841: Alas, the day of the Lord is at hand – 1 – Lesson 1 Part 1 Book 71

 

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 71

ALAS, THE DAY OF THE LORD IS AT HAND – 1

Joel 1:1-15

It’s so good to see everybody in this afternoon. For those of you out in television, again we just like to welcome you to our informal Bible study.  I’ve said so often, but I’ll say it again, we don’t try to pick away at other people; we don’t try to attack anyone.  I’m just going to teach what the Book says.

You know, I’m just reminded.  I had a gentleman in one of my classes here in Oklahoma. He’s been part of the class for a long, long time. As a young man, he was a football player for one of the major universities in America.  He told me one time, “When you’re in that situation, there’s nothing that you can’t do.”  But he said, “You know, Les, over all the years that I’ve been coming to your classes, I’ve never heard you rant and rave against the drinking, against this or against that.  And yet thanks to your teaching, that’s all left my lifestyle.”

So, what’s the point?  Hey, you don’t have to rant and rave at these people that you can’t do this and get to heaven.  All you have to do is just teach the Book and the Word of God will take care of it.  So, that’s my approach to these things.  If you haven’t heard me get all up tight about one thing or another, well, that’s my attitude.  If I can keep people in the Book, the Book will take care of it.  I don’t have to.

So again, those of you out in television, just remember, that all we’re going to do is search the Scriptures–compare Scripture with Scripture–and let you decide what the Book really says.

Today we’re going to start a study in the Minor Prophets, where we started some time ago in Hosea.  But before we go back to Joel, which we’re going to study today, I’d like to have you turn with me to Romans chapter 15 verse 4.  And this is the encouragement to study all of Scripture.  Now you know I’m so Pauline in our doctrines for today, of course.  Paul is the Apostle of the Gentiles.  But see, our Apostle of the Gentiles admonishes us to study all of the Scripture, not just Romans through Philemon.  That’s the approach we have to take.   The Apostle of the Gentiles writes:

Romans 15:4 a

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime (In other words, before he came on the scene, probably even before Christ’s earthly ministry.) were written for our (What’s the word?) learning,…”  Now, what’s the difference between learning and doctrine?  Well, all the difference in the world.  Learning is background.  Learning is to get an understanding of how did all this come about?  How did it happen that Christ was crucified?  How did it happen that He ascended back to Glory?  How did it happen that He sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles?   This is all background.

But doctrine, what does that tell you?  It tells us how to be saved, how to live the Christian life, what to look for at the end, so far as we are concerned.  That’s in Paul’s epistles.  But all of Scripture is for our learning.  Always remember that.  All right, so finish the verse.

Romans 15:4b

“…that we (as Grace Age believers) through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”   See, and the world despairs.

The world is in perplexity today.  They don’t know which way to turn.  My, I was reading an editorial again just this morning which was almost a carbon copy of one I referred to in our last taping.  The dilemma that the Western world finds itself in.  We either have to go in and stop Iran and their nuclear enterprise, or we have to put up with them and then let them blackmail us.  So, which is worse?  Well, one is as bad as the other.  There is no real solution as far as men can understand it.  What did the Lord tell us?  In the last days, the world would be filled with perplexity.  And that’s the word—perplexity.

All right, we can go back into the Old Testament now, and we’re going to see how that through the prophetic writings we can look at the situation today and say, “Hey, it’s all in God’s design.  He knows what’s going on.  He’s not caught by surprise.  This is exactly what prophecy has told us would come.”

All right, so we’re going to go back, and we’re going to start our study in the next little Minor Prophet. We used Hosea our last time together, and now today we’re going to take the next one.  But, like I told the folks here in the studio, don’t walk away from the TV set and say, “Oh, well, he’s in the Old Testament.  That doesn’t mean anything to me.”  We’re not going to stay in the Old Testament very long today.  We’re going to be jumping right up into other portions of Scripture.  But we’re going to start back here in the little Minor Prophet of Joel, which is probably, as near as I can determine from all the chronologies that I can look at, the first of the Jewish prophets.  He writes about 25, 30 – 40 years before Isaiah.  He writes before any of the others.  Maybe Jonah was a little earlier, but Jonah isn’t really a book of prophecy like these are.

So, this little Book of Joel actually is the first real book of prophecy in our Old Testament.  It’s going to line up, of course, with all the rest of them, but it stands alone as being the first or the oldest.  In other words, you know that David and Solomon ruled around 1,000 BC.   Joel is written about 800 and some BC–between 100 and 200 years after King David.

Now, I was mulling this over again during the night.  I had to think, that’s no longer than you and I think of George Washington and John Adams and our founding fathers.  They were all holding forth in the late 1700’s, and that’s just a little over 200 years ago.  So, in proximity, Joel is writing about the same distance of time after David and Solomon as we’re living after Washington and the founding fathers.  Just to give you a little time element.  All right, let’s pick it up now in verse 1, chapter 1, the Book of Joel.

Joel 1:1-2

“The word of the LORD (Now that means that God Himself is speaking through this human instrument.) that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. 2. Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land.  Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?”  In other words, there’s the key.  Has anything like this been spoken before in Israel’s history?  No!  This is the first real revelation of prophetic events.  They’ve never heard anything like this before.   All right, now verse 3:

Joel 1:3

“Tell ye your children of it, (It’s important.) and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”  In other words, there’s another little tidbit of information.  This isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but down the road, maybe several generations.  Well, you know, it was even more than that.  It has now been over 3,000 years.  These prophetic things are written so accurately, which proves, of course, that our Bible is the Word of God.  It also shows that with God time really doesn’t mean anything.

Three thousand years with God is no more than a snap of the finger.  As these things are written as we saw in the Book of Isaiah, I’ll go back to that a minute first.  You remember in the Book of Isaiah that we had three distinct prophecies concerning Israel.  The first one was the Babylonian invasion which was imminent.  It wasn’t that far in the future.  The next one was the Roman invasion of A.D. 70, after Christ’s earthly ministry.  The third one, of course, was the one that we’re going to look at today–the Tribulation bringing in the Second Coming.  So, you have those three big events in Israel’s prophecy.  Two of them have now been fulfilled; the third one is still future.

Isaiah dealt with all three.  Jeremiah did.  Most of the other prophets did, but Joel deals with one.  And which one is it?  The Tribulation.  So we’re going to be spending the whole afternoon today studying the scriptural description of this final seven years of horrible tribulation.

All right, reading on in verse 4.  Here we get a little physical illustration of what the Nation of Israel, I think, suffered physically at the time that Joel is writing, but it was also an indication of periods of time leading up to this final chastisement which we call the Tribulation.  All right, he uses a locust as an example — verse 4.

Joel 1:4

“That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”  Now, stop and think a minute.  How much is left?  Nothing!  Nothing!  The land is totally barren of anything edible.  And unless you understand the devastation of locusts in the Middle East, you probably can’t really understand at all.

But when you read about it, they could actually eat the doors off of their houses.  They could eat the bark off the trees so that everything died.  But the interesting part now, here comes the Divine inspiration of all of this.  We have four distinct steps here.  Look at them.  The first one is – “that which the palmerworm hath left the locust ate.”  Then you have – “what the locust left the cankerworm ate.  And that which the cankerworm left the caterpillar ate.”

All right, now I like to think, and I don’t know if I’m on the right track or not, but as soon as we get to the Book of Daniel, Daniel laid out the prophetic program or what the Bible calls the “times of the Gentiles.”  And when would it start?  With the Babylonian captivity, or the Babylonian invasion, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  That was the first great Gentile empire.  That’s the first part of the locust I like to think.

The second empire was the Medes and the Persians.  They overtook the Babylonians.  They ruled the then known world.  Then after a couple or hundred years or so Alexander the Great came up from Greece, and he enveloped the then known world, including Jerusalem and the Jew.  All right, after Alexander the Great’s demise, then you come to the worst empire of all, and that was what?  Rome!  And Rome also, as you well know, was occupying Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion.  They were the heavy boots that the Jews hated.  Oh, they hated the Romans.  So, here we have four distinct periods of time that are symbolically pictured with four distinct periods of locusts.  And all of it is to show Israel, as well as us, that by the time they have gone through their time of testing and tribulation there would be nothing left.  Nothing!

And we’re going to see in our Scriptures that that’s exactly what the rest of prophecy is telling us.  It’s going to be the worst time in all of human history when this final seven years comes upon the planet.

All right, but I want to go ahead and finish the first fourteen verses before we start chasing other Scripture.  So, let’s go on ahead now to verse 5, the warning to the Nation of Israel, even though this is way back 800 years before Christ.  Almost 3,000 years before it’s going to happen he says:

Joel 1:5-6

“Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. (Shoot, there’s nothing growing!  There are no grapes on the vine.) 6. For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.”

Well, if you remember your other descriptions of the Roman Empire, that was part of it. It was beyond description.  It had teeth that were indescribable.  This is the picture, of course, of the empire that will be evident when Israel comes into this final Tribulation.

Joel 1:7a

“He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree:…”  Now, don’t forget what the analogy is.  The locusts are doing it physically as a symbol, but when it comes in reality, the whole land will come under this kind of devastation, not from locusts, but from invading armies.  Get the picture?  We’re using the locust as a symbolism of what’s really going to be done with the invading Gentile armies at the time of the Tribulation.

Joel 1:7b

“…he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.”  Now understand what he’s talking about?  Why are they white?  They’ve eaten the bark off.  The locusts have taken all the bark off the trees.  It’s a symbolism that during the Tribulation the same thing is going to happen to everything in the physical world.  It’s going to be devastated.

Joel 1:8

“Lament (be sorrowful) like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.”  Now, we just saw it happen in the news in New York the other day; where the groom was killed and the poor little bride was left without him.  And it is heartbreaking.  We see it periodically where maybe on the day of a wedding or maybe just a day after the wedding one or the other is killed or something.  And it is; it’s devastating.  It’s heartbreaking for a young couple to be suddenly left without their mate.  All right, so this is the kind of sorrow that will be coming on the Nation of Israel in particular but the whole world in general.

Joel 1:9-10

“The meat (or the meal) offering and the drink-offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; (In other words, no more ritual, no more opportunity to carry out Temple worship.) the priests, the LORD’S ministers, mourn. (Because there is nothing to partake of) 10.The field is wasted, (no production) the land mourneth; for the corn (or the grain) is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.”

Joel 1:11

“Be you ashamed, O ye husbandman; (Now, the other word for husbandman in my language is farmers – those who till the ground and raise the crops.) howl, O ye  vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.”  There is none.  We got just a little taste of it here in our wheat area of Oklahoma this past year, where there just was no crop.  That’s only one little small area; it didn’t affect the whole.  But here it’s going to be universal.  It’s not just going to be a little small segment or area of the planet.   Okay, now then verse 12.

Joel 1:12a

“The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered:…” For two reasons: the bark has all been eaten off, and there’s no water.  When we jump up to the Tribulation, it is going to be such horrendous devastation it’ll be the same effect.  So, all of this is symbolism of a reality.  All right, reading on in verse 13.

Joel 1:13

“Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, (which was a humiliating experience, of course) ye ministers of my God: for the meal-offering and the drink-offering is withholden from the house of your God.”  Because there isn’t anything.  There’s nothing to bring.

Joel 1:14

“Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,”  Because of the devastation.  All right, now here’s the verse that I want to take as our subject matter for the rest of the afternoon.  This is the first time in Scripture that it’s alluded to.  All the other prophets will use it, but Joel is the first, as near as I can tell — verse 15.

Joel 1:15a

“Alas for the day! (What day?) for the day of the LORD is at hand,…”  Now, let that just ring for the rest of the afternoon.  We’re going to be talking about the day of the Lord.

Now, for those of you that have been with me for quite a while, what’s the day of the Lord?  The Tribulation!  Those final seven years of horrendous activity on the earth.  God’s wrath being poured out.  And according to the Book of Revelation, during the last half it’s going to be Satan’s wrath as well.  So, it’s going to be a double-barreled attack on the planet.

Joel 1:15a

“Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD (Don’t let it leave your thinking.) is at hand,…”  Now there again, I have to stop, don’t I?  What does “at hand” mean?  Well, it’s just out in front of us.  But was it?  No.  It is three thousand years away. Three thousand years out into the future.  But God is speaking of it as “at hand.”  Now, what does that show?  That God is timeless.  Does that mean it’s not going to happen?  Don’t you believe it.  It is going to happen.  But it’s going to be in God’s own time.

Now, you remember when we were back in Isaiah.  When Isaiah spoke of the coming Babylonian invasion, he spoke of it, too, as maybe in the next month or next two months, it’s coming.  Israel was to get ready for it.  In actuality, how long was it?  It was almost a hundred years, because God is timeless.  So, we look at all these things the same way. My, the way it looks to us the Lord could come tomorrow!  He could come next week.  Everything so far as we can see is in place.  But don’t bet on it necessarily, because God is so timeless.  His wheels grind so slowly.  But it’s going to happen.

When they foretold of Christ’s first coming, it was the same kind of a situation.  They didn’t know but that it was going to be in their lifetime.  But was it?  Why, heavens no. Christ didn’t come until 2,000 years after Abraham.  A thousand years after David.  But He came!   How does Galatians put it?  “That when the fullness of time…”  Oh, I love it when you people know these verses and say them before I do.  “That when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son.”   Was He a day late?  No.  Was He a day early?  No.

So, we can always rest assured that these prophecies, even though they are way out in the future, they’re going to happen.  All right, now then, the day of the Lord, we’re going to chase this down.  I’ve almost not enough time left, but we’ll go back to Psalms a minute.  Come back with me to Psalms chapter 2.  Here is one of the earlier outlines of prophecy.  You’ve heard me use it over and over.

You know, I always have to be reminded.  Iris tries to convince me, but it’s still hard, because whenever I teach something the second time, I feel as though it’s old hat to everybody.  That’s the hardest part of holding a seminar.  I’ll tell Iris on the way, I say, “But, Honey, they’ve heard all of this before.”  She says, “But, Les, they don’t remember all this after just one hearing of it.”  But to me you do.  But on the other hand, no, we’ve just got to keep repeating it.  All right, so I’ve used this portion of Psalms over and over.  But I know there’s somebody out in television that has never seen it before.  So, if you’ve heard it, ten, twelve, fourteen times, bear with me.  If you’re hearing it for the first time, well, let me know it.  Okay, Psalms chapter 2 and I guess I might as well start at verse 1, because it’s just not fair to jump into the middle of something like this.

Psalms 2:1

“Why do the heathen (the non-Jewish world) rage, and the people (that’s the people of Israel) imagine a vain thing?”  So, we’ve got the whole human race in the lens of our picture here, the heathen and the Nation of Israel.  Verse 2

Psalms 2:2

“The kings of the earth (the world and of Israel) set themselves, and the rulers (of all of these) take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,”   What does that mean?  Neither one was responsible for Christ’s death by themselves.  The Gentile world was just as responsible as Israel and visa versa, because they were both involved.  And you know that from the crucifixion.    All right, so the world in general, the leadership at least, they say:

Psalms 2:3

“Let us break their (That is–God’s.) bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”  In other words, cords is what we would call reins as we drive a horse.  They’re not going to let God control them.  And then when God sees their attitude, verse 4-

Psalms 1:4

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: (Not a laugh of comedy, but a laugh of scorn.  Ridiculous!  How can men laugh at the Creator of everything?) the LORD shall have them in derision.” Now, I used the word perplexity in my opening remarks. It is the same thing.  The world was in total derision when Christ made His first advent.  They didn’t know what to do with Him.  They didn’t know how to handle him.  All right, now then verse 5.  Because they rejected Him, you’ve got to read between the lines, now.  The world and Israel have rejected the Messiah at His first advent.

Psalms 1:5

“Then (After they’ve rejected Him.  They’ve crucified Him.) shall he will speak unto them in his (What?) wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”  Now, don’t miss that.  It doesn’t say a word there about love and mercy and grace.  He’s going to speak to them in His wrath.

Now, let’s look at my time line for a moment.  Coming out of the Old Testament prophets, we have His three years of ministry, and then Rome and Israel put Him on the cross.  He rose from the dead.  He went back to Glory.  All right, then instead of opening up the Church Age right away as it happened—according to the Old Testament prophets, the next thing that was to happen was  the seven years of Tribulation. The Old Testament knew nothing of a Church Age!  That was the next thing on God’s prophetic program. This is what I always like to emphasize – there is nothing in the Old Testament or the four Gospels to indicate that God’s going to open up His timeline and go to the Gentiles.  Nothing!  Everything was to keep coming just like it says here.  Watch this!  This says it all.

After they’ve crucified Him, they’ve rejected Him, and they’re in confusion, they don’t know how to handle Him, what’s the next thing in God’s program?  His wrath—because they rejected the Messiah.  All right, but then what follows the wrath?  Verse 6—the King and His Kingdom.

Psalms 2:6

“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”  This is what I’m always trying to emphasize, that when you leave Paul out of your Scripture – when you drop Romans through Philemon out of your Scripture – for the sake of understanding the Old Testament, then what you’ve got is the Old Testament program.  Christ goes up, in comes the Tribulation, Christ returns, and He sets up the Kingdom.  That was the Old Testament – that’s all they knew, because the Church Age and the Gospel of Grace was a total secret. No one had even a clue this was going to happen. This is what’s basic in understanding Old Testament prophecy. That it was going to come right down the line and Israel, of course, was to have evangelized the nations.  They were to be the light to the world. That’s all true enough, but you’ve got to remember that the Church Age was unknown in the Old Testament economy.