Both the Old and New Testament foretell of a “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” yet to come. This seemingly paradoxical description comes clearly into focus as we recognize that our position (either in Christ or not) will determine just what kind of day it will be for us. This “Day” is a period of time which is fast approaching. It promises to evoke a full spectrum of emotions ranging from spectacular awe to a terror that will drive even the hardest, most rebellious heart to hide in fear and dread of the approaching wrath of God. Can we know when this day is coming? Where we will stand? How we should prepare?
The Book of Hebrews provides important keys about this “Day” and how we are to approach it.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
There is a serious warning here, telling us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Many think this is an admonition not to miss a church service. While there might be a measure of truth in that interpretation, God is speaking about something far more serious. To “assemble” means to get in our proper place. This applies to the body of Christ individually and corporately. Each of us should know where we are called to be and what we are called to do, and then be diligent to follow through in both areas. This is critical because within each local body of believers, God has a person in mind to fill each position within that local, corporate body. He then has a plan for every local assembly to fit with the other local assemblies in a city or region, so that we literally become the body of Christ in an area. As we align ourselves in our proper places, the body becomes complete, and rightly fits together. 1 Corinthians 12:18 says: “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” God places us in the body where He desires us to be, for us to fulfill our individual purpose, and to also fulfill the needs of the corporate body of Christ. As this happens, His presence is released and begins to affect the entire area. Many believers do not know their place or their purpose, and therefore have not assumed the position to which God has called them. This is a very dangerous place for any individual to be in and it also poses serious ramifications for His body as we are approaching this Day.
The fullness of God’s presence can only be experienced when we are assembled. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” He overshadows those gathered (same Greek word/root – sunago – found in Heb. 10:25) in His name. His overshadowing glory comes when we are properly assembled, in place, in function, under His authority (see Psalm 91). The enemy continues in unprecedented, unchallenged destruction, death, perversion and evil simply because we have not assembled as the body of Christ. The promise is that if we assemble unto Him correctly, His overshadowing glory will manifest, and He will requite injustice. If the body of Christ were assembled, the enemy could not penetrate, and we would be under God’s protection. When we stop assembling, we take a dangerous step towards destruction. The question is, has the body of Christ ever been truly assembled since the first century? Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is a promise that this will be.
If we place this scripture in Hebrews 10:24-25 in an historical context, we see how serious God is about assembling. This was written in the midst of severe persecution of the early church. Being identified as a member of Christ’s body at that time could cost you your life, imprisonment, or a severe physical beating. God is warning them and us that their banding together in unity and purpose is what will bring His protection and His life. Clearly this warning shows the significance of knowing our place and our willingness to sacrifice to “get in place” within a corporate body of believers.
The Body of Christ’s Part in the Day of the Lord
This Day is fast approaching. How must we prepare to face this day? There is both an individual and a corporate preparation that is required. We must embrace whatever necessary discipline now. One of the first of these disciplines is getting settled and coming under proper authority. We can not stand alone. Eph. 6:12 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand.” The apostle is admonishing the people of God to get prepared, because we won’t be able to stand if we have not allowed ourselves to be trained (2 Tim. 2:1-4).
What’s an evil day like? When the Father dropped the hedge about Jesus in the wilderness when He was tested, He took His stance aligned with the Father and His purposes anchored in His word. The enemy attacked Him and He won the victory through being completely aligned in character, intimacy and purpose with the Father…if you will, in the Father’s name. If we are not aligned with the Father’s heart and purpose, and aligned with one another around the Father’s heart and purpose, the enemy will have unprecedented access to afflict us, our loved ones, etc. We will have to stand, just as Jesus did. Jesus, our example, could not be detoured from His purpose. He knew who He was and what He needed to do. This is because He was completely surrendered and willingly embraced discipline to develop the character needed to fulfill His purpose. Hebrews 5:8 says: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
We must be willing to suffer, if necessary, for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor. 4)…suffer persecution, inconvenience, or loss of reputation. While we may not be challenged on every front, we will be challenged. When we examine the path Jesus walked, we begin to get a glimpse of what we could face. We all will have to submit to a process of discipline to attain the character to stand in our position. We can not stand alone and we can not stand if we are not prepared. How big is He in me? In us? That is what will bring the victory in the days ahead. It will be Christ in us that will bring His resurrection power and life, or bring the necessary wisdom and strength in our time of need. He is an ever present help in the time of trouble (Ps. 37:39).
In Ezekiel 13:3-9, the prophet rebukes the prophets and leaders of God’s people. The leaders had not prepared the people of God to stand in the Day of battle. Instead, they spoke pleasant words not wanting to cause any discomfort. The people became weak and were not ready for battle.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the LORD. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, “Thus says the LORD!” But the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, “The LORD says,” but I have not spoken.’ Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.’” – Ezekiel 13:3-9
In Ezekiel’s day, as it is in ours, those who should be teaching and preparing others are not ready themselves. These prophets did not prepare the people for battle. But there are many emerging, such as Lou Engle and others, who are awakening the body of Christ to repent, put away the idolatry, immorality, etc., and get prepared. Yet, awakening is not enough. Assembling together for one day is not enough (see Isaiah 58:5 – is it just “a day” for us to do this?). Our church leaders must get the body of Christ prepared to stand in the day of battle. This must happen in our lives, families, churches and areas to see this preparation take place and to get prepared for a enforcing of the Lord’s victory of His finished works and resurrection. To answer this call, leaders must be prepared for many to leave who don’t want to face being offended or uncomfortable.
1 Thessalonians provides a clearer picture of how to approach the Day.
“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. 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. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thess. 5:1-11
Those who do not apply themselves to discipline, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope which is salvation,” will not be able to stand. We must be listening and gathering the people together unto Him. As this word is proclaimed, as the ministry changes to one of preparation for “battle” (true ministry), we see two distinct groups of people emerge out of the church: children of darkness and children of the light. It’s God’s side or the other side; there is no in between.
Romans 13:12-14 says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Once again, we are reminded that the end of time is near and in light of that, the seriousness of the choices we make. The armor of light is our protection and also His glory rising in and among us (see Isaiah 60:1-3). We have to put it on. How do we do this? We must prepare individually, but corporately we must also assemble as the body of Christ. As we assemble, His image and presence come to maturity (Eph. 4:11-16), His glory rises in us, and He commands the blessing where divine justice is released to restore what the enemy has killed, stolen or destroyed is restored.
The bride must make herself ready (Rev. 19:7-8). He’s given us the “Church” to foster development (Eph. 4:11-16) but this does not include playing “church games”. Mal. 4:1-6 says that the Day will be like an oven where all the proud will be stubble; they will be consumed. But for those who stay close and allow God to shape them, He will rise with “healing in His wings.” It will be a time of restoration, wholeness and victory. Those who are made ready will be doing signs and wonders. The prepared ones will be empowered and will participate in executing His judgments through worship, intercession, proclamation and demonstration.