Opening prayer: Father, we so urgently want the peace that you promise. Touch our hearts and minds to understand Your plan for establishing the kingdom of the Prince of Peace.
This is a continuation of our series on the Revelation of Jesus the Messiah. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to study our previous lessons in this series:
Rev. 1: The Revelation of Jesus
Rev. 2-3: I Know You!
Rev. 4-5: Preview of Heaven
Rev. Study: Prophecies of Daniel
Rev. Study: Raptures and Resurrections
Rev. 6: Overview of the Tribulation
Rev. 7: Some Special People
Rev. 8-9: Danger! Rough Road Ahead!
Rev. 10-11: Seven Thunders; Two Witnesses
Rev. 12: The Woman and The Dragon
Rev. 13: The Last-Days Dictator
Rev. 14: The Last Train for Glory
Rev. 15-16: The Last Plagues
Rev. 17-18: Who IS That Woman?
Rev. Study: Ezekiel's War (Ch. 38-38)
This lesson will help lay the Scriptural groundwork for understanding God's long-term plan for our lives. The Lord is moving toward establishing that wonderful period of peace and harmony that we read about in the passage from Isaiah (quoted above), where the Prince of Peace rules the world.
As that time draws closer, you and I need to wake up and take sides. If we place our trust in the Prince of Peace and eagerly look for His coming, we shall (soon!) be lifted out of the earth for a much better view of life. This lifting out was explained in the earlier lesson, Raptures and Resurrections. If we drag our feet and try to second-guess God ("Aww, I can probably wait another couple of months before I get religious..."), we run the risk of experiencing what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation. Then it will get very costly to be a Christian.
This lesson will focus on the messages of the Hebrew prophets concerning an event called "The Day of the Lord." The Day of the Lord will not be a cheery one-day holiday or even a festive season like Christmas. It will be a time of God's judgment on this rebellious world when Jesus returns in triumph to set up His Kingdom.
Please note that the Day of the Lord is not the same as the Great Tribulation, although it will coincide with the end of that period. Also note that the story has a happy ending, as predicted in Isaiah 2:4, above. But this world will experience much unpleasantness before the story ends.
Our first Scripture is Isaiah chapter 2, verses 6-17:For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with eastern ways; They are soothsayers like the Philistines, And they are pleased with the children of foreigners.
7 Their land is also full of silver and gold, And there is no end to their treasures; Their land is also full of horses, And there is no end to their chariots. 8 Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made. 9 People bow down, And each man humbles himself; Therefore do not forgive them.
10 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, From the terror of the LORD And the glory of His majesty. 11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
12 For the day of the LORD of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, Upon everything lifted up— And it shall be brought low...
17 The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; The LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
Isaiah was writing to the nation of Israel, but the principle here applies to the modern-day world. We see our neighbors consumed with eastern philosophy, occultic religions and other toxic concepts. We see general prosperity ("land is full of silver and gold...") and an explosion in consumer spending on cars ("no end to their chariots...") and electronic toys.
For whatever reason, great material prosperity historically makes people very selfish and self-centered ("they worship the work of their own hands..."). When our financial future is more important than our eternal future, we accept compromises. We allow our elected leaders to violate ethical and moral principles and take away our freedoms in exchange for a measure of temporal security ("people bow down, and each man humbles himself."). We tolerate evil. Eventually we reach the dawn of the 21st century and the moral chaos predicted in Isaiah 5:20:Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Have you noticed how they've warped our generation's vocabulary? Try watching two hours of prime-time television (a brutal ordeal) and notice the harshness, moral laxity and underlying values of the ads, the actors and the programs. Then consider that for nearly 4 decades, the TV has been the family babysitter. My kids have been warped by it, and so have your kids. You and I have been affected by it, too, whether we admit it or not.
Our second Scripture, Isaiah 13: 4-19, fills in more detail:The noise of a multitude in the mountains, Like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts musters The army for battle. 5 They come from a far country, From the end of heaven— The LORD and His weapons of indignation, To destroy the whole land.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man’s heart will melt, 8 And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. 11 “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible...
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger...
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Isaiah directed this prophecy to the physical nation of Babylon. It also applies to those who subscribe to Babylon's spiritual legacy: man-made religions, man-centered religions and rebellion against God. We covered this in great detail in Who IS That Woman?
Hey, teacher! Religion is a very personal thing. What's wrong with worshiping God my own way?
What a unique concept! Let's throw away the Bibles and only teach stuff that makes us feel good! Let's make our OWN little god! In fact, since you and I can't agree on what this little god should be like, we can make several little gods and build shrines for each of them. And since these little gods are too boring by themselves, let's say they have super powers and can interact with humans. Better yet, let's have them come down and mate with humans and produce children that have super powers! Better yet, let's just buy a book on Babylonian mythology and copy everything, so we won't have to waste time dreaming this stuff up.
That's absurd! Modern Americans wouldn't go for that stuff.
You don't think so? Do your kids have the "Hercules" video or watch the TV show? Did you ever watch Wonder Woman? Have you ever tried watching an hour of Saturday-morning TV and all the violent cartoons? Have you noticed all the ads (and storefront signs) for astrologers, palm-readers, and psychic hotlines? Have you noticed all the "earth-mother" and Gaia worship prevalent among certain groups that call themselves "new-age?" Have you noticed how public school administrators have become hostile to Christianity and very tolerant of eastern meditation and beliefs?
Our nation (and much of Europe) eagerly seeks the spiritual legacy of Babylon. The Lord will soon deliver that legacy -- to a very surprised world.
The next prophecy comes from Ezekiel chapter 13, starting in verse 3:Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. 5 You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the LORD.
6 They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD!’ But the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. 7 Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The LORD says,’ but I have not spoken.”
8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord GOD. 9 “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
10 "Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace."
This passage is very clear. False prophets have always been around, and have always found a willing audience. In Ezekiel's day they pretended to serve the God of Israel. Today, they pretend to be Christian ministers. A recently published survey of more than 7000 "Christian" ministers showed that nearly half of them don't really believe one or more key principles of the Christian faith -- including their own denominations' statements of belief!
Next we see a prophecy from the book of Joel, chapter 2:Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand: 2 A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations.
3 A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them. 4 Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run. 5 With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array.
Joel gives more detail in chapter 3:Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’” 11 Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD.
12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow— For their wickedness is great.”
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness.
16 The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.
Joel's prophecies tell us that there will be a final war with a supernatural conclusion. Many nations will gather against Israel, intending to utterly destroy it. Instead, the Lord will harvest the invaders like wheat.
Joel gives a ray of hope to God's people. The Lord Himself "will be a shelter for His people." This is a hint of two future blessings: the various rapture events, and the hiding place in the wilderness for the Israelites (described in The Woman and The Dragon.
Did you notice the irony in verse 10? Joel taunts the false prophets who will be quoting Isaiah the prophet and trying to lull the people to sleep with false promises of hope. The false prophets will be actively promoting peace and harmony and a one-world government system that supposedly will end all wars. The TV announcer prophets will support the religious prophets who will support the political prophets who will promote a last-days world dictator. That person will establish the government from hell -- as we saw in The Last-Days Dictator.
The prophet Amos had quite a bit to say in Chapter 5, verses 18 to 26:Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!
20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
21 “I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. 22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. 23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.
25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 You also carried Sikkuth your king And Chiun, your idols, The star of your gods, Which you made for yourselves."
Amos also picks up on the concept of religious hypocrisy. He points out that while the children of Israel offered sacrifices to God during their 40 years in the wilderness, they never threw away the idols they acquired in Egypt. Like some modern church attendees, they observed religious rituals that God never established, and never stopped certain pagan practices, like Halloween...
Now let's read Obadiah 1:15-20:“For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. 16 For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.
17 “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness. The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame. But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” for the LORD has spoken. 19 The South shall possess the mountains of Esau, and the Lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South.
21 Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.
Obadiah echoes many of the themes of the other prophets: the time of destruction and judgment upon all nations. He also adds more details, explaining how the formerly captive Israelites will conquer their neighbors all around. This will put a permanent end to the almost-daily mortar barrages and terrorist attacks against modern-day Israel -- attacks which the American media routinely ignore.
Our next passage is from the book of Zephaniah, Chapter 1:Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. 8 “And it shall be, In the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, That I will punish the princes and the king’s children, And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. 9 In the same day I will punish All those who leap over the threshold, Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.
12 “And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.’ 13 Therefore their goods shall become booty, And their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”
14 The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. 15 That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.
17 “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.” 18 Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD’S wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.
Especially note the verse that says, "I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.’" This is a very common attitude. I've even heard this type of cynicism from church members. All their lives they've been hearing about the Lord's second coming, and they've heard faithful pastors exhort them to keep their hearts ready for Him. Yet I frequently hear people say things like, "How do you KNOW the Lord is coming soon? We've been in the 'last days' for a very long time now."
Yes, we've been in the last days for a very long time. But we can never stop preparing our hearts, like the wise virgins who brought enough oil with them to last the night, even though the bridegroom hadn't come any of the previous nights and wouldn't necessarily come this night. The wise ones were ready. The complacent ones lost out.
The 14th chapter of the book of Zecheriah has much to say about the subject:Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem... 3 Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. 5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You.
6 It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish. 7 It shall be one day Which is known to the LORD— Neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen That it will be light.
8 And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be— “The LORD is one,” And His name one.
As before, note that these events come at the very conclusion of the Great Tribulation and introduce the great Kingdom of Messiah upon the earth. This passage includes a very specific prophecy that the Lord Himself will set His feet on the Mount of Olives (site of the Olivet Discourse, explained in Revelation 6), and the mountain will split in two, east-to-west. For 30 years, I've heard preachers claim that a major east-west fault line runs through the Mount of Olives. Well, maybe there is, and maybe there isn't. All I know is that Jesus doesn't need help from any fault line in order to make this happen.
As before, the most important concepts to grasp are:
- The Lord Himself will be King over all the earth, and
- He will wipe out the remaining pockets of worldly rebellion and religious foolishness.
Malachi chapter 4, very last chapter of the Old Testament, concludes with a prophecy about the day of the Lord:“For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,” Says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Malachi is consistent with all the other prophets. He tells about a coming day of judgment. The Good Guy will win. You and I will be winners, too, if we are faithful to Him and keep our hearts ready for His return.
Please note the promise in verse 2: "But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings." My prayer is that you will prepare your heart for the return of the Lord. If you do, you will be the recipient of some amazing promises, as explained in our lesson on Raptures and Resurrections.
If you aren't sure if you're ready, please click the "mail-to" link below to send us an e-mail. Explain your concerns and we'll respond as quickly as we can.
Closing Prayer: Lord, it's frightening to read about the judgment that will soon fall upon this earth. But I put my trust in You and in Your promise to keep me safe, near You. Amen.