God's truth for today's world

The Day of the Lord in God’s Timing Introduction

We’re in a message series called “Understanding the End Times.” Last Sunday, we talked about Wrestling with Radical Evil. If you missed it, you can watch the video on our website. In that message, we saw from God’s Word that both evil and righteousness will grow together throughout the last days in which we live. Ultimately, history will end as we know it, with the climactic Day of the Lord, which will bring salvation for believers and judgment for unbelievers.

Today, my message is entitled “The Timing of God.” We’re going to be looking more closely at the timing of the Day of the Lord. Biblically, the day of the Lord can refer to two different events. First of all, it can refer to a present judgment of God on a nation. In this sense, there have been and will be many days of the Lord. Secondly, the phrase day of the Lord can refer to God’s final judgment at the end of the age.

Too often, we think of God’s intervention in history as future, thinking that it’s far away. Many people think that the world is just going it’s merry way with God simply watching from a distance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today, we want to better understand God’s timing of the days of the Lord. God is actively involved in history, right now. God’s judgments are being carried out on peoples and nations, right now. How do we know that? Because God’s Word shows us how God acts in history.

If God is intervening in history with His judgments, how should we respond? That’s the question we are going to look at this morning.

Our passage today is taken from the book of Joel in the Old Testament. This book was written by the prophet Joel to the nation of Judah and consists of three chapters. In the first chapter, we learn that an enormous locust invasion had devastated the land of Judah. The locusts had eaten every green plant. The fields were barren, the animals were dying and the people did not have enough to eat.

Joel 1:4 (NIV)  What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.

The prophet Joel spoke of this invasion of locusts as the day of the Lord. He even spoke of the locusts as being part of God’s army. So this locust invasion of Joel’s day was God’s judgment on His people in Judah. It was the day of the Lord bringing God’s wrath upon Judah who had strayed from His ways. Joel summarizes his description of the locust invasion in …

Joel 2:11 (NIV)  The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

How should the people of Judah respond? Are we under God’s judgment today? How should we respond?

Respond correctly to God’s judgment

When bad things are happening, you need to discern their origin. One possibility is that you’re being persecuted for righteous behavior. Another possibility is some bad things happen, just because we live in a fallen world. A third possibility is that you’re under God’s judgment for sins you’ve committed. If you discern that bad things are happening because of God’s judgment, the way to respond correctly is to …

Return to the Lord

Joel 2:12-13 (NIV)  ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

God’s judgment comes on people who have walked away from the Lord, people who have walked away into sin. God’s solution for the people of Joel’s time and for us today, is to return to the Lord with all your heart. Repent of your sins with godly sorrow. Return to the Lord recognizing that He is gracious, compassionate and full of love. Believe that when you return to the Lord, the calamity that He has brought will be stopped. As you return to the Lord …

Pray together for God’s mercy

Joel 2:15, 17 (NIV)  Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. … Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”

Here, we see the prophet Joel calling for the people of Judah to call a holy fast and a sacred assembly. In other words, the judgment was against the nation and the returning to the Lord must not be individual, but altogether. The people were to pray together and ask the Lord to spare His people from judgment, so they would not be scorned among the other nations. They were to pray together for God’s mercy.

In the Old Testament, the people of Judah, the nation, and the people of God were one and the same. Today, the people of God in the church are not the same as the people of the United States. There are many people in the USA that are clearly not part of the people of God. God’s judgment can come on churches who have wandered from the truth of God’s Word and it does.

However, today, we’re going to talk about God’s judgment coming against our nation. I believe that 9.11 was a warning judgment of God, but it did not cause our nation to return to the Lord. As a nation, we have elected unrighteous leaders, continued to abort babies, wallowed in sins of gambling, pornography and homosexuality. The judgment of God is sure, it is already coming upon our nation and will increase. How should we respond?

We must, as the people of God, return to the Lord ourselves. Make sure that we repent of our individual sins, as well as the sins of our nation. Perhaps, we have not contributed to the decadent sins of our society. However, our sins of omission, the things we should have done, the people we should have led to the Lord, the example we should have set, have also contributed to the problems. The time is getting short, we must return to the Lord and pray together for God’s mercy in increasing intensity in the next year.

Expect God’s blessing on His people

The wonderful thing about God’s Word is that it is filled with hope. In Joel’s day, the people of Judah did respond to the prophetic warning. They returned to the Lord and prayed together for God’s mercy. God heard their prayers and lifted His hand of judgment and brought blessing in its place. To the people who seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways …

The Lord will give an abundance

Joel 2:19 (NIV)  The LORD will reply to them: ‘I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. Joel 2:24 (NIV)  The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

The locusts have devoured everything in God’s judgment. The grain was gone, there was no new wine and oil. Yet God now promises to the people who had returned to Him, that He would send them enough abundance to satisfy them fully. In fact, their vats would be overflowing with new wine and oil. God’s abundance would be more than enough. It would be enough to meet their own needs, with more left over to give to others. When that happened, the people must remember to …

Praise the Lord for His blessing

Joel 2:26 (NIV)  You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.

When God blesses, then we must remember to praise the name of the Lord our God. Too often, we cry out to God when we’re in calamity, but when He removes it and blessed us, we forget to thank and praise Him. The Bible teaches us that every good gift that we have in life, comes from God. God works wonders in our lives and we must have hearts of thanksgiving, praising Him for all His blessings.

This week is Thanksgiving. As Christians in America, we still have much to be thankful for. We have food on our tables and a roof over our heads and much more. For many, times are tighter than they’ve been in the past, but let’s remember this week and every week to praise the Lord for His blessings. Even as we see our country as a whole move away from God’s ways, God wants His people, His church, to be an example. He wants to bless us, so that we can be a blessing to others.

I want to thank everyone who is participating in our Christmas stockings for inner city children. We still have some stockings left. If you haven’t picked one up yet, pick some up and get them filled by next Sunday. When we bless others, it opens the door for more blessing from God. Finally, the prophet Joel teaches us to …

Seek the Lord’s Spirit in the last days

Joel 2:28a (NIV)  ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

We saw at the beginning of this message series, that this verse was quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. So, we know that this aspect of Joel’s prophesy applies to the time of the last days, in which we live. God poured out His Spirit on the early church and announced that the same Spirit was available for every believer throughout the last days. The power of the Spirit is the blessing of God on those who seek Him. As the Spirit is poured out …

God desires to release prophetic gifts

Joel 2:28b-29 (NIV)  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

As the world gets more turbulent, as wickedness increases, we as believers need supernatural revelation to carry out our mission from God. Prophesy, dreams and visions from God are all ways in which God reveals information that could never had been figured out with our natural minds.  God wants to guide you in doing wonderful works for Him in the last days. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:1, that we are to seek these gifts.

Too many people cop out and say, well if God wants me to have it, he’ll give it to me. That doesn’t work with salvation, you have to believe to be saved. And it doesn’t work with spiritual gifts, you must desire and seek them in order to receive them from God. What is the main purpose of the Spirit in the last days?

God desires the lost to be saved

Joel 2:32 (NIV)  And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

Why does God send judgment on peoples and nations? Yes, it is punishment, however His primary reason for judgment is that people would repent and turn to Him. So, as God’s judgments increase in these last days, it will give us more and more opportunity to be witnesses to Jesus and see people saved. God wants His church to be a place of deliverance. Deliverance from sin, deliverance from sickness and deliverance from bondage of all kinds. Through the Spirit, we will see increasingly great things happening in our time.

Be ready for the final day of the Lord

Joel 2:30-31 (NIV)  I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Even though there are many smaller days of the Lord, in which God’s judgment falls, there will be a final, a great and dreadful day of the Lord. This will be the time when Jesus comes back that we talked about last Sunday. We do not know when this day will come, it could come at any time, it is imminent.

Jesus repeatedly warns His disciples, which is you and me, if we’re believers. Jesus warns us to be alert and ready for His coming. How can we be alert and ready? By doing the things that we’ve talked about today from the prophet Joel.

Is the church in America ready for the last days harvest that the prophet Joel is talking about here? The answer is unequivocally no, the church is not ready. The church in America is a mile wide and an inch deep. Real repentance and returning to the Lord is rare. Weeping for the state of our country and the plight of the lost is not common. The church in America is trying to build the kingdom of God with natural methods. God only builds His kingdom through divine methods in the power of the Spirit.

I believe, we are at a critical time as a nation and as the metro area of St. Louis, this Thanksgiving 2014. Ask God to give you a desire for more of Him in your life. Too many so-called Christians just want to do as little as possible to make it to heaven and live for themselves on this earth. You can’t have Jesus as your Savior without having Him as your Lord. In other words, you can’t have your sins forgiven and go to heaven without following the obeying King Jesus in this life. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

So, how can we be alert and ready for the day of the Lord? Respond to God’s judgment by returning to the Lord and praying for God’s mercy on our lives, our church and our nation. Live a life of thanksgiving, as you expect God’s blessing on your life. Receive God’s blessing with a view to being a blessing to others.

Earnestly seek God’s Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts in these last days. We need supernatural guidance and power to carry out God’s mission for our lives and churches. The events that are destined to come on America will open the door for us to lead many people to be saved. Ask God to prepare you and empower you to be a bold witness for Jesus There is much to do before the King returns.

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Understanding the End Time Message Series

Wrestling with Radical Evil (2 Thessalonians 2)
Ferguson and God's Judgment (Malachi 3-4)
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