We are continuing our study of 1 Thessalonians this morning. Thanks for joining us. Let me remind you that from 4:13 through 5:11, the context is about the Second Coming. The Parousia involves three synchronous events, we saw two of them in chapter 4, the resurrection of the dead and the Parousia. What else happens at this time? The judgment of unbelievers. At Christ's coming he not only raised his own people from the dead, but also judged his enemies. In our last study we looked at the first two verses of chapter 5 and talked about the Day of the Lord.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 ESV
"You have no need to have anything written to you"—this comment with what is said in the next verse regarding the day of the Lord (you yourselves are fully aware) shows he had taught them carefully and thoroughly about these end time events including the day of the Lord which will usher in God's judgment.
"The day of the Lord"—this phrase is only used 4 times in the New Testament. It is used in Acts 2:20, here in our text, in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 and in 2 Peter 3:10. We spent most of our time in our last study looking at 2 Peter 3:10 which is the text that gives us the most information on the day of the Lord.
We saw in our last study that the Day of the Lord is an event that happens between the two ages, it happed between "this age" and "the age to come." Zechariah 14 teaches us that the "Day of the Lord" and the destruction of Jerusalem were connected. So, the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the Day of the Lord, marked the end of one age, the Jewish age, and the beginning of the new age, the Christian age of the New Covenant. To put it simply "the day of the Lord" is a time of judgement on Israel, it is the end of the Old Covenant age.
The various references to "the day of the Lord" in the Tanakh referred to various nations that Yahweh was judging, but all the references in the New Testament are to that "day of the Lord" which came in A. D. 70 when the nation Israel was destroyed. The phrase "The day of the Lord," therefore, in 1 Thessalonians 5, refers to God's judgment of the apostate Jewish nation at the end of the age when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies. This was the end of the Old Covenant and the consummation of the New Covenant.
Before we move on in the text, I want to spend some more time talking about the Day of the Lord. I was planning on dealing with verses 3-6 this morning, that was before I read what John MacArthur says about the Day of the Lord. Let me say that I'm not trying to pick on John. I use him because he is a contemporary teacher with a large ministry and a big influence. And what he teaches is often wrong which means that he is misleading many believers. In his teaching on 1 Thessalonians 5 MacArthur says this.
In Malachi 4:5, don't turn to it, but in Malachi 4:5, Malachi says, "That before the day of the Lord can come an Elijah-like forerunner must come first," like John the Baptist came before the coming of Christ, a forerunner. Malachi 4:5 says the day of the Lord cannot occur until this Elijah-like, this prophetic person, this sort of John the Baptist type comes to announce the coming of the Messiah. So, God is actually going to send a forerunner before the day of the Lord to announce His coming, Malachi 4:5. So, if the forerunner isn't here yet making that announcement, then the day of the Lord isn't near yet.
It is really hard for me to believe that John says this. He certainly knows the Scripture better that this. I think that his futuristic paradigm blinds him to the simple truth of Scripture. He is waiting for the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy that was fulfilled two thousand years ago.
We just looked at this prophecy of Malachi last week to show how the New Testament interprets the Tanakh. I want to go a little deeper this morning and show that John the Baptist was clearly the fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi. To do this we will be looking at chapter 3 of Matthew's Gospel.
The first two chapters of Matthew's Gospel deal with events surrounding the birth of Yeshua who is the Christ. Chapter 1 shows that Christ is of the lineage of David and presents Him to be the heir to David's throne. Chapter 2 presents the worship accorded to Him by the wise men from the east who honored Him with gifts befitting One born to rule.
As we come to the events of Matthew 3, Yeshua is about 30 years of age. Matthew now wants to present to us the person who has the responsibility to introduce Yeshua as the Messiah to the nation Israel. After all, Yeshua is the King, the Messiah. As such, it is fitting that He have someone come and announce Him and prepare the way for Him.
Without any background, we have the greatest of all the prophets introduced to us in:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, Matthew 3:1 ESV
John the Baptist comes on the scene as a prophet of Yahweh after 400 years of silence. Let me give you a little background here so you can understand the significance of John's appearance in relation to the Day of the Lord.
The Tanakh closes with the book of Malachi. The book of Malachi is one long and terrible impeachment of the nation Israel.
The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. Malachi 1:1 ESV
The word "oracle" is the Hebrew word massa which means "an utterance, chiefly a doom." Malachi is the prophet of doom. Coming judgment to Israel is the burden of the word of Yahweh to Israel by Malachi:
"Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:5 ESV
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi 4:1 ESV
That this is not a vague and meaningless threat is evident from the distinct and definite terms in which it is announced. Everything points to an approaching crisis in the history of the nation when God would inflict judgment upon His rebellious people. "The day" was coming—the day that shall "burn like an oven". This period is more precisely defined as "the great and terrible day of the Lord" in:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. Malachi 4:5 ESV
"Awesome" here is not the best translation in my opinion. This is the Hebrew word yare which means, "to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten, make afraid, dread, fear. That this "day" refers to a certain period and a specific event, is clear. Yeshua tells us that the predicted Elijah that was to come before "the great and terrible day of the Lord" was in fact John the Baptist:
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Matthew 11:13-14 ESV
This text enables us to determine the time of the event referred to as "the great and terrible day of the Lord." It must be in the time period of John the Baptist. It seems clear that the allusion is to the judgment of the Jewish nation in A.D. 70, when their city and temple were destroyed, and the entire fabric of Judaism was dissolved. But MacArthur says, "This sort of John the Baptist type comes to announce the coming of the Messiah." John doesn't see John the Baptist as fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi but is looking for some future "John the Baptist type".
Malachi represents John as the precursor of the coming Judge:
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1 ESV
That this is a coming to judgment is clear from the words which follow describing the alarm and dismay caused by His appearing:
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. Malachi 3:2 ESV
This is not talking about Christ's first coming as MacArthur claims, but His second coming. There is a distinct allusion to this passage in:
Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Revelation 6:15-17 ESV
It is clear that the "He is coming", in Malachi 3:1, is the same as "the great and terrible day of the Lord", in chapter 4:5, and that both are referring to "'the great day of their wrath" in Revelation 6:17. We can see from this that the prophet Malachi speaks, not of the first coming of our Lord, but of the second. And the second coming is to be in the time period of John the Baptist.
That Malachi is speaking of Christ's second coming is further proved by the significant fact that, in chapter 3:1, the Lord is represented as "suddenly coming to his temple." Which, according to verse 2, is an occasion of terror and dismay, "But who can endure the day of His coming?" This expression speaks of His second coming in judgment. The temple was the center of the nation's life, the visible symbol of the covenant between Yahweh and His people; it was the spot where "judgment must begin," and which was to be overtaken by "sudden destruction." So, the sudden coming of the Lord to his temple, the dismay attending the day of his coming, His coming as "a refiner's fire," His coming "near to them to judgment," "the day coming that shall burn as a furnace," "burning up the wicked root and branch," and the appearing of John the Baptist, the second Elijah, previous to the arrival of "the great and terrible day of the Lord," make it clear that the prophet Malachi here foretells the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, when Christ returned in judgment upon the nation Israel.
We must understand that Malachi's prophecy has a distinct and specific reference to the land of Israel. The message of the prophet is to Israel; the sins which are condemned are the sins of Israel; the coming of the Lord is to His temple in Israel; the land threatened with the curse is the land of Israel. All this points to a specific local and national catastrophe. History records the fulfilment of the prophecy, in exact correspondence of time, place, and circumstance, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
The four centuries between the conclusion of the Tanakh and the beginning of the New Testament are a blank in Scripture history. During this period, synagogues were established throughout the land, and the knowledge of the Scriptures was widely extended. The great religious schools of the Pharisees and Sadducees arose, both professing to be expounders and defenders of the law of Moses. Above all, the nation cherished the hope of a coming deliverer, an offspring of the royal house of David, who should be the theocratic king, the liberator of Israel from Gentile domination. But, for the most part, the popular conception of the coming king was earthly and carnal. There had not in four hundred years been any improvement in the moral condition of the people, and, between the formalism of the Pharisees and the scepticism of the Sadducees, true religion had sunk to its lowest level. There was still, however, a faithful remnant who had truer conceptions of the kingdom of heaven, and who looked for redemption in Israel. As the time drew near, there were indications of the return of the prophetic spirit, and premonitions that the promised deliverer was at hand. Simeon received assurance that before his death he should see the Lord's anointed; a similar revelation seems to have been made to the aged prophetess, Anna. Such revelations, it is reasonable to suppose, must have awakened eager expectation in the hearts of many and prepared them for the cry which soon after was heard in the wilderness of Judea: "Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" A prophet had again risen up in Israel!
There is nothing more distinctly affirmed in the New Testament than the identity of John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Elijah of Malachi:
And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:10-13 ESV
The disciples knew the prophecy about Elijah, apparently they thought it would be fulfilled physically. It was actually fulfilled, but it was not physically fulfilled. John came in the Spirit of Elijah. Speaking to Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth about John, the angel said:
and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." Luke 1:17 ESV
The Jews expected the reappearance of the literal Elijah, and John replies to that mistaken notion in:
And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." John 1:21 ESV
Yeshua is telling them if you want to understand the second coming of Elijah, you've got to look at the spiritual.
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Matthew 11:13-14 ESV
So, we see that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord. So, let's look at what John had to say.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, Matthew 3:1 ESV
John was preaching "in the wilderness of Judea"—a phrase indicating the rolling bad lands between the hill country of Judea to the west and the Dead Sea and the lower Jordan to the east, stretching northward to about the point where the Jabbok flows into the Jordan. It is a desolate expanse of barren chalky soil covered with pebbles, broken stones, and rocks.
Interestingly, John did not go into the city of Jerusalem. You would think that one coming with a message to proclaim the introduction of the King of Israel would go to the capital, perhaps even to the temple, to make his proclamation. But that is not the case. He went to the wilderness, and the people flocked to him in order to hear him. His ministry of preaching indicates he was a herald, one who is given a message to proclaim or announce. John was given the ministry of announcing the coming and presence of Yeshua the Christ.
John comes preaching with a proclamation:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2 ESV
John told them that the reason it was so crucial for them to repent was because "…the kingdom of heaven is at hand," an expression meaning that it is drawing near. The same expression is used later in the Gospel as Yeshua was drawing near to Jerusalem. It indicates that something is on the verge of coming. It is close. John is telling them that they need to repent, because this kingdom is at hand—a kingdom which will be set up by the Messiah.
The Jews all were familiar with this from the Tahakh. They knew that the first thing which would occur in that kingdom would be a judgment of those who have not repented. They were so familiar with those facts that John did not even have to go into the details from the Tanakh. They knew that the kingdom would be set up by the Messiah, who would begin by judging the rebels in the nation and excluding them from His kingdom.
Matthew describes the appearance of John, and even his dress is reminiscent of a prophetic ministry:
Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 ESV
John is identified as a prophet, especially with the ministry of Elijah. Elijah's ministry to Ahaziah is recorded in 2 Kings 1. The king was ill following an injury and decided to inquire from the false gods if he was going to recover from his illness. But Elijah, the prophet of Yahweh, intercepted his message:
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'" So Elijah went. 2 Kings 1:3-4 ESV
After Ahaziah was told that he would die, the king asked for a description of the man who gave the message regarding death:
They answered him, "He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite." 2 Kings 1:8 ESV
Since the prophet has a hairy garment bound with a leather girdle about the waist, the king immediately recognizes this as the dress of the prophet Elijah. So, when Matthew describes the dress of John, he identifies him as a prophet in connection with Elijah's ministry.
After describing John's clothing and diet in verse 4, Matthew proceeds to describe the response of the people to his message in:
Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, Matthew 3:5 ESV
In order to understand the significance of what was happening, it is important to picture this tremendous scene. Some commentators estimate that there could have been between 200,000 and 500,000 people who participated in John's ministry in this way. Matthew is not describing the appearance of a half dozen people who followed John. This is not like a Biden rally, it's like a Trump rally. This prophet came on the scene in such a striking way that after the Spirit of God had prepared the people's hearts, the whole nation recognized John as a prophet, and the leaders even feared him after his death because of the people's high regard for him as a prophet.
The trip from Jerusalem to the Jordan River was not just a little hike. It was 20 miles from Jerusalem to the Jordan, and it was a 4,000 foot drop. Imagine a 20-mile hike that drops 4,000 feet to the river. As hard as that was, the trip back was doubly hard. Think of this! People walking 20 miles and more to hear a man preach!
In Matthew 3:7, John begins to confront the religious leaders of his day. The two groups of leaders in Israel were known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. This is their first appearance in Matthew's Gospel where they are seen as religious hypocrites. Matthew wrote:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Matthew 3:7 ESV
John, dressed as a prophet with the message of a prophet, came with the same approach the prophets had. The Pharisees and Sadducees had great pride in their religious traditions.
John addressed them as a "brood of vipers". Vipers were poisonous snakes. The interesting thing about these snakes was that they could look like a stick or twig in the desert, but without warning they would strike out with their venom.
John told those religious leaders that they were just like vipers-they were deceptive! They looked so harmless, but in reality, they were deadly. Such charges from John were tremendously offensive for the Pharisees and Sadducees, who prided themselves on being so far above the common people.
Speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, John said, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" The words "to come" are from the Greek word mello. The Greek verb "mello" means: (in the infinitive) "to be about to", and "be on the point of" (see Thayer, Arndt & Gingrich, New Englishman's Greek Concordance and Harper's Analytical Greek Lexicon).
So, John is saying to his first century audience, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?" The wrath that John was talking about was the destruction of Jerusalem which was still forty years in the future.
John was trying to teach them that physical relationships were inadequate. John put his finger right on the problem in:
And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Matthew 3:9 ESV
These Jews had been taught and had believed that every physical descendant of Abraham was going into the kingdom. Therefore, all they had to do to make sure they were going into the kingdom was to trace their lineage back to Abraham. But John informed them that being a physical descendant of Abraham has nothing to do with getting into the kingdom. God could even turn stones into children of Abraham if He wanted to. John was telling them that they had no more chance than stones of getting in just because of their relationship to Abraham.
What I want you to see this morning is that at the heart of John's message was the theme of coming judgment. John announced in verse 2 that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, meaning it was near. The kingdom of heaven will be ushered in with a time of judgment. John speaks of that judgment in:
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10 ESV
In order for the kingdom to be consummated, there must be a time of judgment. The axe is there at the root ready to cut down any tree that is not bearing good fruit. John places an emphasis on fire again in verses 11 and 12. In those verses, there is a reference to the coming destruction.
Several Old Covenant prophets predicted judgment preceding the glory of the kingdom, and that is why John is warning that the axe is at the root of the tree. Because of the teaching of the prophets, the Jews were well aware that the kingdom was to be ushered in by judgment. Isaiah wrote:
when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. Isaiah 4:4-5 ESV
The order is first judgment, then glory. Ezekiel wrote about bringing the nation Israel back and establishing them in the kingdom:
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. Ezekiel 34:16 ESV
Who is speaking here? Back up one verse.
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 34:15 ESV
So, Yahweh says, "I will seek the lost." Then in
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10 ESV
Yahweh said in Ezekiel 34, "I will seek the lost…." Then Yeshua came along and said, "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." By using this phrase, knowing the people knew the Scripture, Yeshua was claiming to be Yahweh in the flesh, Israel's shepherd savior.
Whenever people say that they don't believe in the deity of Christ, I realize that they don't know God or the Bible. The teaching of the Lord's deity is fundamental, and it is everywhere in Scripture.
Back to Ezekiel 34, The fat and the strong have been feeding on the weak, so they will face God's judgment. Judgment is the key element.
Malachi, the last prophet in Israel until the time of John the Baptist, prophesied of judgment and burning:
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:1-2 ESV
In these passages, it is hard to miss the emphasis on judgement.
The Jews of John's day knew these prophecies of the Tanakh. They understood that before the kingdom would be consummated, God's judgment would fall on unbelievers, who would be rooted out of the kingdom as the Messiah established His rule and reign.
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11 ESV
The baptism with "the Holy Spirit and fire"—is referring to the Christ Event. It begins with Pentecost—the baptizing with the Holy Spirit, and ends with fire—the destruction of Jerusalem. A.D. 30, then, began the Christ event, but it was not completed until forty years later in A.D. 70.
Joel's prophecy that began to be fulfilled in Acts 2 at Pentecost is one prophecy of one event that encompassed the pouring out of the Spirit and the pouring out of wrath. This is a prophecy of "the Christ event." This "Christ Event" encompasses the Cross, Pentecost, the Resurrection, the Judgment, and the Parousia. Joel's prophecy covers from Pentecost to the Day of the Lord. It covers a 40 year period that was equal to a generation.
This forty-year period can be called "The Christ Event" or the "Transition Period" or the "Second Exodus" and it is also what the Bible calls the "last days" (e.g., the last days of the Old Covenant). Those "last days" began with the ministry of Christ and ended at A.D. 70 when the Jewish temple was destroyed. The time period is also called "this age" in the Scriptures. We now live in what the Bible calls "the age to come" (the New Covenant age). The forty-year period, from Pentecost to Holocaust, was a time of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In this transition period, the New Covenant had been inaugurated but not consummated. It began with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and ended with the fiery destruction of Jerusalem.
The baptism with fire, which John mentions in verse 11, is the day of the Lord judgment that John elaborates in verse 12:
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:12 ESV
He will winnow the grain until all the chaff is gone. The judgment will be thorough and complete, "and He will gather His wheat into the barn". Then the warning again, "but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire". Judgment precedes the Kingdom.
In Matthew 13, Yeshua explained the parable of the wheat and the tares. This passage is preparatory to the setting up of the kingdom where the angels will come and remove the wicked. This is paralleled in Matthew 24 when two shall be in the fields, one will be taken and one is left. In that context, the one taken is the one taken in judgment.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42 ESV
Verses 49 and 50 continue:
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50 ESV
When does Yeshua say that the angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire? He says it will happen "at the end of the age". The KJV wrongly translates this: "the end of the world." But the Bible does not talk about the end of the world.
To the Jews, time was divided into two great periods, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. The Messiah was viewed as one who would bring in a new world. The period of the Messiah was, therefore, correctly characterized by the Synagogue as "the world to come." All through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age" and the "age to come."
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32 ESV
So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish temple and the city Jerusalem. The end of the age did not happen at the cross or at Pentecost but at the destruction of Jerusalem. The world was not going to end, but the age of Judaism was. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age.
J. Stuart Russell writes:
"These warnings of John the Baptist are not the vague and indefinite exhortations to repentance, addressed to men in all ages, which they are sometimes assumed to be; they are urgent, burning words, having a specific and present bearing upon the then existing generation, the living men to whom he brought the message of God. The Jewish nation was now upon its last trial; the second Elijah had come as the precursor of 'the great and dreadful day of the Lord:' if they rejected his warnings, the doom predicted by Malachi would surely and speedily follow; 'I will come and smite the land with the curse.' Nothing can be more obvious than that the catastrophe to which John alludes is particular, national, local, and imminent, and history tells us that within the period of the generation that listened to his warning cry, 'the wrath came upon them to the uttermost."
John's message is one of judgment and it is to first century Israel! Messiah, the judge, is coming, repent! The day of the Lord and the coming of Christ are not in our future but in our past. Christ returned in A.D. 70 bringing judgment, the day of the Lord, upon the nation Israel and bringing in the kingdom of God.
This seems so clear and simple to me, so why do so many Christians miss this? I think that you are all aware that our paradigms can blind us from seeing certain truths. If, in your eschatological paradigm, you see the second coming of Christ as the end of the physical world, a cataclysmic, earth burning, total destruction of life as we now know it, you will certainly miss the truth of the second coming. Because life goes on, you can't believe that Yeshua returned as He said He would. It just won't fit your paradigm.