
This is talking about God’s judgment of Babylon. Many people and many scholars will take Isaiah 13 to refer to the historical defeat of Babylon. But there’s a little problem with that, and that is that in the Isaiah 13 passage, it says that Babylon will be completely wiped out militarily. The walls knocked down, the city destroyed not rebuilt. That didn’t happen. That has never happened in history.
When the Medes and the Persians came in, they dammed up the river and came in under the walls, and they basically captured the city without firing a shot, you might say. You don’t have this massive destruction, and it continued to be a very populated city for centuries after that.
Babylon hasn’t had this final judgment yet that’s described here as a Day of the Lord. That relates to the end times.
Isaiah 34:1–8 is another key passage we will reference.
Then Amos. Amos is about #7, I have those out of order, Amos is before, well they are roughly there about the same time period. Amos, though, can be dated because of an earthquake that occurs and Dr. Steve Austin has pinpointed the exact year of that earthquake in 752 BC.
So with Isaiah, notice I put circa 720 BC because he starts earlier and goes later, and we don’t know exactly when those chapters were put down.
Then Zechariah is the only postexilic; that is, after the exile, after they return, around 520 BC, and Zechariah 14:1–9 talks about The Day of the Lord.
Now I’m not going to go through each and every one of these passages. I just want to summarize a few of the things that we learn here and put a few of these verses up on the board, so we can see them.
In Obadiah 15 through 17. Remember, Obadiah is the first of the minor prophets to emphasize The Day of Lord. He says, “For the day the Lord upon all the nations is near”—so that’s not talking about an event that occurred historically because it’s focused on all the nations—“as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.”
“For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they should drink and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.”
“But on Mount Zion, there will be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”
Now if you work backward, you see this is talking about an end times event, when Israel is restored to the land. That’s clearly verse 17. So that tells us that these events at Obadiah 15 and 16 immediately precede that.
We look at Obadiah 15 through 17, and we see that this describes the judgment on all of the nations and the restoration of all Israel. It points to the end of the Tribulation. Not specific, but when we look at that, it is immediately prior to the deliverance of Israel and the establishment of the Kingdom. Verse 17 would suggest this is right at the end. Here we have a “Day of the Lord” reference that’s not covering the whole of Daniel 70th week, but just that end event.
It describes the judgment on all the nations, restoration of Israel.
And second, The Day of the Lord ends with the establishment of the Kingdom, and that’s in Obadiah 21. That’s important for factoring in certain things.
Now another verse that’s important is Joel 2:11 and 2:31, “The Lord utters His voice before His army; surely His camp is very great, for strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome”—using those two terms again that He will use in verse 31—“great and awesome, and who can endure it?” In other words, it implies it’s never happened before.
Daniel specifically states it, and Matthew 24:21 specifically states that.
Joel 2:31 says, “The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
From Joel we learn that there’s a special usage that puts the cosmic changes at the end of the Tribulation calling the period immediately around the arrival of the Messiah as the “great and awesome,” or in some translations, the “great and terrible day of the Lord.”
As we look at this, we are reminded, point number five, that The Day of the Lord doctrine is a reminder that sin and evil will not go unpunished.
How many times (maybe you haven’t, but I hear others that do) have you looked at what happens in courts? Here and around the world, people get off. People who commit horrible crimes get off. People who committed atrocities in the Holocaust were never brought to account for their crimes, for the murders. It never happened.
It looks like people get off, but God is just and righteous, and there will be a payday someday, and what we see in human history is God will intervene and destroy the earth dwellers, those who are evil, and everyone who rejected Him in the Tribulation.
The sixth thing that we learn from the passages of The Day of the Lord is that it will be a time of unimaginable terror, panic beyond anything you can imagine in the souls of men, such as they flee before God and hide in the caves of the earth for protection.
I read that in Isaiah 2 this morning, and I want to go back and just highlight a couple of those verses. They run and they hide.
Isaiah doesn’t quite give us enough information to pinpoint this. It sounds, and I often relate it, to the sixth seal judgment described in Revelation 6:14. But it might even be something that occurs at the end of the Tribulation period. It sounds like it could be both.
It says in verse 19, “They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.”
See, you have that same kind of scenario in the sixth seal judgment described in Revelation 6:14 and following. There’s this asteroid shower that covers the whole earth, and it says that the kings and the military leaders of the earth go into the caves and they shake their fists at God and at Jesus, at the Messiah.
Why? Because they’re angry with God. No amount of convincing will change them. They’ve suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, they’ve rejected God, and they hate God. Nothing will change their mind. So it’s a horrible time, and they do not respond to the judgment of God.
Point 7 is that the Isaiah 2:10–12 passage, as well as verse 19, which is the one I read to you, seem to correlate with the sixth seal judgment. But there are additional cosmic disturbances, asteroid showers, and earthquakes, and this could fit that scenario.
They come later and come immediately before the return of Jesus, and since there is no specific relationship here in Isaiah 2, no specific time pointer there, it could be at the very end, we just can’t say for sure.
I’ve already read those verses, let me skip ahead to Point 8.
Thus there appears to be several distinct times in that end-time scenario, in Daniel’s 70th week, when there will be these signs in the heavens.
Now that’s important because (and I pointed out when we did the blood moon and distractions special a couple of years ago before all of that nonsense started in reference to John Hagee’s book and some others), people have a tendency to come in and just take all these passages and blend them together.
They just take out their Osterizer or food processor and put all that in there and blend it all up, as if it’s all talking about the same thing, when it’s clearly talking about different and distinct events.
So Isaiah 2:10–20, as I just mentioned, may correlate with the sixth seal judgement, where there will be a great earthquake, where the sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood.
But that’s not the one that comes at the end of the Tribulation. That is one that comes at the end of the sixth seal judgment, which by the way that I’ve worked out the chronology in Revelation, is about a year and a half into the seven years. It’s about halfway through the first half of the Tribulation period. This is also accompanied at that time by stars falling from heaven and the sky splitting apart like a scroll.
Revelation 6:12 says, “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake”—that’s the first of several major earthquakes mentioned. I mean these are not isolated 7.2 or 8.6 on the Richter scale earthquakes. These are like 18 or 20, and they move continents. They’re global—“there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.
“And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it shaken by a mighty wind.”
“And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
Now that’s at the end of the sixth seal judgment.
The seventh seal judgment opens, and it reveals seven more judgments that are trumpet judgments. And then the seventh trumpet judgment reveals seven bowl judgments. This sixth seal judgment cannot be confused with what happens at the end with the seventh bowl judgments. So this is early on in the Tribulation.
Isaiah 34:4 references something very similar, “All the hosts of heaven will wear away; and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree.”
So it’s very similar terminology and may be just generally describing some of these events, or it could be specifically connected to that sixth seal judgment.
The passage goes on to say, “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven. Indeed, it shall come down on Edom”. This is a pronouncement of a judgment on Edom. Incidentally, when I looked at Obadiah 15, the first 14 verses in Obadiah are announcing this judgment on Edom, that none will be left, they are annihilated.
So Edom figures heavily in this and where is Edom? Edom is over there in modern Jordan where Petrah and Bozrah are located.
In fact, this is mentioned in this passage. In verse 6, “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, is made overflowing with fatness, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.”
So that’s locating The Day of the Lord more specifically and tightly right at the end of the Tribulation. I’m not saying it never would include the whole period, but in these passages it’s limiting its meaning to those events immediately surrounding the Second Coming of Christ.
But Revelation 6 isn’t the only place mentioning these cosmic disturbances. The fourth trumpet judgment describes such a phenomenon.
You’ll have liberals and people who don’t take the text literally, and they’ll try to inflate all these and say, “See it’s just talking about the same thing in different words and different events” and puts them all in the food processor and mixes them up together.
Revelation 8:12 says, “Then the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars.” See, that’s not all the sun all the moon. It’s just 1/3. So you can’t confuse this with the description in Matthew 24:29—“a third of the moon, a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.”
Isaiah 13, which I mentioned already, focuses on the future destruction of Babylon and describes similar astro-geophysical phenomena. But this seems closer to the events of Revelation 17 and 18, the final destruction of Babylon, just prior to the final campaign of Armageddon. That again would locate The Day of the Lord specifically to the final part of the Tribulation.
Isaiah 13:10, “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light. The sun will be darkened in its going forth”—not one third, not one fourth—“the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause it’s like to shine.”
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger.”
So this indicates that this complete darkening comes at the end of the Tribulation period, which is what we’ve seen in these other passages—in Joel 2:31, Matthew 24:29.
Isaiah 13:8 compares this to the labor pains that precede birth. We see that this beginning of the labor pains, according to Matthew 24, is the first half, but then it intensifies during the second half. The birth is the birth of the Kingdom.
So of the passages that I’ve looked at, what we’ve talked about, the final question is this: what do we learn from these passages? Why is this important?
First of all, chronologically, we have to put these passages together. You can have a one shot, 20-minute message on this that is going to leave everybody asking a lot of questions, or we can take time to try to synthesize all these details. We have to do it to understand what Jesus is saying.
He clearly talks chronologically with these terms like “immediately” and “then this” and “then that,” so we have to understand that this complete darkening comes at the end of the Tribulation.
In these Old Testament passages, in several of them, they identify that as The Day of the Lord. It’s right at the end of the Tribulation. It is not at the beginning.
The reason I say that is if, I don’t think it’s true, but if Dr. Thomas is correct in verse 36, that of that day and hour no one knows, it’s got to be talking about the end of the Tribulation and not the beginning. There is no way you can get the Rapture into that.
Now there are a lot more reasons, but just looking at it from this perspective on that particular point, this doesn’t fit. “If it doesn’t fit, don’t convict.” We’re not going to go along with that passage.
Just a reference to these passages in Joel 3:15, “The sun and the moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness.”
“The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake, but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
So this is very clear, what is going on here, God is rescuing Israel just at the end time there.
Verse 17, “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”
Undocumented workers maybe? No, foreigners. That’s what it means, who don’t have a right to be there.
So the second thing that we learn is God will eventually judge all sin and evil. God is just. Nobody’s going to get away with anything. They may think they do. Other people may think they do, but God plays the long game, not the short game.
Zephaniah, you read the devotional last week, right? Zephaniah 1:14–15, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.”
“That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
And then verse 17, “I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they had sinned against the Lord”—why this judgment? Because they have sinned against the Lord. They have rejected Him and rebelled against their Creator God—“their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse”—like garbage.
The third thing we should learn is that the end times will be horrific and just take us to the edge of total human self-destruction.
The fourth point that we learn is only the miraculous intervention of Christ saves us. But it’s not just an eschatological salvation or future salvation, this same is true for us personally.
Our lives can be headed on a path of complete and total self-destruction because of rebelliousness against God, or it can be as a believer because we rejected God and we rejected the gospel, or it can be as a believer because we’ve turned our back on the God who saved us and we are living our lives totally in rebellion and autonomy from God.
But the solution is the same in both cases. The only thing that delivers us is the intervention of Christ because He died for our sins. He will save the human race from their own self-destructive plans, and He will save Israel and rescue them from the Antichrist and from Satan. So He will, at the last minute, rescue them and establish His Kingdom, which will last for a thousand years on the earth, and then go into stage two for eternity.
“Father, thank You for this time to focus upon Your Word, to be reminded that it’s all grace, that even judgment, the withholding of judgment, is part of grace, part of common grace. But one day there will be a pay day, one day there will be a judgment, it will happen. Nationally, it will happen, internationally, globally, and also there will be judgment personally. The only way of escape personally is to trust in Christ as Savior. We pray that anyone who is listening, anyone who is watching this, that are here, present, and has never trusted Christ as Savior would do so. That is the only way to be rescued from eternal punishment and eternal condemnation is to believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin.
“Father, we pray that we as believers might understand more fully that if this is the generation which Christ will return for the church, that there is responsibility on our part to tell others the gospel and to make it clear, to seize every opportunity because we do not know whether He will come today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or maybe next decade, or next century, but we need to live today as if it will happen tomorrow.
“Father, we pray that You would challenge us with these truths. In Christ’s name. Amen”.