What Is the Day of the Lord?

What Is the Day of the Lord?

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

1st Thessalonians 5:1-4; compare 2nd Peter 3:10, Isaiah 2:12 and others.


As we are working our way through 1st Thessalonians, we have come to a portion touching on the end times. In chapter four, we saw a detailed description of the Rapture of the Church. In the beginning of chapter five, we see the Beginning of the Tribulation and the fact that it does not involve the Church.

Some years ago, I heard a man teaching on 2nd Peter 3:10. I believe that he meant to teach honestly and accurately: he probably was not a false teacher. But he evidently also did not search out the other references to the “day of the Lord.” He tried to force both events in this passage to fit into a single 24-hour day.

2nd Peter 3:10

Let’s read it: 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

  • It comes as a thief in the night, and
  • All the heaven and Earth (and all that is in it,) will be destroyed.

This verse summarizes the facts. I might say, “the Book of Genesis says God created the Heavens and the Earth, and Joseph was embalmed in a coffin in Egypt.” While that is true, it is not helpful: it skips 1700 years of history! 2nd Peter 3:10 tells us the “beginning and the end” of the Day of the Lord.

What do We Know?

We want to knowwhen the “opening bell” of the Day of the Lord will be. We also want to know what happens during that “day.” God freely tells us what will happen during the Day of the Lord. He does not tell us when it begins. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus specifically warns that “NO Man will know the day or the hour of His coming.” And, in Acts 1:7, He reiterates that “it is not given unto you to know the times or the seasons…

The teacher I heard probably tried to teach honestly. But if he had researched even a little, he would have found that it could not be a 24-hour day. During that “day of the Lord,”  the Gentile nations will come to Jerusalem: How often? They will come year by year, to worship the Lord, in person! And this is specifically after they had warred against Israel. So, it cannot be a single 24-hour day.

Zechariah 14:16 says, “and it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts [that’s Jesus!], and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

That places this specific occurrence after the Tribulation, and before the destruction of this World. So, the passage in 2nd Peter covers a lot of territory…not just a 24-hour day.

“First Mention” Principle

In Bible Study and Interpretation (also called Hermeneutics) we teach a concept called the “first mention” principle. It means that if we are addressing a topic, it is a good idea to go back and look up how God introduced that topic.

Isaiah 2:12-4:6 introduces the topic of the Day of the LORD. He says that it will be a time of heavy Judgment on Israel. He says that all their pride and self-will and idolatry will permanently be put away from them. But He also warns that in the process, they will lose everything they now count precious.

Relatively few people of Israel will even survive the “Judgment portion” of the Day of the Lord: We can see in Isaiah 4:1 that there will be an extreme shortage of men. They will be reduced to an approximate 7:1 ratio of women to men. It says that “in that day, seven women will lay hold of one man, saying, we will pay for our own food and clothing, but let us be called by your name, to take away our shame.”


In the books of Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets, the contrasts become sharper and sharper. Isaiah 11:10-13 says all the Jews from every nation will be brought back to Israel, and that they will all get along perfectly. It also says that the “Root of Jesse” (the Messiah) will be there, and the Gentiles will eagerly seek Him. That sounds like a total blessing! But we just read of all the judgment and destruction! We can already see what seem to be irreconcilable differences in what is predicted for the Day of the Lord. And that is just in Isaiah!

In Isaiah 11:6-9 we see that the entire animal kingdom will be restored to peace. (That indicates a partial lifting of the curse.) The predators and prey will all eat the same diet… the lion will eat hay, just like an ox, etc. Those all sound like blessings!

Are there Contradictions?

But in Isaiah 13:6-11, it says, “Howl ye, for the Day of the Lord is at hand; it will come as destruction from the Almighty!” Verse nine says it will be a day of “cruel wrath and fierce anger.” And, Isaiah 19:23-25 says it will be a day of blessing, and peace, and gentleness!

(Do you see some apparent contradictions?) Remember, ALL these prophecies will be fulfilled literally, in the Day of the Lord. If any fall short, then God’s Word would fall short. Remember, too, they must be fulfilled in the Day of the Lord, not before. There may be similar things that happen before it, (or which have already happened.) But the ultimate fulfillment has to be in the Day of the Lord. (Don’t take a “similar” thing to mean that the day of the Lord has come.)

So, Which is it? Destruction or Peace?

Will all the earth be blessed, as in Isaiah 11:9, where He says, “the knowledge of the Lord will cover the Earth as the waters cover the sea…”? Or will “…the heavens…pass away with a great noise, and the elements … melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein … be burned up” as 2nd Peter 3:10 says?

God’s Word is complete, and it is also completely true. Both of those “extremes” have to happen. And all the things attributed to the Day of the Lord have to happen exactly as predicted.

The Divine Puzzle

We see that “The Day of the Lord” looks like a very complex “puzzle.” We know it all has to “fit together,” but it really doesn’t look possible.

Years ago, my father sent us a wooden three-dimensional puzzle. As I recall, it had about nine very similar pieces. They all interlocked to make a sort of “many-sided wooden ball:” a polyhedron of some sort. Separately,, all the parts looked very similar. But they only went together in a very limited group of possibilities. Once you know the secret, you can reassemble it, but without that knowledge, it seems impossible.

Without the clues here in 1st Thessalonians 4 and 5, the “puzzle” of the End-times and the Day of the Lord would be very difficult to understand.

Is there “Order” in the “Puzzle?”

We see that there is a long list of things that have to happen “in the Day of the Lord.” Only one of them falls into the category of “unknowable.” It is the Rapture of the Church. We do not know when that will occur. It could happen very soon (and we hope it does, of course.) But it also could be many years from now.

We can list fairly accurately every other item on the list of “things to come in the Day of the Lord.” The Bible requires that they come in the order given in the book of the Revelation, including all the terrible wrath and judgment, the plagues, and all the peace and joy and blessings. How do they fit together?

In 1st Thessalonians 4 and 5 we begin to see “how they fit together.”

  1. The Rapture of the Church: We cannot predict this accurately, and it “Comes as a thief in the Night.” then,
  2. The Tribulation Begins: all the details are laid out in Daniel and Revelation. The Tribulation encompasses all the judgments: all the plagues, wars, and destruction on Earthexcept one.
  3. The Return of the Lord (Revelation 19:11-21) comes next. He immediately sets himself to the task of The Judgment of the Living (surviving) nations (Matthew 25:31-46.) But, The Tribulation does not include the final destruction of the Heavens and the earth, as described in 2nd Peter 3:10. That destruction is 1,000 years later.
  4. Kingdom Age begins: The Kingdom age encompasses all the blessings and Peace and holiness and Joy that is predicted in the Old Testament Prophecies. The Jews have been waiting for and hoping for this Kingdom, over the last 3,000 years. It will fulfill all the promises of Peace and blessing in Isaiah and elsewhere. Everyone who enters the Kingdom will already be a believer, but New Generations will be born and will reach adulthood during this time…and many will hide rebellion in their hearts, even though Jesus is living on Earth, and ruling from Jerusalem. They will still rebel inwardly, just as Judas did.
  5. End of the Kingdom Age: Satan will be released for a short time and all those “secret rebels” will join him in an all-out siege on Jerusalem, attempting to overthrow The King. At that moment (once they have all assembled there,) the Father will rain fire from Heaven and destroy them all, and then,
  6. The Heaven and Earth will pass away: (“the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”, and Immediately,
  7. The Great White Throne Judgment will occur: (Revelation 20:11-15) This is the end of “the Day of the Lord.” All sin will have been dealt with, once for all. The “bringing in of eternal righteousness” predicted in Daniel will also happen right there, and the eternal state will begin. The New Heaven and Earth will appear after the Judgment is complete.

What are We to Do, regarding the Day of the Lord?

In 1971, there was a book written, called “What to do until the Messiah Comes.” It was entirely centered on self-improvement, humanitarian activities, peaceful, communal living, gardening, and crafts, etc. Nothing about His coming, at all.

So, What is the Problem with that Picture?

Did Jesus give instructions about “what to do until He returned?” Yes, as a matter of fact He did! And none of it had anything to do with any of the things in that book!

He said we are to be doing what he said to do, and so, to be found faithful. That includes loving our neighbor as ourselves, submitting to civil authority, demonstrating a holy lifestyle, etc. But it also includes taking the Gospel to the lost and dying World.

Philippians 2:15, 16 says we are to “shine as lights” in that dark world, and to be “holding forth the Word of life.” That means offering Eternal Life to the lost!

In 1st Corinthians 15:34, Paul admonished the Corinthian believers to “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

You see, they had a job to do, and they were not doing it!

So, What about Us?

The Day of the Lord has not begun, but it could begin at any time. And once it begins, then our time for voluntary obedience to Jesus (out of Love and a genuine desire to please Him with our lives) will end. Our only opportunity to “join Him in double harness,” working with Him to “do the will of Him who sent us, and to finish His Work”… will be gone forever.

The Obedience of Faith is what pleases the Lord. When the people asked Jesus “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” He replied, “This is the Work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent!

Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

What, then?

If I really believe He is coming back, What then? If I can see that my time is especially short, simply because of my age, I should take this seriously. Ephesians 5:16 says to “redeem the time, because the days are evil.” More explicitly, as Colossians 4:5 says, we are to “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. This is about our relationships with unbelievers. This is “lifestyle evangelism” and “personal evangelism.” It has to be lived, but it also has to be spoken.

Some of you have friends who do not know the Lord. Some have relatives, and family members who are still lost. Give this some thought. The fact is, we all are running out of time. We are running out, and they are, too!

Lord Jesus, allow us to see our own mortality and how fleeting our time on Earth truly is. Help us to live in the Light of that Knowledge, and use wisely whatever time we have left.

Is the “Rapture of the Church” in the Bible?

The Rapture of the Church:

(How does it appear in Scripture?)

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

1st Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-10

Chapter 4

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Chapter 5 

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; THEN sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.


Paul says he shared these truths (in chapter four) with the Thessalonian believers for a reason. It was to provide them with comfort and hope in the face of death. In earlier passages, he had also referred to the abuse they had suffered for their faith. And, in the next chapter, he addressed the coming judgment on the unbelieving world and Israel.

When reading any of the epistles, remember that they were originally letters. The writers addressed them to churches, mostly, although a few seem to have been addressed to an individual believer. The original manuscripts had no chapter or verse divisions. Why is that important? Because, sometimes, the idea being taught in one chapter moved directly into the topic of the next chapter. Thus, when we read 1st Thessalonians 4, we remember that chapter five flows directly out of chapter four.

The “Catching Away” of the Church

Chapter four gives the most complete description of what we call the “Rapture of the Church.” 1st Corinthians 15:50-53 also describes the event. It adds the fact that our bodies will be instantly transformed from “flesh and blood” bodies to the supernatural bodies we will inhabit for eternity. Read it:

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

What “Last Trumpet?”

Notice that the “last trumpet” of the Church age is not the “last trumpet” of the Tribulation period. But the trumpet in 1st Corinthians 15 is identical to the one in 1st Thessalonians 4.

The seventh (and last) trumpet in the Tribulation (Revelation 11:15) announces the next stage of judgment on earth! There is nothing “good” happening. (In fact, Revelation 4:1-3 says that a “voice like a trumpet talking” calls the Apostle up to the Throne of God. The Revelation makes no mention of the Church being on Earth, from that point on. Many Bible students see this as a veiled picture of the Rapture of the Church. (I share this view.) We will be called up, out of the Earth, before the Tribulation begins!

Revelation 5:9, 10 describes a group of “24 elders” who evidently represent the church. They say, “You have redeemed us by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue and people and nation.” And, “You have made us unto our God kings and priests…”

Only the Church is “redeemed out of every family, language, ethnic group and nation.” Only the church is called to become “kings and priests.” (Israel is called to become a “kingdom of priests:” That is not the same thing.) Therefore, we see that the Church is in Heaven, and gathered around the throne of God, before the Tribulation begins in Revelation 6:1.

The “Thief in the Night” Prophecies:

1st Thessalonians 5:2 says that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

2nd Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Matthew 24:42, 43
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”

Revelation 16:15 says, 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

We see several warnings, mostly given to Israel. Each states that the Day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. Matthew says the character of this event is that “the world (including Israel) wakes up” to find that they have been “invaded,” and that something is missing.

What will be Missing?

If we read 1st Thessalonians 4 and 5 as a unit, (which they are) we find that the Church has “gone missing!” We also see that the Tribulation begins immediately after that event. Paul says that “they knew perfectly well that the Day of the Lord will come as a Thief in the night.” But one of the characteristics of the whole “thief in the night” concept is that you do not know when he is coming. All of the rest of the Day of the Lord is fully laid out: choreographed by God, through prophecy. All except the Rapture of the Church!

Why is “the Rapture of the Church” a Secret?

The Rapture of the Church was a secret because the whole concept of the Church age was kept secret. It was not revealed until after Jesus’ crucifixion, His death, His burial, His Resurrection and His ascension! The first human to be shown the revelation of the Church was the Apostle Paul. It was a brand-new thing that God did on planet Earth!

And, since the Old Testament prophets were not even allowed to know of the existence of the Church, they obviously could not be told about how it would be removed.

What are the “Seventy Weeks of Daniel?”

In Daniel 9:21-27 the prophet Daniel (at about 607 BC)gives us a very important timeline:

21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

24Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

(Starting When?)

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

We see that the 70 x 7 years (490-year) prophecy began with the command to rebuild Jerusalem. (Not the Temple: the city!) King Artaxerxes gave that command in Nehemiah chapter 1, about 446 BC. He made that decree almost 160 years after Daniel’s prophecy. But it covers the first 69 “weeks” (483 years), and culminates in the crucifixion. Then it skips to the 70th “week” (7 years.) It gives a brief, but clear description of the Tribulation, including the antichrist.

But, What happened to the Church Age?

The Church is not included!

We are not part of the judgment spelled out in Daniel 9:24. He clearly says that the judgment has a purpose, and it has recipients. The recipients are Jerusalem and all Israel. The unbelieving World is involved as well, as the World is the means by which God is judging Israel. And there will be terrible judgment poured out on the entire World. But we are not part of that prophecy at any level. We simply are not included.

What is The Big Secret? Why the Mystery?

Ephesians 3:1-11 lets us know just how great a secret it was (Paul speaking:)

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

An Object Lesson

God is teaching the Holy Angels something they had not known, (which we absolutely do not know.) He is using the Church-age believers as an “object lesson” to show His Eternal Wisdom to the Angelic host who had not followed Satan in his rebellion. (Do I understand this? No! Emphatically, No!) But, there it is! The Church age believers are in a special category. We are separated from the world and from Israel, for a purpose far beyond our comprehension. God says so!


Why is it so surprising that He would complete that separation? He will do so by pulling us out of harm’s way before He brings the Judgment of the Tribulation upon Earth. God separated Noah from the judgment of the Flood on the Earth, by means of the Ark. The result was that the judgment of the world excluded Noah! God sent angels to separate Lot from Sodom, so that the judgment of Sodom excluded Lot! He separated Israel from Egypt, by the blood of the Passover Lamb, and by the miraculously selective judgments upon Egypt, so that the judgment of Egypt excluded Israel!

He separated us from the World already, through the Blood of Jesus, and He has seated us with Him already in the heavenly places, in Him! Why would He not “complete the transaction” by moving us out of harm’s way before executing judgment on the rebellious World and Israel?

There is far too much here, for one message: We will have to complete this message over the next few weeks. Next week we will talk about the “Day of the LORD.”

Lord Jesus, please fix our attention upon the Light of Your Written Word, recognizing that it is the printed message of You, the Living Word. Help us to walk in the light You provide!

Looking for the Lord’s Return

Looking for the Lord’s Return

© 2020 C. O. Bishop

2nd Peter 3:12 “Looking for and hasting unto the Day of God”


From what we see in God’s Word, we can easily see that, literally from the beginning of the Church Age, nearly 2000 years ago, the Church has been under spiritual (and sometimes physical) attack from the enemy. And yet it has grown under those conditions. I just read a very interesting comment, supposedly made on National Public Radio, to the effect that things are changing in Communist China, in part because the younger generation is turning to Christ! This is not good news to NPR, but it is good news to me! The Church has always grown under persecution! We are not warned to flee persecution, but rather, to endure it!

So, since we don’t know when He is coming back, only knowing that the Rapture of the Church is the “next major event” in His plan, what are we to do while we wait, and how are we to respond to the threats against the Church, and the many hoaxes against our peace of mind?

Should we hunker down and hide? Should we become militant and try to fight back, physically? Should we waste what little time we have, trying to argue against the endless array of accusations against God’s Word and the Lord Himself? Or do we have a definite assignment?

The problem is that, in our flesh, we all fear persecution! We want to escape it entirely! But part of the message of the New Testament is the admonition to “take up thy Cross!” Embrace the Cross! Philippians 1:29 says, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake;” The fact is, we don’t like that part of the Gospel! And we are not alone in this tendency:

The Disciples wanted the Kingdom!

As Jesus prepared to leave this world, and was saying His final goodbyes, so to speak, the disciples (evidently all of them) were still stuck on their own agenda: Acts 1:6 says, “When they were therefore come together, they asked of Him, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?”

Somehow, in my imagination, I see Jesus heaving a sigh, and once more, explaining to them the priorities of God!  But all it actually says it that Jesus clearly stated that we will not know the time of His return, thus, we will not be told, ahead of time, when the Rapture of the Church (which they knew nothing about), the Tribulation, and the Lord’s physical return, would occur: (nor, therefore, His coming Kingdom, which is what they wanted first; though, as we have seen from the scripture, the other things had to happen first! Jesus spent all of Mathew chapter 24 explaining the tribulation, and then capped it with the Matthew 25 statements as to His imminent physical return, after the great tribulation, and showed the Kingdom coming after that!

There on the Mount of Olives, in Acts 1:8, He gave the disciples their final “marching orders:” They were to be His witnesses, to the uttermost parts of the Earth!

Looking for and hasting unto the Day of God

We do have an assignment! The great commission, (Matthew 28:19-20)which was given to the eleven disciples, includes the words, “go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations,” and ends with the words, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (age).”

So…what had he just commanded them to do, and, more specifically, is that part of our marching orders as well? Yes, it is! The Great Commission is directed to us, simply because we are among those taught. Thus, part of how we are to respond to the sure knowledge that His return is imminent (meaning that it could happen at any time) is that we are to be doing what He asked us to do.

When we know that “company is coming” we run around, getting ready, making everything “just so,” until we know they are about to arrive. Then we try to just relax and wait to hear them in the entryway, so to speak. But that is when we know they are coming, and we know the appointed time!

In this case, it is not just “company:” it is the Master! And we only know that He is coming: we do not know when, and He clearly stated that we will not know the time of His coming! So all we can do is to faithfully be doing what He assigned, all the time, so as to not be ashamed at His arrival. There is no time when we can say, “OK, He should be here in the next ten minutes! Let’s sit down and wait!” We are to “look for and haste unto” the coming of the Day of God! We are to anticipate His imminent return and act accordingly, getting on with the job: specifically evangelism and discipleship.

So What about all the rumors and attacks?

I have had several people send me literature about “current bills in Congress” or secret agendas, conspiracies, etc. The first thing we want to remember is that our enemy is not flesh and blood. It is Satan and his emissaries. The second thing would be to look back in the Bible, and see that this sort of attack has been his “modus operandi” since the beginning: what was the first thing he did, in order to misdirect Eve in the Garden? First, he twisted God’s Word, then he flat out denied its truth, and finally, he said the words we so often hear today:  “thou shalt not surely die! For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (This is “Stuff God doesn’t want you to know.”) We are constantly presented with “things the government doesn’t want you to know,” or “things your church doesn’t want you to know,” or similar offerings. These are the root of “conspiracy theory.” These ideas are very tempting to us, just as Satan’s ploy was to Eve. It works!

So, skip forward about 4,000 years: When Paul had gone through Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of the Cross, there was immediately an uprising of people fighting against that Good News: And, their weapon? Making false accusations against Paul and his entourage, as well as against those who received them. There was very nearly a riot: the local government stepped in, and demanded a peace-bond of the believers, and that night, the believers had to smuggle Paul out of town under cover of darkness, to keep him safe. One would think that this would be the end of the Gospel in Thessalonica, but the seed had taken root! The letters to the church at Thessalonica were to that core group of believers and those whom they had subsequently led to the Lord. So…how long had Paul been teaching there? Less than three weeks, apparently. It says he taught there for three Sabbath days. So, at least two weeks, but less than four.

And what form did the subsequent attack against them (the believers) take? 2nd Thessalonians 2:2 says they were told by “someone” that they had somehow missed the Lord’s return. We have multiple cults today that tell us similar things. Well, this was one of the very first, and it began happening before the Church-age was 20 years along. Today, it is nearly 2000 years later, and the Enemy is up to the same tricks! And it is getting much easier! He no longer has to depend upon some misguided person to go out of his or her way to spread lies personally: we have the internet, and anyone who thinks it is great fun to watch Christians run for cover has only to fire up Facebook and spin a tale of conspiracy! And it works every time!

Also, for some reason, some well-meaning believers (even those well-taught in the Word) suddenly get the idea that they can “ferret out the truth” about “what God doesn’t want us to know” and figure out the date of the Lord’s return.

I remember the evening I left the missionary training camp in Baker, Oregon, in 1980. I stopped in the tiny town of Union, Oregon, to say goodbye to the little Baptist church I had attended there for two years. There was a meeting in progress, and the place was packed. So, I sat in the back and listened, waiting to say my goodbyes. The guest speaker was a well-known local preacher: the subject was “When the Lord is returning?” (Yep! That will draw a crowd all right! You see, we don’t really believe Jesus when He says we will not know.) Everyone was listening earnestly, and taking notes, writing down all he had to say: he had found a “way around” Jesus’s statement. He said “The Lord said you won’t know the day or the hour! He didn’t say you can’t know the month and the year!” (Do you see a problem with that? If we knew the month and the year, we’d only have to worry about His return for the last thirty days or so, right? That means, ultimately, we would know the day and the hour, as well, within a 30-day bracket.)

So…when was the Lord’s Return “supposed” to occur? It was “scheduled” for March of 1982! (Guess I must have missed it, huh?) It was false teaching, regardless of his honest effort to teach good doctrine. He was a good man, and a faithful man of God, but the study was doomed from the beginning, because he had taken the bait of “things God doesn’t want you to know!”

Other “Conspiracy theories”

There are other such examples: people claiming to have portions of scripture that were “left out” of the Bible, so that we Christians “aren’t playing with a full deck,” so to speak. You can look these things up, and read them: Usually, a careful reading, even in English, makes it obvious why it was left out. It simply is not authored by God, and it is obvious: it teaches contrary to the rest of the scriptures. There are many such attacks, and I don’t propose to attempt to answer them all. Look up “pseudepigraphal writings,” and you can see a long list. “Pseudepigraphal writings” means “false writings.” They were recognized as bogus epistles (or whatever they claimed to be) at the time they were first presented. It did not take the Council of Trent to disclose them for what they were. The original recipients had recognized them as false, years before.

So what about today? What is the latest buzz, today? I remember when I first became a believer, the rumor was running around that Henry Kissinger was the Antichrist. There are several problems with that sort of rumor. One, is that he does not fit the description in scripture. The biggest, however, is the fact that scripture makes it clear that we will not see the Antichrist, because he will be revealed after we are removed from the earth! The primary passage is found in 2nd Thessalonians 2…but even if we didn’t have that passage, we can see in the Revelation that the church is to be removed from the Earth in Revelation chapter four, while the Antichrist is to be revealed in chapter thirteen! This is pretty hard to get around! The same goes for the “Mark of the Beast,” which Christians have been fearing for years. “What is it?! How do I avoid it?! How can I recognize it?!) That mark shows up in Revelation 13, long after the Church is to be evacuated in chapter 4.

What about the Mark of the Beast?

Recently, more than one person sent me “documented” evidence that “the government is conspiring against us” to force us to receive an imbedded computer chip (similar to those implanted in pets, for identification purposes) and that they are “gonna do it by means of a vaccination!” (This time, it’s the COVID virus vaccine.)

I’m going to pass up the temptation to argue the obvious physical and technological objections inherent in this hoax. (And, yes, it is yet another hoax, meant to terrify the people of God and keep them from doing their assigned task.) The physical size of an implantable chip is far larger than the interior of a vaccination needle. But let’s set that objection aside, and just stick to scriptural reasoning: What three things from scripture would tell me that this is a hoax?

  1. The Mark of the Beast is to be either in the forehead or the right hand; No vaccinations are given in either of those two places: they are simply not good places to administer medicine. This alone would make me believe that “it just isn’t so!” But that isn’t all!
  2. The Mark of the Beast is a voluntary compliance associated specifically with the choice to worship the image of the antichrist (this is spelled out in Revelation 13.) No one can “slip it to you unawares!” You can’t just innocently go to the doctor for a vaccination, and come home headed for hell.
  3. The bottom line still is the fact that the Church is leaving Planet Earth in Revelation chapter four, and the Antichrist and everything associated with him is not revealed until we are gone…specifically, in Revelation chapter thirteen!

What about the “One World Government?”

We hear a lot about this. It is good to remember two things:

  1. The way the people of Bible times saw “the world” implied “the civilized world,” which, in the time of Daniel, meant the Babylonian Empire. In the time of Alexander the Great, it meant the Grecian empire, and under Rome it meant the Roman Empire. (By the way, each of these was successively larger than the ones before. But Rome never went to Canada, or Australia, etc.)
  2. When Daniel gave the prophecy regarding the world’s governments to come, in Daniel 2, it gave the progression of Babylonian Empire, Medeo-Persian Empire, Grecian Empire, Roman Empire (though unnamed) and the revived Roman Empire (also unnamed). But it was all one image: not four images. The World system of government as a whole was to be smashed by the “Stone cut out without hands.” This is the Return of Jesus.

So, how does that tie into the idea of the One World Government? If we read carefully, in both Daniel and Revelation (which are closely-linked, and, ideally, should be taught together) we see that the antichrist is plagued by wars all around him, even though he has secured that “One World Government. So it isn’t as “monolithic” as we tend to make it out to be. Remember the Revived Roman Empire of the “ten toes” of Daniel chapter 2: that “empire” is comprised of parts of the old Roman Empire. Those parts have been trying to reassemble ever since the Roman Empire imploded. Remember, Rome was never conquered, so much as it fell apart through corruption and neglect and social disunity. (Sound familiar?)

When the Czars were in power in Russia, their very name gave us a clue as to their thoughts. The name “Czar” is the Russian word for Caesar. When Kaiser Wilhelm declared himself the Emperor of the German Empire, again, we can see his intent, as the German word for Caesar is “Kaiser.”

And, according to J. Vernon McGee, when the current European Union was first organized, the treaties were not signed in Brussels, Belgium as I would have expected: They were signed on Capitol Hill, in Rome! Is the EU the “revived Roman Empire” of Revelation? I don’t know! Could they at least be a predecessor to the coming political structure over which the Antichrist is destined to rule? Sure!

But, if it is, what should our response be? To tremble in terror and find a place to dig in, and hide? Nope…but that is what the disciples were doing after the crucifixion. And Jesus came and preached peace to them! He had said, earlier, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer! I have overcome the World!” And that was before the Crucifixion! But now, afterward, he was speaking to them as the Resurrected Christ! And that is how he speaks to us as well! We are not to cower in fear: Jesus said “I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” That is not a recipe for helpless fear!

2nd Timothy 1:7 says “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of Love and of a sound mind.” And that is how we are to respond to the threats brought by the Enemy!

A Famous Historical Example of Satan’s Attack

Remember, back in the book of Nehemiah, the assignment was given to “rebuild Jerusalem.” In chapter four, the threat had come of an attack, specifically to prevent the people from carrying out God’s command. Their response was good. They were watchful, but they went on with the work. Nehemiah 4:18 says, “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side and so builded.” They were prepared for an attack, but their primary attention was given to the assigned task of building the wall. (The wall was specifically what their enemies did not want built, as it once again made Jerusalem a walled city, and very defensible.)

There were other such threats, some more subtle: in chapter six the enemies tried to draw away the leader of the assembly, Nehemiah, himself. But he knew their intent was to ambush him in some way, and he said, in effect, “Sorry, I’m too busy to meet with you!”

Later they threatened to accuse him to the Emperor, saying that he was trying to make himself a king.  He called them on it, saying that it was a lie, and that they were simply trying to put fear into the hearts of the people.

In another attempt, they claimed to be “prophetically” warning him of an attack on his person. Nehemiah 6:13 states that he recognized that the man was hired to bring a false message, in order to frighten Nehemiah into dropping the work he was commanded to accomplish. The rest of the passage (Nehemiah 6:15, 16) goes on to say that even their enemies could see that the work had been done through the power of God, as they had rebuilt the entire city wall in 52 days, even when under the constant threat of attack and various means of dissuasion by their enemies.

The testimony of God’s people when under persecution and attack is important, as our response will let the World know who is really in charge in our lives. If we are easily shut down, silenced, and turned away from our assigned task as the ambassadors of Christ, they will notice! If we continue to function regardless of circumstances, then they will notice that as well.

We have to choose which kind of behavior will go on record as our “normal.” Will we be “children, carried about by every wind of doctrine,” as Ephesians 4:14 warns us not to be? Or, as 1st Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to be, will we be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord?”

Ultimately, the choice is ours! We cannot choose what events may happen in our lives, but we can choose our response! We can’t control the actions of the World, and we are not told to do so. We cannot “rewrite the book of Revelation!” Those things are going to happen! We can either:

  1. Rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s Word, and lift up our collective heads, knowing the Lord’s return is near, or we can
  2. Cower in fear, hoping to avoid things that may not be pointed at us in the first place.

Let’s choose faith, and rejoice before the Lord together, knowing that our release is near!

Lord Jesus, turn our collective and individual eyes upon you and let us leave our fears behind! Fill us with the joy of knowing that you are coming soon, and the courage born of knowing you are with us even now!

The Day of the LORD (1)

The Day of the LORD, Part One

© C. O. Bishop 3/30/2019

Isaiah 2:6-22


We have been studying through Isaiah, and are already up against some of the central themes of the book: the awful Judgment and Holiness of God, as well as the Grace of God, and His desire to reason with fallen Man.

Isaiah is distraught at the wickedness of Israel, and begs God to not forgive them, as he sees that all the coming Judgment is fully deserved.

Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.

Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:

Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:

And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.

The remainder of the chapter promises the coming judgment on Judah, reminding all readers that it was specifically because she has forsaken her God, and sought her sustenance from everyone and everything except Him. In verses 6-9, Isaiah is speaking to God, commenting on the spiritual condition of the nation, and the reasons for the coming judgment. He specifically lists all the things upon which they have depended instead of God—and the things in which they have found pleasure instead of God’s values. He complains that from the least to the greatest, they have all bowed themselves to idols, as a nation (not excluding the possibility of a righteous remnant, which God says will always be there.) So, Isaiah begs that God not forgive them. This is an interesting insight into how a man of God may see the holiness of God, and demand retribution for sin.

In Luke 9:54, 55 (Read it), two of Jesus’s disciples, James and John, wanted permission to call down fire out of heaven to burn up some people (Samaritans) who rejected Jesus. But Jesus rebuked the two disciples for the idea, saying that they were wrong, and that He had not come to destroy lives but to save them. So, I need to recognize that even wicked, self-centered enemies of God (whomever they are) are still folks for whom Jesus died.

In the Psalms, there are many examples of “imprecatory prayers”, where the Psalmist called for judgment on sinners. Yes, Judgment is coming, but it will be in God’s timing, and under His righteousness, not our self-righteous indignation. The coming Judgment has a name, in fact: it is called “The Day of the LORD”, and it is first mentioned here in Isaiah 2:12.

The Name of the Coming Judgment

The Day of the Lord becomes a powerful theme in all the prophets, as we begin to see the various parts of it, and how widespread its effects will be.

10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.

11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and 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 be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:

13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,

14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,

15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,

16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.

17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.

19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;

21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

In verses 10-22, he speaks to the people, outlining the coming judgment. He says that all the things they have depended upon will become worthless. Looking at verses 11, 12 and 17-21 we see that the Judgment in question is the culmination of the Great Tribulation. Three is no other time when all the earth shall be judged in that fashion, and in the Revelation, he describes just such fear and trembling, and attempts to hide in the rocks.

What is the Day of the Lord?

The Day of the Lord, mentioned here, and many other places, begins with the removal of the Church-age believers from the earth, as seen in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Read it). But then (1st Thessalonians 5:1-3 (Read it)) it immediately transitions into the tribulation; next, the second coming (Zechariah 12:1-10; 14:1-15), the Kingdom age (Zechariah 14:16-21) and finally the ultimate destruction of planet earth (2nd Peter 3:10-12). All five aspects are clearly taught in both the Old and New Testaments. The immediate judgment coming upon Judah is very minor, compared to the ultimate judgment described here, though I am sure that they saw it as pretty major.

God says Judgment is coming (both immediate and ultimate), and that it will affect absolutely everyone (not just the Jews), and remove from them all the things they have depended upon and found foolish pleasure in. Verse 22 says that above all, they need to quit relying upon humans…which would include dependence upon themselves. (Cp. Proverbs 3:5-7) Part of our sin nature, our incurable arrogance, is that we continually trust ourselves over God, even though we have proven untrustworthy time and time again. Now: Am I advocating piously “trusting God” as opposed to going to a doctor? No! I trust that God will guide the doctor, and, unless I know a solid reason to do otherwise, I usually take the doctor’s advice. Do I mean, when I am forced to respond to a legal summons, that I should “just trust the Lord” and not get the best lawyer I can afford? No… I am to pray for God’s guidance, and look for the most honest and competent, intelligent legal counsel I can find. But my dependence is to be upon God.

The story has been told (countless times, I guess) about a man who was trapped by rising floodwaters. He sat on his front porch roof, and a boat came by, with a man offering to take him to higher ground. He piously replied, “No; I am trusting God. He will help me!”

The water rose higher, until he was on the peak of his upper roof, when a larger power boat came up, and the pilot offered to take him to high ground. He was frightened, but clung to his “faith” and said, “No, I am waiting on God!” Finally, when he was clinging to his chimney, and about to drown, a helicopter hovered overhead, dangling a ladder, and offering help. He made his final choice, to depend on God, and finally was swept away by the flood.

He appeared before God, and asked, “Why did you not save me? I trusted in you!” God replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter! What did you want??”

I do NOT think that the command to not place our trust in Man is an order to abandon sensible behavior, but rather to allow God to define what sensible behavior is. A hospital employee may say, “This child will never have a normal life, you need to have an abortion.”—and we should feel quite secure in saying, based our understanding of God’s principles, “No, I will not kill my child…I will give him the best life I can, and, though it may not be much, I will not deny him the right to live!”

Someone else may say, “Well, I would never stay married to a person like that…” and it may be that we feel the same way. But, we must have the conviction to do as God leads, not man. Marriage is sacred, and not to be lightly disposed of, though God does recognize both divorce and remarriage, according to John chapter 4.

The same things are true in Business, Politics, and Church Government. The “bottom line” must not be “Does it work?” or “Is it profitable?”, but, “Does it Honor God? Is it obedient to His revealed Word?”

As far as we know, the only two times Joshua got into any trouble were the two times when he simply forgot to ask God what to do. He thought he knew the answer, and went off to battle at Ai, when, in fact, there was sin in the camp, and God would not have allowed them to go to battle at all, without having dealt with the sin. So, 36 men lost their lives in a fiasco at a very small city. (Joshua 7)

The other time, he was fooled by the Gibeonites, because he trusted his eyes, and did not seek God’s counsel. (Joshua 9)

Joshua was a good leader and a good soldier. He made decisions on a daily basis that affected the entire country, but he also kept very close accounts with God, and, as a rule, he was always where he was supposed to be, and doing what he was supposed to be doing, because he walked closely with God and had His constant guidance.

That is what we need, too, as we approach the end times: we need to keep close accounts with God, and seek God’s constant guidance. We cannot see our deadly enemies, in the spiritual battle around us, but we are given some things we can do to be on guard. The first, is: follow Jesus! (The closer the better!) The second is that we are to arm ourselves as He directs us, and learn His wisdom from His Word, as part of that armament.

The battle is not ours, but we are in it, nevertheless. We need to take the coming judgment seriously, and live as those who have been freed from a death-sentence.

Lord, help us to see the coming judgment, as you have described it, and live to free others from the destruction to come.