Howl you; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
This expression is employed for that crisis in the history of the world when Jehovah will interpose to correct the evils of the present. Such great crises are called "days" in antithesis to the ages of Divine long-suffering. In Christian thought the term is associated with the coming day or time of judgment, and mainly with that in view we dwell on the words. Isaiah was one of a class of prophets to whom God disclosed, in visions, the scenes of the ever-nearing future. Maybe in the quietness of their homes, as they meditated on the condition of the world, and the purposes of God concerning men, they were rapt in vision, and, with various degrees of dimness or of dearness, they saw pass before their entranced view, now the scenes of battle and bloodshed, now the scenes of famine and pestilence; now they beheld the desolation of those nations that oppressed their own people - Nineveh and Babylon buried out of sight, Tyre a place for the fisher's nets; and now they seemed to hear the wild shout of the foes of Israel, as they burst through into the sacred city; and soon, in smoke and flames, they watched her very temple perish. And yet again, in dimmer lines, as though further on in the march of ages, they seemed to see the last great scene of human history - a world arraigned, the thrones set, the books opened. These visions often prostrated those prophets in the intensity of excitement; but they were given to them that they might set them on record, for the sake of their own people and the whole Church of the redeemed, that we all might learn to live in the view of that future, with the infallible decisions of the future ever in our thought, and reminding us that "he which soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." There is much that is most solemnizing in the expression, "the day of the Lord," if we read it from the Christian standpoint, and see it to mean the day of the Lord Jesus.
I. Our LORD has HAD:
1. His day of humiliation, when he stepped down from his heavenly throne, laid aside "his most Divine array," and entered our world as the poor man's babe, born in a stable, laid in a manger, because there was no room for him in the inn.
2. He has had many a day of toil, and patience, and pleading, and prayer among men. Year after year he tarried in the flesh, proving his Divine power to save, and winning men to himself by the tender sacrificings of his love.
3. He has had a day of suffering and anguish for men. "Behold, and see if there ever was sorrow like unto his sorrow, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted him" for our sakes.
4. He has had many a day of inviting grace, when, in the power of his Spirit, he has called us to yield ourselves unto him; when, in the leadings of his providence and the ministry of his Word, he has cried, "My son, give me thy heart;" "Come unto me... and I will give you rest." He has had many a day of patience, of waiting, of long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.
II. BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD, THE DAY OF DAYS, IS YET TO COME.
1. The day of the Lord's glory, when the multitudes of the redeemed shall crown him with many crowns - shall crown him Lord of all.
2. The day of the Lord's vindication, when he shall break down the rebellion of lost souls with the proofs of his forbearance and the memory of his repeated calls.
3. The day when the "wrath of the Lamb" must be revealed, and he shall come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of his Son. There must be an end of this dispensation of redemption, there must be a closing up of it; there must be the "day of the Lord." For us all that day cometh as a thief in the night.
III. THE DECISIONS OF THE DAY OF THE LORD. The Scriptures do not satisfy our questionings upon the terms of decision on that day. So far as we can gather, there will be a general term, and a more particular one. The more general term may be thus expressed: "No condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." "Condemned already," because ye believe not on the Son of God. The more particular term is thus expressed: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." How these are to fit into each other it is beyond any human power to explain, because the Bible does not afford us the means of explanation. We can, however, settle two separate facts very clearly. Our life, in its minutest acts, carries eternal issues. Everything we do, beyond its bearing on our present character, has its bearing on our eternal destiny, because on our eternal character. And we are tested by our relation to Christ. The test of the great coming day is first this - In Christ, or out of Christ. The answer to that settles all else - whether you shall be in the fold or out of it, in the everlasting peace or out of it, in heaven or out of it. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.