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Bible verses about Day of the Lord
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 110:1-7

Even the Psalms describe the awesome might of Christ's return, showing that it is one of war and vengeance with great wrath. He is coming with power to set things straight.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Shock and Awe - and Speed


 

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

Overall, how do we, as Christians, perceive time? Every day we are witnesses to its progression. Daylight comes and passes, and night arrives only to be followed by daylight again. We can look at a clock and see that its hands are moving. But how - in what manner - is time moving?

As a culture, the Greeks have become known as a people sensitive to the rhythms of time, and this, though written by Solomon, a Hebrew, is a decidedly Greek view of life and of time's movement. This perception of life and time - their acute awareness of things like the perpetual ebb and flow of tides, the continuous cycle of the four seasons, and the constant repetition of weather patterns - became a major building block of Greek philosophy, leading them to develop the concept that time is cyclical.

They concluded that man's life is lived within a series of continuous, changeless recurrences. To them, time works like a wheel turning on an axis, and the events that mark time's progress repeat themselves endlessly. They believed that nothing could be done about it because such events will happen eternally. Thus, a person is born, lives his life on a stage, and when his part is done, he exits. Such belief inexorably leads to a fatalistic view of life.

Notice verse 8 especially. The Soncino Commentary opines that Solomon is saying that this inescapable repetition in life is such weariness that he lacked the words to describe it aptly. Despite what Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 1, the general Hebrew outlook is decidedly different. The Hebrew concept of time greatly benefited from God's revelation. In Jude 14-15, the apostle quotes an Old Testament personality, Enoch, whose pre-flood prophecy deflected Hebrew thought about time in a far different direction:

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 14-15)

This quotation shows that the Hebrews who believed God knew that time was headed on a very different path from the Greek view. Events do not just happen in a vacuum; they are moving in a definite direction. Enoch is warning that a time is coming when men will have to answer for what they have done during their lifetimes.

Even so, he is nowhere near the earliest indicator that time and the events within it are moving in a specific direction. Notice Genesis 3:14-15:

So the LORD God said to the serpent; "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."

God had revealed Himself to the Hebrew descendants of Abraham, and some among them, like Moses, believed what He said. Thus, they knew that time was not cyclical, as the Greeks perceived it, but linear: The Creator is moving time and all that happens within it in a definite direction.

The prophet Amos receives credit for giving that "sometime" a general title, or at least the term is first used within his prophecy. He called it the "Day of the Lord." Generally, he appears to mean the time when God will intervene with a strong hand in the affairs of this world - an act that is definitely not repetitious.

However, it remained for the Christian church to define time and its right usage for its members. The church's conception of time blends the cyclical concepts of the Greeks and the linear concepts of the Hebrews. It is true that many things in life - things like wars, economic depressions, and political revolutions - do recur in an inexorable manner. Yet, as the New Testament shows, much of this happens as a result of man's self-centered nature. In other words, they do not have to happen, but they do happen because man's choices make them happen. Man continually makes bad choices because his nature is unchangingly anti-God.

Thus, in general, the Christian view is that time indeed contains stressful, repeating cycles, as Solomon describes, yet the New Testament calls these cycles "evil" (Galatians 1:4). However, it also shows that time is moving in a definite direction and that God Himself is orchestrating many of the events within its progress toward the return of Jesus Christ, the Day of the Lord, and the establishment on earth of His Family Kingdom.

This led the church to develop, under the inspiration of Jesus Christ, an overall concept of time management unique to church members. It has its roots in the Old Testament: Isaiah 55:6 urges us to "seek the LORD while He may be found."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part Two): A Foundation


 

Isaiah 27:12-13

There is no doubt about the context in which this appears. A great trumpet is going to be blown, undoubtedly the seventh trumpet. What will happen at the seventh trumpet? The context says that God is going to bring the children of Israel back into their land, showing God making a judgment that involves, not only the people of Israel, but also the land of Israel.

The word that is translated "thresh" is not the ordinary word for that activity. Ordinarily whenever threshing is done, the Bible shows the grain either laid on a firm surface and then beaten with a stick, or taken in hand and beaten against something solid, like a wall. The purpose for this is to break the wheat berries from the stock, and it generally takes a fair amount of force to do this.

The word "thresh" here does not indicate that kind of threshing but a method that is more careful and gentle. This word is applied when a person gently strikes an individual piece of fruit—like an apple, peach, or pear—from the branch, or when the tree is gently shaken so that the fruit falls out.

Here is God's judgment. At that time, the children of Israel will not be in a condition in which they will need to be beaten. Taking all of the scriptures on this together, we find that they will be returning to their land weeping, their wild spirit broken. It has been broken, of course, through the tribulation and the Day of the Lord. So as He is gathering, He is doing it one by one, leading them, as it were, by the hand.

At that time it is God's judgment that the children of Israel will need more than the usual amount of concern. He is indicating not just a separation from the nations, but that an act of purification is also taking place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fall Feast Lessons


 

Isaiah 27:13

The context is "[the] children of Israel" being "gathered one by one" (verse 12). "They . . . who are about to perish" seems to refer to the peoples of Israel enduring the time of Jacob's Trouble. The turning point, then, and the beginning of deliverance, is when "the great trumpet will be blown." The Olivet Prophecy correlates to this, for Jesus Christ says,

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 with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect [chosen people] from the four winds, from one end of heaven [the Greek word is plural— "heavens"—referring to things within earth's atmosphere (e.g., "the four winds") rather than to the heaven of God's throne] to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31)

The trumpet is a symbol of considerable consequence in the Old and New Testaments. In general, it can signify an alarm of war, a call to assemble, or a command to march (see Numbers 10:1-10). The fourth annual holy day is the Feast of Trumpets, a "memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation" (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). Psalm 81:3-5 indicates Joseph was released from prison in Egypt on the Feast of Trumpets, making for rich symbolism regarding the future release of Israelite captives. God, through the prophets, often uses "Joseph" to represent, not just Ephraim and Manasseh, but also all of Israel (see Ezekiel 37:16-19; Amos 5:6, 15; 6:6; Obadiah 1:18; Zechariah 10:6). In addition, God caused the walls of Jericho to fall after seven successive days of trumpets sounding (Joshua 6:4-20).

Various end-time prophecies show that a trumpet precedes the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:1; Zechariah 9:14-16), when Jesus Christ returns as King of kings and overthrows the nations of this world, establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. The resurrection from the dead is also connected to a mighty trumpet blast (I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16). While the book of Revelation tells of seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2—11:15), when the last one sounds, "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15), indicating He has returned. This all shows that the timing of the Second Exodus in general corresponds to the return of Christ.

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part Two)


 

Isaiah 40:1-10

This may also be part of the message of the Two Witnesses. They will preach comfort to Jerusalem—that the end is about to come, that she's been repaid for her sins, but a time is coming that will be far better for her. They will also prepare the way of the Lord, an obvious aspect of their ministry. In addition, they will proclaim that the Day of the Lord is coming, a time when all flesh is grass—when many will be simply wiped out for their sins. They will also preach a message to the church, leading its part in bringing good tidings of the coming Kingdom of God and giving them encouragement to do it with strength and boldness in Judah (evidently where most of them are at this late date). Finally, of course, they will boldly announce the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His government.

This passage, in a way, encapsulates the witness or the testimony of the Two Witnesses—to the world and to the church. Theirs will be true evidence that brings a conviction. One could say that the Two Witnesses are the two star witnesses of an end-time trial in which God judges that the world must be punished, that He must send His Son back, and that His must rule mankind. The Two Witnesses will give their evidence, and God will pass judgment.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 3)


 

Isaiah 42:12-13

This provides the time that this will take place—when God goes forth. This is the time of the end, and we may be able to pinpoint this to "the day of the Lord," the sounding of the seventh trump, the pouring out of the seven last plagues of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)


 

Isaiah 43:16-18

He is obviously referring back to the coming out of Egypt, but what happened before will happen, in a similar way, in the future—when the children of Israel come out of their captivity during the tribulation and the Day of the Lord and have to be regathered. He says, "I want you to forget about coming out of Egypt. Something far grander is going to occur."

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 58:1

Trumpets symbolize a loud, warning cry of impending danger. These verses from the prophets impart a dire warning to those living in the end time: The day of the Lord is at hand, a day of darkness, gloominess, and clouds over man's society! The prophets strongly admonish the ministry to raise their voices as trumpets to warn of sudden, terrifying destruction!

Though originally intended for Israel, these warnings apply specifically to the called-out children of God since we are the ones living in the end time with the understanding of God's plan! In fact, we have the most to lose by ignoring these stern prophecies of death and destruction. They are admonishments to prepare ourselves spiritually for the tumult ahead. Notice that these verses stress repentance, fasting, and prayer, and who but God's elect truly understand them?

Staff
Holy Days: Trumpets


 

Daniel 4:17

God will give the Kingdom to the lowest of men and women. Similarly, Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:26, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." The lesson is to know that God rules, which has been the issue from the very beginning.

Adam and Eve did not act as though they knew that God rules; they acted as though Satan or they ruled. They rejected the rule of God, and from that time on, God has concentrated on this very fact. Mankind will learn that God rules, and in order to do that, God is going to have to judge, to issue decrees, and to hand down sentences.

His sentences are going to be very stiff indeed, because Scripture shows that the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will reduce the population of the earth to about 10% of all of mankind. The carnage that will result from God's judgments being handed out, so that mankind will know that God rules, will be bloody to an extreme. An awful lot of pain will result from the execution of this sentence. God judges, and it will begin at the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.

To most people on earth—if God even exists in their thoughts—He is, at best, a rather remote personality who acted a long time ago but seems to have grown disinterested, as nothing has happened for quite a long time. However, the Bible shows Him to be a hands-on ruler. He is overseeing planet earth, and He is doing it for the purpose of fulfilling His purpose of establishing His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fall Feast Lessons


 

Daniel 9:27

Protestants try to ascribe the covenant of verse 27 to the Antichrist because "he," they say, refers to "the prince who is to come." But this cannot be! Remember the poetic organization! The key is the word "many." It is literally "the many," and whenever it is used in the Old Testament, it refers to either the covenant people Israel or to the saints, that is, true believers. Jesus says in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Christ makes the covenant, not Antichrist!

Confirm means "strengthen" or "make firm"—almost to the point of being unbreakable. This helps substantiate its reference to the New Covenant, an everlasting covenant that strengthened the basic requirements of the Old Covenant. Significantly, when Christ in the Olivet Prophecy gives His disciples the signs of the end, He does not mention a covenant or treaty to be enacted between the Antichrist and the Jews, Christians, saints, or anyone! He does mention both of the events Gabriel mentions here: the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:2) and the abomination of desolation (verse 15).

What about the final three and a half years of the seventieth week? They have yet to be fulfilled, but Gabriel leaves us hanging regarding when they occur. He does not mention them. When could they be fulfilled?

  • The seventieth week has been completely fulfilled by the three and a half year ministry of Christ. This seems to be the least likely of these options.
  • Christ will complete His ministry in the first three and a half years after His return, before Satan is locked in the bottomless pit. But the Bible does not indicate that any time elapses between His return and Satan's binding in Revelation 19 and 20.
  • They are the years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, during which Christ will complete His ministry through the Two Witnesses and/or to the church in the Place of Safety. Again, this is only speculation—although Paul's training in Arabia may provide a precedent (Galatians 1:11-18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'


 

Joel 2:12-17

God uses graphic language here. What is coming should not be anticipated lightly. It will be painful like no time in history has ever been painful. There will be so much fear and anxiety that it is beyond our comprehension to understand— especially when we think of this in light of the peoples of the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, countries whose entire populations have never really had to face the horrors of war. Some of our men have been involved in war, but we have never had our own shores touched by a war anything like this. It will pale the Civil War and the World Wars into insignificance when it finally occurs.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic


 

Amos 5:16-17

The farmer, accustomed to facing all the vagaries and insecurities of nature, like flooding and drought, is less likely to cry and mourn. The professional mourners, who cry at the drop of a hat, typify the other extreme. In their grief and despair, people will wander from one place to another looking for water, food, stability, hope, an organized city, or a functioning society. All they will find is anarchy. Will God be walking beside them? No, He inspired Amos to say, He would walk right through them!

Amos is not argumentative with them; he is not trying to prove anything to them anymore. He merely shows them what the Day of the Lord will be like. He paints a vivid and stark picture of the horrors in their future to make them evaluate the present status of their relationship with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 5:18-20

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you?" (Amos 5:18). It is always a prophet's responsibility to remind the people that the future is inextricably bound to the present. What one does today affects the course of events as time marches on.

Malachi asks, "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?" (Malachi 3:2). No such doubts assailed these people at all. They were confident that things would be all right. They felt they would march right through the day of their judgment because they were His chosen people.

But when Amos looked at his times, he became frightened. "It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him" (Amos 5:18-19).

There is no escape! People, living in their complacency, think that everything is fine. But the day of judgment will come upon them unexpectedly, and in utter hopelessness they will start running for their lives. They will escape one terror only to confront another! And just when they think they are finally safe, they will receive a mortal wound!

But, the prophet is not yet finished! "Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:20). Wailing and inescapable judgment are followed by darkness. In their complacency, the people think it logical to conclude that, since everything is presently all right, they must have overcome those things which plagued them. With that behind them, they think their future is full of gladness and good times. Amos disagrees! He accuses them of feeding themselves false hopes. When God comes, he says, He will be their enemy!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 5:19

One calamity occurs after another. It seems as if a person escapes one of them, only to become caught in a worse calamity. The Day of the Lord will be a time of unending catastrophe and trouble.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 23)


 

Amos 8:1-2

Because we read the Bible in English, puns and other wordplay are lost in translation. Understanding this vision depends on a play on the Hebrew words translated "summer fruit" and "end." Amos answers God's question by saying he saw ripe fruit. But, when God responds, He uses a similar sounding word to suggest the time was ripe for His people.

The fruit represents people. If ripe, they were ready either to be used or to rot. God says the time is ripe for picking Israel. God had tried to get the people to repent, but in their hardheaded and hardhearted way, they would not. John the Baptist uses a different metaphor for the Jews of his day: The ax is about to fall (Matthew 3:10). God's patience had run out. He would "not pass by them anymore." In their spiritually oblivious state, disaster would take them by surprise.

Could we be taken by surprise?

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6)

This passage sounds strikingly similar to Amos 8. Could we be lulled into complacency? Is God's hand involved in world events, while we think we have plenty of time before the end? Are we motivated to make use of the time left to us? God says the time is ripe. He gives us time to repent, but that time grows shorter daily.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 8:11-12

Unfortunately, during these terrible times when God's Word is most needed to help the people come to repentance, it will be almost impossible to find. When the people finally realize that God wants them to repent, it will be too late. The seeds of their destruction have been sown, and the crop is already ripe. The only truth available to them in the tumult of God's judgment is what they can remember. It is for this reason that God warns us in these times to "[redeem] the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16).

If our hope in the Kingdom of God, the resurrection of the dead, and sharing life with God eternally are not sufficient to motivate us to repent, perhaps fear of a terrible calamity, the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, or being spewed from God's mouth as a Laodicean will move us to use the present to secure the future. God prophesies to motivate us to cling to Him and His Word right now, and He is willing to scare us nearly to death in order to save us.

During this famine, "They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it" (Amos 8:12). Amos probably refers to the Dead and Mediterranean Seas, east to west, and adds "north to east," describing a triangle with the south direction left out. Why would he do this?

On a map of Palestine, the Dead Sea lies to the east, the Mediterranean to the west and the nation of Israel to the north. What lies to the south? Jerusalem, where the truth was! In Amos' day, the truth was taught in God's Temple in Jerusalem.

Israelites wanted to be known as seekers of the truth, but in reality they did not want it. Their pride would not allow them to pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the truth, for that meant they would need to humble themselves before the Word of God.

Wander can be rendered "stagger" like a drunk or "tremble" like lips quivering in agitation because one is so angry or fearful he is unable to speak. It shows the people in a state of panic and intense agitation. They are desperately searching for what they had regarded so lightly: God, the Bible, His truth. But they cannot find them anywhere!

Thus they will seek any kind of religion, and many will fall prey to false ones. This scenario is already happening in modern Israel. New Age, mystical, and Eastern religions are growing steadily, and many "Christians" feel free to borrow "truth" from other religions. Additionally, recent years have seen the rise of ecumenical movements within a broad spectrum of religious bodies.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Obadiah 1:11-15

If repetition is the best form of emphasis, God goes overboard in the chapter-long, prophetic book of Obadiah. Between Obadiah 11 and 14, a total of four verses, the phrase "in the day" or "on the day" occurs ten times. It acts as a kind of refrain in the prophet's song of lamentation over the nation of Edom. It repetitiously reminds the reader or listener of a specific time when the Edomites' iniquity came to a head, sealing their fate.

It is also a prophetic clue. The phrase functions like a series of huge billboards, each one illuminated by glaring spotlights, but rather than displaying successive lines of a ditty, like the old Burma Shave signs, these all repeat the same phrase: "in the day"! In these verses, God is essentially shouting at us as through a loudspeaker, "This occurs 'in the day'! 'In the day' is when this happens!"

Earlier, in verse 8, God had introduced the time setting with the phrase "in that day." He refers to the time when Edom's allies betray the descendants of Esau and lay a cunning snare for them, one they fail to perceive until far too late. God informs them through the prophecy that He had had a hand in destroying Edom's wise men, who, had they been present, may have been able to discern the trap before it had been sprung.

However, the timing in verse 8 is vague, having little supporting detail to fix it in history. Subsequent verses reiterate the fact that God has one particular time in mind, to which He adds detail, alerting us to the fact that this day is not Edom's day, but his brother Jacob's day (verse 12). In addition, it is a time of distress, calamity, captivity, and destruction.

In verse 15, though, God tells us plainly, "For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near." He has in mind a particular period of His great plan, a time when the various threads of human history, religion, culture, and thought terminate in confusion and rebellion against God, and He Himself takes center-stage to resolve the Satanic mess. Though the Edomites have gloated over Israel's misfortune on other days in the past, it will recur most egregiously in this time of the end, causing God to decree, "As you have done, it shall be done to you. . . . No survivor shall remain of the house of Esau" (verses 15, 18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:15

Recognizing the internal time markers in Obadiah is vital to understanding the prophecy. This little book confirms, not only Edom's part in the confederacy against Israel, but also that the evil alliance is joined at the end time. In Obadiah 1:15, 21, clear indicators of the end time appear:

For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. . . . Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

The prophecy will begin to be fulfilled in the years prior to the Day of the Lord, and ends as the millennial reign of Jesus Christ commences.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Zephaniah 1:8

Zephaniah makes no bones about the fact that his prophecy deals with the Day of the Lord and His anger at humanity for its hostility to Him: "'I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,' says the Lord" (Zephaniah 1:2). It is clear that He is most disappointed with His chosen people, who should have known better because He had worked with them for many generations (Amos 3:1-2). Yet, even they had become idolaters, worshipping Baal and Milcom and "the whole host of heaven," turning away from God and no longer seeking Him (Zephaniah 1:4-6).

In verse 7, God calls for silence; He wants no more protests or excuses. He has decided to prepare a sacrifice and invited guests to partake of it. The modern Westerner has little notion of what this entails. Under the Levitical system, not all sacrifices were completely consumed in the altar's fire. Some burnt sacrifices, as they were called, were annihilated, but others were strictly divided: Certain parts went on the fire, another part was given to the priest to eat, and the remainder—the majority of the animal—returned to the offerer. Usually, with such a large amount of meat to consume in a short time, the offerer would call a feast for his family and close friends.

From this comes a major principle of the sacrificial system. The altar symbolized a table and the giving of an offering represented the sharing of a meal among God, the priest, and the offerer. The three were united in fellowship, solidifying and strengthening a relationship. For Christians, this three-way relationship exists among the Father, the Son (who is our High Priest), and the Christian. As the apostle Paul enjoins us in Romans 12:1, rather than giving our lives in death to Him, we are to be "living sacrifices," holy and acceptable to God, continuing the relationship in service to Him.

However, Zephaniah reveals that God has something different in mind for the Day of the Lord. For His sacrifice—or sacrificial meal—He has invited guests from afar, and the sacrifice of which they will partake is His people, Judah! In verse 8, He is particularly incensed against Judah's rulers, the corrupt descendants of David, who have led the nation further into sin. He expected the royal house to follow the examples of David and Josiah, but they had instead pursued carnal habits and political expediencies, bringing Judah to the brink of war, captivity, exile, and destruction.

As the verse closes, He highlights the particular failing of listening to foreign influence, seen in the wearing of "foreign apparel." It likely refers to a trend among the aristocrats of the time of wearing the clothing style of the foreign nation he supported in the power-struggle over the strategic land-bridge that was the Kingdom of Judah. (The conflict over that bit of territory is still ongoing today.) At the time, it was probably the distinctive styles of Egypt and Babylon, both of which were quite different from that of the Israelites. The verse suggests that the nation's leaders had stopped wearing Israelite-style clothing altogether—symbolizing their departure from God and what He had commanded (for instance, Numbers 15:38-40)—and by donning the clothing of these powerful, competing empires, they were pledging their loyalties to the nations rather than to God. It could also mean that these aristocrats were worshipping the idols of these nations.

Behind the NKJV's translation of "punish," the Hebrew literally reads that God will "visit" the royal sons of Judah, which, in its negative sense, is a common metaphor for coming in judgment. It should come as no surprise that, when Judah finally fell to the Babylonians, Zedekiah's sons were killed before the eyes of their father, just before he was blinded and taken off to Babylon (II Kings 25:2-7). In addition, many of the aristocrats were killed and their children were dragged off to Babylon as slaves, as was the case with Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 1:1-4).

Judah's destruction in the early-sixth century BC is just a type of the Day of the Lord that will be visited upon the world just before the return of Jesus Christ. God will be just as jealous for the loyalty of His people, true Christians, at that time as He was 2,600 years ago. We need to be asking ourselves if we have allowed ourselves to be "clothed with foreign apparel."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

Malachi 4:5

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: This phrase lures people into interpreting this as occurring just before Christ's second coming. However, the verse does not say "immediately before"—that is an assumption—it only says "before." The apostle John writes that the world was passing away in his day 2,000 years ago (I John 2:17)! In terms of time, verse 18 is even more incredible because John says that by biblical reckoning it was already the last hour (Romans 13:11-12; I Peter 4:7)! It is imperative we learn to consider time as God does rather than men.

The last days began with the arrival of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, the prophesied Elijah, appeared as one epoch ended and the next began. He was the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, his preaching turned the hearts of the fathers to the children, and he prepared the way for the Messiah. He most certainly came before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Elijah and John the Baptist


 

Luke 21:34

Of itself, having a party is not wrong. But what happens when Babylon reaches the apex of its influence on men's lives? People fall into dissipation, into abuse of their God-given responsibilities. Christ worries that although we intellectually say the world is full of self-centeredness and excess, we will still find it attractive. Thus, He warns us to be careful because, if not, the consequence is that the Day will come on us unexpectedly. This is sobering!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

1 Corinthians 1:7-8

In verse 7, apocalypsis is translated "coming" in the King James and "revelation" in the New King James. Paul clearly refers to the return or the second coming of Jesus Christ; he uses the word in relation to Christ appearing visibly at a specific time: His day.

This "day" of course does not refer to a specific day of the week, but rather to the period in which the misjudgment of man ends and the righteous judgment of God begins. Mankind, under the influence of Satan, has been trying in vain to rule himself for 6,000 years, or six "days," using the principle in II Peter 3:8 of one day equaling one thousand years. The seventh "day" is when God intervenes and establishes His government, so that mankind can finally understand how to live. That day begins with the visible appearance of Jesus Christ, coming in the clouds in all of His glory (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26).

II Thessalonians 1:7-10 speaks of that same day, or that same time:

. . . and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed [apocalypsis] from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Here again, apocalypsis refers to the person of Jesus Christ, and it plainly describes His visible revelation—His unveiling—when He returns from heaven with His angels to take vengeance on those who do not know God and disobey the gospel. When He is revealed in that day, not only will He appear in glory, but He will "be glorified in His saints." At that time, His saints, people He has separated to Himself, will be resurrected and exchange their earthly glory for heavenly glory (cf. I Corinthians 15:40-49).

David C. Grabbe
What Is the Book of Revelation?


 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-9

Like us, the return of Christ was much on the minds of first-century Christians, yet Paul tells them he felt no need to write concerning its timing. Why? Because they should have known that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. There was no point in Paul trying to outline it all, as it will happen at a time that nobody can anticipate.

However, he writes something that seems contradictory in verse 4: Since they are not in darkness, that Day should not "overtake [them] as a thief." What is actually meant is that the day of God's wrath would not possess them—literally, "take them over." God's wrath would not swallow them up, or the destruction of that Day does not need to have power over them. He does not mean that it would not surprise them, but as a parallel verse clarifies, "For God has not appointed us to wrath" (verse 9), even though they will be surprised.

Verse 6 contains the same admonition seen elsewhere to be awake, to be sober, and to watch. Though we are not appointed to wrath, other verses show that we can certainly still incur it if we are not taking heed to ourselves (see Hebrews 10:26-31). So we are instructed to watch—to be vigilant about our spiritual state, to have continuous and wakeful concern over fulfilling our part of the covenant, to be on guard against spiritual dangers, spiritual drowsiness, and deception. Those who do these things, along with praying always, will be accounted worthy to escape the wrath. Simply watching down the road for a sign of the Master's return really does not prepare us for anything at all.

David C. Grabbe
'As a Thief in the Night'


 

1 Thessalonians 5:2

"The day of the Lord" can be a lot longer period of time than the specific day or hour (Matthew 24:36) or even season (Acts 1:6-7) of Christ's return.

Does anybody know when a thief is going to come? A thief comes at a time when the householder does not expect. We might just be able to throw this out except for one thing: This is written to Christians. The day of the Lord is going to come as a thief in the night.

All this adds up to something that might be a bit disconcerting: He is saying that we are only going to know general conditions regarding the time of His return. The specifics are going to be touch-and-go.

Over the years, some have been making a determined effort to know each prophecy's precise fulfillment. It seems as though our curiosity demands that we know all of the whos, whats, whens, whys and wheres, but the whole thrust of the instruction is to be ready regardless of when His return is. Doing "the work" in one's life is far more important than knowing the specifics of His return.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 3)


 

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

The Thessalonians' interpretation of Paul's teaching on the Day of the Lord was that it was immediate; they leapt to the conclusion that, because Paul was writing about these things, Jesus Christ would come immediately. The result was that some of the more unstable and excitable members of the congregation quit their jobs (II Thessalonians 3:6-12) .

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 4)


 

1 Thessalonians 5:9

Pre-tribulationists point to this verse to show that Christians will not be on earth but in heaven when the Great Tribulation occurs. Notice, however, that they have read into it something it does not say. It mentions neither heaven nor earth, and thus it has no bearing on the physical whereabouts of the saints when Christ returns.

This scripture does, though, make a good point about God's plans for us! He does not intend for us to feel His wrath in the Day of the Lord (I Thessalonians 5:2). With His calling, His Word, and His Spirit, we should be soberly watching world events, keeping tabs on the approaching crisis at the close of this age (verses 4-6). More than that, we should be applying the armor of God daily, preparing for our roles in the coming Kingdom of God (verse 8; Ephesians 6:10-18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

Revelation 1:9-10

John informs us that he "was on the island that is called Patmos" (Revelation 1:9), a small, rocky Aegean island just west of due south from Ephesus, employed as a prison or place of exile by the Roman emperors. Most prisoners were required to work the quarries and mines on the island, but John's advanced age may have allowed him to avoid such backbreaking labor.

He writes that he was exiled there "for [because of] the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ," an indication that his preaching had come to the attention of the Roman authorities, and judgment had gone against him. It is likely that John had spoken against the emperor cult (the worship of the current Roman emperor as a god, a practice that reached its height under Domitian, AD 81-96), and his exile rather than execution can only be attributed to Jesus' prophecy of John not facing martyrdom (John 21:22). The apostle perhaps remained on Patmos for less than two years, as such exiles were routinely released upon the death of the emperor who had exiled them.

Some Protestants and Catholics contend that John saw these visions on a Sunday because John writes that he "was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10). This is merely an unfortunate misunderstanding due to the prevalence of unscriptural Sunday worship throughout Christendom. In Greek, this phrase reads en teé Kuriakeé heeméra, literally "on the belonging-to-the-Lord day." Although it is different in construction to other instances of "the day of the Lord" in the New Testament, the meaning is the same. John is speaking not of the first day of the week, but of the time of God's judgment known throughout the Old Testament as "the day of the LORD." (Sunday, the first day of the week, was never known in the true church as "the Lord's Day," for Jesus Himself says He is "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28), which is the seventh day.)

The apostle is giving the reader vital information about the time setting of his vision and thus the true application of the book of Revelation. Through the agency of God's Spirit, John received a vision of end-time events and related material that reveal to the church a unique understanding of the day of the Lord. Though couched in late first-century terms and allusions, Revelation is first and predominantly about the time of the end, when God through Christ will intervene in world affairs and establish His Kingdom on the earth. Most of its prophecies are only now beginning to be fulfilled or are still awaiting fulfillment in years just ahead. In a sense, the book of Revelation is as current as today's newspaper—even better, because we have it in advance!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The All-Important Introduction to Revelation


 

Revelation 1:10-11

On the isle of Patmos sometime around AD 95, John is projected forward in time to the Day of the Lord, that is, the day of God's wrath against mankind upon this earth.

He is projected forward in vision into our day, and he is given something akin to a three-dimensional movie. However, this kind of vision is unique even to those of us who are familiar with cinema because John can participate in it. The characters he sees before him are not mere figments of his imagination—they are actually able to communicate with him and he with them! Perhaps, we can say it is more like a stage play with a backdrop of three-dimensional figures. However we look at it, it is extremely realistic, and John actually feels as though he is on the scene.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 1:10

Our English word "church" is derived from the Greek word kuriakon, which means "belonging to a lord." But of itself, kuriakon has absolutely no religious connotation. It simply meant "the lord or master of a property." It is never used in the Bible in reference to the body of Jesus Christ (the church).

Kuriakon is used where it says "on the Lord's [kuriakon] day." It does not mean Sunday. It does not mean the Sabbath. It means the Day of the Lord, which is at the end-time. So it is a day belonging to the Lord. How did this get into the English language? It was the English-speaking Israelites who transformed kuriakon into a religious term. It emerged first in the word kirk, and finally evolved through the centuries into the word "church." Its first usage in English was as a building in which religious meetings were held, but eventually became used for the people in the building too. Kuriakon is not used in Acts 7:38. Ecclesia is, which means "assembly, group" and it is even used in the Bible for a mob.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 1:10-11

Verse 10 teaches us that the book of Revelation is designed for the Lord's Day. The Lord by wisdom designed the earth. It was no feat, therefore, for Him to design the book of Revelation to be applicable primarily to the Lord's Day, that is, the Day of the Lord—the time that is shortly to be upon us. Undoubtedly, we are in the opening phases of it, the preparation for it. We are not yet into the Tribulation, which we understand will precede the Day of the Lord. Both the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are encompassed within the theme of Revelation. If there is any group of people for whom the book of Revelation ever applied more directly, it is those of us living now, although in type it also applied to the seven churches that existed at the time in Asia Minor (today's western Turkey).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works


 

Revelation 3:10

Because of what will be happening at the end time, "persevering" or "courageously enduring" without compromising will certainly be no small accomplishment. Yet Christ says that because some of His people have been keeping His command to persevere, He will keep them from the worst of it. They have already proved their faithfulness to Him; He knows where they stand, He sees their track record with Him, and He will not require them to experience everything that the rest of humanity will suffer.

In colleges and universities, some professors make the final exam at the end of a semester optional. This means that students take the final only if they need to bring their overall average up. But if a student already has an A from other tests and class work, the professor figures the student has already proved himself, and does not require him to take the final exam.

This approach is analogous to Revelation 3:10. If the Christian is already faithfully persevering and resisting the spiritual foes, God may not require that he endure the very hardest test to prove what is in his heart. He has already proved it consistently through the course of his life. However, if, like a stereotypical first-year college student, he has frittered away his time, becoming involved in matters having nothing to do with college, he will have to prove where he stands. The final exam in this case is the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord, so it is in our best interest that we students demonstrate to the Teacher that we are serious before the end of the semester.

David C. Grabbe
Who Will Be Kept from the Hour of Trial?


 

Revelation 6:15

Juxtaposed against "the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men" is another group: "every slave and every free man" (Revelation 6:15). Who are they? What role do they play in the caves?

To understand, we first need to deal with those repeated words, every: "every slave and every free man." Does John mean that every slave and every free person in the world is addressing "mountains and rocks," asking that they fall on him? Does every free individual and every slave know about the Day of the Lord and about the Lamb at this point? That would be a lot of people.

Revelation 9 clearly indicates that the cave-dwellers represent only a segment—perhaps a small segment—of humanity. Many other people have refused to foreswear idolatry, not yet understanding what the cavemen know about God and His imminent anger:

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)

So, the occurrences of "every" in Revelation 6:15 do not refer to every slave and every free person in the world. Rather, the phrase "every slave and every free man" is a merism, a rhetorical device wherein a single entity or action is described by opposites, as in "looked high and low" or "on-and-off enthusiasm." "Every slave and every free man" refers to a small subset of people, to a single class of person, one who is both free and bond.

The merism may refer to God's people—who are free and slave concurrently. Christ promises that, if we remain in His Word, we are free: "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Similarly, the apostle Paul writes:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2; compare Galatians 5:1)

Yet, the same apostle calls us slaves, bought by God:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

Paul also tells the Roman church: "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life" (Romans 6:22). Peter provides yet further witness to our being God's slaves: "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God" (I Peter 2:15-16).

In some ways, God's people are free, and in others, slaves.

We could look at this merism a bit differently. "Every slave and every free man" could refer to true Christians, those who know the truth and are therefore free (John 8:32) in God's sight, but who have become enslaved by man through end-time religious persecution. Slaves are expropriated and disenfranchised individuals, having lost personal and property rights. The Jews, taken in the Nazi pogroms, were slaves, told by their masters, "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes free").

Currently, chattel slavery is not a legal institution in Western civilization. However, under increased Islamic influence, it could become legalized and widespread as the result of religious persecution. So it might happen that God protects His people in caves, arranging to have them taken there as slaves in service to others.

Charles Whitaker
Post-Historic Cave-Dwellers


 

Revelation 6:15

Assuming that "every slave and every free man" refers to true Christians, what might God's people do in these caves? Hopefully, they would be a light to those around them (Matthew 5:14). Armed with far more knowledge about God and His plan than their masters, God's people will be able to put the horrifying events into perspective for the already-humbled cave-dwellers. The caves will be not so much a "place of final training" as a venue to serve others. For example, God's people might

1. Assure others that Christ will soon end the maddening chaos by establishing His rule on earth.

2. Tell them the living can expect to see His return—"every eye will see Him" (Revelation 1:7).

3. Notify them that, at His return, they can expect to see God's people rising in the air to meet Him (I Thessalonians 4:17).

4. Instruct them that, once Christ consolidates His rule, the terror will subside, as the healing waters from His throne take their effect (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Revelation 22:1-2).

5. Enjoin them to make their way to Jerusalem when conditions begin to settle down, where they will be taught by Christ, the Lamb.

Since every eye will see Christ return (Revelation 1:7), we can deduce that the rigors of the Day of the Lord will open the caves, exposing them to the atmosphere, or perhaps events will force their inhabitants out into the open. The cavemen will see Christ return in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). As the living among God's people rise to meet Christ, will they say to their fellow cave-dwellers, "See you in Jerusalem"?

Though they entered the caves with a degree of resignation, supposing they would eventually perish there, the presence with them of "every slave and every free man" will bring about a change in their thinking, arming them with more complete knowledge about God's plan and will. Once Christ returns, they will be motivated to make their way to Jerusalem as soon as it is feasible.

Charles Whitaker
Post-Historic Cave-Dwellers


 

Revelation 6:16-17

God quotes two statements of these sixth-seal cavemen. The first is a command to mountains and rocks. The second is a question. What do their words tell us? What does their silence tell us?

The first sentence is a somewhat illogical command for the "mountains and rocks" to fall on them.

» In making this statement, the cavemen demonstrate at least some correct understanding of the Source of their difficulties. They recognize two Beings as the cause: "Him who sits on the throne" and "the Lamb." This is remarkable in itself, since, to this point, they have seen neither Being.

» The cavemen call one of these two Beings "the Lamb." Admittedly, they do not equate the Lamb with Christ, but the inference is clear that they understand the Lamb to be Christ, the Word of God. Incidentally, John makes 26 references to Christ as the Lamb in the book of Revelation.

» Further, the cavemen understand that these two powerful Beings are angry. In assigning a cause to their difficulties, they utterly shun the voice of the secularist or the atheist. They do not, for example, blame nature on their troubles. They do not assert, "It's just a cycle. Nature will clean up the air and water, and everything will be okay soon." Rather, they squarely identify the cause of their present problems to be the wrath of the Father and Christ.

» Even more interesting is their silence concerning the Holy Spirit. In their dire straits, where their lifestyles have so dramatically changed and their lives are in clear-and-present danger, they make no reference to the Holy Spirit as a separate Person of the Godhead. This suggests that they have abandoned Trinitarian doctrine—remarkable considering the cornerstone status nominal Christianity has historically accorded to it. We are left to speculate why they make no reference to the Trinity at this time.

Their second sentence is a question rather than a statement or command. In stating that "the great day of His wrath has come," they recognize that their situation is special; theirs are extraordinary times. They rightly realize that they can no more defer the effects of God's ire than they can blame those effects on nature. Their reference to "the great day of His wrath" indicates an at least superficial realization that they are facing the Day of the Lord. In asking, "Who can stand?" they recognize that they are powerless to defend themselves against the wrath of these two God-Beings.

In short, the window of these people's minds opens up to a substantially different landscape than what currently exists in our world. Consider how many individuals whom we would today classify as "the kings of the earth, the great men" would refer to Christ as "the Lamb"? How many "rich men, the commanders, the mighty men" know about the prophesied Day of the Lord?

Comparatively few. Perhaps some in America's Bible Belt might use this terminology, but most individuals in the wider society, the secularized, cosmopolitan mess we call the Western World, would find these concepts alien to their thinking. Moreover, most of those who are familiar with the concepts of Christ as the Lamb or the Day of the Lord also fervently believe in the Trinity—something our latter-day cavemen do not allude to at all.

What is happening here? God has actually begun to transform the religious landscape of these cave-dwellers as surely as He has commenced to terraform the planet's physical landscape. These people have listened to the Two Witnesses' preaching, beginning at the time of the fifth seal. God's Word does not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11); these erstwhile movers and shakers have heeded, to an extent. As a result, they have a more complete—though far from perfect—understanding of God and His purposes. And they run for the hills!

Charles Whitaker
Post-Historic Cave-Dwellers


 

Revelation 6:16-17

We need to dig deeper into the minds of these end-time spelunkers. What thinking underlies their words?

A shaking fist is absent; these individuals do not express anger or outright rebellion against God. Conversely, they make no confession of personal guilt; they express no repentance. While they recognize the existence of the Father and Son, they do not understand that God is a Family into which they can be born. They do not know—or believe—the gospel. They do not realize that they can develop a personal relationship with God and grow to become like Him. In other words, the cavemen's words are not those of converted individuals at all.

The underlying thinking behind their comments is desperate self-preservation.

They want personal safety. Understanding more than many do about God, convinced that the Father and the Lamb are stirred to anger, their knowledge is still so limited that they can only irrationally command "mountains and rocks" to fall on them. Pathetically, in the end, they can only ask a question that exhibits the depths of their despair. Who is able to survive during the Day of the Lord? They have no answer.

Isaiah 2 provides us a bit more insight. In verse 9, the prophet, speaking of idolaters, addresses the issue of their repentance. These people, he says, "will be brought low and everyone humbled—do not forgive them" (Isaiah 2:9, New International Version). God has humbled them through mind-numbing terror; they hide in caves from God and His Son and talk to rocks. Yet, in all this, they have not yet expressed godly sorrow, not yet repented. So God has not yet forgiven them. The prophet Isaiah continues:

Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low. . . . (Isaiah 2:10-12)

Notice that the cave-dwellers are those who have been humbled. In verse 11, Isaiah states the timeframe: They are humbled in a time when "the LORD alone shall be exalted. . . ." So, this passage in Isaiah 2 is dealing with the general period that we call the Day of the Lord.

Interestingly, in verses 20-21, we see that they have eschewed idolatry:

In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.

If the people who hurl their idols "to the moles and bats" as they enter the "clefts of the rocks" are the same ones who ask "mountains and rocks" to fall on them in Revelation 6:16, these folk may well have started out on a road to repentance. They are not there yet, for they lack the proper understanding and motivations. Though God has not yet granted them repentance (II Timothy 2:25), He is working among them, perhaps through the work of the Two Witnesses. He has increased their knowledge about Him, brought them to an understanding that idolatry is wrong, and led them to subterranean "places of safety."

Charles Whitaker
Post-Historic Cave-Dwellers


 

Revelation 6:17

Revelation 6:17 should read, "For the day, the great [day] of Their wrath, has come, and who is able to stand?" This is a plain statement of truth followed by a rhetorical question (see Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2). The sixth seal announces in unmistakable fashion that "the great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly" (Zephaniah 1:14). The prophet Joel describes it:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. . . . The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:1-2, 10-11)

This is the question: Who will survive it? Who will pass God's judgment? The answer seems to be, "No one." But there is hope, as Joel 2:12-14 instructs:

"Now, therefore," says the LORD, "turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him . . .?

Jesus gives us His answer in Luke 21:36: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." We must be alert and prepared for what may come, and the most important part of our preparation is the strengthening of our relationships with the Father and the Son through prayer, study, meditation, and obedience to His instructions. This is the only means to escape God's wrath.

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)

If we wish to avoid the coming stern and destructive judgment of God on recalcitrant mankind, there is no time like the present to seek His face (Psalm 105:4).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Seal


 

Revelation 10:3-4

The Seven Thunders are definitely heard before the seventh angel sounds. Even within the sequence of chapter 10 (a inset), the Seven Thunders will occur before Revelation 11:15. The Two Witnesses do not begin preaching until chapter 11, so the Seven Thunders sound before the Two Witnesses begin to preach.

The events of chapters 10 and 11 must occur absolutely before the seventh trumpet sounds—they even begin and end before the fifth seal, well before the seventh trumpet, which is the last part of the seventh seal. This helps us understand what the Seven Thunders are.

Chapter 11 begins before the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. Given that Chapter 10 is part of the same context, the Seven Thunders conclude before John, the type of the Two Witnesses "must prophesy again." What we see at the beginning of chapter 10 is God's message—the gospel of the Kingdom of God—being given to mankind in seven sequential blasts!

If the Thunders had pealed all at once, John would not have been able to count them, but he distinctly hears seven of them. The events of chapter 10 blend right into Revelation 2-3: The Seven Thunders are the messages of the Seven Churches!

John was told not to write them, not because their message was a secret, but because it is already written—in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc. To give it again would have been redundant. The giving of the message must be finished before John "must prophesy again"—that is, before the Two Witnesses preach during the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 11:1-19

Revelation 11 is inset material. The only possible period of time when the Two Witnesses could testify is during the three and a half years that precede Christ's return—the time of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

Most of this period of time has already been covered by chapters 6 (the fifth and sixth seals) and 8-9 (the trumpet plagues). Chapter 11 clarifies what has already occurred in the narrative, answering how people can possibly be converted during the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The answer is that they are hearing a message thundered by the Two Witnesses! Revelation 7:9-17 suggests that by their preaching, an innumerable multitude will be converted.

The information is given in a digression—an inset chapter— from the main story flow. Inset chapters clarify what is happening within the time sequence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 19:11-21

Not only is Christ's coming shock and awe, it is destruction as we have never imagined it. The angel calls the birds to devour the flesh of all people, small and great. Jesus Christ comes back to wage a righteous war, one that has been brewing for 6,000 years due to mankind's hostility and rebellion to God. By the time this prophecy is fulfilled, God has had enough of sin. Christ comes back and treads the winepress of His wrath, where the blood spilled comes up to the horse's bridles. It is hard to imagine blood three or four feet deep and flowing like a river.

Talk about shock! Some people faint dead away when they see just a drop of blood, but imagine a river of blood flowing through the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Revelation 14:20; Joel 3:9-13)! Not a pretty picture.

As is happening in Iraq today, the enemy regime and all of its supporters must be removed before a new and better government can be installed. In like manner, God has to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Shock and Awe - and Speed


 

 




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