Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Day of the Lord

Zephaniah 2:3 - Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD's anger.

I chose to read the Book of Joel. I knew it would be a prophetic word for the people of Israel. I also knew it would be a word for the people of today. Prophetic words tend to be hard words laced with if-then or if-when statements meaning if you do this, God will do something. If we turn to God, He will save us. If we choose God, He is our protector, provision, guide. If we reject Him, we are forever lost.

As I read the thought occurred to me to look up the phrase used frequently...the day of the Lord. While that phrase is used to describe the time just prior to Jesus' return, and while prophetic words are hard, God always has an upside to things. Stick with me till the end... You see, I started with a scripture that shows us what we should do to avoid the calamitous day of the Lord before presenting the harder stuff.

If the Bible says there will be a day of the Lord in the future, there will be. For some it will be a glorious day. For others, dreadful. The problem is...not many realize it. Many may not even have heard of such a day. It not only is a day of God's wrath upon all those who reject Him but a day of joy for those who know Him and will be received into His kingdom. Like the Word says, Do you suppose that I [Jesus] came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. (Luke 12:51) That's quite the statement considering He is called the Prince of Peace. The peace He gives comes out of a relationship with Jesus.

There will always be division among man (and we see it today). Some do not believe in God at all, some hate Him, some are just offended by any mention of Him. And to some those who have made a choice to believe are looked upon as peculiar. We have a choice in our beliefs. Following Him is not something one can say they do because they are church goers or call themselves Christians. A follower is serious about God. It's not just head knowledge but heart. And only God knows anyone's heart. And only He will know at the time of the day of the Lord where anyone truly is.

The day of the Lord. There were several scriptures about it. The day itself will be one of destruction (Joel 1:15), darkness and gloominess, clouds (Joel 2:1-2). The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:10-11) "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. (Joel 2:30-31)

Who can endure it? Read on.

Not just Joel spoke of the day of the Lord. The prophet Obadiah, and others, mentioned the day of darkness to come for those who oppose God and His people (again, Israel then, Christ followers today). “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." (Obadiah 1:15)

This is why we must be ever vigilant in these days. We do not know the day or hour He will return. The signs are before us, we are living in the midst of them. They are both unsettling and exciting to believers. Others believe it is just another period of time that we will get through. But as I've posted before about the characteristics of the people and lifestyles today, it's looking pretty much like what God has told us it would be like. ...lovers of selves and money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...(2Timothy 3:2-4).

These are the signs we cannot dismiss. These things will only get worse and then the Lord will come quickly, unannounced, like a thief in the night. If we choose not to pay heed, see what happens. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (1Thessalonians 5:3)

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2Peter 3:11-13)

The prophets warned. While the warnings were and still are stern, there is the upside. Most of the words describing the day of the Lord are difficult. But there is always an upside. Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life. Know Jesus and you will know truth (both good and bad), gain understanding, have wisdom, know peace, know life.

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls. “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Then you shall know that...I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame." (Joel 2:32,12,27)

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