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The Day of the Lord

John Collins10/17/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/-7MFBtp6AMo

There were several key books of the Bible that are left out of William Branham’s ministry.  These books, for all intents and purposes, are the companions to the books that Branham preached with the most passion, some of which give closure to the open-ended prophecies from their counterparts.  Considering the symbolism in prophecy, and how easily we can apply those symbols to our day and age, it is very dangerous to preach the symbols while seemingly avoiding God’s Word through other prophets describing the same subject material.

The Pentecostal movement itself is fundamentally based on the prophecy of Joel, specifically chapter two.  Reading the 28th and 29th verse alone, without the rest of the book as the full context, it would seem as though the Azusa Street Revival was scripturally founded in Joel – right before their very eyes, the 28th and 29th verses were coming alive with signs and wonders that seemed to have come directly from God.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

Joel 2:28-29

These verses are two that Branham promoted all throughout his ministry, following the path laid down from the mysterious John Ryan who Branham claims to have been some sort of mentor while evading ties by giving conflicting stories of which “John Ryan” he was describing.  (Ryan is believed to have been from the “House of David” commune in Benton Harbor, about an hour’s drive from Mishawaka, Indiana where Branham learned the Pentecostal influence.) 

But like the Apostolic House of David, the followers of John Alexander Dowie, followers of Charles Taze Russell, and the many other Pentecostal teachers whose ideas Branham promoted, Branham pointed this prophecy from Joel to the Azusa Street Revival and what became known as the “Latter Rain.” 

The prophecy from Joel describes “former” and “latter” rain, which many apply to mean “seasons” of rain.  They view the first “season,” or “former rain” to the original day of Pentecost, and claim that the Pentecostal movement was the “latter rain” which Joel prophesied.  By applying these seasons of rain, one might assume that Joel’s symbolism pointed to the seasons of spring and autumn, the rainy seasons in Israel, however to make this association you must also avoid the rest of the chapter.

God describes how He will pour out His provisions on their crops, giving Israel abundance after having punished them with famine for abandoning the Old Covenant.  Studying Jewish history and the Curse of the Law, it’s quite obvious that Joel is referring to a physical rain that was needed to restore the wheat, wine, and oil that Israel could not produce during the famine brought by the Curse.

But taking the Pentecostal approach of ignoring Jewish history with prophesy and turning this wheat, wine, and oil into symbolism, we are forced to look at the time in which these things are to occur according to Joel’s prophecy.  That takes us into a study of the Day of the Lord.

Another problem we find is Pentecostalism’s interpretation of the Day of the Lord.  In many instances, especially in the King James Translation, we find the Day of the Lord correctly – yet incorrectly – translated as the “great and terrible Day of the Lord.”  I say “incorrectly,” because the meaning of our word “terrible” today has a much different meaning than the day in which this translation was written.  Newer translations use words like “awesome,” but actually should use more appropriate words like “incredible,” “wonderful,” or “the greatest day ever.”  The Day of the Lord, in Hebrew text, is written “Yahweh yowm,” meaning Yahweh’s day.  Joel two, verse 31 uses the word “terrible” to describe this day, though the newer translations use “awesome”

 

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.

Joel 2:31 (KJV)

This word “terrible” comes from the Hebrew word “haggdowl”, which has a meaning greater than our word “awesome.”  It is used in the Bible for “better,” “bitter,” “exceedingly,” “greatest,” “marvelous,” and many other words that we separate in our English language.  Multiple “Days of the Lord” are described, from the fall of Egypt, to the fall of Babylon, to the fall of Edom, but there is one specific Day of the Lord that was coming, and it would be like no other.

And when you only read the last two verses of the chapter, it would seem as though this day coming was in our future.  In fact, if you only read Joel’s prophecy, avoiding the same books that we don’t find preached in William Branham’s ministry, then it still seems that this day is in our future.  The last two verses in Joel, when taken physically instead of symbolically, describe events that we have not yet seen in this world.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Joel 2:30-32

I find this ironic.  Pentecostalism has trained our minds to read every single thing in this chapter symbolically.  The “oil and wine” represent one thing, while the “palmerworm, cankerworm and locust” represent another.  The “former and latter rain” have been taken from their physical (fulfilled) prophecy to mean something entirely different, taking God’s restoration of Israel in the Old Testament and applying it to the 20th century.  But while taking this entire chapter symbolically, Pentecostalism has trained our minds to take the signs in the heavens physically!  We have not yet seen the moon turn to blood!  We have not yet seen the stars refusing to shine, the sun darkened, and pillars of fire and smoke ascending into the heavens.  …Or have we? 

The Gospels describe the crucifixion, and for three hours (the sixth to the ninth hour), complete darkness filled the land. 

Interestingly, Oxford University has studied the events in the heaven during the time of the crucifixion, and their conclusion describes the same exact thing:  A lunar exlipse that would have caused the moon to be a reddish hue by refracting light through the earth’s atmosphere.  The moon’s color during a lunar eclipse is called a “moon of blood” because of its color.

"This eclipse was visible from Jerusalem at moonrise ... first visible from Jerusalem at about 6:20pm (the start of the Jewish Sabbath and also the start of Passover day in A.D. 33) with about 20% of its disc in the umbra of the earth's shadow ... The eclipse finished some thirty minutes later at 6:50pm."*

 

*Taken from The Date of the Crucifixion Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Humphreys, Waddington

But while the followers of William Branham would deny “science” to say that these things did not happen, and though they do not realize it, they are arguing directly with the Apostle Peter who says that they did happen.  According to Peter, Joel’s prophecy of the “Day of the Lord” had been fulfilled, which points this Great and Awesome Day directly to the day when Christ died for our sins.  In Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, he reads from Joel’s prophecy:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

 

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

 

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:14-21

 

All of the Old Testament prophets had one thing in common:  They all said the same thing, over and over.  God speaking through them, they declared Israel’s failure to uphold the Law.  Then they spoke punishment for abandoning the Law.  Last, they pointed to the Messiah that would one day come to restore them to their former condition. 

In many cases, the Day of the Lord describes a day when the “Lord is One and His Name is One,” and that Day is fulfilled in Christ.  Through Christ, His Name is One.  And Christ is One with the Father, One with the Spirit.  We serve One Living God, and all who believe Christ are now offered salvation.

When Joel describes the Day of the Lord, his words are very clear: 

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  Joel 2:32

Peter was correct.  This was the day of Pentecost – not the day in the 20th century that has now produced several false prophets, false teachers, and division among the Church, but the day when the Holy Spirit fell on all flesh.  Now, everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus can be saved!

When Isaiah describes the Day of the Lord, he describes several key elements that describe the day when Christ came.

The scribes and Pharisees:

I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

Isaiah 13:11

Herod’s massacre of the innocence:

Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes;

Isaiah 13:16

The day when Jesus saw Satan fall like a star from the heaven:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!

Isaiah 14:12

Again in Jeremiah, we find the same thing.  God speaking through Jeremiah concerning the Day of the Lord, he declares that He Himself holds a Sacrifice, and that Sacrifice will take place north of the Euphrates river (Jerusalem is 300 miles to the north)

For the Lord God of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.

Jeremiah 14:10

But the best description of the Day of the Lord pointing to the cross at Calvary is found in the book of Zephaniah:

Be silent before the Lord God!  For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.

Zephaniah 1:7

Zephaniah also describes a “day of wrath,” which is separate from the Day of the Lord.  All who find salvation from Mt Zion are saved, but all who do not accept Christ will suffer through the day of wrath.

Zechariah 14 is interesting, because there are an incredible number of references to the Gospels.  The most obvious is the very last verse of the chapter, which points to Jesus overthrowing the money tables in the temple:

And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.

Zechariah 14:21

Zechariah starts by describing the hours of darkness after the crucifixion, and this verse will be very familiar to many.  Branham pointed this verse away from Christ and toward his own ministry:

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost.  And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.

Zechariah 14:6-7

But again, Zechariah declares the rise of Christianity.  The day when Christ ascended to the Father, and we now are fellow heirs to the Kingdom through Christ.  You’ll find this statement in many instances of prophecy declaring the “Day of the Lord”:

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

Zechariah 14:9

Interestingly, Zechariah also describes the disease that was plaguing the house of Herod.  Some have surmised that Herod suffered a sexually transmitted disease due to its symptoms, but either way, the History records Herod suffering from an affliction that caused his skin to rot while still living.

And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

Zechariah 14:12         

“Their tongues shall rot in their mouths,” is even more interesting, because according to Josephus, Herod’s disease caused a very foul odor in his mouth.

Still focusing on King Herod, Zechariah describes the invasion of the Roman soldiers, and the tax collections that brought Mary and Joseph into Jerusalem

Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance.

Zechariah 14:14

And if you were to take Joel’s prophecy of the former and latter rain symbolically, you are also forced to take Zechariah’s prophecy symbolically.  The same rain that was prophesied by Joel is also prophesied by Zechariah when taken from symbol:

And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.

Zechariah 14:17

But the last two verses have the most broad-reaching scope.  We find that they start with the Crucifixion, the day when Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant of Law and Israel entered into the New Covenant of Grace.  But at the time, they did not realize the impact this had on their lives.  It was not until Paul came to announce the new High Priest to the Hebrews, and only then could they have fully understood the scope of this passage.

Zechariah describes a time when all of the sacrificial bowls were holy before the Lord, and all in Jerusalem and Judea were welcome to bring their offering.  No longer were they unclean – Christ had made them clean through His sacrifice:

And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar. 21 And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them.

Zechariah 14:20-21

But the most important thing to realize when programmed with the teaching of William Branham and other “Malachi 4 prophets” like him is that the prophecy of Malachi that is pointing to Christ has been refocused.  While Malachi is prophesying of Christ our Redeemer, these “Elijah” prophets like Branham and John Alexander Dowie have pointed these scriptures to themselves as the coming redeemer.

Malachi 4 describes the coming day of the Lord, and it is a day that will set us on fire!  The arrogant scribes and the Pharisees will be rooted out, and Christianity would thrive:

 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

Malachi 4:1-2

But remember.  On this Day of the Lord, the Lord will be One and His Name will be One.  All of the prophets declare Christianity, and Malachi is no different.  God was sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, and He would heal the wounds placed on Israel by the Curse of the Law:

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.

Malachi 4:2

Malachi goes on to describe the day when Jesus sent out the seventy-two, and how excited they were when they returned to Jesus and said that even the demons were subject to them:

 

You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 4:2-3

Malachi reminds them of the Old Covenant that they had broken.  They were still bound by the Mosaic Law, and God pauses for remembrance:

 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Malachi 4:4

And Malachi describes John the Baptist, who Jesus told the disciples was the “Elijah” that would come:

 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

Malachi 4:5

But the greatest verse of this entire chapter is describing the day when the Lord will be One and His Name One.  This day, like no other day that was before, and like no other day that would ever come, was a day when restoration would come to Israel.  The Curse of the Law would be lifted before the final curse: utter destruction.  God was going to redeem them from the curse of the Law before wiping mankind from the face of the earth.

This scripture has been pointed away from God, pointed towards men.  These men that point this scriptures to themselves have one thing in common: a religious following that have separated themselves from other Christians.  Had they pointed this scripture to Christ instead of themselves, they would remain part of the Body.

 

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Malachi 4:6

This scripture points to Christ, not man.  Had Christ not died on the cross for us, had He not redeemed us from the curse of the Law, and had he not fulfilled the Old Covenant that we could never fulfill, there was one penalty:  death.  The death of mankind.  Christ came to restore Israel into the same Grace of their fathers.  He came to remove the Law and the Curse of the Law. 

He died, so that we might live.