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Evening Begins the Day
We need to notice something very interesting. The Hebrew day always began with sundown; it never began with sunup. Have you noticed even in Genesis, the very first chapter, how carefully that is given to us? It says, â€œThe evening and the morning were the first dayâ€¦.The evening and the morning was the second dayâ€¦.The evening and the morning was the third dayâ€¦. â€œAlso, the Day of the Lord begins in darkness â€“ at sundown. That may change the thinking of some for this reason: A great many people think the Day of the Lord means the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom. The prophets make it very clear that this is not what they are talking about at all.
We turn now to the prophecy of Joel, and note this language carefully:
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 cometh, for it is near at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, like the morning spread upon the mountains; a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. (Joel 2:1, 2)
Our Lord Himself took that expression and called it the Great Tribulation. He said, â€œFor then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved (that is, survive). (Matthew 24:21, 22)
There would be nothing like it before, nothing like it afterward. AND JOEL SAID THAT THE Day of the Lord begins with darkness and gloominess. It begins with the Great Tribulation Period, a time of darkness, just as the Hebrew day must begin.
This is the whole tenor of Scripture. You will find that all the references to the Day of the Lord identify it with judgment. Listen to this language in the Book of Ezekiel:
For the day is near, even the Day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the nations. (Ezekiel 30:3) Do you notice what Ezekiel said? â€œThe day of the Lord is near, a cloudy day.â€ He agrees with Joel. Now notice the language used by Isaiah:
Wail; for the Day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almightyâ€¦.Behold, the Day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners (Unbelieving World) out of it. (Isaiah 13:6, 9)
The Day of the Lord, you see, is always associated with judgment. That is the way you find it in the Word of God. Now we turn to what is probably one of the most remarkable prophecies on this subject that we have in the entire Bible. Itâ€™s found in the first chapter of the little prophecy of Zephaniah:
The great Day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteneth greatly, even the voice of the Day of the LORD; the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath (and the Great Tribulation is called a day of wrath), a day of trouble and distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORDâ€™S wrath, but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy; for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land. (Zephaniah 1:14-18)
Your see, it is a time of judgment. The great day of His wrath will come, and itâ€™s the time of judgment upon the earth. This is the picture the Bible presents to us. Joel confirms it again:
And the LORD shall utter His voice before His army; for His camp is very great; for He is strong who executes His word; for the Day of the LORD is great and very terrible, and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
And then again in the third chapter:
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the Day of the LORD is near the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)
So we see, all of these references relate the Day of the Lord to a period of judgment. It would be very easy to give you cross-references that show the direct application to the Great Tribulation Period, because in the Book of Revelation the Great Tribulation Period has all of these things in it. Therefore the Day of the Lord will begin with night â€“ the night of delusion, distress, and desolation.
But it is always Godâ€™s plan to move from darkness to light â€“ always. We find His first recorded words in the Book of Genesis when He moved into this earth. He said, â€œLet there be light.â€ (Genesis 1:2, 3)
Where there was darkness, God moves in with light. Where there is sin, He moves in with salvation. It is His method. And though the great Day of the Lord opens with judgment, it leads to light. There is both darkness and light in the Day of the Lord.
We want to reaffirm this. The Day of the Lord comes without warning. We noted in all those passages the thought of its coming quickly. This doesnâ€™t mean it is coming soon, but when it comes it strikes suddenly! If the Lord Jesus took the Church off this earth tonight (I say this to you very carefully), I am convinced that the Day of the Lord would break on this earth tomorrow. It would break suddenly!
You see, at the Rapture when God removes the Church (which has lost much of its influence, but it does have some) He would also remove something else â€“ a Restrainer. The Holy Spirit is the Restrainer, and He would still be in the world but not restraining evil. Today He is holding back evil in order that the gospel might continue to go out, and He will do that up to the very moment the Church leaves the world. Then, when that takes place, evil will break like a great flood or a dam giving way, and a flood of evil and of great judgment will come over this earth.
Now, the return of Christ to this earth to establish His kingdom has signs connected to it. However, thereâ€™s not a sign given to us for the time of the Rapture when He takes His own out of the world, which may be at any moment. It can take place at any time, and no man can set a date. We canâ€™t even say it may be soon. We do not know. Somebody said, â€œWell, it may be this year that He will come.â€ â€œDonâ€™t say that, because the minute you begin to talk about dates, you contradict the Lord Jesus who said, â€œIn such an hour as ye think not the Son of man comethâ€™ (Matthew 24:44).â€