Countdown to the End of the World: The Day of the Lord Hasteneth Greatly
by Steve Sterling 12/05/2011 / Prophecy
"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a say of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers." Zeph. 1:14-16
In the countdown of end-time events in the works of the Minor Prophets, I find the references to the day of the Lord to be quite prominent. Among the books that you will find these references are Amos, Joel, and Zephaniah. Based on what I read from the different accounts, this will not be a particular 24-hour day; it will rather be a particular period of time leading up to the end of the world.
Concerning this particular period ahead of us, all the prophets seem to agree that this will not be an ordinary phase. By contrast to the relative peace and safety we now enjoy, the day of the Lord will be a time when all hope of a future recovery in this life will be completely eroded. The sinners will read their doom in every foreboding sign, but those premonitions will be an indication to the saints that the day of redemption is near.
The people of God will be the only group who will have reason to be hopeful during that time. They will claim the promise of the Lord that He will protect them from harm through the ministration of His holy angels. And based on what they know to be the bleak future of this life, they will have no reason to repose any hope in the prospect of a return to stability.
Based on my study of the different references to the day of the Lord, I see the following situations occurring:
The day of salvation will be at an end
The preaching of the gospel will cease
The earth will suffer from unprecedented disaster
There will be signs in the heavens
Some prophecy students believe that it is at the Second Coming of Christ that salvation comes to an end. However, from a careful study of events surrounding the day of the Lord, it is difficult to justify such a conclusion. When we study the first five verses of Revelation 8 we will see a scenario where incense is being offered with the prayers of the saints.
The offering of incense indicates that prayers can still be offered, sins can still be confessed, and that the opportunity for sinners to repent is still available. But after this scene something of eternal consequence transpired. The censer was subsequently thrown down, thus indicating that no more prayers of repentance will be accepted and that salvation has come to a close. You will notice that after the censer was cast down, the same events that were prophesied by the Minor Prophets in connection with the day of the Lord begin to happen.
If this is an indication that the days of repentance is no longer available then it simply means that the gospel will no longer be preached. It wouldn't make sense for the preaching of the gospel of salvation to continue when the opportunity to be saved is gone forever. Furthermore, the unsanctified condition of the people will be such that they are incapable of repentance; they will have already cemented their decisions to remain servants of sin. This is precisely the reason why the gospel must cease because the hearts of sinners will become so impenetrable that they will not be receptive to it.
That the preaching of the word of God will one day come to an end is clearly predicted by the prophet Amos. According to Amos 8:11and 12, there will be such a drought for the word that the people will travel land and sea in search of a preacher to dispense to them the word of God and will not find one. The termination of the gospel work on earth could be the worst disaster in disguise since this is the only means by which the people are instructed as to how to escape the coming wrath.
The multiplied disasters that are to affect the earth in the last days are beyond description. These catastrophes will be such that only by special divine intervention the people will be spared their destructive effects. There is no wonder why Jesus in his famous prophetic countdown of end-of-the-world events, made the following declaration:
"For 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: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Matt. 24:21, 22
From what is stated in the above text, the day of the Lord will be so devastating that if the Lord should extend this period for too long, no body will be spared. That's the magnitude of the threat that the world will have to face when that period arrives. Now we can see the reason why many are already quaking in fear, and why they would rather believe that they will not be here when these things are happening.
From Joel chapter 2, it is quite evident that the day of the Lord will be interspersed with signs in the heavens such as the darkening of the sun, the turning of the moon to blood, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of the powers of the heavens. Because the saints are already aware of the signs of the Second coming, where there is cause for fear and alarm, it will be tempered by their faith in the promises of God. They will remember the words of Jesus saying,
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28
In the run up to the end of the world, we have no reason to be under the illusion that there will be betters days in this life beyond the day of the Lord. All the prophets are on one accord on the hopeless outlook for sinners who have rejected the gospel. Our only hope of escaping this coming cataclysm is to respond to the Lord's appeal through the prophet Joel saying,
"Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting , and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Joel 2:12, 13