[From the author’s book: “The Greatness of the Kingdom”, pp. 178-216]



And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. - Dan. 2: 44



The tremendous actions and events attending the establishment of the Mediatorial Kingdom on earth are so numerous and complex that some attempt should be made to organize the material in general outline form.  One useful key to the problem is provided in what the prophets name the Day of Jehovah, a period which is always associated with the Kingdom of Old Testament prophecy.  Although it is a period of unrevealed and indefinite length, the descriptions of its general character suggest that the prophets must have had in mind a form somewhat parallel to the ordinary day in the Jewish calendar.  This latter was a solar day which began at sunset and extended to the next sunset (Lev. 23: 32), consisting of a period of darkness followed by a period of light.  Similarly, the great Day of the Lord is pictured as a period composed of both darkness and light; and the sequence is the same: first, the night, and then the light of the rising sun.  As Isaiah states the order: “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth ... but the LORD shall arise upon thee” (60: 2).  In the prophets that Day always begins with the darkness of divine wrath (Isa. 34: 8, cf. context); and then moves on to the light of divine blessing (Isa. 35).



Furthermore, to this twofold division of the Day of the LORD, the prophets add a third category, namely, those events which take place “before” that great Day (Mal. 4: 5; Joel 2: 31).  Finally, there are a few important events which seem to belong to the dawning period between the darkness and the light. Following this outline we get a fourfold division of events associated with the establishment of the Mediatorial Kingdom on earth: first, events which take place before the Day; second, events during the darkness of the Day; third, events at the dawn of the Day; and fourth, events during the light of the Day. In determining the proper category of the various events, it will be necessary to examine not only the stated time sequence (if any) but also the nature of the event.  Some are clearly preparatory in character; others are penal; still others are transitional; and the final events are constitutive.  In our treatment, therefore, the statement and order of the four divisions will be as follows:



1. Preparatory Events ‑ Before the Day of the Lord



2. Penal Events ‑ During the Darkness of the Day of the Lord



3. Transitional Events ‑at the Dawn of the Day of the Lord



4. Constitutive Events ‑ During the Light of the Day of the Lord



Within each of these categories the order of the series of events can be established in a general way by observing the interrelationships which they display in the prophetic writings; but the reader should be cautioned not to presume that the order followed below is asserted with any unalterable dogmatism.



1. Preparatory Events ‑ Before the Day of the Lord


Before the great and the terrible day of the Lord. - Joel 2: 31



a. A Court of judgment Will Be Set in Heaven



The judgment was set. - Dan. 7:10



In the seventh chapter of Daniel’s prophecy there is a scene which has no parallel in other Old Testament forecasts of the Kingdom.  The prophet describes the vision as follows: “I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire.  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (7: 9,10, ASV).  Several points here should he noted.



First, the scene is unquestionably judicial in character.  The solemn atmosphere is that of a high court. There is a central throne surrounded by other thrones.  Books are opened.  There are attendants waiting to carry out the decisions of the court.  The words, “the judgment was set” (vs. 10), have been rather freely rendered by the RSV, “the court sat in judgment”; but this idea is in harmony with the general context.



Second, these activities take place in heaven, not on earth.  This is made clear by the various contextual details: the presence of the Ancient of Days, the description of His fiery throne, the myriads of angelic ministers, the opening of the books - all point to that which is above.  There will be subsequent judgments on the earth, but these will only carry out the prior decrees of this heavenly assize.  By some, the language of verse 13 is used to rule out the location in heaven.  But the words, “came with the clouds of heaven” are just as appropriate to picture the Son of man’s coming to the heavenly throne of God as to describe His descent from heaven to earth.  “Clouds” in Scripture are often made the distinctive environment of Deity.  As a matter of fact, our Lord’s ascension is thus described – “he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1: 9).



Third, in the vision this session of the heavenly court is placed immediately at the end of Gentile dominion, represented by the four successive world empires and their final subdivisions as indicated by ten kings, among which the “little horn” begins his brief career.  Thus the convening of the high court in heaven is made the first important event in Daniel’s vision of the establishment of the Kingdom.  For it is in the days of these ten kings that the God of heaven will set up His indestructible* Kingdom (cf. Dan. 2: 44; 7: 24-27).


[* Note. This interpretation ignores the scriptural truth that there will be an eternal kingdom in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1), after the millennial reign of Christ, and after the curse placed upon this earth because of man’s disobedience to God has been lifted, ([Gen. 3: 17, 18. cf. Rom. 8: 19-21.): and after “he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power:”(1 Cor. 15: 24.).]



Fourth, although in the record of Daniel’s vision there is no mention of certain other important events which will attend the setting up of the Divine Kingdom, it is both reasonable and Biblically sound to regard the heavenly judgment scene as the first great preparatory event.  For the day of God’s Kingdom on earth will be initially a day of judgment.  And the court must first be officially convened before its judicial work can begin.



Fifth, the plurality of “thrones” in Daniel 7: 9 certainly suggests the presence of associate judges in the judgments which are about to proceed from the celestial court.  The occupants of these thrones are not named, but they cannot be angels as Keil wrongly insists.*  Only the saints of God are ever thus associated with the divine judgment of the world.  Angels are but servants who stand before the throne of God (Dan. 7: 10).  Only when we come over into the New Testament do we find a clear identification of the occupants of these thrones (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 1-3).  And even the most careless reader could hardly miss the striking parallel between Daniel 7: 9-10 and the scene pictured in Revelation 4 and 5.


* C. F. Keil, Commentary on Daniel, trans. M. G. Easton (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans publishing Co., reprint, 1949), p. 229.



b. The Voice of a Prophetic Messenger Will Be Heard on Earth


I will send you Elijah the prophet. - Mal. 4: 5



Three important Old Testament passages speak of the career and ministry of this messenger.  In Isaiah 40: 1-11 there is a “voice” heard crying in the wilderness.*  In Malachi 3: 1 God speaks of one called “my messenger  And in 4: 4-6 he is definitely named “Elijah the prophet  An examination of these passages presents the following features with reference to this messenger.


[* Note. John the Baptist came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent; but John was not Elijah.  Elijah himself is yet to come to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Advent.  See Rev. 11. cf. Mal. 3: 1; 4: 5; Mark 9: 12, etc.  Two different persons are described in Scripture, at two different times: John, (born prior to the incarnation of Messiah), Elijah, appears prior to Messiah’s millennial reign of righteousness on this restored earth.]


First, he is divinely commissioned to do a work of preparation in the nation of Israel: “Prepare ye the way of the LORDwill be the burden of his message (Isa. 40: 3); and it will sound to the nation a note both of comfort and of warning.  He will announce the end of Jewish affliction, certain judgments of God, and the good news of the coming Kingdom (Isa. 40: 1-2, 9-11).



Second, the ministry of this divinely sent messenger in Israel will in some measure be effective: He “shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4: 6).  The meaning here is that a reconciliation will be effected between the godly fathers of Israel and their ungodly descendants.  Abraham is ashamed of the sinful generation to which God’s messenger will speak; and they are ashamed of their great patriarchal ancestors.*  But the barrier will be broken down.  Except for this great accomplishment in Israel, the earth would be smitten by the curse of God (Mal. 4: 6).  Thus the fate of the world is in a real sense bound up with the future work of the messenger in turning Israel back to God.


* So Hengstenberg and Keil.



Third, the messenger will also have something to say to all men concerning the frailty of human life and the evanescence of all its “goodliness in comparison with the glory of the coming Kingdom (Isa. 40: 6-9).  He will also warn men of the impending judgments of God by which the mountains shall be made low and crooked things shall be made straight (vs. 4).



Fourth, as to the identity of this messenger of Jehovah there should be little question.  The coming “voice” will be that of a man, and he is named “Elijah the prophet” (Mal. 4: 5).  Whether or not there may he some secondary reference in the Old Testament passages to John the Baptist is a matter reserved for discussion in connection with the New Testament material.  But certainly some attention should he given to the testimony of John himself who, when asked by the Pharisees, “Art thou Elijah?”, replied, “I am not” (John 1: 21, ASV).  And our Lord, after the death of John, said to the disciples, “Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things” (Matt. 17: 11, ASV).



Fifth, as to time, it is definitely stated that the messenger will appear “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal. 4: 5).  This means that he will begin his ministry, not only before the establishment of the Kingdom, but also before the awful judgments which immediately precede the Kingdom.  The context of the Isaiah passage is in harmony with this: for the messenger here comes to warn of the levelling judgments of God (40: 4), as well as to announce the good news of the Kingdom (40: 9-11).



c. Internecine Warfare and Chaos


The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. - Isa. 33: 7



Warfare is nothing unusual among the nations of the earth.  The seasons of peace, in the recorded history of the world, have been very few and disconcertingly brief.  Viewed from the vantage point of Old Testament prophecy, Daniel saw no relief short of the Kingdom: “Unto the end shall be war” (9: 26, ASV).  And, considering the sinful nature of men, nothing else could be reasonably expected: “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked” (Isa. 48: 22; 57: 21).  This must be an axiom in a moral universe.  But at the end of man’s long misrule on earth, there will come a special outbreak of wars with all the attendant disastrous results.  From the many references, three are selected for consideration.



First, in the 25th chapter of Jeremiah this evil of international conflict is set forth under the figure of a “cup” of divine “fury” which the prophet is commanded to take and make “all the nations to drink” (vss. 15-17).  If they refuse, the dictum of the LORD of hosts is: “Ye shall certainly drink” (vs. 28). The “cup” is interpreted as a “sword” sent of God among all nations (vss. 16, 27, 31).  The chosen nation and Jerusalem must drink first (vss. 18, 29).  But this monstrous “evil shall go forth from nation to nation” until the whole world is involved (vs. 32).  The devastating effects are pictured in verse 33: even the proper burial of the dead will finally become a task beyond the power of the living. And all this is related to man’s failure to recognize and obey the true God, who therefore “hath a controversy with the nations” (vs. 31).



The chaos, which always attends great and prolonged seasons of warfare, seems to be pictured in Isaiah 24: 1-13.  The earth is made empty” and “waste” (vs. 1).  In the cities there is “desolation” (vs. 12); the houses are closed (vs. 10).  An atmosphere of gloom and despair envelops the world; even the pleasures of ordinary social life no longer seem worth-while (vss. 7-11).  The decimation of populations is beyond comprehension: “few men left” (vs. 6); the situation is compared with the few olives and grapes left after the harvest (vs. 13).  No class of people escapes the terrible scourge; whether master or slave, rich or poor, priest or people: there are no protected places (vs. 2).  And again we are reminded that, at bottom, the cause of all these disasters is moral and spiritual: “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws ... broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate” (vss. 5-6).



In the face of this spreading evil of international conflict at the end-time, all the efforts of men to bring about a condition of world peace will utterly fail.  This is suggested in chapter 33 of Isaiah.  Although the historical background of this chapter is set in the reign of King Hezekiah, its predictions certainly reach far into the future (cf. vss. 17-24).  Viewing the desolations which will precede the coming of the Kingdom, the prophet says, “Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly” (vs. 7).  All the earnest efforts of sincere men to bring in a permanent condition of world peace without the presence of the “Prince of peace” will come to nothing.  The world must learn its lesson: “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5); a lesson that even the people of God are sometimes in danger of forgetting, when dealing with mundane problems.



d. A Blasphemous Political Ruler Will Rise to World Power


The man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms. - Isa. 14:16



To all those familiar with the relation of cause and effect in the stream of political world history, it is nothing new to find the chaos and disorganization of widespread military conflict furnishing the soil out of which the tyrants and dictators grow.  The picture drawn in the last book of the Bible is amazingly accurate in this respect: Along with the dreadful horsemen of war and famine and death, there rides the Conquering Hero, whose white horse speaks symbolically of fair hope to nations desperately weary and discouraged before the prospect of endless conflict (Rev. 6: 1-8).  And once again, in the days just prior to the coming of Mediatorial Kingdom, history will re-enact the age-long drama.  Out of the welter of international warfare and its dismal aftermath, there will emerge the great political leader of the end, a gigantic figure when measured by any human estimate, whose panaceas [remedy or solution] will receive the applause of the world.  Although mentioned in other books of the Old Testament, the sharpest outline of his person and career is given in the prophecies of Daniel. 



As to his political origin, this great leader will begin as a rather minor figure somewhere among the final subdivisions of the Roman Empire.  In the visions of Daniel he is described as a “little horn” coming up in the midst of the “ten horns” on the “fourth beast and whose first act is one of violence: by his hand three of the ten horns are “plucked up by the roots” (Dan. 7: 7-8).



The time sequence of events must not be overlooked here.  The divine court is set in heaven, not at the end of the little horn’s career, nor at its height, but at its beginning.  The order in Daniel 7: 8-9 is unmistakable: The little horn rises on earth and opens his mouth to speak “great things”* - and at this precise moment the prophet looks up to behold the high court of divine justice set in heaven.  This cannot he mere literary coincidence; for the little horn is Satan’s man, and the start of his mad career is apparently the signal for heavenly judicial action.  Neither is there any abatement of the action until this evil genius has been utterly defeated and the Kingdom of God’s Man is fully established on earth.


* These “great things” may be either blasphemous things (Lange), or presumptuous things (Keil); probably boastful promises of what he can do for a world facing problems too great for human solution.



Therefore, although the political origin of the little horn precedes the establishment of the judgment throne in heaven, his actual rise to world domination follows that high and holy event.  And the succeeding steps of his terrible march come swiftly: his seven-year covenant or treaty with the people of Israel and its speedy violation (Dan. 9: 26-27); the exaltation of himself above every god (11: 36); his military successes against the great powers of the north and south (11: 40-43); and his persecution of the saints of God on earth (7: 25).  In all these events, for those who have eyes to see, the great rebel is acting only under the permission of the heavenly court.  If he has power over the saints, it is because they have been “given into his hand”; even the extreme limit of his career is inflexibly set by divine decree – “until a time and times and the dividing of time” (7: 25).



e. There Will Be Great Geological and Cosmic Disturbances


The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard. - Isa. 24: 20



By scientific observation it has been established that many changes are constantly taking place in both the earth and other cosmic bodies.  Most of these changes are so slight that men ordinarily are not even aware of their occurrence.  Beyond the estimated 4000 earthquakes that are felt somewhere on the earth daily, there are many other thousands wholly imperceptible except by means of scientific instruments. But in the history of the universe, as recorded by immediate observation and scientific deduction, it is generally agreed that there have been particular seasons when numerous and catastrophic changes have taken place in a comparatively brief space of time.  Such a season, according to the Old Testament prophets, will come in the days preceding the coming of God’s Kingdom to earth.



As to the character of these coming changes, the Word of God in Joel’s prophecies gives a short yet comprehensive account: “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (2: 30-31).  We should notice here, first, that the “earth” will he affected.  Second, that on earth there will he “fire” and “pillars of smoke evidences of volcanic eruptions which have often accompanied great geological shifts in the earth’s surface.  Third, at the same time there will be disturbances in the “heavens  It is altogether possible, judged by the past, that some of these changes in the earth and other planetary bodies may be causally related.  Fourth, the mention of “blood” in connection with the “earth” suggests the great destruction of life always involved in major geological disturbances.



Fifth, all this will take place “before” the Day of the Lord, a fact which harmonizes with the nature of that day.  For, by sceptics who reject the idea of the supernatural, all the above described disturbances up to this point might possibly he attributed wholly to natural causes.  But the chief events of the coming Day of the Lord will be indisputably supernatural in their origin.  In that terrible Day there will he further convulsions in the world of nature which will far surpass in intensity the preliminary “wonders” described by Joel; for the latter are only harbingers of that Day, and are intended to warn the world of its proximity.  As a matter of fact, excepting the judgment court in heaven (invisible to the world), all the tangible events mentioned above - the proclamation of the divinely sent messenger, the military conflicts, the rise of the little horn, and the disturbances in the natural world - will he largely providential in character and therefore not completely demonstrable as supernaturally caused events.



Finally, in connection with these devastating events preliminary to the establishment of the Kingdom, Joel holds forth bright hope for all who turn to the Lord – “whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered” (2: 32).  This gracious provision, as we shall see later, will be in force during all the judgments associated with the setting up of the Kingdom on earth; a fact which demonstrates that these judgments cannot be placed in the category of final judgment, for then the day of salvation will be past.



2.  Penal Events‑During the Darkness of the Day of the Lord


The great day of the LORD is near ... That day is a day 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. - Zeph. 1: 14-15



The arrival of this Day of the LORD will first bring darkness, not light; for initially it is a “day of wrath.” Therefore, the events of this period of darkness will be penal in nature – “behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity” (Isa. 26: 21).  The wrath of God will fall progressively upon different segments of sinful humanity until at last the infliction becomes universal in extent.



a. Wrath Will Fall Upon a Great Northern Power


I will call for a sword against him ... saith the Lord GOD. - Ezek. 38: 21



Chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel are given to a description of this northern power and its place in the events of the end.  No attempt can be made here to deal with the prophecy in detail, but the following analysis will indicate its general features.



First, the time of its fulfilment is undoubtedly eschatological.  Ezekiel places it in “the latter years” and “the latter days” (38: 8, 16).  The time is further specified as coming before the final re-gathering and conversion of Israel (39: 22-29).



Second, the great northern power involved is named “Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh” (Ezek. 38: 2-3, ASV).  As to the identity of Rosh, Gesenius has said that “it can scarcely be doubtful that the first trace of the Russians is here given*  Apart from any linguistic considerations, however, this identification is confirmed by the geographical location as given by the prophet: “in the uttermost parts of the north” (38: 6, 15, ASV).  Since the directional standpoint of the prophet was always in relation to Palestine, a glance at any map of the world will make it evident that there is no other great power on earth except Russia which could possibly answer to Ezekiel’s description.


* Cf. W. J, Schroder, Lange’s Commentary on Ezekiel, trans. by S. Manson (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1899), p. 361.



Third, this great northern power will lead a coalition of satellite nations against Palestine for the purpose of plundering the people of Israel who at the end-time will again be living there in great prosperity, but apparently without adequate military resources of their own (Ezek. 38: 8-16).  It is possible that for protection Israel will be depending on the great Roman prince of Daniel 9: 26, 27 with whom they will have made a treaty (vs. 27).



Fourth, the invasion will he frustrated by the hand of Jehovah Himself (Ezek. 38: 19-22), whose wrath is described in superlative terms, falling upon the invading hordes in a fivefold manner: a fearful shaking of the earth centered in the land of Palestine (vss. 18-20); fratricidal fighting between the allied invaders (vs. 21); an epidemic of pestilential disease; violent storms of rainfall and hailstones; and eruptions of fire and brimstone (vs. 22).  The resulting loss of life will be so great that the burial of the dead will require “seven months” (39: 11-16).



Fifth, this prophecy of Ezekiel concerning Gog and Magog cannot be identified with the prophecy in Revelation 20: 7-10 for three reasons.  The former takes place before the Kingdom is established on earth; the latter after this Kingdom.  Also, in Ezekiel the invasion comes only from the north, but in Revelation it comes from the “four quarters of the earth  Furthermore, the rebellion of Gog and Magog and their destruction in Revelation 20: 7-10 marks the ushering in of the eternal state (20: 11-15); but in Ezekiel it is preliminary to the Millennial Kingdom on earth.



Finally, it should he observed that if Russia should prove to he the first object of God’s penal wrath at the end-time, the divine justification can be found in two facts: first, Russia is the only great political power in recorded history with an openly avowed policy to abolish God completely and everything connected with Him; second, it is this northern power, according to Ezekiel, which will launch the final and worst period of anti-Semitic persecution in the history of the world.



b. Wrath Will Fall Upon the Nation of Israel


But I ... will not leave thee altogether unpunished. - Jer. 30: 11



Persecution and suffering are nothing new in the history of the chosen nation.  Because of their elect position, they have always borne a primary moral responsibility before God.  Through the centuries of their existence the suffering of this people has been proverbial.  All this was forecast in the very Scriptures which they ,treasured.  Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy describes in harrowing detail what they would suffer - so great that they would “become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations” (vs. 37).  But great as these sufferings have been historically, there is ahead something which is far worse.  It will come with the Day of the Lord: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble” - thus the terrible day is described by Jeremiah (30: 7).



In that day when Jehovah rises up to do His “strange work” - the execution of wrath upon His own elect people (Isa. 28: 21) - that nation shall be as “burnings of lime” and as thorns “burned in the fire” (Isa. 33: 10-14).  As a result of these terrible visitations both the luxuries and necessities of civilization, held in such high regard by apostate members of the nation, will be taken away.  All the devices of bodily ornamentation will disappear; clothing will be in rags; even decent cleanliness for the body will be impossible.  “Instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a robe, a girding of sackcloth” (Isa. 3: 16-24, ASV).  Because of involvement in wars of the last days, the men will be so greatly reduced in number that “seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name; to take away our reproach” (Isa. 3: 25 - 4: 1).



The climax of these end-time sufferings; for Israel will be reached at the hand of the blasphemous “little horn” who, having risen to world power and callously broken his seven-year covenant with the nation, will inaugurate a season of persecution so violent and destructive that it will have no parallel, either in the past or the future.  According to Daniel, he not only makes war with God’s people, but he prevails “against them” (7: 21), and shall wear them out (7: 25).  Concerning these sufferings, the prophet is careful to point out two extraordinary things: first, it is not the Jewish apostates, but the “saints who are the primary object of persecution; second, the suffering is a visitation of God Himself who delivers the saints into the hand of the great blasphemer (7: 25).  But they will suffer in hope.



As for the hypocrites in Israel who think the Day of the Lord can bring any final blessing for them, the Word of God is clear: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD!  To what end is it for you?  The day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (Amos 5: 18-19).  Beyond the darkness there will he light for the godly in Israel in that day; but for the ungodly it will bring only darkness, with “no brightness in it” (vs. 20).  Not even membership in the elect nation can give any hope apart from moral considerations: “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken” (vs. 14).  Mere forms of religion, no matter how correct, will not be accepted as a substitute for a change of heart (vss. 21-24).



c. Wrath Will Fall Also on All the Gentile Nations


The LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, - Isa. 26: 21



When the Day of the Lord comes, “cruel both with wrath and fierce anger,” no nation on earth will escape its force.  “I will punish the world for their evilis the ultimatum of Jehovah (Isa. 13: 9-11).  This infliction of divine wrath will he directed primarily against two characteristic world sins: human pride and false religion.  “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 he brought low” (Isa. 2: 12). “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” (Isa. 2: 20).  The utter impotence of all false religion will be demonstrated before the eyes of all men.  What a spectacle! - the proud adherents of the great world religions and cults casting away as worthless all the precious symbols of their misplaced faith, and crawling into “holes” and “caves” for refuge when the true God rises up to “shake terribly the earth” (Isa. 2: 19, 21).  All the great achievements of mankind, which have ministered to human pride and self-sufficiency, will he forgotten; and “the LORD alone shall he exalted in that day” (Isa. 2: 12-17).  The account in this chapter of Isaiah is notable in that not one of the grosser sins of humanity is even mentioned - human pride and human religion stand here alone as the immediate objects of divine wrath.



But in addition to these sins, the Old Testament prophets present the nations of the earth in deliberate rebellion against the true God and His appointed King.  Human religions may indeed become very tolerant of one another, but they can never tolerate the one true faith of God.  And thus, at the end-time, we find nations and peoples, their kings and rulers, all raging in rebellion “against the LORD, and against his anointed and saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2: 1-3).  There seems to he a reference to this same rebellion in Psalm 83: 1-2 where the writer calls upon Jehovah to break His silence: “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult; and they that hate thee have lifted up the head  There can never be any neutrality in relation to the true God.  If men do not love Him, they will hate Him; as our Lord warned, “He that is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12: 30).



The immediate answer of Jehovah to all these insolent ragings of rebellious nations is derisive laughter: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Ps. 14).  But there will also be divine action: “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (Zeph. 3: 8).



The climax of this rebellion against the God of heaven will be reached when the armies of the nations, under the leadership of the great evil genius of the end-time, will march against Jerusalem and its chosen people.  The prophet Zechariah, speaking of this military movement against Jerusalem, affirms that “all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it” (12: 2-3, ASV).  And Daniel refers to their wicked leader when, among the final exploits of his terrible career, he is pictured as invading “the glorious land” and with great fury pitching his royal tent “between the sea and the glorious holy mountain” (11: 41-45, ASV).*


* Keil remarks that Daniel 11: 40-45 can “refer only to the final enemy of the people of God, the Antichrist” (Commentary on Daniel, op. cit., p. 469).



But the providential hand of God is in this arrogant march against the holy city of Jerusalem.  For it is God’s own determination thus to use the wrath of man to assemble the kingdoms of the world into the place of judgment where they shall he dealt with as they deserve (Zeph. 3: 8). “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle,” says Jehovah (Zech. 14: 2).  In accents of great irony the divine call will go forth, “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.  Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen ... Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (Joel. 3: 9-11, 14).



Rather strangely, according to Zechariah, the attack upon Jerusalem is initially successful: “the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (14: 2).  In this apparent victory of the anti-God rebellion, the world comes to its darkest hour in the long night of Satanic power, and the dawn is about to break.



3. Transitional Events - at the Dwwn of the Day of the Lord


But it shall be one day which shall he known to the LoRD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. - Zech. 14:7



Up to this point, in the sequence of events of the end-time, the judgments of God have issued from His throne in the heavens (Dan. 7: 9-10).  But now there will be something new: the incarnate Mediatorial King who sits at the right hand of God on high will rise from the throne and come down personally from heaven to put an end to the darkness and usher in the light of God’s Day.  Although the area of time will he short, and the divine action will he swift, at least three events must be placed in this transitional category.



a. The Glorious Arrival of the Mediatorial King


Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him. - Isa, 25: 9



In the hour of deepest darkness for Israel and Jerusalem, when it seems that total defeat is certain, “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14: 3).  And lest these words might be misunderstood as referring to some spiritual or providential coming of the LORD, the next verse adds a note of literality: “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east” (vs. 4).  For those who may have some reluctance in accepting the literality of these details, a parallel may he cited in the same prophetic book where the lowly first coming of the King is described as follows: “behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9: 9).  Since this has been literally fulfilled, why should the other be rejected as unreasonable?  As far as plausibility is concerned, what is the difference between the King riding in humiliation upon an ass and the King standing gloriously on a mountain? - especially since it is the same King and both events occur on the same mountain (cf. Luke 19: 37).



To the people of God on earth the glorious coming [or coming of the manifested glory (2 Cor. 4: 4, R.V.)] of the King will bring unspeakable comfort and joy.  The prophets recur again and again to this glad theme.  “And it shall he said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isa. 25: 9).  “Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!  Behold, the LORD God will come with strong hand” (Isa. 40: 9-10).  “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ... Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD” (Ps. 118: 24, 26).  For other references to this glad day, see Isaiah 63: 1; and Psalms 96: 13, 98: 9, 102 :16, and 110: 1-2.



The importance of this grand event cannot he overemphasized.  For the arrival of the divine King from heaven to take over the kingdoms of the world will mark the most crucial turning point in human history since Calvary.  From this point onward nothing will ever be the same again.  The deep darkness of man’s “day” will now pass into the glorious light of God’s “Day  Through the long night of man’s misgovernment, the godly had often complained, “We wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. ... We stumble at noon day as in the night” (Isa. 59: 9-10).  But now [then] the King who descends from heaven is the LORD who Himself is the “everlasting light” (Isa. 60: 19). And under His strong hand the action will he swift, with no more heartbreaking delays to try the faith of God’s elect.  Best of all, the change from darkness into light will be irreversible, leaving no room for any point of return back to the dismal failures of man’s attempts to govern himself. The “Sun of righteousness” will have risen upon the world, and it will not set again (Mal. 4: 2; cf. Isa. 60: 20).



b. The Destruction of the Hostile Armies


I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. - Zech. 12: 9



Against all the devices of interpreters who seek to show that God is finished with the historic people of Israel and with their beloved city of Jerusalem, the prophetic ultimatum stands firm: “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2: 8; cf. vss. 4-7).  In this city the Theocratic Kingdom of history was once centered, and it is reserved as the place where the Kingdom shall again he established.  Therefore, those who are wise have never ceased to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122: 6).  For all the hopes of a future Kingdom of God on earth are in a certain sense bound up with the future of this city.



As an evidence of God’s continued and loving interest in Jerusalem, it should he observed that the final assault against the city by the armies of the world, under the leadership of the blasphemous “little horn will bring swift destruction upon these military forces.  In fact, it is precisely this presumptuous assault that will bring the divine King down from heaven, and His first action on earth will he the defence of Jerusalem: “In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Zech. 12: 8).  What may seem to the attackers only a routine and rather minor military project will turn out to be a veritable Waterloo of catastrophe: “in that day,” God warns, “will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth he gathered together against it” (Zech. 12: 3).  “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12: 9).



The crushing of the attacking forces will be supernaturally accomplished, and this power will be manifested in three ways.  First, the human defenders left in the besieged city will be endowed with superhuman power.  “In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about. ... he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall he as God, as the angel of the LORD before them” (Zech. 12: 6, 8).  Second, a heavenly reserve, in the person of Michael the archangel, will he sent into the action on behalf of the besieged Israelites.  Through the centuries the chief ministry of this great angel has been to defend the interests of the chosen nation (Dan. 12: 1).  Third, there will be supernatural visitations of wrath which will fall directly on the attackers.  Every horse will he smitten with “terror” and “blindness” while the riders will be seized with “madness” (Zech. 12: 4, ASV).  In this condition of mental confusion and derangement, the attackers will begin fighting each other (Zech. 14: 13).  And added to all these blows there will come a supernatural “plague” upon the armies, so that the eyes and tongues and flesh of men shall suddenly “consume away while they stand on their feet” (Zech. 14: 12).



The prophet Isaiah has given a vivid description of this terrible judgment of God upon a wicked and rebellious world: “For, behold, Jehovah will come with fire, and his chariots shall be like the whirlwind; to render his anger with fierceness, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For by fire will Jehovah execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be many” (Isa. 66: 15-16, ASV).  So staggering will be the loss of life under the divine “indignation” that in the days of the coming Kingdom men will look back to this terrible occasion as “the day of the great slaughter” (Isa. 30: 25).



If such a judgment seems to run beyond the requirements of justice, it should not be forgotten that the devilish intent here is the same as that which always has motivated the great historic attacks on this chosen city of God: “And now many nations are assembled against thee, that say, Let her he defiled, and let our eye see our desire upon Zion” (Mic. 4: 11, ASV).  Thus the eyes that look with eager desire for evil upon Jerusalem shall be made to feel the inflexible lex talionis of God (Exod. 21: 23-25).



c. The Doom of the Blasphemous “Little Horn”


Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. - Dan. 11: 45



Various means - supernaturally enabled, as we have already seen - may be used to destroy the armies of the nations.  But it is altogether fitting that the doom of their wicked leader should he reserved for the personal hand of the Mediatorial King Himself.  For this “man of sin” has dared presumptuously to match his strength against “the Prince of princes” (Dan. 8: 25).  And therefore his destruction will he accomplished by the immediate and invisible power of Deity apart from all human means – “he shall be broken without hand” (Dan. 8: 25).



In that hour all his vast “dominion” shall he taken away (Dan. 7: 26).  The prophet Haggai speaks of this final universal concentration of political power as “the throne of kingdoms” and affirms that it shall he overthrown (2: 22).  Stripped of all his satanic power and authority, his vast empire crumbling under the force of the Stone from heaven, he comes to his “end”; and among all his once powerful allies “none shall help him” (Dan. 11: 45).



In the hearts of most of the world’s great tyrants, even in the hour of defeat and death, there has often seemed to be a deep concern about the proper disposal of their physical remains.  The mausoleums of the Egyptian kings bear historical witness to this concern.  In this respect the end of this final world dictator is particularly ignominious.  Daniel says, “I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame” (7: 11).  In still greater detail his end is described by Isaiah: “All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.  But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch ... as a carcase trodden under feet.  Thou shalt not he joined with them in burial” (14: 18-20).



The defeat and doom of the beast produces a reaction which will reach even to the underworld of the dead.  On earth there will be relief; men will shout with joy: “How hath the oppressor ceased! ... The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. ... The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing” (Isa. 14: 3-8).  And as the naked soul of this once great world dictator descends into the underworld, the reaction becomes still more impressive: “Hell [Heb. ‘Sheol’] from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming. ... All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we?  Art thou become like unto us?” (Isa. 14: 9-10).  “Is, this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof ...?” (Isa. 14: 16-17).  The king of Babylon described in this chapter cannot be the king of historic Babylon, for the shout of joy over his downfall comes from Israel “in the day” when they are given rest from all their age long sorrow and fear and bondage, as indicated in verses 1-4.  He is the final king of the world system which began in the Babylon of history and which will end in a future and greater Babylon.



4. Constitutive Events - During the Light of the Day of the Lord


Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. ... Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall he ended. - Isa. 60: 1, 20



With the doom of the beast and his armies, the penal and destructive actions of the Day of the Lord are finished and the transition from the darkness to the light is accomplished.  The way is now cleared for what I have termed the constitutive events of the Day.  In the establishment of the Kingdom there are certain constructive acts of the King by which He will deal judicially with humanity, separate the righteous from the unrighteous, effect the organization of His government, make right the things which are wrong – in short, do the things necessary to bring in the wondrous benefits and conditions of the long awaited [millennial] Kingdom.



a. There Will Be a Resurrection


Thy dead men shall live. - Isa. 26: 19



The chief Old Testament passage is Daniel 12:1-3, which reads as follows: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever  Several things here are of interest.



First, this is a physical resurrection.  The people involved are those “that sleep in the dust of the earth” (vs. 2). These words could only refer to the physical body.



Second, it is a resurrection of Israelites.  As the angelic messenger clearly indicated to Daniel, the primary subject of the passage is “thy people” (vs. 1).  It is Daniel’s historic people who will suffer the terrible time of trouble, and the same people are to he the subjects of this resurrection.



Third, even among the Israelites it will be a selective resurrection.  Not all, but only “Many” of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.  By no reasonable device of interpretation can “many” be turned into all.  Furthermore, the resurrection does not include both good and bad, as the King James version seems to indicate.  Verse 2 may he rendered as follows: “Many from among the sleepers ... these shall be unto everlasting life; but those [the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time] shall be unto shame* Thus, just as there is a selective deliverance among the living Israelites, restricted to those “found written in the book” (vs. 1); even so there is a selective resurrection among the dead, restricted to those who shall be awakened to everlasting life.  Scripture knows nothing of a general resurrection, either of Israelites or of all men, both good and bad, simultaneously.


* So Tregelles reads the passage, and A. R. Fausset says the Jewish commentators support him (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on the Bible [New York: Geo. H. Doran, no date], in loc.).



Finally, Daniel’s prophecy places this resurrection as the first event at the terrible “time of trouble” which Israel will suffer at the end (vss. 1-2).  This order is supported by other considerations.  For centuries the godly of the nation had been praying and longing for the promised Kingdom.  And since the ordeal of death seemed to extinguish the hope of a personal sharing in that Kingdom, the doctrine of a physical resurrection became the solution of this distressing problem. It is wholly appropriate, therefore, to find that the first constitutive act of the King is a resurrection of godly Israelites who, like Joseph of Arimathaea, throughout all their days on earth had “waited for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23: 51).



Whether or not there may be a resurrection hope for godly Gentiles at this time is a matter of which Daniel says nothing.  But Isaiah seems to indicate a wider scope in his words, “Thy dead men shall live ... Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust” (26: 19).  For this resurrection of God’s “men” is associated with the glorious coming of the Lord to punish the inhabitants of the earth (vs. 21).  New Testament revelation will shed further light on this point.



h. There Will Be a Repentance of Israelites in the Land


They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. - Zech. 13: 9



Among the numerous passages in the Old Testament which speak of a great spiritual change yet to be wrought in the nation of Israel in the last days, the most vivid picture is given by Zechariah (12: 10 - 13: 2).  In this passage some important facts about this great turning of Israel are revealed.



First, the time is definitely stated.  It follows immediately after the judgment upon the nations which come against Jerusalem (Zech. 12: 9-10).



Second, the cause of Israel’s repentance is twofold.  Basically this is the work of God: “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications” (vs. 10).  It is Jehovah, not man, who always must initiate the work of grace.  But, on the other hand, the divine work is wrought through tangible means; in this case, a vision of the King of Glory as the One who had been slain: “They shall look upon me says Jehovah, “whom they have pierced” (vs. 10).  And the sudden realization that the great Deliverer in their hour of peril is none other than the historic Jesus of Nazareth will start the flood of tears.



Third, [the nation of] Israel’s repentance will be genuine, not superficial.  The tears are bitter; they mourn “as one mourneth for his only son ... his firstborn” (vs. 10).  So deep is the grief of Israel, as they stand now in the presence of the One whom they had crucified, that it can only he compared to the memorable grief of Israel over the death of good King Josiah “in the valley of Megiddon” (vs. 11; cf. 2 Chron. 35: 24-26).



Fourth, as to its extent, the tearful repentance will begin in Jerusalem and move throughout “the land” (Zech. 12:11-12).  Every family will mourn, beginning with the “house of David” and spreading to “all the families that remain” (vss. 12-13).  From other passages to he considered later, we shall find here the beginning of a turning to God which will spread through all the world.



Fifth, the results of this repentance appear immediately: there is spiritual cleansing for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13: 1); and the false prophets and false gods are forsaken (13: 2).  Other texts indicate comfort for the grief-stricken nation: “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isa. 66: 13).



Finally, in this repentance of Israel we have the preliminary condition for her spiritual ministry to all the nations of the earth.  The promise of Psalm 67: 7 states the divine order with infallible accuracy: “God shall bless us” - the blessing of Israel must be first.  Then the world-wide blessing follows: “and all the ends of the earth shall fear him  The long obduracy of the chosen nation will at last be ended: “Thy people shall he willing in the day of thy power” (Ps. 110: 3).



c. There Will Be a Re-gathering of Dispersed Israelites


I will gather you from all the nations. - Jer. 29: 14



The re-gathering of historic Israel is one of the major themes of prophetic Scripture, beginning in the writings of Moses (Deut. 30: 1-3) and reaching its climax in the minor prophets.  Yet the sole notice given to it in many theological works is a denial that it will ever be fulfilled.  Such an attitude is hard to understand.  For the same inspired Word which affirmed that the nation would be scattered throughout the world also predicted that the nation shall again he assembled.  There is certainly no historical uncertainty about the literality of the dispersion, and there should be no question about the re-gathering.  “Hear the word of the LORD, 0 ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jer. 31: 10). “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger ... and I will bring them again unto this place. ... For thus saith the LORD: Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them” (Jer. 32: 37, 42).  An unbiased examination of these and numerous other passages on the re-gathering of Israel will lead to several general conclusions.



First, the re-gathering will he both a divine and a human accomplishment.  Primarily the work is God’s; but, although there are intimations which point to supernatural means, certain texts indicate that human instrumentalities will also be used: “And the peoples shall take them, and bring them to their place” (Isa. 14: 2, ASV).  Using a beautiful figure, Isaiah describes the ships speeding to carry the Israelites back to their own promised land.  They come as “doves” homing to “their windows led by the “ships of Tarshish bringing not only the “sons” of Israel but also “their silver and their gold with them” (Isa. 60: 8, 9).*


* The linguistic explanation of Franz Deliftsch here is very helpful until he slips into the semantic confusion of Israel with the Church.  However, he correctly asserts that “the distinction between Israel and the Gentiles” is maintained in Scripture, “even in the New Jerusalem” (Commentary on Isaiah [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., reprint, 19501, Vol. II, pp. 415, 414).



Second, the re-gathering of Israel will be international in its scope.  God will bring them out of “all countries” wherever they have been scattered in His anger (Jer. 32: 37).  They will come from east, west, north, and south (Isa. 43: 5-6).  No matter how far removed from the promised land they may have been driven, God will find them and fetch them back (Deut. 30: 4).  The blind and the lame, and those who weep, will not be forgotten by the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Jer. 31: 8-10).  He will leave “none of them any more there” among the nations (Ezek. 39: 28).  The work will be thorough: “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith Jehovah, and they shall fish them up; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks” (Jer. 16: 16,ASV).  The next verse (17) suggests that among those gathered will be some whose ways are evil.  Even to day there are many Jewish people who care little or nothing about the ancient promises of Jehovah to Israel; as one wealthy Jew in southern California once expressed himself: “Los Angeles is good enough for me  Such members of the nation will be gathered out of the lands where they dwell and be dealt with judicially (cf. point 4 below) -



Third, this re-gathering of Israel will be accompanied with a great spiritual revival among the people. We have already seen the wonderful work of God among those in the land when the King arrives.  The same thing will take place among those still scattered among the nations.  This is foretold in the great Deuteronomy passage (30: 1-6).  In fact, here the revival precedes the re-gathering: “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the LORD thy God ... with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the LORD thy God shall turn thy captivity. ... And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed  In words almost without parallel, Ezekiel (34: 10-16) pictures the gracious work of the regal Shepherd who will tenderly gather the sheep who have been neglected and abused by their human shepherds: “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the LORD God.  I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick” (vss. 15-16).



Fourth, this re-gathering of Israel and restoration to their own land will be permanent.*  There have been other re-gatherings recorded in history.*  But those have been only partial and never permanent.  On the contrary, the re-gathering at the time of the Kingdom’s establishment will bring a full end to the wanderings of this ancient people.  In that day they will never again defile themselves with idols or detestable things, they shall dwell in the land forever, and God’s sanctuary will be in their midst for evermore (Ezek. 37: 21-28).  Never again will the face of God be hidden from them, “for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 39: 29). “I will plant them upon their own land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Amos 9: 15).  The long wanderings of Israel, their persecutions, their disasters, their sufferings, their estrangement from God, even their present uncertainties and deadly perils - all these things add up to one unanswerable argument that the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s re-gathering have never been fulfilled.  The Amillennial reply is too easy and glib; in fact, no answer at all.  For those who accept it, the hermeneutical price is immeasurable; for in the interest of a rigid philosophic unity, it actually blots out many of the richest pages of Holy Writ.  All it can say in the face of these wonderful pages is to repeat monotonously, "These things cannot be literally fulfilled."


* That is, as ‘permanent’ as this present earth lasts.


* See the records in Ezra and Nehemiah.



d. There Will Be a judgment of Living Israelites


I will purge out from among you the rebels. - Ezek. 20: 38



The main passage is Ezekiel 20: 33-38, which is reproduced here in full as it appears in the American Standard Version: “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand, and with an out-stretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you.  And I will bring you out from the peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face.  Like as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, saith the Lord Jehovah.  And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah



First, the time of the event here described is set very definitely.  It will immediately follow the re-gathering of Israel out of the countries unto which they have been dispersed (cf. vss. 34 and 35).  And the context clearly shows that the judgment will precede the actual entrance of Israel back into the land.



Second, the place is specified as “the wilderness of the peoples” ,(vs. 35).  Certain of the commentators argue that this wilderness is a “spiritual” description of the Jews’ present condition where they are now among the nations.  But this introduces a flat contradiction into the prophecy.  How can God gather Israel “out of the countries” and bring them into the “wilderness if the latter is merely another name for the former?  The comparison drawn between this event and that which took place during the historical march from Egypt to Palestine, fixes beyond question the geographical location.  It is the well-known wilderness of the Sinaitic peninsula, which to this day is occupied by various “peoples” (vs. 35, ASV).



Third, the action of God here is judicial in character.  He will “enter into judgment” with re-gathered Israel “face to face” (vs. 35).  And the comparison with the historic events which occurred “in the wilderness” (vs. 36) is highly significant.  For there, after God had established the Mediatorial Kingdom of Old Testament history at Sinai, organizing it as a true theocratic government, He proceeded to purge out all dissidents.  Even so, in the establishment of the future [millennial] Kingdom, God will renew His “face to face” dealings with Israel (cf. Deut. 5: 4).



Fourth, the results of this judicial event are clearly indicated.  The rebels will be purged out from the re-gathered nation.  They shall be brought out of whatever country where they reside, but they “shall not enter into the land of Israel” (Ezek. 20: 38, ASV).  These rebels may desire to submerge their identity by full integration with other nations and their idolatrous ways (vs. 32), but all such attempts will he suppressed by the “mighty hand” of God (vs. 33).  On the other hand, out of this judicial separation will come a cleansed remnant who will humbly and joyfully submit to the King, and these shall enter the land as the people of God (cf. vss. 40-44).



Finally, throughout this divine action, it should he observed that the Lord is acting in His regal capacity. His judicial work in the re-gathered nation is based on His determination to be their King.  “As I live He declares, “will I be king over you” (vs. 33).  To this end, nothing essential will be left undone.  And judgment must begin with the chosen nation.



e. There Will Also Be a judgment of Living Gentile Nations


I will gather all nations and ... execute judgment upon them. - Joel 3: 2, ASV



In the formal judgment of a court, whether of God or of man, there are always two distinct factors: first, there is the judicial action, a determination of the law and the facts, issuing in a verdict; second, there is an execution of the verdict, consisting in the proper awards to the parties involved.  Although in Biblical prophecy it is not always easy to distinguish sharply between these two factors, it should he admitted by all that there can he no execution of awards without a prior judicial examination of parties and the facts. The penal wrath of God already poured out on the Gentile nations, as we have seen above, has issued from a court set in heaven (cf. above: a. under 1.).  But now the Mediatorial King has come down from heaven and set up His throne of judgment on the earth, and from the vantage of this throne He will now deal with the living nations there.  In the words of Isaiah: “He shall judge among the nations” (2: 4).



For this purpose there shall he a gathering together of the living nations left on earth following the world-wide inflictions of divine wrath.  Concerning these God has forewarned: “I know their works and their thoughts: the time cometh, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and shall see my glory” (Isa. 66: 18, ASV).  The nations of the world have seen the King coming in humiliation, the lowly Carpenter of Nazareth; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; despised and rejected of men.  They have seen Him standing thorn-crowned at Pilate’s bar of judgment. Now they must see Him coming in regal glory; and they must stand before His throne of judgment. Having thus dealt with the living nation of Israel, the King will now bring the living Gentile nations into a like ordeal of judgment.



The outstanding Old Testament passage on this subject is Joel 3: 1-3 (ASV), which reads as follows: “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment upon them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations: and they have parted my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine that they may drink  Several ideas here should be noted.



First, the time of this judgment is stated precisely as “in that time” when God will “bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem” (vs. 1).  Therefore, it must follow the great destruction of the attacking armies described in verses 9-16.  The literary order of prediction does not always follow the chronological order of events.  The assault upon Jerusalem is introduced after the announcement of divine judgment for the very good reason that this supreme crime of the nations will form the main subject for judicial examination.



Second, the place of judgment is specified as “the valley of Jehoshaphat” (vss. 2, 12).  The identification of this place has been a matter of some controversy.  However, Keil concludes that “the tradition of the church ... has correctly assigned it to the valley of the Kidron, on the eastern side of Jerusalem*  Whether or not this opinion is correct, it is significant that the judgment will he held in the place where the high crime was committed.  In the valley where the nations assemble for their assault against God’s city, there He will “sit to judge” them. This is a procedure not unknown to human jurisprudence.  The trials of the so-called “war criminals” of the Hitler regime, which sought to annihilate the Jewish people, were held in Germany, not in London or Washington.  And, since the supreme crime of human government was its treatment of Israel’s King, no more appropriate place for the judgment could he found than the valley of Kidron.  On this point nothing finer could be written than the words of Dr. Pusey:-



“There was the garden whither Jesus oftentimes resorted with His disciples; there was His agony and Bloody Sweat; there Judas betrayed Him; thence He was dragged by the rude officers of the High Priest. The Temple, the token of His accepting their sacrifices which could only be offered there, overhung it on the one side.  There, under the rock on which that temple stood, they dragged Jesus, as a lamb to the slaughter.  On the other side, it was overhung by the Mount of Olives, whence He beheld the city and wept over it, because it knew not in that its day, the things which belong to its peace; whence, after His precious Death and Resurrection, Jesus ascended into Heaven.  There the Angels foretold His return, ‘This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven  It has been a current opinion, that our Lord should descend to judgment, not only in like mariner, and in the like Form of Man, but in the same place, over this valley of Jehoshaphat.  Certainly, if so it be, it were appropriate, that He should appear in His Majesty, where, for us, He bore the extremest shame; that He should judge there, where for us, He submitted to be judged.”**


* C. F. Keil, Commentary on Minor Prophets, trans. J. Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., reprint, 1951), on Joel 3: 2.


** E. B. Pusey, Commentary on the Minor Prophets, (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1886), Vol. 1, p. 210.



To the objection that this limited space is not adequate for the assembling of all the nations, the answer is twofold: (a) Since there is no direct assertion that all are brought here at one time, the period of judgment may be prolonged* (b) The population of the world will have been greatly reduced by reason of the preceding world-wide judgments of God.


* See the very interesting discussion of this point by Dr. Merrill C. Tenney, under the title, “The Importance and Exegesis of Rev. 20: 1-8Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1954, pp. 146-148.



Third, the main indictment in the judgment of the nations will be their crimes against the chosen people of Israel.  “I will execute judgment upon them there for my people and for my heritage Israel is the declaration of the regal Judge (Joel 3: 2, ASV).  Listed among these crimes are the forced dispersions of Israel, the division and plundering of the Holy Land, and the contemptuous evaluation and callous treatment of even the children: a Jewish boy is the price of a harlot, and a girl goes for a drink of wine!  And our Lord, for whose raiment the Roman soldiers cast lots, was a Jew!  For these age-long crimes the existing governments of the world will now he brought into a judgment long delayed.  Nor will the judgment he confined to matters of Jewish ill-treatment.  It has sometimes been asked whether God is concerned only with the injustices done to Israel.  The answer is found in Isaiah 2: 4, “He will judge between the nations” (ASV).  Surely this must involve an inquiry into many a wrong committed against the innocent and defenceless of all nations.



Fourth, this judgment of the nations will involve persons as well as governments.  In any judgment of this nature the problem of moral responsibility cannot he side-stepped.  In the crimes of nations, do the people share to any extent in the guilt of their rulers?  Does the minor official escape responsibility in obeying the orders of his superiors?  May the chief of state enjoy an immunity not vouchsafed to an ordinary criminal?  These problems have never been satisfactorily solved in the history of human government; but they will be solved in the coming divine judgment of the nations.  It will be found in that day that the citizens of the state, as well as its rulers, will bear a certain measure of moral responsibility for national crimes.  To say it is always the duty of the citizen to obey the state, as some have carelessly argued, is to forget that there are times when God should be obeyed rather than men (Acts 5: 29).  The truth is that morally there can he no absolute divorce between personal and governmental responsibility.  For a government, apart from its rulers and citizens, is wholly an abstraction.



Finally, it must be observed that this is not a general judgment of all men, but only of living Gentile nations on earth at the beginning of the Mediatorial Kingdom.  There is no resurrection of the dead, as would be required in any such an alleged general judgment.  But for the living men involved, as well as for existing governments, it will he a final judgment.  At the inauguration of the Kingdom on earth the judgment of God will make an absolute and final separation between the righteous and the unrighteous, between those who rebel and those who submit to the King.  Rebellious governments will be abolished; rebellious men will be destroyed.  “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish” (Isa. 60: 12).  In this respect the Millennial Kingdom will begin with a clean slate.