THOUGHTS FROM ISAIAH

THE DAY OF THE LORD [1]

As we have seen, Isaiah spoke of things that would happen ‘in the last days’ [Isaiah 2:1-4]. By this phrase he anticipated an era when people from every nation would seek the Lord. The New Testament affirms that ‘the last days’ commenced with the incarnation of Jesus Christ and continue until his second coming. The ‘last days’ are thus the period in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed to all people, both the Jew and the non-Jew, the period in which repentance is still possible, the age in which the grace of God in Christ Jesus is available for all who will believe in him.

But it will not always be so. These ‘last days’ will not last forever. They will come to an end. The ‘last day’ will come. Isaiah warns of this ‘day’:

‘The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled) …
The arrogance of man will brought low and the pride of men humbled;
the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,
and the idols will totally disappear’ [Isaiah 2:12,17,18].

In ‘that day’, that human pride and arrogance that commenced in Genesis 3 will be brought to an end. In ‘that day’ the ‘gods’ we have made for ourselves and substituted for the true God, will be brought down and overthrown. The inappropriateness and sinfulness of our human pride and arrogance, and the uselessness and wrongness of our false god-concepts will be exposed by what Isaiah terms ‘the splendour of his majesty’ [2:19,21].

Elsewhere Isaiah says of this ‘day’:

‘Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty …
See, the day of the LORD is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger …’ [13:6,9].

‘The LORD, the LORD Almighty, has a day of tumult and trampling and terror …’ [22:5].

‘On that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below’ [24:21].

Other prophets also spoke of this terrible ‘day of the LORD’:

‘Alas for that day!
For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty’ [Joel 1:13].

‘Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand – a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness …
The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?’ [Joel 2:1,2,11]

‘Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! …
That day will be darkness, not light … pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness …‘ [Amos 5:18,20]

‘The great day of the LORD is near –
That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness’ [Zephaniah 1:14,15].

These anticipations of ‘the day of the LORD’ have two levels of fulfilment. They have already been fulfilled in a limited way in the destructive judgements that came upon Israel (in 722BC) and Judah (in 587BC). They will be fulfilled in macro when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power, in glory and in judgement.

As we will see next week, those who believe in Jesus Christ have nothing to fear on this final Day of the Lord. Indeed, it will be a day of joy. But the certainty of judgement that it means for unbelievers defines the urgency of Christ’s great commission – the urgency for those who believe in Jesus Christ to make him known in all the world. As long as God in his patience and grace delays the return of Jesus Christ, and with it the final judgement, there is time and opportunity for repentance. His desire, his will, is to save, not to condemn [2Peter 3:3-10]. His desire is that men should live, not die [Ezekiel 18:30-32].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014