READ: Psalm 121, Haggai 2, Matthew 3, 2 Thessalonians 1
THIS DAY, THAT DAY
Instability is the order of our day. Shootings, bombings, attacks, violence, abuse, insecurity, and trouble are the new normal. Do not suppose that any of these sinful acts take the Lord by surprise. God is intentionally allowing humans to manifest what is in their evil hearts as part of the shaking process that precedes the great and terrible day of the Lord. “Once more,” God promises, “I will shake heaven and earth, I will shake all nations” (Hag. 2:6-7). Jesus is coming soon and increased trouble is but a sign of His impending return. In the natural we want to hide from the places and peoples that scare us; in the Spirit we must run to engage them for the time is short. The Last Day is upon us.
This Day. Haggai acknowledges that God’s people have gone through trouble, famine, exile, and anguish but relays the Lord’s encouragement: “But from THIS day, I will bless you” (v. 19, emphasis added). This day, this troubled, unsettled, violent, turbulent, unsteady, precarious day that you and I live in is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. In the midst of an upside down world we hold on to the promises of God’s blessing moving forward. We advance with the clear-eyed realism that the day will not get better, that blessings do not mean immunity, that the gathering clouds will yield one final storm, yet with the confidence that God will be with us, glorified by us, and in the end triumphant over all.
That Day. “In that day . . . I will take you . . . and will make you . . . for I have chosen you” (v. 23). Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles, and Jesus Himself do not stand like naïve weather forecasters predicting a cheery eschaton (last days). It is going to be great tribulation and great trouble. At some point God raptures His people out of the chaos, but we have also been instructed to endure to the end–even as millions before us endured unfathomable suffering right up to their deaths. The promise of “that day” is not that we evade trouble, but that God has chosen us and will take us to make us His vessel. God will use us for His glory as our world collapses around us. This is the destiny for those that live out the final moments of history–not that we hide in caves cowering from the anti-Christ, but that we stand boldly for Jesus through the power of His might. We will go out with a bang, not with a whimper. In those days John the Baptist came preaching, making straight a path in the wilderness for the coming king (Matt. 3:1). Right before Jesus comes, His people will rise up to announce Him and gladly lose their heads before yielding up their tongues. Jesus will avenge us, Paul assures, and will “give you who are troubled rest with us WHEN the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven . . . WHEN He comes in that day to be glorified in His saints and admired among all those who believe” (2 Thess. 1:7, 10, emphasis added). This day is rapidly becoming that day. Bring it on.