Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] You’re lying in bed, almost asleep, and you’re startled by a noise.
The Bible says that the “day of the Lord” will come “as a thief in the night.” It’s described as a time of destruction, famine, plagues and unbelievable natural disasters on a global scale culminating in the return of Jesus Christ.
Could you be surprised by these events?
On Beyond Today we’re going to show you how to prepare so that you are not caught unawares by the coming “Day of the Lord.”
[Announcer] Join our host Gary Petty and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Gary] It is a frightening experience to have a thief break into your house in the middle of the night. The sanctity of your home is violated. You fear for the lives of your children.
How would you prepare if you knew that the thief was planning to break into your house say, next Tuesday? Would you get a security system? Talk with the police? Make sure your family isn’t at home on that night?
One thing is for sure; you wouldn’t just sit around and do nothing!
In the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus told His disciples about the days before His second coming. He described for them a time when nations will crumble under the devastation of war. Disease epidemics will overwhelm medical facilities. Lack of food will cause international starvation. Moral norms and civility will cease to exist as human beings are driven by the compulsion just to survive.
Then Jesus makes this amazing statement, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:43-44).
How could this be true? How is it possible for people living in this cataclysmic time not recognize the biblical prophecies and know that Christ is about to appear?
Since Jesus did say that He would return at a time when people don’t expect Him—there are some important questions that you and I—we need to ask ourselves.
Like, how can I “be ready” so that I’m not caught off guard by this coming cataclysmic time?
Is it a matter of hoarding food or constructing a concrete bunker? Should you arm your family with automatic weapons like some doomsday prepper? Maybe bury some gold in the backyard? Can this prepare you for the day of the Lord?
On Beyond Today we’re going to explore how you can know the biblical prophecies and “be ready” for the horrifying events of the day of the Lord.
Well first, let’s look at what the Bible means by the term, “the day of the Lord.” The biblical day of the Lord denotes a time when God directly intervenes in human history against evil. In the fullest sense, the term applies to the time when God violently judges a rebellious humanity before the second coming of Jesus Christ. A time when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace Who came the first time as a human baby, will slay thousands of soldiers who are there to fight against Him.
Now many people have a difficult time thinking of God as judging or punishing people, but look at it this way. Think about all the evil that’s in the world you and I live in every day. I mean there is hatred, and war, prejudice, crime, mass killings, governments that torture and starve their own citizens. The 18th century English statesman Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This truism is even more profound when applied to God.
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for God to do nothing.
The Creator of humanity will only allow evil to flourish for a limited time before He intervenes. There is a day coming when God will intercede in human history to stop all the horrors of evil. The Bible tells us that some people will resist their Creator and it’s going to be a time of desolation like no other time in history.
Will this time come upon you as a shadowy, unknown thief?
A helpful way to understand the future day of the Lord is to first understand a previous day of the Lord. This day of the Lord is explained in the sort of mysterious Old Testament book of prophecy simply known by the name of the author—the book of Joel. Written around 2,800 years ago.
Joel is one of the earliest prophets that God sent to warn Judah about the coming judgment on them if they did not turn back from their evil that just permeated their society.
You see, Judah was a wealthy and powerful nation that had been blessed by God, but their society had become morally complacent. Heartfelt worship of God deteriorated into ritualism and even acceptance of paganism. Dishonesty and violence was commonplace. Marriage and family was replaced by sexual freedom. The people of Judah took great pride in being believers in the true God, but their abundance had led them to lifestyles that were really no different than the neighbors around them who didn’t even know God.
When Joel wrote this book, they had suffered a devastating locust plague. Joel describes how the crops were eaten down to nubs. Fig trees, apple trees even palm trees were void not only of fruit but of leaves. The entire country was an apocalyptic scene of devastation reminiscent of the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States (Joel 1:11-12).
So how devastating can locusts be? I mean, they’re only bugs, right?
A locust plague swarmed across the Middle East in 1915. John Whiting graphically described the plague in the December 1915 National Geographic Magazine . Hordes of insects darkened the sky. The ground looked like an undulating carpet as they landed and moved. Trees were stripped of leaves—even their bark until they stood out like white skeletons. An Arab baby left in the field was eaten alive. People who were there say that the stench was almost unbearable. And of course, the effects on the region’s economy was catastrophic.
Now this more modern event helps us see what this ancient plague was like in Judah, at the time of Joel. Judah was a bleak wasteland. Joel called this devastation the day of the Lord (Joel 1:15-18).
This locust plague, a “day of the LORD,” not “the” day of the Lord, “a day of the Lord” wasn’t God’s final dealings with the people of Judah. It was a warning of a more terrible judgment if they didn’t repent. The prophet told them, “Blow the trumpet in Zion…For the day of the Lord is coming…A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations” (Joel 2:1-2).
Now here Joel isn’t writing about locusts. He is warning the Jews of something even more terrible. The people of Judah did not respond to Joel’s message or heed the warning of the locust plague. Eventually, God allowed the Babylonians to invade their land, destroy the temple, lay waste to Jerusalem and take the entire nation into captivity. Even though they were warned; they weren’t ready for their day of the Lord. It came upon them as a “thief in the night.”
Oh you say, well this is just ancient history, but what is really amazing about this small book of prophecy is that it is filled with predictions of a still future day of the Lord. A time when you don’t want to be caught unawares.
Joel wrote, “Proclaim this among the nations…” Notice he says nations. This is to go the whole world! “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men…Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears…For their wickedness is great… For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:9-14).
God, through His biblical prophets, gives us warning of a future time when He will judge the nations—not just ancient Israel or ancient Judah but the nations. The people of ancient Judah didn’t heed the message in the destruction of the locust plagues. Because people aren’t heeding God’s warning today, someday the judgment of God will come upon the entire world like a thief in the night.
In the New Testament, there is a book containing important prophecies about the future day of the Lord. It’s that book that all people who study prophecy are interested in, the book of Revelation. This book is filled with vivid images of heavenly signs, beasts, hailstorms—horsemen bringing war and disease—seas turning into blood—heavenly trumpets blasting—and human beings crying out for death. Fortunately, it also tells us that this is a time of the return of Jesus Christ to establish God’s Kingdom on this earth.
In Revelation 1:10 the apostle John wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…”
Now many Christians believe that John was referring to Sunday. In traditional Christianity, Sunday is known as the Lord’s Day. The problem is that this is not what the Bible means by the Lord’s Day. John isn’t writing about Sunday as a day of worship. There isn’t one instance in the Old or New Testaments where the Lord’s Day or day of the Lord refers to Sunday. John is writing about the future day of the Lord predicted by Joel as well as many other Old Testament prophets, Jesus Himself and New Testament writers like Paul and Peter.
In John’s vision, humanity—deceived by the power of Satan—degenerates into violence and destruction like no other time in history. God finally intervenes with a series of judgments, each announced by a heavenly trumpet blast heard around the globe.
Here’s what Revelation reveals about the seven trumpets that herald the coming day of the Lord—the time of God’s judgment on evil. A time that will catch many people like a thief in the night.
The First Trumpet: this heavenly trumpet blast announces hail and fire which destroys a third of all trees and green grass. And still the vast majority of humanity doesn’t respond by turning to God (Revelation 8:6-7).
The Second Trumpet blasts and one third of the seas become blood, one third of sea creatures die, one third of ships destroyed. These events would be shown all over the world, on the internet and on television (Revelation 8:8-9). Everybody will see these events.
When the Third Trumpet sounds, a third of fresh water turns bitter. Think about it. What if you had no fresh water? Water is something many of us take for granted. But how long could you survive without water? (Revelation 8:10-11).
Then the Fourth Trumpet: the atmosphere decays so that only one third of light is filtered out. You live in a state of semi-darkness. Food won’t grow. Every moment of the day and night is just filled with anxiety. (Revelation 8:12).
With the Fifth and Sixth Trumpet sound, the world erupts into a world war. This is one of our greatest fears, not just bombs raining down from the sky and bullets filling the air, but nuclear, chemical weapons that leave no place to hide. (Revelation 8:13-9:12).
Then sounds the most frightening of all the trumpet judgments of God—the Seventh Trumpet. This blast announces a time when human beings are covered with sores, sea creatures die in mass, water is turned to blood, the sun scorches the earth, there is darkness, a great earthquake and hailstorms. Armies gather to bring about the final great battle that brings humanity to the brink of extinction.
Amid all this destruction, misery, fear and death the Seventh Trumpet also announces the only hope left for all life on earth—the return of Jesus Christ.
These seven trumpets culminate in the return of Jesus Christ to stop humanity from self-destruction. And He’s going to establish a new world religion, a new one world government that creates peace and prosperity. He brings healing to the environment. Over time, things like war, crime, poverty and starvation, they become words children read about in history books.
It’s difficult to imagine that these trumpet blasts and judgments from God will catch most of humanity by surprise. Yet, Jesus said that for those who aren’t “ready” this time will come as “a thief in the night.”
Of course, if you believe that God would never judge or punish someone, then this is really going to get you by surprise.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul tells Christians about how to prepare for the coming day of the Lord. He says, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ’Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5).
Preparing for the day of the Lord isn’t about building a bomb shelter or stockpiling guns and ammunition. The day of the Lord won’t happen as a violent intruder to those who are children of light—because they are spiritually prepared.
Now Paul gives us three ways to be spiritually prepared:
First, be spiritually awake!
Here’s what Paul says to us, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-7).
To escape the day of the Lord you must be spiritually awake and watching. You must get control of all the busyness of life, the social technologies, the mindless entertainment, and the discouragement of living in a failing society. Spend more time in prayer on your knees before your God. Spend more time in the Book in Bible study and find meaningful relationships with fellow believers.
Paul said that “those who get drunk are drunk in the night.” It is time for Christians to stop being seduced by money, cars, clothing, alternative lifestyles that seem so attractive. God is warning people to turn from the lifestyles of sexual permissiveness, substance abuse, greed. These are the lifestyles that cause a spiritual stupor so that we forget that the thief in coming. And the day of the Lord is coming!
Second step is live by faith.
Notice how the apostle Paul phrases it: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love…” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
Living God’s way in an increasingly evil world takes a lot of faith. You must trust in God to bless you for choosing to do good rather than lying, or cheating for immediate personal gain. You must trust God to help you do what is right when everyone else around you is doing what’s wrong. You must trust in God to supply you a way of escape when the thief of the day of the Lord breaks down your front door.
And number three: Be God-centered.
Those who turn to God no longer have an appointment with the wrath of the day of the Lord.
Listen to what Paul writes, “…and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” We’re supposed to put this helmet of salvation on. “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9).
Those who turn to God no longer have an appointment with the wrath of the day of the Lord. And salvation is more than physical escape. God is offering you the opportunity to escape the hopelessness of the human condition and receive eternal life as a child in His family forever.
Now we’re going to discuss the day of the Lord with the Beyond Today panel, but first let’s recap what we’ve covered today.
The “day of the Lord” is time when God intervenes in human affairs.
There is a coming “day of the Lord.” This time will involve God’s judgment on all of humanity.
The coming “day of the Lord” will culminate in the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings.
And this time will catch those who aren’t spiritually prepared as a “thief in the night.”
I’d like to welcome fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Steve Myers. We’ve been talking about the day of the Lord and how Paul warned that—many this time would come as a thief in the night. But isn’t it amazing Steve, that after all these prophecies that people will be caught surprised by this?
[Steve] Well, when you read through Matthew 24, Christ said so many times, don’t be deceived. Which when you think about it, that means it’s going to be fairly easy to be fooled. That even though things are appearing to progress toward that time of the return of Christ, people are going to be fooled. And it’s amazing how self-deception can take place in our minds when we think everything’s good. We think everything’s fine. When we’re not spiritually prepared, I think that’s when we could be caught off guard.
[Darris] Christ said that those days would be like the days of Noah, and people would not listen to the words of his preaching beyond his immediate family. And as a result of that, only eight people were spared. He said these days will be the same, and people will be going about their life and it’s going to catch them unawares.
[Gary] But you know, some people hopefully are watching this and saying, wow, I need to make sure I’m spiritually prepared. If you go to the FEMA website, they say we should store some food and water for natural disasters. Okay, but how do you get spiritually prepared for catastrophic events that are in the future?
[Steve] I think that’s a good analogy. You know when you think about getting ready for a wedding, the Bible actually uses that metaphor as an example of how you get ready spiritually as well. Well, you have to make all the arrangements for the wedding. You have to make sure you’ve got the place you’re going to have the reception. You’ve got to have the wedding dress, all of those different things.
Think about that in comparison to our spiritual life. Do you have a relationship with God? Do you understand the Bible? Do you understand the truths that are in the Bible? Are you following those things and actually putting them into practice? Do you have a relationship with God? How close are you? All of those things I think are items on that spiritual checklist that we’ve got to make sure we are prepared, that we are ready. Just like you’d be ready for a wedding. You better be ready for the return of Christ.
[Darris] People have an inability to make a sacrifice in the present for something they can’t see off down the future. It’s like the job of an insurance salesman is to convince people to make that dividend payment on a policy. Let’s say it’ a health or medical policy. That they might need but then again, they might not need it. But to make that payment every month, every payday is a challenge to get a person to commit, not thinking that they’re going to need that maybe for several years. But, if they do need it, then they have prepared and it helps to alleviate the emergency situation that comes up. It’s not going to prevent an emergency. You cannot prevent the day of the Lord but if you make the payments in advance of preparation, of diligence, understanding that is going to come, then you can help mitigate the impact that it comes in your own life.
[Gary] That’s a unique analogy but when you think about it, God is offering us life insurance but not for physical life, but eternal life.
[Darris] For eternal life.
[Gary] But you are right! There is something we must do now in response to God for that to come about. I read a few minutes ago this statement by Paul—and it’s a helmet, talking about we must wear this helmet, “…the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…” That’s a remarkable statement. How does that apply to preparing for the day of the Lord?
[Steve] I think in a number of ways it applies. You think about the truths you’ve heard about on the program. Have you checked them out? Have you looked into them? Have you really considered the truth and how it may vary from what you learned when you were growing up? Do you really understand those things and if you have, have you studied into them and recognize the fact that God’s on our side?
God wants you to come to the truth. He wants a relationship with you. And it’s not that He’s setting us up for failure. There are so many passages that point to the fact He wants us to succeed. He wants to bring all to repentance. He doesn’t want any to perish. And so, we’ve got a God who’s on our side. So I think we’ve got to make sure we take advantage of that as well.
[Darris] The hope of salvation again is something in the future that we prepare for, we anticipate, we believe today. Paul uses the helmet of salvation, that part of the armor of faith that he’s talking about in that passage of Ephesians 6. He calls it the helmet of salvation. A helmet covers the head, where the intellect is, where the mind is. And we as Christians have to guard against—that’s what a helmet does, it protects. It guards one’s head.
Spiritually the lesson is to guard against the attacks at the intellect and the seat of reason to be able to read the Scriptures and to believe the Word of God. Avoid being a scoffer or coming to a point where we don’t believe as a result of the attacks that come and try to convince us that any of this is not rational. It is foolishness. And that is when we could succumb if we don’t have that helmet of salvation, a hope that we believe today that anchors and guides our life firmly in the conviction that God is offering salvation. And that hope and that joy again, helps us to deal with the impact of the day of the Lord or any trial that comes between here and now.
[Gary] When you think about the wrath of God, a lot of people just don’t believe God can get angry, but God hates evil and that wrath of God is coming on this earth. The message here and the message of hope that we are trying to give people is you don’t’ have to receive the wrath of God. You can actually receive His love, His forgiveness, but if we don’t respond to this, humanity will fight their Creator. And the wrath of God is coming on this earth.
Throughout today’s program I’ve given you much to think about regarding “the day of the Lord” which denotes a time when God directly intervenes in human history against evil. The important question is, will you—personally—be spiritually ready for the horrifying events of that coming period?
I truly hope you will examine carefully what you’ve heard today. Now you can learn more by ordering a copy of our free Bible study aid: The Book of Revelation Unveiled. This valuable, easy-to-read booklet will give you much more information on this vital subject and about end-time prophecy in general. You really need this eye-opening study aid to better understand our world today and what’s ahead for your future.
To request your copy of The Book of Revelation Unveiled call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
And, when you order your free study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Each bi-monthly issue of Beyond Today is filled with practical articles to strengthen your family and help you better understand the Bible and what’s in the future for our world.
Again, to order our study aid, The Book of Revelation Unveiled and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine call: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download them.
Also, people have asked how they can learn much more about the fascinating truths of the Bible. Well I welcome you to join my fellow Beyond Today hosts and me every other Wednesday night for our live online Bible studies at BeyondToday.tv . In each study, we cover in detail, various key biblical topics. Of course, if you can’t join us live, you can still find all of these informative Bible studies archived on our website.
And, when you visit BeyondToday.tv , we encourage you to watch BT Daily . These are short daily videos on a variety of Bible topics and breaking news. Now BT Daily is a great way for you to get further analysis about Bible prophecy; about God’s great plan for your future and much more! Plus, you can watch BT Daily and our regular Beyond Today programs anytime on YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and other streaming-enabled devices.
[Steve] Hi, I’m Steve Myers. We would love to have you come and visit and worship with us. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other. We’ve found, God’s way is the best way to live. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon. Come and join us!
[Gary] A thief comes to plunder and steal. The horrific events of the coming day of the Lord don’t have to catch you unawares. Jesus Christ is returning to stop the madness. And you can have a part to play in His coming Kingdom by allowing God to rule in your life now by following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Start preparing right now—today—for the day of the Lord by being spiritually awake, living by faith and making God the center of your life.
Be sure and tell your family and friends about Beyond Today and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!