Article of the Month

January 2007

The Day of Vengeance 

In Luke 4:15 and 19 Jesus quotes from the words of Isaiah 61:1-3; but he stops in the middle of the passage.  He reads:

                        “The spirit of the Lord is upon me

                        because He hath anointed me to

                        preach the Gospel to the poor;

                        He hath sent me to the broken-

                        hearted, to preach deliverance to

                        the captives and recovering of

                        sight to the blind, to set at liberty

                        them that are bruised, to preach

                        the acceptable year of the Lord.”

 

Then Jesus closes the book and says, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

BUT:

Jesus had stopped reading right in the middle of one of Isaiah’s sentences!  Why?

Isaiah’s next words are:  “…and the DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD.”  Jesus purposely stopped before these words because, to use his phraseology, this day this scripture is NOT fulfilled in your ears.

This approach of Jesus to explaining Old Testament prophecy is not unusual.  He uses it elsewhere.  He omits that part of a prophecy which is to have its application at some future time.  The “Day of Vengeance” was a prophecy regarding the second advent of Jesus, not the first.  Therefore, Jesus stopped before reading the words about the “Day of Vengeance.”

“FEAR NOT!” 

As we come to expressions in prophecy which seem to create fear or dread in our minds, it is important to call to mind that God’s purpose for all mankind is to inaugurate a Kingdom of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”  This will be when God’s will is to “be done in earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)  If we wholeheartedly believe and accept the concept that soon “the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6), and the promise that “of peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:7), we will not fear when we hear the most horrible predictions of prophecy.  We will know that whatever unpleasantness must precede peace, it will all be worth the trauma.

As the Apostle Paul likens the incoming of the Kingdom to the pains of childbirth (I Thessalonians 5:1-3), we, too, are like confident mothers-to-be who are willing to endure the labor pains for the blessed results!  Thus, when informed Christians hear terms like “The Day of the Lord,” “The Day of Vengeance,” “Armageddon,” “A Time of Trouble such as never has been,” “Day of Wrath,” etc., we are inclined to remember the hand of Jesus on us, comforting us as he says, “Fear not!”  (Revelation 1:17; Luke 12:32)

All men, however, do not have faith. (II Thessalonians 3:2) Others have only weak faith because their understanding of the Divine Plan is insecure and based on misinformation.  Thus, we will surely find many in fear and trembling as the established way of doing things crumbles around us.

It is to give some understanding to those who sincerely wish to know about such things that this month’s article is written.

THE REASON AND NECESSITY FOR THE TROUBLE

True Christians do not cause trouble; nor do they participate in it even if that trouble is working toward good ends.  However, those who search, comprehend, and appreciate prophecy know that God will PERMIT mankind’s own follies to precipitate the very troubles which will weaken and ultimately destroy all of the corrupt institutions which have harmed us all.

It is not that man has PLANNED his institutions to be evil or corrupt.  We must give mankind credit that USUALLY our intentions for all of the things we establish are good; but God wants us to realize our own incapabilities of governing ourselves in our current imperfect state of being.  Our insecurities, our selfishness, our suspicious natures—all of these things have doomed us to seeking (and mis-using) power over others, money-seeking (and hoarding), stretching the truth, mob psychology, self-righteousness, and every other destructive tendency we find among us and within us.  Only by having our institutions and practices fail and crash around us will we ultimately want and appreciate the incoming Kingdom of God.

The “Day of Vengeance” has already begun and will intensify until all of man’s institutions have fallen.  We are living in a grand and awe-full day.  The fact is, God IS angry.  He is not vengeful in the sense that men are; He does not have that “I’ll-get-even-with-you” attitude.  His anger is directed at the way we hurt ourselves and others.  He is especially angry with those who claim to represent Him but fail miserably to do so because they mix worldly and human thinking with spiritual matters.  God hates hypocrisy. 

At the first advent, God temporarily rejected Israel and allowed the Roman Empire to destroy their polity and run them out of their land.  He now is no less angry with Christendom which has corrupted His Gospel, misplaced His priorities, and even mingled in politics—an action which the Scriptures call spiritual harlotry.  Can, for instance, we visualize “the look on God’s face” when in World War I the Germans had “GOD WITH US” on their belt buckles, the United States had “IN GOD WE TRUST” on its money, and England’s ruler was called “Head of the Church.”  Yet all were slaughtering each other in record numbers and with fiendish weapons and poisons!  All of this as we all proclaimed, “We are Christianity!”

The heathen certainly are not exempt from the same failings, but they do not represent the one and only true God.  God’s anger is focused most particularly now against Christendom.  His feelings are well expressed by His words through His prophet David (Psalm 50:16, 17) when He says,

                        “What hast thou to do to declare

                        my statutes, or that thou shouldest

                        take my covenant in thy mouth

                        seeing thou hatest instruction and

                        castest my words behind thee?”

However, since God’s blessings are to be for the WHOLE EARTH, for ALL NATIONS, for MOHAMMEDANS, HINDUS, WITCHES, and ATHEISTS, He will include all of the world in this “Day of Wrath.”  All man-made institutions and concepts must fail.  In Zephaniah 3:8 and 9, God shows how the current trend for “global economy” and interaction of nations will supply His opportunity to bring them all down together:

                        “Therefore, wait ye upon me, saith

                        the LORD, until the day that I rise up

                        to the prey:  for my determination is

                        to gather the nations, that I may

                        assemble the kingdoms to pour upon

                        them mine indignation, even all my

                        fierce anger:  for all the earth

                        (symbolic of society) shall be

                        devoured with the fire of my

                        jealousy, for then will I turn to the

                        people a pure language, that they

                        may all call upon the name of the

                        LORD to serve Him with one

                        consent.”

This is an incredibly beautiful prophecy.  It does show God’s unrelenting anger with what we have created, but it concludes by showing the object of that anger:  He wants to give us understanding, life, and peace in the new Kingdom which He is establishing.  Thus we find the words of Psalm 76:10 showing that God will allow us to pursue our destructive life-styles—but only to the point where it will work for good:

                        “Surely the wrath of man shall

                        praise Thee:  the remainder of

                        wrath shalt thou restrain.”

The Zephaniah prophecy shows clearly that the people to be blessed include those who have not previously called upon Him nor served Him.  It also clearly shows that the burning of the earth is not literal because, following the devouring “with fire,” the people are yet present to receive the blessings.  God will let society, economics, politics, and religion continue to evolve to the extremisms which will destroy them.  He will not intervene with peace (Psalm 46:6, 8-10) until we have reached our extremity.  (Proverbs 1:24-32)  He knows that our appreciation of His intervention will not be possible before that.

So, hold on, world!  The going will get rough.  The times we have already entered are not enviable times in which to live—except that the outcome will be glorious!

THE CHRISTIAN’S PLACE

The true Christian, though living in and through this horrendous and increasing trouble, will have a peace because he knows the objective of the trouble and the long-prayed-for results.  (Romans 8:19, 22-23)  The deliverance to heaven of the body of Christ before the trouble ends will be the mechanism for the blessing of all the families of the earth—the true Gospel message which was preached first in Genesis to Abraham.  (Galatians 3:7, 8, 29; Genesis 12:3)  The whole world unknowingly but subconsciously awaits this grand event.

Christians are not to stimulate nor to participate in the troubles.  They are, rather, (because NOW IS THE TIME) to finish reading the quote from Isaiah which Jesus cut short:

“TO PREACH…
the DAY OF VENGEANCE

OF OUR GOD”

to explain to all who will listen that the old order of things is doomed, and that this is not a bad thing, but a gateway to an unending life of joy, health, prosperity, creativity, and peace for this whole, groaning earth.  (Isaiah 35; Revelation 21:4, 5)   Let it be!