The Day of the LORD — The Second Exodus

“The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.’

[Psalm 68:17-18]

The Exodus of Israel from Egypt provides one of the best templates for the Day of the LORD and the mighty acts that God will perform on that Day. One of the most fascinating details that I have discovered in my studies involves Yeshua coming to liberate His people from bondage, literally setting captives free from the power of Antichrist. Just as the LORD delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt, He will return to redeem His people from captivity in the end.

Flee to the Wilderness

The Lord Jesus warned His disciples of the coming deception and ensuing destruction of the great tribulation. He prophesied that the abomination of desolation [Matthew 24:15-22, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12] would be the clearest sign that triggers the beginning of the great tribulation. This is the point when the Antichrist will exalt himself in the Most Holy Place, desecrating the Temple in Jerusalem.

When this happens, Jesus says, it is time for God’s people to flee into the wilderness to escape the ensuing wrath of the evil one. I am of the persuasion that many will flee into the Sinai wilderness to be protected during this time.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people.

[Luke 21:20-23]

‘And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.”

[Revelation 12:13-14]

For God’s people dwelling in the Holy Land in the last days, it is imperative that they recognize the abomination of desolation and flee to the wilderness. The Scriptures even seem to imply that God will supernaturally preserve and protect His people in the wilderness for the duration of 3.5 years, much like He provided for Israel during its 40-year wandering.

Even though many of God’s people will be able to flee and escape the wrath of the Antichrist, others will be killed by the sword or taken into captivity — both Jews and Christians.

Into Captivity You Will Go

Once the Beast (Antichrist) is revealed and assumes his position of power, he will begin a 42 month (3.5 year) military campaign in the Middle East. His focus, however, will be the destruction of God’s people all over the world, as he is allowed to “make war on the saints and conquer them” [Revelation 13:5-9]. Again, the Lord provides a warning for the saints to heed during this great time of difficulty.

“If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.”

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

[Revelation 13:10]

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

[Luke 21:24]

Prophets Zechariah and Joel also echo the words of Luke.

“Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

[Zechariah 14:1-2]

“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it … You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border.”

[Joel 3:1-3, 6]

The Scriptures could not be any clearer. As the Antichrist and his armies ravish the land and conquer many nations, some of God’s people will be able to escape and go into hiding, but many will be taken as captives for spoil and exiled.

It is in the midst of this desperate situation that King Jesus will return to carry out a military campaign of His own. He will strike down His enemies, set the captives free, and lead His people in triumphant procession from the wilderness back to Jerusalem to reclaim His throne from the Antichrist.

The Second Exodus

The testimony of the Biblical prophets is replete with detailed descriptions of the the liberation of God’s people, their regathering back to the Promised Land, the restoration of the fortunes of Judah, and the establishment of the true Kingdom of Israel.

Psalm 68, which is referenced above, is worth reading as one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the Second Exodus. I will share a few more here that speak of that great Day of liberation.

“On that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. On that day the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover the remnant of His people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel;  He will collect the scattered of Judah  from the four corners of the earth.

[Isaiah 11:10-12]

Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.”

“Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity
.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with you to save you,
declares the LORD;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”

[Jeremiah 30:7-11]

“Your procession is seen, O God,

the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—

the singers in front, the musicians last,

between them virgins playing tambourines …”

[Psalm 68:24-25]

Next time I will focus on the judgment of the survivors, the marriage supper of the Lamb, and the restoration of the fortunes of Jacob.

The Day of the LORD — Your Kingdom Come [Part 2]

And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

[Matthew 26:63-64]

Jesus came. He lived. He died. He was buried. He was raised. He ascended. He sat down at the right hand of the Power on high, and He will come again. While we understandably emphasize the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we all too often neglect to appreciate His ascension and session. If we aren’t careful, we can miss both the cosmic scope and universal reign of King Jesus.

The Ascension and Session of King Jesus

After spending 40 days with His disciples, teaching them about the Kingdom of God, our risen Lord was carried away out of their sight on the clouds to heaven. It was another validation that Jesus was the Son of Man, spoken of by the prophets, riding on the clouds surrounded by the shekinah glory of the LORD. He ascended to the preeminent place of power in the entire universe. The ascension of Jesus is essential in understanding His exaltation above every ruler, power, throne, and dominion in heaven and on earth.

Having ascended to the highest position of authority in the universe, the Lord Jesus then sat down (session of Christ), signifying that His work was finished and that His reign had begun.

When it comes to Christ’s ascension and session, the Bible is rich with content. Here are a variety of samples from the New Testament.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

[1 Peter 3:18-22]

“And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

[Ephesians 1:19-23]

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

[Hebrews 1:1-4]

The Old Testament also provides some vivid imagery of the present reign of the LORD.

Thus says the LORD:

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?”

[Isaiah 66:1]

“The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high
,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.”

[Psalm 113:5-8]

The LORD says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.

[Psalm 110:1, 5-6]

This present reality provides so many profound implications for believers. Jesus presently is our Faithful High Priest and Advocate making intercession for us. All power and authority belongs to Him, and He in turn provides what we need to fulfill the Great Commission. Positionally, all believers are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, meaning that we have a seat waiting for us at the table, a place prepared for us! King Jesus is accomplishing His will from heaven until the fullness of time arrives and He stands up — sent by the Father — to come again.

The Return of King Jesus

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

[Philippians 2:9-11]

The Kingdom was promised. The King was born. The King redeemed sinners by His death and was raised victoriously to life. The King ascended to heaven and then sat down on His heavenly throne. And yes… the King will come again!

Just as the birth of the King was announced by the heavenly host, His return will also be accompanied by loud shouts of joy and the cry of a command from heaven. The last trump will sound along with the voice of the archangel, and the sky will be rolled back like a scroll, as the King leads His army from heaven.

Let us consider a sample of the Biblical testimony concerning this momentous day — the Day of the LORD!

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!” Selah

[Psalm 24:9-10]

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 

[1 Corinthians 15:22-26]

There are literally too many passages practically to share, so I will leave us with two more. Next time … I will begin examining the series of events connected to the return of the King and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.

“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all around.
4His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.

6The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
7All worshipers of images are put to shame,
who make their boast in worthless idols;
worship him, all you gods!

8Zion hears and is glad,
and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O LORD.
9For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.”

[Psalm 97:1-9]

“And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

[Revelation 19:14-16]

The Day of the LORD — Your Kingdom Come [Part 1]

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 

[Revelation 11:15]

The Day of the LORD is that unique Day when the King of heaven returns to earth to claim what rightfully belongs to Him and to sit down in triumph upon His throne. It is the Day when the Lord’s Prayer is realized. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” He was referring to the Day of the LORD.

I have written extensively about Jesus coming on the clouds as the Warrior King who treads the winepress of the wrath of God and crushes the heads of His enemies — both spiritual and physical. After the Lord Jesus strikes down the nations with a rod of iron, He will sit down on the throne of David as the King of Righteousness in the City of Peace – Jerusalem.

The Day of the LORD begins the new Messianic Age of God’s Kingdom, and the implications of that reality are astonishing.

The Kingdom Promised

“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

[2 Samuel 7:16]

The LORD made a covenant with David — King of Israel — promising to raise up from his own household the Anointed One — the Messiah King. One of the most telling titles given to Jesus was “Son of David,” which clearly was Messianic in nature. Jesus declares to be both “the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star” [Revelation 22:16]. Jesus both precedes David as the Son of God and is a natural descendant of David as the Son of Man.

There are many Old Testament passages that convey the promise of both Divine King and Kingdom on earth.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

[Isaiah 9:6-7]

“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.”

[Psalm 2:6-8]

“I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

[Daniel 7:13-14]

The Kingdom of Israel first fractured and eventually fell completely at the hands of their enemies. It was during this time in exile when the Messianic hope for a future restoration of the Kingdom of Israel was pronounced. Zechariah was given one of the most vivid prophecies.

“On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.”

[Zechariah 14:6-9]

The King Is Born

After years of exile, many Jews eventually returned to the land, and a second temple was built. But Israel was not truly free. The Promised Land fell to the tyrant kings of pagan empires and existed in the shadows of more powerful nations. To make matters worse, God’s prophets went silent for 400 years and there was a spiritual famine in the land.

It was as if the LORD was wanting to make a statement. He took a deep breath for 400 years, only to make the loudest proclamation the world has ever heard.

“The King is Born!”

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”

[Luke 2:9-11]

But what kind of King were the Jews expecting? Many were looking for the Warrior King to come and lead them in victory over Rome. Few were looking for the Sacrificial Son and Suffering Servant who was born to die so that men could live forever in victory over sin and death.

Jesus was no less a King for being born among the lowly. Jesus was no less a King for walking among the sick and poor. He is no less a King for being willing to surrender to His Father’s will and go to the cross.

He is the King of kings! And the LORD of lords!

Although Jesus didn’t initially establish His Kingdom on earth, He came to do a greater work. Through His substitutionary death, burial, resurrection and ascension, Jesus assumed the throne as the Supreme King of the Universe — the King of both heaven and earth.

He came to make sinners into the sons of God. He came to crush the head of the serpent and triumph over the powers of darkness. He came to redeem for Himself a people for His own possession from every tongue, tribe and nation. A Kingdom of Priests. A Holy Nation.

And He came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and the coming Day of the LORD. The Kingdom is already here … but not yet.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

[Mark 1:14-15]

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

[Luke 17:20-21]

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

[John 18:36]

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 

[Matthew 19:28]

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'”

[Matthew 25:31-34]

Even Jesus’ own disciples couldn’t fully grasp the implications of the Great Commission and eternal scope of the Kingdom. Surely they couldn’t have predicted that the LORD would tarry for nearly 2000 years.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

[Acts 1:6-9]

Next time I will discuss the significance of the present reign of Christ in heaven and the future return of Christ to earth.

The King REigns

The KING Will Return

The Day of the LORD — All Israel will be Saved {Part 2}

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”

[Romans 9:27-28]

In Part 1 of this post — I established the case that Israel will be saved in the end on the Day of the LORD. In this post I will attempt to explain what “all Israel” really means from the perspective of God’s word. The Biblical record is Israel-centric for a reason. The territory of Israel is that defined portion of ground on this earth where the Most High God has staked His claim and placed His name forever.

Just consider … Yahweh — the God of Israel — will save His people Israel by the Sword of the Warrior King of IsraelYeshua the Messiah. The LORD is coming on the clouds to strike down the enemies of Israel. He is coming to establish the Messianic Age — when the Kingdom of Israel is the crown jewel among the nations and the glory of the LORD will shine forth from Zion.

It is impossible to tell the story of redemptive history without Israel. These represent some of the key promises that the LORD made to His People Israel.

God’s Covenant Promises to Israel Stand Forever

Yahweh made unconditional promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their natural descendants (offspring), and He intends to keep them. God always makes good on His Word to Israel, even though the children of Israel historically have been a rebellious and obstinate people who were faithless, God will remain faithful and keep His word to the children of Abraham according to the flesh.

The important distinction here is that Yahweh did make a covenant with the ethnic descendants of Israel and the nation of Israel — which represents a corporate/collective group. But as we will see in a moment, these covenant promises only are realized and applied to those who believe.

Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name:

“If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”

[Jeremiah 31:35-36]

In this passage from Jeremiah, the LORD uses comparative language to emphasize His everlasting faithfulness to ethnic/national Israel. In other words, as long as the celestial order of universe remains, Israel will continue to be a nation before the LORD — His portion forever.

Furthermore, there are certain promises that the LORD made to Israel that have not yet been fully realized. These include …

  1. A nation and kingdom on earth
  2. A clearly defined territory and full restoration to the Promised Land
  3. A final victory and rest from all enemies
  4. An inclusion of the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel
  5. A King — a descendent of David — upon the throne forever
  6. A Messianic Age of peace and righteousness
  7. A Reunification of Heaven and Earth

As you can see, these promises were to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they have yet to be fulfilled. That is why the Day of the LORD is so very significant. It is the Day that all of God’s promises to Israel will come true!

Only a Remnant will be Saved

What does the Scripture mean when it says, “all Israel” will be saved?

First let’s try to clarify what it doesn’t mean.

It is not Universal

All Israel does not imply that every natural descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who have ever lived are automatically awarded eternal life and included God’s eternal kingdom. Many, if not most, of ethnic Israel seem to have perished in idolatry, gross immorality, rebellion and unbelief. As Paul reminds us, not all who are descended from Israel in the flesh belong to Israel.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” [Romans 9:6-8]

It is not Allegorical

All Israel is not meant to represent an allegorical symbol of the Gentile church. Some want to paint Old Testament Israel as a mere poetic picture of the New Testament church. Some believe God effectively disinherited Israel for its unbelief, and the church since has taken its place to inherit all the covenant promises. In other words, “all Israel” is only a metaphor for the church, who will be saved in the end. But there is one glaring problem with replacing Israel with the church. You are cutting your legs out from under you … literally. Israel is the root, and the church is the fruit hanging off its branches! The Gentile church doesn’t replace Israel. It is supported by Israel.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” [Romans 11:17-18]

It is not Dispensational

While replacement theology is on one extreme of the spectrum, dispensational theology is on the other. Most dispensationalists believe the great tribulation does not apply to the church because of the assertion of a “pre-tribulation” removal of the church. Supposedly the church secretly is raptured to heaven prior to the last 7 years of history, which sends the earth into chaos. Dispensationalists believe that the greatest hour of trial — the time of Jacob’s trouble — is a special period of testing for Israel [aka the elect], not the church. The glaring problem with dispensational teaching is that Jesus and the Apostles clearly taught that the church — along with Israel — both will be present on the earth during the great tribulation. If not, then the prophetic teachings concerning the end times would be of no consequence or benefit to Jesus’ disciples. The elect refers to all believers who are in covenant relationship with God.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” [Matthew 24:21-22]

It is not National

All Israel does not mean that the entire nation of Israel will be saved in the end. Throughout the great tribulation, or Jacob’s trouble, many national Jews will be deceived by the Antichrist and will be judged for idolatry and unbelief. Passages like Luke 21, Ezekiel 38, and Zechariah 14 remind us that Israel will be invaded and Jerusalem surrounded near the time of the end. Many Jews are expected to die by the sword or pestilence or be taken into captivity. Furthermore, passages like Isaiah 22 and Jeremiah 25 identify Jerusalem and Judah as suffering divine judgment in the last days along with the other Gentile nations. Although the God of Israel has promised again to turn His attention to Israel, once the fullness of the Gentiles is complete, the nation of Israel will not all be saved in the end.

This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from My hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. And they will drink and stagger and go out of their minds, because of the sword that I will send among them.” So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand and made all the nations drink from it, each one to whom the LORD had sent me, to make them a ruin, an object of horror and contempt and cursing, as they are to this day—Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials. [Jeremiah 25:15-18]

It is a Conditional Promise to those who Believe

When the Scriptures speak of Jacob being delivered out of his trouble and all Israel being saved in the end, there is only one way to explain it Biblically. Salvation has always been and always will be by God’s grace through faith. The righteous shall live by faith.

So … “all Israel” will be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. The natural descendants of Israel who are able to survive the great tribulation and endure to the end will be saved. Those of ethnic/national Israel who turn from their unbelief and trust in their King and Messiah — the Lord Jesus — will be saved.

This is what is meant in Romans 9:27 that “only a remnant will be saved.” The Scriptures are clear that from among the people of Israel, God always has preserved for Himself a remnant.

In Paul’s day, as in every generation, God had preserved a believing remnant in Israel. He says, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” [Romans 11:5]. Paul goes on to clarify the reason so many of his fellow Israelites were “cut off” from God — unbelief. The condition for salvation and for remaining in right relationship with God is faith alone — both for Jews and Gentiles. There is no distinction.

In speaking of the last days, following the full inclusion of the Gentiles, Paul adds, “And even they [Israelites], if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again” [Romans 11:23]. Again, the condition is belief.

Paul reinforces the necessity of faith alone in Christ in his letter to the Galatians.

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…. for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

[Galatians 3:7-9, 27-29]

They Will Look upon Him whom They Pierced

I have established that “all Israel” does not represent a universal, national, allegorical, or dispensational portrayal of Israel. Only the believing remnant of Israel will be saved by grace through faith in the end. The LORD had always preserved for Himself a faithful remnant, and it will be no different on the Day of the LORD. Many who have descended from Israel according to the flesh will not be saved on that Day, but the true Israel — the believing Israel — will be saved.

In one respect, there is only one people of God for all time and at any given time in history, and these are the people who are in a convent relationship with the Most High through saving faith. Israel is a unique and distinct people and nation, chosen by God for special purposes, yet only believing Israelites will be saved.

The Bible may refer to God’s people by different names, such as saints, children of God, remnant, the redeemed, elect, the church, kingdom of priests, citizens of heaven, family of God. There is only one true body of believers, regardless of ethnicity, and in the end every believer from all time will be incorporated into the commonwealth of Israel and inherit all the covenant blessings promised to Israel.

But how will “all Israel” be saved in the end?

The following passages paint a clear picture of the events on that Day. God will pour out His Spirit on Israel, and just as the Lord Jesus is seen coming in the clouds from heaven, Israel will weep and mourn and realize that Jesus is indeed their Messiah and true Savior of the world. In that grace-filled moment, all from Israel who believe will be saved.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”

[Zechariah 12:10]

For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?

“Return to the LORD Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster… And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

[Joel 2:11-13, 32]

Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

“Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with you to save you,
declares the LORD;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”

[Jeremiah 30:7-11]

The Day of the LORD — All Israel will be Saved {Part 1}

And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

[Romans 11:26-27]

Israel

A name that spans some 4,000 years of human history and yet remains as relevant today as when it first was spoken.

Both Israel’s supernatural origins and purposes of election can be found in its name. Israel literally means God conquers or overcomes, which also speaks to the destiny of Israel.

All Israel will be saved in the end.

But what does that really mean? How are we to understand this concept? For example …

  1. Does this mean that every natural descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) automatically are saved as God’s elect?
  2. Or does this mean that the church has replaced Israel and therefore represents all who are saved in the end?
  3. Or does this mean that only the true believing remnant of ethnic Israel will be saved in the end?
  4. Or does this mean that all national/ethnic Israelites that survive the Great Tribulation will be saved when Christ returns?
  5. Or does this mean that true Israel represents the universal, corporate body of believers of all time who will be saved in the end?

As you can see, it’s easy to find yourself in deep waters really fast when considering the eschatological destiny of Israel.

As always, the Scriptures provide the answers we need to discover the truth about Israel and its interaction with the Day of the LORD.

The Deliverer will Come to Zion

The Apostle Paul in commenting on Isaiah 59 declares that all Israel will be saved “in this way.” Determining what is meant by “in this way” is the key to the interpretation. It is worth noting that the Old Testament connects the deliverance of Israel with the Day of the LORD. I will start with Isaiah 59.

“He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, so will he repay,
wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render repayment.
So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
which the wind of the LORD drives.

And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression
,” declares the LORD.

[Isaiah 59:17-20]

The prophet Joel agrees with Isaiah that Jacob will be delivered and saved on the Day of the LORD.

“The LORD utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.”

[Joel 2:11-13, 30-32]

Daniel also agrees.

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

[Daniel 12:1]

Jeremiah 30 provides one of the clearest descriptions of Israel’s future fate.

“Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale? Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.

[Jeremiah 30:6-7]

There is no shortage of parallel content from the O.T. prophets, but I think Zechariah’s testimony is critical.

And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”

[Zechariah 12:9-10]

“Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.”

[Zechariah 14:1-3]

Now that it has been clearly established that Jacob {Israel} will be delivered by Yahweh on the Day of the LORD, it is essential to determine who “Israel” is in this context and how the LORD will save them.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this installment.

The Day of the LORD — Day of Deliverance

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

[Luke 21:27-28]

When fully grasped, the Day of the LORD is the most sobering, heart-wrenching reality. Divine judgment. Righteous Anger. Fire and blood and thick clouds of smoke. Distress all around. When the powers of the heavens are shaken and all the nations on the earth will mourn and tremble at His presence. For it is the day most terrifying for those who refuse to believe and obey the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet what is sheer horror to a wicked world will be the most beautiful sight ever beheld by the children of God.

For the saints of the Most High, the Day of the LORD is the long-awaited day of deliverance! It is the Day we meet our Maker — face-to-face — and we will stand in awe of Him who comes from heaven in all His power and great glory.

And then at that moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall become like Him, sons of God, and we shall know Him truly as we are truly known. It is the Day that all of God’s children from all time will be gathered together to marvel in His presence and rest in His everlasting love.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

[1 John 3:2]

For believers, the Day of the LORD is our ultimate salvation, our final redemption, our day of destiny, our triumph of victory, our joy complete, our entrance into eternity. For those in Christ Jesus, the Day of the LORD is the greatest Day in history. When all things are made new!

Don’t miss the qualifier. This reality is only for true believers in Jesus Christ. For only those in a personal relationship with the Father through faith in the Son will be delivered in the end.

Since this literally is of eternal importance, I should clarify what is meant by belief or saving faith. This is the essence of how men must respond to the gospel.

Saving faith is relentless trust in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ — the Son of God — who died on the cross for our sin, was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. We are saved by God’s grace through faith, which results in the following realities …

  • Redeemed by Jesus — set free from the penalty of sin and death — by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who became our substitute for sin and paid our ransom at the price of His own life.
  • Regenerated by the Holy Spirit — enter spiritual union with the Lord Jesus and receive the divine nature as a new creation in Christ.
  • Reconciled to God — all enmity with God is removed as the Prince of Peace now rules and reigns in our hearts, restoring us into a relationship with God the Father through Christ the Son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Only the just shall live by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. And for the justified in Christ — the redeemed — the Day of the LORD will be the most glorious day imaginable.

Now let’s dive a little deeper.

You Will Suffer Tribulation

Jesus Christ made many promises to His followers. One recurring promise was that as long as we remained in this present age, we will have tribulation and the world will hate us for His name’s sake [John 15:18-21, 16:33].

From the very beginning, God’s people have been well acquainted with sorrow, suffering, and persecution. Jesus reminds us of “all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah” [Matthew 23:35]. Jesus also encourages us in the joy we find when we identify with Him through persecution.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

[Matthew 5:10-12]

Consider the testimony of the Old Testament. The children of Israel suffered relentlessly and eventually were exiled for being identified as Yahweh’s own portion. From Lot to Job to Joseph to David to Elijah to Jeremiah to Daniel …. the list goes on and on.

Then consider John the Baptist and the Apostles, nearly all of whom died a martyr’s death for the sake of the gospel. The entire testimony of church history is one of persecution and suffering for the cause of Christ, and to this day Christians and Jews remain the most persecuted people groups in the world. That’s not to mention Jesus Himself, who is the supreme example of the righteous suffering at the hands of evil.

A countless number of God’s people — both known and unknown — historically have suffered for their faith.

The author of Hebrews provides one of the most sobering reminders of the cost to follow Jesus Christ and to identify with His name.

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

[Hebrews 11:36-40]

There is a reality for all the saints who belong to God and who have both lived and died in faith. God’s people have yet to receive what has been fully promised, which is a far better country — a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells forever.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” [Hebrews 11:16].

That is why the Day of the LORD is so significant for all believers of all time. It is the Day we will finally receive resurrected bodies, inherit the earth, receive our reward as heirs to the kingdom, and dwell eternally in the presence of our God.

Great Tribulation

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

[Matthew 24:21-22]

I confess that I used to be confused about the difference between God’s wrath and the great tribulation. While there is a unique distinction between the two, they are not mutually exclusive.

When I say the great tribulation, I am speaking of a defined period of approximately 3.5 years (1260 days or 42 months) that culminates with the final measure God’s wrath on the Day of the LORD. I do believe there is legitimate Biblical support for a 3.5 year great tribulation, while I personally am not convinced that we can clearly define any future 7-year period [see Daniel 9:25-27], unless it is derived from it’s obvious connection to the fact that 3.5 years is the midpoint of 7-years.

Tribulation is a generic word that can refer to any and include every form of distress, trouble, calamity, judgment, persecution, pressure, wrath etc… Tribulation can involve a full spectrum of troubles, from internal and external to physical and emotional to personal and universal. So if that is the case, then tribulation does not always directly involve divine judgment, but it most certainly cannot exclude the wrath of God.

In other words, God’s wrath is the epitome of tribulation. God’s wrath would be the worst part of any “tribulation,” and therefore must be the height of the great tribulation, as the worst time in human history.

And that is precisely what the Scriptures bear. The Day of the LORD is the culmination of God’s wrath at His coming, yet the great tribulation also will include progressive acts of divine judgment and demonstrations of God’s wrath [see the Seal, trumpet, bowl judgments etc..] that represent the agonizing labor pains that precede the return of Christ.

That is precisely what makes the great tribulation so great! It will be that unique time in history that will never again be equaled in magnitude and mass destruction. That is because it will be the culmination and combination of man’s wickedness and violence, worldly upheaval, natural disaster, demonic evil, satanic wrath, divine judgment — all climaxing with the righteous indignation and final outpouring of God’s wrath.

That is why Jesus says that if God doesn’t put an end to the great tribulation — then no human being would survive. All flesh would be lost. But for the sake of the elect — people of faith — God will bring everything to an end.

The end of the great tribulation will be that moment when the dust clears and the trumpets stop and sun breaks through the darkest clouds and the earth stops shaking and the roaring oceans are stilled and the enemies of God have been defeated and the battle is over and the whole world will stand in total silence — in awe of the King who has returned from heaven to claim His kingdom and sit down on His glorious throne on the mountain of Zion.

That is how God brings an end to the great tribulation. And that is why the Day of the LORD is the great Day of our deliverance.

God is Able to Protect His People

The next obvious conclusion is that there will be a unique generation of believers on the earth during this most perilous time that will endure to the end and so be delivered. Some are confused about this, especially in light of alternative views like the pre-tribulation rapture.

But the testimony of God’s word is crystal clear. God’s elect, His children — the church of the living God — will be on the earth during the great tribulation and must endure many hardships, including captivity, persecution, satanic wrath, and even death. But God only directs His wrath on the ungodly and the wicked, never the righteous.

Plus, lest we forget, when Christ comes we will be changed in an instant and be like Him, glorified, and therefore we will have received our resurrected bodies. At that point, we cannot die. We cannot get hurt. We cannot experience pain. So as Jesus unleashes His wrath on the nations and pours out his fire upon the earth on that Day — it won’t affect us. We will be untouchable!

God has proven Himself quite capable of both protecting His own while at the same time concentrating His wrath on His enemies. He did this with the Hebrews in Egypt, with Noah and flood, Lot in Sodom, the remnant during the Babylonian invasion, Daniel in the lion’s den etc … God’s track record is not about removing us from as much as it is seeing us through tribulation.

“Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.”

[Isaiah 26:20]

“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.”

[Zephaniah 2:3]

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

[Luke 21:36]

“I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.”

[John 17:15]

When We Finally Find Relief and Rest

The Day of the LORD will be our great Day of Deliverance, when Christ shall come to save His people.

The Apostle Paul provides one of the most descriptive accounts of this future Day of Deliverance in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. Notice how he connects our day of final relief and rest from tribulation with the Day of the LORD.

  1. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering …” [2 Thes. 1:5] — God’s people who endure suffering for His name are worthy of the coming kingdom.
  2. Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when …” [2 Thes. 1:6-7] — God has promised to repay with tribulation those who cause us tribulation and to grant us our final relief when?
  3. WHEN … “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus …” [2 Thes. 1:7-8] — God tells us exactly when we can expect ultimate relief and final redemption. When Jesus is revealed from heaven in flaming fire to inflict vengeance.
  4. WHEN … “He comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed …” [2 Thes. 1:10]

The Day of the LORD. The Day of Deliverance for all God’s people.

Next time I will examine the relationship between ethnic/national Israel and the remnant of the faithful in last days.

The Day of the LORD — The Resurrection of the Righteous

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

[John 6:40]

Over the past few weeks, I have been examining the primary signs and events associated with the eschatological Day of the LORD. In this post, I will make the connection between the resurrection of the righteous — or the first resurrection — and the Day of the LORD.

Regardless of the variety of eschatological views that have emerged over time, traditionally there has been agreement concerning the final resurrection in both Jewish and Christian communities. The expectation of the Messianic age is one of glorious resurrection, final reckoning, ultimate redemption, and total restoration.

The Biblical connection to the Day of the LORD and the resurrection of the dead is undeniable. From beginning to end, the Biblical authors associate the resurrection of the dead with the end of days and the Messianic age to come.

The Testimony of Job

Job, being perhaps the oldest book in the Bible, provides one of the most foundational accounts of the final resurrection of the dead and even makes a connection with the final judgment [see Job 19:29].

“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

[Job 19:25-27]

Job’s faith is fascinating. He knows that his future resurrection is only obtainable through the life of his Redeemer. Jesus affirms Himself as this Redeemer when He says, “Because I live, you will live also” [John 14:19].

Job also provides an element of timing, saying that his Redeemer will stand upon the earth “at the last,” which is a reference to the Day of the LORD. Job’s words most certainly were in view when the prophet Zechariah declared, “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem” [Zechariah 14:4].

The Testimony of Isaiah

The prophet Isaiah also knew of this future resurrection and its connection to the Day of the LORD. Notice how Isaiah places the resurrection at the same time as the Day of Judgment, when the LORD returns from heaven to punish the nations.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity
,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.”

[Isaiah 26:19-21]

The Testimony of Daniel

Daniel echoes both Job and Isaiah in his description of the final resurrection. Interestingly, his vision was to be “sealed” until the time of the end.

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

[Daniel 12:1-4]

Daniel refers to the time of “great trouble” in the last days that precedes the return of Jesus and the Day of the LORD. Jesus quotes directly from Daniel in His Olivet Discourse when he refers to the unparalleled death and destruction during the “great tribulation.” Then Jesus describes His glorious return to earth, which includes the resurrection of the dead. [see also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

[Mark 13:24-27]

The Testimony of Jesus

As the Jews were seeking to kill Jesus for “making Himself equal with God,” He affirmed His divine nature all the more by identifying Himself as the eschatological “Son of Man” and final Judge of resurrection. Again, the resurrection is always connected to the final judgment at the end of the age.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

[John 5:25-29]

In the 6th chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus emphasizes three times that the resurrection of the righteous takes place on “the last day.” [see John 6:39-40, 44] Every Jew in the audience would have unmistakably understood that Jesus was referring to the Day of the LORD and the end of the present age.

Upon hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus and Martha have a powerful exchange that affirms the eschatological connection with the future resurrection.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

[John 11:23-27]

By Martha affirming her faith in Jesus as the Son of God who is coming into the world, she was identifying Him as the Redeemer who would triumph over all God’s enemies and establish His kingdom on earth, ushering in the Messianic Age.

The Testimony of Paul

The Apostle Paul perhaps gives us the most comprehensive teaching on the resurrection and the Day of the LORD. Paul affirms that the righteous dead are raised when Jesus returns to earth at the end of the age as Judge and King. Paul affirms that our mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, therefore we must receive incorruptible, resurrected bodies to inherit God’s kingdom when Christ comes again. Paul also provides some details to Jesus’ own teaching about the resurrection connected to His return to earth.

I will begin with Paul’s famous chapter on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice the elements timing he uses, such as the “end,” the “judgment,” the “last enemy,” and the “last trumpet.”

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

[1 Corinthians 15:21-26]

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 

[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

[2 Thessalonians 2:1-4]

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

[Romans 8:22-23]

The Testimony of John

Finally we turn to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to the Apostle John to put a bow tie on the resurrection as taking place in conjunction with the day of the LORD.

The way I interpret the book of Revelation is by making obvious connections throughout the book that describe the same event and then recast certain portions of the prophecy from those points of alignment. I believe that the book of Revelation is incomprehensible when read strictly in chronological order.

With that in mind, I believe the return of Jesus is described by at least 5 different passages [Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-19, 14:14-20, 16:17-21, 19:11-21]. These are all parallel passages that describe the same event — Jesus return to earth to judge the nations at Armageddon. Obviously every detail of this event is not found in each passage. For example, Revelation 14 describes the great harvest of the earth, which uses the same language of God gathering His people during the resurrection, yet Revelation 19, which clearly depicts the coming of Jesus doesn’t explicitly mention the resurrection.

We must use the greater context of all of these passages to help us understand that this is the triumphant return of Jesus to earth on the clouds in power and glory at the end of the age to judge the nations and usher in His millennial kingdom.

Then in Revelation chapter 20, we are given clarity about the righteous who were raised at the return of Christ are the saints who will reign with Christ in His kingdom.

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

[Revelation 20:4-6]

John’s vision then places the 1,000 year reign of Christ in between the first resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked unto judgment. “And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” [Revelation 20:13]

All in all, once the whole counsel of Scripture is taken into consideration, it is evident that the resurrection of the righteous will take place on the last day when Christ returns from heaven to judge the nations and establish His kingdom on earth.

The Day of the LORD — Naming the Nations

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

[Zechariah 14:3]

The Old Testament prophets often delivered prophecies that were intended to convey dual fulfillments — one near and one far away. Many of the divine judgments declared on Israel’s enemies have been partially fulfilled in history, yet a final fulfillment is yet future. For example, Yahweh announced and fulfilled His promise to judge ancient Babylon, but there remains a future judgment described for “Babylon the great” in Revelation 17-18.

The Day of the LORD is the context for the final judgment of these nations, and this post will demonstrate that the LORD was specific when communicating this climatic judgment through the prophets. God uses historical names of specific nations for a reason. The same general geographical territories that historically have been hostile to Israel remain hostile to this day, which sets the stage for intensifying conflict in and around the Holy Land leading to the Day of the LORD.

The Nations in Isaiah

Isaiah dedicates an entire 10 chapters to the final judgment of the nations in the last days. Interestingly enough, both Israel and Jerusalem are listed among those nations who will suffer divine punishment. As the LORD uses the nations as a rod of His anger during the last invasion of Israel and siege of Jerusalem, He will judge His own people for their idolatry and unbelief. Then the LORD will return to deliver the remnant of believing Israel [see Romans 11:25-26] and will strike down the nations for their own rebellion.

Here is a breakdown of nations from Isaiah.

  • Babylon (13:1-14:23) — modern day Iraq/Syria
  • Assyria (14:24-27) — modern day Syria/Iraq/eastern Turkey
  • Philistines (14:28-32) — modern day Gaza
  • Moab (15-16) — modern day Jordan
  • Syria and Israel (17)
  • Ethiopia (18)
  • Egypt (19-20)
  • Cush (20) — modern day Sudan/Ethiopia
  • Babylon (21:1-10)
  • Edom (21:11-12) — modern day Jordan/Saudi Arabia
  • Arabia (21:13-17) — Saudi Arabia/Yemen
  • Jerusalem (22)
  • Tyre (23) — modern day Lebanon

It should be noted that special interest is again given to the territories of Bozrah and Edom in Isaiah 34 and 63, which are classic Day of the LORD passages. Again, these territories correlate to modern-day Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia.

The Nations in Jeremiah

Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it:

[Jeremiah 25:15-17]

Jeremiah, like Isaiah is full of divine judgments agains the nations [see Jeremiah 46-51], but chapter 25 provides the most complete list from the weeping prophet. As you can see, there is a great deal of overlap between Isaiah and Jeremiah.

  • Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (25:18)
  • Egypt (25:19)
  • Uz (25:20) — exact location uncertain but likely in proximity to modern day Jordan/Syria/Iraq
  • Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod) (25:20) — modern day Gaza
  • Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon (25:21) — modern day Jordan/northwestern Saudi Arabia
  • Tyre, Sidon, and the coastland across the sea (25:22) — modern day Lebanon and eastern Mediterranean
  • Dedan, Tema, Buz (25:23) — modern day Saudi Arabia
  • Arabia (25:24) — Saudi Arabia
  • Zimri, Elam, and Media (25:25) — modern day Iran
  • All the kings of the north, far and near — the Hebrew word for “north,” —Zaphon — can refer simply to geographical territories north of Israel, such as Turkey, but there is also a connection with spiritual wickedness in high places and the term Zaphon [see Isaiah 14:13, Daniel 11, Ezekiel 38]. This could be a reference to the concentration of all the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places in the last days.
  • All the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth (25:26) — This catch-all phrase shows the scope of influence the Antichrist will have in the last days. Although his government will be centralized in the Middle East, his reach will be in some ways global. [see Revelation 13:5-8]
  • Babylon (25:26) — Again there is special attention given to Babylon, which is the historical archenemy of Israel and seat of satanic power and influence.

The Nations in Ezekiel

Ezekiel is no exception when naming the nations to be judged on the Day of the LORD. The prophet dedicates chapters 25-32 to pronounce judgments on specific nations and also provides one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the Day of the LORD in chapters 38-39.

Consider Ezekiel’s lament of Pharaoh and Egypt to be judged on the Day of LORD in chapter 32.

  • Egypt is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes (v. 20)
  • Assyria is there, and all her company, its graves all around it, all of them slain, fallen by the sword (v. 22)
  • Elam (Iran) is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword (v. 24)
  • Meshech-Tubal (Turkey) is there, and all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword (v. 26)
  • Edom (Jordan) is there, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with those who are killed by the sword (v. 29)
  • The princes of the north are there, all of them, and all the Sidonians (Lebanon), who have gone down in shame with the slain (v. 30)

Ezekiel also provides details from his description of the judgment of Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal in chapter 38. As I have written in previous posts, Gog is the final end-times Antichrist figure.

  • Meshech, Tubal, Magog, Beth-togarma, Gomer — modern day Turkey/Syria
  • Persia – modern day Iran
  • Cush – modern day Sudan/Ethiopia
  • Put – modern day Libya/Northern Africa

Once again, there is considerable overlap with the nations mentioned by the Biblical prophets. I will share one more passage that hones in on the immediate people groups immediately around Israel. Psalm 83.

The Nations in Psalm 83

Although some interpret Psalm 83 to be some kind of regional conflict that becomes the catalysts for the great tribulation and military campaign of the antichrist, I believe this psalm clearly is referring to the Day of the LORD.

The psalmist describes a conspiracy between nations to destroy God’s people, saying, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more,” and also “Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God.” [Psalm 83:4, 12 ] After listing the names of the nations, the psalmist uses classic Day of the LORD language to invoke God’s judgment of His enemies.

O my God, make them like whirling dust,
like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest,
as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so may you pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your hurricane!
Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O LORD.
Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the LORD,
are the Most High over all the earth.

[Psalm 83:13-18]

Again. We discover another consistent overlap here with perhaps more focus on the immediate surrounding nations. Read Psalm 83:5-8.

  • Tents of Edom (Jordan/northwestern Saudi Arabia)
  • Ishmaelites (Saudis – Ishmael father of the Arabs)
  • Moab (Central Jordan)
  • Hagrites (Hagarenes – Northern Jordan)
  • Gebal (Lebanon)
  • Ammon (N. Jordan)
  • Amalek (Arabia)
  • Philistia (Gaza Strip)
  • Tyre (Lebanon)
  • Asshur, aka Assyria (Syria/Tukey/Iraq)

The Never-Ending Hatred

In closing, it is worth noting that Ezekiel refers to a blind hatred and contempt for Israel as the “never-ending enmity” of God’s enemies. The same spirit of utter disdain for Israel has remain constant in the surrounding nations for centuries, and it seems to be growing stronger each passing year. The spirit of the Antichrist will be what ultimately unifies all of these nations in their common hatred of God’s people, which will lead to the Day of the LORD.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I lay my vengeance upon them.”

[Ezekiel 25:15-17]

“Because you (Seir/Edom) cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment, therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you.”

[Ezekiel 35:5-6]

The Day of the LORD — The Great Winepress of God’s Wrath

Still another angel, with authority over the fire, came from the altar and called out in a loud voice to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the vine of the earth, because its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes of the earth, and he threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.

[Revelation 14:18-19]

As Jesus agonized in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father — if possible — to “take this cup from me.

What cup?

The cup of God’s wrath.

The Father drained His cup of fury and poured out the full measure of His wrath on Jesus at Calvary. As Jesus shed His own blood, He became the propitiation for sin, crying out, “It is finished!”

The Scriptures are clear, however, that there is another cup to be poured out on the Day of the LORD — a cup of divine wrath overflowing with blood.

But on that Day, Jesus will be the One treading the winepress of God’s wrath, and instead of His own blood, the land will be flowing with the blood of His enemies.

The Two Great Harvests of the Earth

There will be two distinct harvests at the end of the age on the Day of the LORD. One will be the final gathering of God’s people, in which believers will be redeemed at the resurrection and receive glorified bodies to inherit the kingdom of God on earth. We ultimately will be made like Jesus. As John says, “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” [1 John 3:2].

This is the harvest of the righteous and the final redemption of God’s people.

The other great harvest will be the final gathering of the wicked and rebellious nations who will unite against the Lord Jesus and invade the Holy Land at the end of the age.

Both of these harvests culminate on the Day of the LORD and at the final battle for Jerusalem, when Jesus returns to earth to rescue His own people and strike down the nations in judgment. Jesus teaches us the parable of the wheat and tares to illustrate this reality and clarifies that “the harvest is the end of the age” [Matthew 13:39].

Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

[Matthew 13:30]

John’s vision in Revelation 14 echoes the words of Jesus by contrasting the two harvests — one for the righteous and one for the wicked.

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

[Revelation 14:14-16]

The final gathering of God’s people is always connected to the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the righteous, which takes place “on the last day” [John 6:40-44]. As Jesus brings his armies from heaven to do battle on the last day, “He will send out the angels to gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” [Mark 13:27].

The Apostle Paul also connects the final harvest of the righteous with the final judgment of the Antichrist on that Day.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him … Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction … whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.”

[2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3, 8]

The Apostle Paul is in agreement with Jesus and the prophets. The Day of the LORD will not come until after the Antichrist is revealed and leads his final rebellion. According to Paul, believers will not be gathered together to Jesus until the coming of Jesus to earth, which is precisely when He will destroy the Antichrist and his armies [see also Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 19:11-21].

Which leads us to the second great harvest.

The Grapes will be Ripe

Once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, all those who have pledged their allegiance to the Antichrist will converge as one like a mass cluster of grapes, ripe for harvest.

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

[Revelation 14:9-10]

The winepress must be filled with the grapes of God’s enemies. On that Day, the harvest will be ripe. Notice how Joel uses the very same language to describe the final battle for Jerusalem.

“Let the nations be roused and advance to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit down to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because their wickedness is great.”

[Joel 3:12-13]

The Land of Israel — The Great Winepress

As the nations gather for war on the Day of the LORD, the land of Israel will become a natural winepress as it were. The LORD has been preparing for this very hour. Megiddo will be full. Jehoshaphat will be full. Jerusalem a cup of staggering. Hundreds of millions gathering for war in the Valley of Decision!

Although the surrounding nations will be drawn into battle by the satanic spirit of the Antichrist and blinded by a strong delusion, little will they know that it was God’s plan all along. The LORD is gathering them for this final battle [Zechariah 14:1-2].

“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.”

[Revelation 19:19]

Jesus will Tread the Winepress

Once the Beast and his armies are gathered in the winepress, the heavens will be opened and all the kings of the earth will wail as they see the King of kings riding on the clouds in power and great glory to strike them down with his rod of iron.

Consider the following prophecy of this dreadful day when Jesus returns to earth to wage war against the wicked.

Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.”

Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

I have trodden the winepress alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel
.
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.
I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath upheld me.
I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth
.”

[Isaiah 63:1-6]

Isaiah’s prophecy is one of the most intense descriptions of the Day of the LORD. Jesus is portrayed marching in bloody garments, striking down His enemies in wrath. This prophecy sets the original context forJohn’s vision of Jesus coming to tread the winepress.

“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

[Revelation 19:13-16]

On that Day, the carnage will be catastrophic. The corpses countless. The bloodshed … relentless.

Rivers of Blood

“And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.”

[Revelation 14:20]

Once King Jesus is on the ground and begins treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the blood will begin to flow. Never has there been such carnage in all of human history. It will be a time of such anguish that no human life would survive on the earth unless God cuts it short [Matthew 24:21-22].

The Apostle John saw a vision of that Day, where he says that the blood flowed as high as a horse’s bridle for approximately 180 miles! In other words, the day of God’s wrath will create a literal river of blood.

I’m not exactly sure how such a massive river of blood could be generated, even by the potential of hundreds of millions of fallen soldiers and animals, but perhaps when the blood of God’s enemies is mixed with a water source, a river of that magnitude is not outside the realm of possibility.

There are other prophetic passages that describe that fateful day.

“I will bring distress on mankind,
so that they shall walk like the blind,
because they have sinned against the LORD;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the LORD.
In the fire of his jealousy,
all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

[Zephaniah 1:17-18]

“Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom,
upon the people I have devoted to destruction. The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood; it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen shall fall with them,
and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall drink its fill of blood, and their soil shall be gorged with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.

[Isaiah 34:1-8]

“And I will cast you on the ground;
on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
with your flowing blood,
and the ravines will be full of you
.”

[Ezekiel 32:4-6]

The Nations by Name

In closing, I would like to bring attention to the overwhelming testimony of the Biblical prophets that mention by name all of the enemy nations that will be gathered to make war with the Lamb on that Day.

In my next post, I intend to take the time to look at each prophetic passage and work down the list, nation by nation, but for now I will close with Jeremiah’s account of that Day, when the Lord Jesus returns from heaven to tread the winepress of God’s wrath.

“You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me:

Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it

The LORD will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth
.
The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the LORD.”

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation,
and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!

And those pierced by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.”

[Jeremiah 25:15, 30-33]

The Day of the LORD — He is Coming on the Clouds

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”

[Revelation 1:7]

I love clouds. They can be both peaceful and ominous. Bright and Dark. Transparent and Dense. Calming and threatening. Clouds provide shade and rain. They bring storms and radiate the light of the sun. They keep us looking upward to heavens — where God resides.

Believe it or not, the Bible has so much to say about the clouds and the Day of the LORD. But first, let us discover how the Biblical authors speak about the purpose of the clouds and the very presence of God.

He Wraps Himself in Light

“Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

[Ezekiel 1:28]

How can human writers communicate about an Immortal, Invisible God? This is one of the great challenges of trying to convey heavenly concepts in earthly terms. The Biblical authors were limited to using human language to describe the divine.

Fortunately, God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind within the context of the physical world and more specifically in the person of Jesus Christ, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” [Hebrews 1:3]. God the Son — Jesus — is the image of the invisible God, and therefore anytime the Biblical authors describe the LORD in physical form, Jesus is in view.

As we will see in a moment, Jesus is the central focus whenever the Bible refers to God coming in the clouds, or with the clouds, or riding on the clouds. All of these various descriptions convey the same idea — namely God’s visible presence and glory and power and majesty.

No one could ever survive the unsuppressed light of God’s glory. No mortal can see the face of God and live. As Paul says, God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” [1 Timothy 6:16], so when God so chooses to manifest Himself to mankind, He must veil His glory and suppress the radiance of His light.

This is where clouds come into the picture. Clouds are a covering for Almighty God and a canopy containing His glory.

“Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.”

[Job 22:14]

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;

[Psalm 104:1-3]

The LORD at Sinai

“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”

[Exodus 34:5]

It can be argued that the Exodus from Egypt is the most important theological event in the Old Testament, but also the Exodus and subsequent theophany at Mount Sinai provide the most comprehensive foreshadowing of the Day of the LORD.

The LORD poured out wrath on all of Egypt with 10 plagues and at the same time protected His people Israel in the midst of it all. The LORD led the procession of His redeemed marching through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. The LORD then gathered the entire camp at the base of Mount Sinai, revealing His glory in thunderings, lightning, fire, trumpets and an earthquake. Moses and all of Israel trembled in fear.

Then the LORD “came down” out of heaven in a cloud to Sinai — the manifestation of His physical presence on earth. The clouds provided God’s covering, protecting Moses and the people from certain death.

“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.  Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

[Exodus 24:15-17]

He is Coming on the Clouds

Now that it has been established that the clouds provide a visible covering for the glory of the LORD and a canopy to contain the brilliance of His light, it is easier to understand how the clouds are directly connected to the Day of the LORD — that final Day when the LORD returns to earth to wage war against the wicked.

The prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments are brimming with references to the clouds and the Day of the LORD.

Old Testament

Having already made reference of the theophany at Sinai, I would like to turn my attention to the wealth of other prophetic passages that describe God coming from heaven, visibly on the clouds in glory and judgment.

I would like to begin with a Psalm of David that is often overlooked as one of the most comprehensive Day of the LORD prophecies.

“In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire
.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

[Psalm 18:6-15]

Psalms 97 & 144 convey the very same message.

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.”

[Psalm 97:2-5]

Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down!
Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them!”

[Psalm 144:5-6]

Daniel 7 is one of the most foundational Day of the LORD passages in the Old Testament. Daniel’s vision provides key details about the end-times kingdom of the Antichrist and how the Son of Man returns from heaven on the clouds to destroy the Beast and establish His everlasting kingdom on earth. In using the title Son of Man, Jesus was declaring Himself to be the One who will be coming on the clouds on that Day!

“I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man
,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.”

[Daniel 7:13-14]

Almost every Old Testament prophet desires this final Day when the LORD visibly descends from heaven to the earth to take vengeance on the ungodly. Consider the testimony of the Biblical prophets.

Behold, the storm of the LORD!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest
;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.”

[Jeremiah 23:19-20]

Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD:

“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
For the day is near,
the day of the LORD is near;
it will be a day of clouds,
a time of doom for the nations
.”

[Ezekiel 30:2-3]

“The great day of the LORD is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness
.”

[Zephaniah 1:14-15]

“Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.”

[Isaiah 19:1]

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind
,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

[Isaiah 66:15-16]

After a sampling from the Old Testament prophets, let us take a look at how the imagery of the clouds are used in the New Testament to connect the reader with the Day of the LORD and the final judgement.

New Testament

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

[Acts 1:9-11]

Jesus uses the very same cloud imagery to describe His return to earth in power and great glory. All three synoptic gospels contain His Olivet Discourse, so I will only share one here.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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 out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

[Matthew 24:29-31]

The Apostle Paul echoes the words of Jesus in his epistles.

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

[1 Thessalonians 4:16-18]

Finally, I want to provide a sampling from the book of Revelation that collectively builds on the imagery of the clouds.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

[Revelation 6:12-17]

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

[Revelation 14:14-16]

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

[Revelation 19:11-16]

He Marches forth in Judgment in a Whirlwind

I have one last thought concerning the LORD coming with the clouds in judgment. There are several passages that seem to imply that once the LORD comes down to earth, He will march forth in a cloud, or whirlwind, and lead His army on a deliberate campaign against His enemies.

This is what I consider to be the procession of the LORD on that Day when He marches against His enemies from Sinai to Jerusalem, striking down every wicked nation along the way.

I will spend more time on the judgment of the nations in a later post, but for now it appears that there is a possibility that the Lord Jesus will return with the clouds to the earth, and then He will commence to marching in a swift cloud as He takes vengeance on His enemies. The following passages appear to be drawing this distinction.

“Then the LORD will appear over them,
and his arrow will go forth like lightning;
the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet
and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south
.
The LORD of hosts will protect them,
and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones,
and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine,
and be full like a bowl,
drenched like the corners of the altar.”

[Zechariah 9:14-15]

“God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
so the wicked shall perish before God!
But the righteous shall be glad;
they shall exult before God;
they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!”

[Psalm 68:1-3]

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD is avenging and wrathful;
the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

[Nahum 1:2-3]

“But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
you will be visited by the LORD of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.

[Isaiah 29:5-6]