The Day of Man and The Day of the Lord
The Day of Man
New Scientist magazine, published in Great Britain, usually has one or two articles of interest in every issue, in spite of the blatant, arrogant atheism of their editorial staff. Their July 23 issue featured an article entitled The End is Not Nigh, reporting on a conference held this summer at Oxford University. The presenters at that conference made it clear that man was (as of now) in full control of his own destiny! The conferees assure us that modern man, (finely tuned and highly refined by eons of evolutionary improvements), now has all the resources he needs to cope with any future threats to his prosperity, comfort and well being! Our destiny and our future are apparently now entirely in our own hands.
Anyone who backs off a bit from such rhetoric, taking a more objective look at the real world, will surely see that our planet is a long way from being under "man's control." On the contrary, quite a few well-informed people today see world events as increasing out of control with each passing day.
No recourse to religious arguments is necessary in looking soberly at the human condition as it really is. Lasting progress towards peace on earth, good will toward men, is still pure fantasy, judging by simple extrapolation from past known history.
Our human mortality rate remains at a dismal100%. More people live on earth just about now than we can hope to feed for very much longer. Man's ability to annihilate our fellow man (often for arbitrary reasons) is greater now than ever. Bad guys who start wars are often not even rational or predictable – many should have been locked up a years ago.
Seemingly minor social issues leading to horrific wars, the deaths of many innocents and purposeless destruction, bubble up again and again, defying permanent solutions. Even the well-intentioned actions of enlightened individuals and groups often backfire, doing more long-term harm than good.
Surely "mother" nature "herself" is not yet under our perfect control either. The energy in a single hurricane is of the order of 200 times greater than the total electrical generating capacity of our entire earth. "Average" earthquakes (a million tons of TNT equivalent, or so) are not puny in their energy releases. Our planet is already overdue for some above average quakes any day now.
But no matter. Information from a reliable outside Source, (that is, from authoritative data given to us in the Bible), lets us know that we have been living for a good many centuries on borrowed time, for a probationary season of history we can think of as "man's day" or "the day of man."
But the status quo of God's management of human affairs is about to change big time. The change will be sudden, violent and irrevocable. We have been forewarned
C.S. Lewis wrote,
God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.
Although God has always existed as a mighty Spirit Being, consisting of three Persons working together in perfect harmony, the created universe was brought into existence a finite number of years ago by this eternal God acting according to His own free will and for His own good purposes. Many clear statements to this effect are found in the Bible.
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.' "Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together. I, the LORD, have created it." (Isaiah 45:5-8)
Concerning Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, the New Testament declares that the created universe was brought into existence through the Son of God. That is, Jesus was the active agent in our original creation from nothing. Jesus is, at this very minute, the active sustainer and "upholder" of the cosmos, micromanaging every detail. The entire cosmos, (the seen and the unseen realms), were all created for Jesus. The cosmos was not made for us, but for Jesus and His associates. If He is the designated heir, Jesus has the right to do as He pleases with His universe. In fact Jesus has been, and is now, directing the ages of history moving world events rapidly now towards the day He will rule all the nations from Jerusalem.
"He [the Son of God] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things [preeminent], and in Him all things consist [are held together]." (Colossians 1:15-17)
The Day of the Lord
As noted, based on the Biblical revelation, human history from the first man Adam till now can be considered "the day of man," or "man's day." A fast approaching new epoch of history will be known as "the Day of God," or "the Day of the Lord."
The transition from the current state of affairs of "man's day" on earth to "God's Day" will involve many traumatic and violent changes for us all. We have already been warned about all this in Scripture for centuries in advance. Probably many just hope it will never happen in our lifetimes. Even many followers of Jesus are none to eager to see this new age dawn on our world. We don't all welcome change of any kind when we are already reasonably comfortable. But, the Apostle Peter warned "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the sinner and ungodly appear" (1 Peter 4:18).
Both the Old and New Testaments are full of information on the approaching Day of the Lord. Some of the strongest language in all the Bible is reserved for descriptors about "the great and terrible day of the Lord." We are warned again and again to be ready for this radical change as if it were to burst in upon us at any moment now.
"I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" (Revelation 6:12-17)
During the present period of history—which we have been calling "man's day" God's interference in the affairs of men has been minimal. This does not mean that human beings have had total freedom to do as we please down through history, with no outside interference from God. Ever since creation, God has ruled as Sovereign over the entire creation and over all peoples, tribes and nations. We are far, far more dependent upon God, even for our "daily bread" than we can possibly imagine. But, so far the Lord has been less intrusive than He might have been.
Volumes have been written about God's day to day involvement in the universe during this long, extended period of grace called "day of man." Much of what God has been doing for us has been "below the radar." We can not usually tell if a certain natural disaster is a judgment on a city of a nation or simply a "natural event" resulting from our living in a fallen universe. When disasters are judgments from God, (as in the case of the confusion of languages at Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or the destructions of Jerusalem in 586 BC and AD 70) we are usually told that these were specific judgments. When asked about disasters in a fallen world Jesus gave an enigmatic answer, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5) We ought not to take circumstances in life for granted and we should always be ready to meet our God at any time.
Based on what we do know about human evil, (as God has explained the human condition to us in detail in the Bible) our Creator's present-day involvement with our race has mostly been devoted to restraining human evil so that life stays livable for us most of the time. And we have been mercifully kept from utterly destroying ourselves on any number of occasions. God has invariably acted with great mercy, compassion and utmost restraint, greatly preferring kindness to judgment.
"...Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God." (Romans 2:4-11)
Suffice it to say that we earth-dwellers are like house guests living in Someone else's universe. Jesus described his relationship with Israel using a parable on this very subject of an absent landlord and less than trustworthy renters in Matthew 21)
The Bible assures us that we have actually been living in God's universe under a long series of probationary tests and trials. So far we have failed every test rather badly. Therefore there is coming a Day when the Owner-Landlord must intervene to set things right.
Just what can be expected when a God of love intervenes abruptly in our chaotic, thoroughly mixed-up world of human affairs. He will clearly be coming to act in our own best interests but will that intervention be smooth and peaceful? Will Jesus not be openly welcomed everywhere as earth's long-expected Prince of Peace?
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne. (Charles Wesley, 1744)
The sad answer is that Jesus is the most hated man who has even lived! His rule on earth over the nations will be resisted to the death by the vast armies of the world when they gather on the plains of Esdraelon in Israel to oppose His return to rule the earth from Israel. (See for example Revelation 19, Zephaniah 1, Zechariah 14, and don't miss Psalm 2).
Over long centuries, human governments, educational systems, religious organizations, economic and financial entities have became more and more man-serving and less and less God-serving. How can God bring in a whole new (righteous) world order without first tearing down the old?
Many people tolerate change when they benefit, but become threatened and angry when change affects them adversely. Human violence resulting from the initial phases of the return of the Lord Jesus to claim His throne can be expected to be mighty violent indeed.
Our Creator is a God of love but He is also just—and He much prefers mercy to justice. How much longer will man be permitted to have "his day" in the course of human government and man-made institutions on the planet?
Actually God has already told us that He will tolerate (and allow) much more evil on earth before the final return of Jesus Christ in full power with the armies of heaven to back him up.
There is much more bad stuff coming down–evidently God will soon allow human evil to run its full course openly and unfettered (for a short season). A counterfeit prince of peace, a fake peace program, a counterfeit world church, a European union of nations are already being crafted in our day. As history moves from the day of man to the day of God, full blown evil will express itself with horrific consequences on earth.
Every year "the time of the end" as described in the Bible draws nearer. The Apostles of the First Century felt the coming of their Lord was even then on their horizon.
In spite of many obvious indicators in Middle Eastern events, the indicators from the economic markets of the world, the rumblings of nuclear war and more terrorist attacks, should we not be up to speed and ready for the time of God's intervention in our world?'
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:3436
Ray Stedman has written,
"All through the Bible we see God's love is manifest to men and women everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, 'Do not go on to this end!' But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, 'I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for. ' But many men and women say, 'No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom. ' To such, God ultimately says, 'All right, have it your way!' "God has three choices: first, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In that case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails, must go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot truly love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in the terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. We have all experienced it to some small degree when we get what we want and then discover we do not want what we got! For that sense of bored emptiness to go on forever, is unspeakable torment." (Ray C. of Stedman, The Time Harvest, http://raystedman.org/revelation/)
August 15, 2008
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