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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: December 04, 2020
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Welcome to HBS.
Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 and we’ll get right to it.
“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.”
The Day of the Lord vs The Day of Man
To gain a clear understanding of the Scriptural phrase, “the day of the Lord,” we must compare it with the day of man, that is, the day in which we are currently living. We’ll do so by practicing “right division” of the Scriptures, in accordance with The Lord Jesus Christ’s command found in 2 Timothy 2:15. Please turn with me in your Bible to Deuteronomy chapter 28. The LORD God promised the Israelites “if” they obeyed His commandments, He would make them “the head and not the tail” among the nations of the earth (28:13a). But with this promise came a stern warning, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” (28:15, 44).
History shows the nation of Israel did not obey the commandments of the LORD they in fact departed further and further from Jehovah, the one true living God. The Israelites forsook Him for idols made of earthly materials such as wood and stone, until the Assyrian and Babylonian empires carried them away as their captives into many gentile lands. It was then, six centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, that political domination passed fully from Israel, God’s favored nation, to the Gentile nations (Jeremiah 15:4, 24:9, 18).
For example, when the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth, He taught His disciples to pay tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:17-21), but to obey their religious rulers, namely, the scribes and the Pharisees where their God-given religion was concerned, even though these people were hypocritical in their motives (Matthew 23:2-3). Thus, we learn the government was “of the Romans,” but “salvation (at this time) was of the Jews” (John 4:22).
But Scripturally “the times of the Gentiles” may also be translated the day of man. Whereas Israel, even under her kings was constituted as a theocracy, with Jehovah as their ultimate authority, we find the prophet Daniel interpreting for Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor, the meaning of a colossal image “of a man” he had a troubling dream about. The head was of gold, the chest and arms silver, the torso brass, the legs iron, and the feet a mixture of iron with clay. These described, in order, signified the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, plus the future revived Roman Empire (Daniel 2:37-43). The metals described from head to foot, descending from gold to silver to brass to iron to iron mixed with clay, signified the deterioration in Gentile governments from Nebuchadnezzar down to “the beast,” the head of the future revived Roman Empire (Daniel 2:38-39; Revelation 13:1).
Daniel then predicted further that it would be in the days of the last of these gentile empires, with its ten toes, or kings (Daniel 2:44, 7:24; Revelation 13:1), that the “stone… cut out without human hands” would strike the feet and the whole top-heavy structure would collapse and the day of man will end with “the stone,” that is, the Lord Jesus Christ consuming “these kingdoms” and setting up His kingdom on the earth:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).
Thus the day of man will give way to “the day of the Lord,” which means the day when He rules and reigns over the whole earth: Then, “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” (Isaiah 2:11).
One important fact about the image of Daniel chapter 2 has, however, been overlooked by most Bible teachers, i.e., the great gap between the Roman Empire of our Lord’s day and its future prophesied revival. Rome did rule as the iron kingdom, with Nero its last Caesar, but the succeeding centuries since then only tell of its fall. It all that time, including our day, it has not been revived. This includes the rule of Mussolini during WWII, and for those who don’t know the end of his story, he was left hanging by the neck in a Roman square as passers-by spat into his face. So much for that assumption!
Nor again does Daniel’s prophecy touch upon the empires that existed between the fall of the Roman Empire and its future revival, such as the British Empire, whose rule was so far-flung that for a time it could be said, “The sun never sets upon Britannia.”
Why does this gap in time exist? Why is there nothing said of this intervening period of time? The answer is one in which the majority of Bible scholars, preachers, and teachers fail to see and acknowledge while others vehemently oppose it. It is the biblical fact that God’s Prophetic Program that involves the nation of Israel solely, has been divinely interrupted by the revelation of the “mystery,” a divine secret, namely, the ushering in of “the dispensation of the grace of God” through Paul, the chief of sinners, the very first person to be saved under this brand new program of God (Ephesians 3:1-4; Colossians 1:24-27). Thus, prophecy gave way to “the mystery” and its associated mysteries, first revealed to our Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
When the last of these associated mysteries, specifically, the coming of Christ Jesus to “catch away” His own at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52) shall have taken place, Rome will be revived, in accordance with prophecy, then it will be overwhelmed by the “stone cut out without human hands” and subsequently destroyed by same. Then will follow the full manifestation of “the day of the Lord.”
The Duration of the Day of the Lord
There are many references to “the day of the Lord” in the Bible, but exactly what period of time does this “day” cover? We now know, generally speaking of course, the term refers to the time when “the day of man” or “the times of the Gentiles,” comes to an end, and “…the Lord shall be exalted in that day…” (Isaiah 2:11-17). But will it include more than the actual return and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ? Will it include the prophesied tribulation period, during which God will bring Gentile rule to an end? The answer is, “Yes.” One post-Tribulation writer cautions us not to confuse the day of Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12) with the day of God’s wrath, and states: “The day of the Lord follows the Tribulation and is the day of God’s wrath upon “those who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
But here’s the thing, this interpretation does not take into account all that the Scriptures say about “the day of the Lord” and contradicts some of it. When our Lord and Savior returns to the earth at His Second Coming “in flaming fire taking vengeance” and “punishing” with “everlasting destruction,” He will dispatch His enemies without delay. No Scriptural evidence exists that this will cover a protracted period of time. But Paul, describing the arrival of “the day of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 said nothing about the personal return of Christ Jesus, and does describe a protracted period of suffering and trouble: “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” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
Thus the phrase, “a thief in the night,” is not used to describe suddenness, but unexpectedness instead. The thief plans his visit for a time when he will be least expected (Matthew 24:43-44). But “travail upon a woman with child,” illustrates a protracted period of time of suffering that increases in its intensity.
When the counterfeit Christ breaks his covenant with the nation of Israel “in the midst of the week” (Daniel 9:27), “destruction” will suddenly break out, but this does not mean it will run its course in a moment. Rather, it will “come upon them” suddenly and run its course “as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” As an example, my mother told me when she gave birth to me she was “in labor” from midnight to 6 A.M, demonstrating my birth was not “sudden,” but as “travail upon a woman with child.”
Mark this well, this “destruction” to take place during “the day of the Lord,” will overtake the world of the ungodly unexpectedly, just as they are patting each other on the back and congratulating themselves thinking they have attained “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Putting this all together, will anyone at that time be saying “peace and safety” at the close of the last 3.5 years of the Tribulation period? Will anyone be found saying, “peace and safety” as the battle of Armageddon rages? How then, can this Scripture passage about “the day of the Lord” refer only to the return of Christ at the close of the Tribulation? But when we see that “the day of the Lord” begins with, rather than after the Great Tribulation, then all is in harmony.
The book of Revelation informs us that the seven years of the Tribulation will begin with the rider on the white horse (Revelation 6:1-2), the Anti-Christ (Revelation 19:11), who goes forth “conquering and to conquer.” Much like Antiochus Epiphanes, he will “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21). All will go well for him and he will bring to the world the kind of peace that will win him universal (world-wide) acclaim and allegiance., thus, “Peace and safety” the world will exclaim. But of the rider on the next horse we read, “…and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth” (Revelation 6:4). Then follow war, famine, and death (Revelation 6:3-8), in that order.
There you have it. The “post tribulation” brethren say that “the day of the Lord follows the Tribulation.” Our Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 makes it crystal clear that “the day of the Lord” includes the Tribulation. They have men in the closing, most terrible hours of the Tribulation saying, “peace and safety.” They have the Lord’s swift judgment upon the ungodly described as “travail upon a woman with child,” and it simply does not fit with what God has said. In fact, it contradicts it.
So let’s be clear the Rapture of the Body of Christ will not follow the Tribulation period; it will precede it! “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (4:18) and continue joyfully “to serve the living and true God, and wait for His Son from heaven… who hath delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Instead of ending this lesson here, I believe it can be further shown from the Scriptures that not only does “the day of the Lord” take us back before the “travail” of the tribulation period, but that it takes us back even to the beginning, for the first three and a half years of the Tribulation are the introduction to the rest. Here we must ask ourselves what will cause people to say, “peace and safety,” in the early part of this 7-year period? Without a doubt, the Anti-Christ’s success as a world leader is the answer. But then, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, he will be fully manifested as he sits in the temple of God, posing as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and then will come the horrors of the “Great Tribulation” just as God has said.
Not all wars begin with battles, and God here begins to wage war on the Christ-rejecting world by simply letting them believe the big lie they have always wanted to believe. How could this be stated any clearer than it is in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Thus, removing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, God will give men and women up to the Anti-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). This is in agreement with our Lord’s words in John 5:43, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”
(To be continued)
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