As we continue our study from Part Thirteen, we will look back on Joel 2:30-31 so that we can compare the passage with one found in Luke 21. First of all, the passage once again in Joel:
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth; Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD…”
Now the passage in Luke 21:25-28:
25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” verses 25-28
The closer we get to the Day of the LORD, the more obvious, and the more numerous, the celestial signs are going to be. There are a number of Biblical passages letting us know that special signs in the heavens are sent by God and meant as signs to us. Some signs in the heavens are intended as harbingers and others the fulfillment of the harbingers. There is nothing more ominous than heavenly bodies that begin to show themselves in an abnormal way. Throughout history, there have been times when cosmic bodies have come much closer than they should normally be. Ancient cultures have left historical records of comets, meteors, planets, and other heavenly bodies that have had close encounters with planet Earth; sometimes so close that these bodies have sometimes covered near a third of the visible sky. God has often used such means as a wake-up call to humans; a reminder that life can suddenly be turned completely upside down. Yet, unless the celestial event causes fear or brings significant infrastructure damage, people tend to ignore the signs as insignificant. A quote by the Jewish historian, Josephus, demonstrates that this is nothing new. Note the words he penned describing people in his day, 2,000 years ago:
“Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God Himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.”
People are no different today. Even though the are signs everywhere, the immediate demands of life and the powerful tug from this world; its enticement through limitless sources of entertainment and materialism, will keep people from recognizing that these are not ordinary times. Yet, times today are not normal!
As mentioned earlier, there has always been one generation which will be interrupted by the prophetic end-of-days and in that generation there will be an abrupt change in dispensations. The Church Age will come to an end and the time of the judgment of our God will descend on this world and its false god, Satan. We are that generation and Bible prophecy proves this rather clearly—at least, for those who search it out.
Unfortunately, most seminaries, theologians, and modern-day pastors have tried to force the first five seals into a time slot in which they do not fit. There is confusion as to how end times events will unfold. Once it is understood that the first five seals have already been opened early in the Church Age, the Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Gentile Church fits perfectly, and everything else follows. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been on the run for a very long time, but they are about to engage themselves in their apocalyptic last stampede of the age! Because the study of the Seals of Revelation 6 are an eschatological study of their own, a separate detailed article will soon be made available to this series.
Jesus spoke to His listeners, as documented in Luke 21:29, with this parable:
29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” verses 29-33
It was the Apostle Peter who referred to some of these same things in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Note what he had to say in Acts 2:17-21:
17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days,” says God, “that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams, 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath; Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (emphasis added)
A point of contention at times has to do with the question: When was the Church conceived? My answer would be, at Pentecost. The “birth”, however will be at the Rapture of the Church, or “harpazo” as it is called in Latin. The display God has provided with the Blood Moons, Solar Eclipses, and many more startling displays of His Creative Majesty and Sovereignty, all are harbingers of what is now at the door. Jesus made it clear that the Great and Terrible Day of the LORD will be a time like none ever experienced, and like nothing that humanity will ever experience again! This is very difficult to imagine, especially in light of what has already happened to our earth during the Great Flood of Noah! Yet, the inhabitants of the earth have experienced numerous terrible destructions, cataclysms of enormous proportions, of which most people in our modern age have no historical knowledge.
God spoke through the Old Testament prophets over a period of several thousand years, warning of what is to come. Jesus Himself gave abundant warnings in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. It was however the Apostle John that received the most detailed account of how the end of the age would unfold and it has been made available to us in the last book in the Bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
All of these references describe a series of events announcing the imminence of God’s judgment upon the earth. They unfold just before the Apocalypse officially begins. The earth-shattering events which are part and parcel with the opening of the Sixth Seal also become a reality just before the scroll is officially open. All seven seals have to be removed before the scroll will open. Seals 1-5 are open, and have been opened for quite some time. The first four seals have to do with the Four Horsemen sent into the world, and the fifth seal has to do with the multiplied millions of Christian who have died as martyrs ever since Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was murdered. It is the seventh seal, after it has been broken, that officially opens the scroll, revealing God’s judgments inside, starting with the seven Trumpet Judgments and then concluding with the seven Bowl Judgments, after which the Messiah returns to earth to deal with His enemies and then setting up His Millennial Kingdom.
As we return to Joel’s prophecy, we find these words at the beginning of the third chapter:
1 For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land…”
Here we have Joel providing a timeline for the details he is about to give. He refers to a time thousands of years in his future when Israel will have been brought back to their ancient land after having been scattered all around the world. This scattering, or diaspora, began in AD 70 when the Roman general, Titus, overran the city of Jerusalem, totally destroying it. Somewhere around 1.5 million Jews were slaughtered by the Romans at this time. The diaspora officially ended on May 14, 1948 when the Jewish nation was once again proclaimed to be a sovereign nation by the United Nations.
Joel then foretells that God will gather the nations of the earth so he can judge them for what they have done to Israel. Not only have they scattered the Jewish people all over the world, but they have divided up His (God’s) land—not the Jew’s land, but land that the Almighty claims as His very own! The prophet here describes a great disagreement God has with the immediate border enemies of Israel, also an outer ring of nations who will attack Israel, and then finally, even the nations of the entire world because of their obsession with the destruction of the Jewish nation and its people.
As we go on, the prophet gives us details of God’s view of the many wrongs done to His people:
“They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy as payment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink. Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O, Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia? Will you retaliate against Me? But if you retaliate against Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head; because you have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My prized possessions. Also, the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem. You have sold to the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their borders.
“Behold, I will raise them out of the place to which you have sold them, and will return your retaliation upon your own head. * w8iol sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off; For the LORD has spoken.” verses 3-8
God here provides ample reason for how He is about to deal with Israel’s enemies. God has taken the assault, persecution, and theft of their land, their resources, and murder of the Jews, as a personal attack on Himself. He now will deal with them by enforcing His law of reaping and sowing. Israel’s enemies will reap exactly what they have sowed, and there will be no escape. As God continues speaking through His prophet, He challenges them with these words:
9 Proclaim this among the nations, “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’” 11 Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around, cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. 12 Let the nations by wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, the vats overflow—For their wickedness is great.” verses 9-13
Here God is goading Israel’s enemies—nations who have made themselves God’s enemies. He is saying they should prepare for war. He is telling them that He and they have a serious conflict of interest to settle, and it concerns the Jewish people and their ancient land—which He Himself claims as His own. God challenges them to fortify their weaponry and their minds, because it is time to settle the entire matter. God sees their wickedness as great and He has no intention of waiting any longer to judge those who have wronged His people. Their cup of wickedness has now filled to overflowing.
In the passage above, we have a second mentioning of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There are several opinions on the location of this valley, but no one is really sure. There is, however, a very large valley between mountains in southern Israel, close to the Dead Sea which fits the description rather nicely. It appears that this is where God draws this massive force to their demise. God has control of all the enemies coming from the north of Israel and also all those that come up from the south. They blindly go to their doom in the mountains of Israel and in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
Some contend that this is referring to the great Armageddon campaign, but must disagree. Verse 14 makes it clear that this event will be brought about before the Day of the LORD. The Armageddon Campaign happens at the end of the Apocalypse.
I also find another detail that provides a distinction between the Armageddon Campaign and the War of Gog and Magog. Even though we find a general statement by God wanting to judge the nations of the world, He specifies in verse 12 that He intends to judge all the surrounding nations. Even though this great war does involve much of the world, God has not chosen this as the time to judge all of the nations of the world. The final judgment of all the nations of the world will come seven years later, at the end of the Great Tribulation.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. 16 The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for his people, and strength of the children of Israel, 17 so you shall know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again.” verses 14-17
In these verses God makes comment of the great multitudes who find themselves in the Valley of Decision. The Day of the LORD is now near, and people must decide whom they intend to serve, just as it was in the days of Elijah on Mount Carmel. The choice is still available at this time. We are today still in the age of grace but as the world enters into the dispensation of God’s judgment, the choice to serve God under the reign of the Antichrist will for most become a death sentence.
Verse fifteen mentions the terrible shaking of the heavens and earth men will have to endure at this time. I believe this is another reference to the apocalyptic phenomenon; unnatural changes that are brought about in the sun, moon, and stars at the opening of Sixth Seal.
In addition to the many references in the canon of our 66 books of today’s Bible, the early church in the first century had a few additional writings at their disposal. One of these was the Book of Enoch.
(Note: As a caution, we must be careful with writings that are not included in the 66 inspired books of the Bible. Many of these extra-biblical writings, however, are accurate and even referenced by the holy scriptures. Church history shows that they were used as accepted references by the early Church. The original book of Enoch has been plagued by some forgeries over the centuries, but there are today some very good translations available that have been confirmed through writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.)
The original book of Enoch provide some stunning insights, not only concerning events of his day as the seventh from Adam, but also looking 5,000 years into the future. He was given accurate details of many things that are to come at the end of the age, including the opening of the Sixth Seal of Revelation 6. What were the clues found in the Sixth Seal?
- Great worldwide earthquake
- Sun black (darkness) as sackcloth and moon become like blood–both at the same time, which rules out a solar or lunar eclipse, as they cannot happen simultaneously.
- Full Moon–implies the timing is the 14th day of the lunar month–which of God’s appointments occurs on the 14th day of the month? Passover? But, not definitive.
- Stars of the heavens fall to the earth like a fig tree’s late fruit is blown to the ground by a mighty wind. This is referring to a meteor storm.
- The sky is ripped open, revealing a frightful sight to the view of men all around the world.
- Every mountain and island on earth is moved out of its place.
- All of humanity tried to hide in caves and in the rocks to hide from the face of the One on the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb of God.
- The wrath of the Lamb of God begins at this point
Here is some of what the prophet Enoch some 5,000 years ago:
In the year five hundred, in the seventh month, on the fourteenth day of the month of the life of Enoch; in that parable, I saw how the heaven of heavens shook tremendously, and the Host of the Most High and the angels, a thousand thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, were greatly disturbed. And the Ancient of Days sat on His glorious throne and the angels and the righteous stood around Him. Great fear and trembling seized me, and my loins collapsed and gave way, and my whole body collapsed, and I fell upon my face. Michael sent another angel from the holy ones, and he raised me up; and as he raised me up my spirit returned, for I had been unable to endure the sight of that host, and the commotion and the shaking of heaven.
Michael said to me: “What sight has disturbed you like this? Until today has the day of his mercy lasted and He has been merciful and long suffering towards those who dwell upon the dry ground. (End of the Church Age?) And when the Day, and the Power, and the Punishment, and the Judgment come that the Lord of Spirits has prepared for those who worship the Righteous Judgment, and for those who deny the Righteous Judgment, and for those who take His name in vain – and that Day has been prepared. For the chosen, ‘A Covenant’ (New Covenant – Last Supper?), but for sinners a visitation.” Enoch 60:1-6
It appears that the ancient prophet Enoch was given an audience in Heaven where he was shown some of the same future scenes as the Apostle John saw centuries later. His reaction to being in God’s throne room was very much as it was for the old Apostle. Their physical bodies were both totally overcome and both men had to be supernaturally revived.
Having taken a close look at prophecies written by many Old Testament prophets, including the ancient prophet Enoch, as well as the beloved New Testament Apostle John, we will continue our study in Part Fifteen by taking a closer look at the many facets of the Sixth Seal and earth changes accompanying them which likely define an event lasting several days…
Continued in Part Fifteen