The Day Of The Lord
I Heard A Voice Behind Me
"I was in the spirit on the Lord's day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet...And I turned to see the voice that spake with me....when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead." Revelation 1:10, 12, 17.
More accurately, "I was in spirit IN the Lord's day..." The Greek word, EN, is significant as to seeing more clearly that the apostle was not caught up in the spirit of worship while in a church service ON the Sabbath day of the week. He was in the Spirit. He was in the Spirit of the Lord IN the Lord's Day, otherwise he would not have heard His voice; for it is in His day and out of His day that He speaks. This earthshaking experience certainly took place on one of the seven days of the week, and it might have been the seventh day, Saturday; but the issue was not when and where his body was taking up space. It was when and where he came to be in the Spirit, IN the midst of THE DAY OF THE LORD! And for him to have seen his Lord in such splendor of His Day, in such purity, in such profound majesty, in such fiery judgment, how could we possibly conclude that a day at the end of a six-day work-week is a day that revolutionizes the world and changes it forever? From my perspective, it is inconceivable!
Hopefully, it was made clear in our previous article that neither Saturday nor Sunday is the day of the Lord, and neither is any other twenty-four hour day of the week. Although it is widely accepted that one or the other is that great day, there are no scriptures to support that supposition. The Sabbath day of the week was certainly to be kept holy prior to Jesus fulfilling it; but it was never called the day of the Lord by any writer of the scriptures, not even by John when he wrote the book of the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.
The Sabbath was made for man to rest and for the purpose of the priests to minister TO the LORD, not to the people. It was holy TO the LORD. On the Sabbath, not only the daily offerings were made unto Him, but they were multiplied: two yearling lambs, two portions of flour mingled with oil, a fourth of an hin of wine, and twelve fresh loaves of showbread. All of these were offerings and sacrifices of the people TO the LORD, and the priests were the mediators who consecrated and presented them according to the prescribed pattern. The sacrifices and offerings symbolized the confessions of the people's sins and laying down their lives in death (the penalty for sin). It was in this death, which was a type of Jesus' death, that the LORD met with the people.
If we used the practices of today's church services as a fulfillment of the pattern for what the priests did during the Sabbath, the high priests would have been seen rushing from the Oracle of the most Holy place and preaching inspired sermons in the outer-court to all the people of the twelve tribes on what he had heard while in the Holy of holies. But such is unfathomable and is certainly not scriptural.
The LORD met with the people on the Sabbath day; but it was in relationship to death and not an occasion to socialize, to preach, or to teach Sunday or Sabbath school—all of which came from the Jewish Synagogue practices that Israel brought with them from their captivity in Babylon. It was from there where the law was taught and the scriptures read to the people; but it was not the Sabbath Day that the LORD commanded to be kept holy. It was something they started while in exile. And then, 757 years later, Constantine framed his State Church on the order of his army, which most Christian Churches have largely followed since. History compels us to notice that he adopted a church and modeled it not merely upon the Roman State but upon its most authoritarian aspect—his imperial army. In Constantine’s Church, bishops would rule districts corresponding with military dioceses. They would control appointments and impose discipline. Lesser clerics would report through a chain of command up to the local pontiff. Staff officers, in the guise of deacons and presbyters, would control funds and allocations much the same way many Christian organizations are structured. H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance
Sunday and Sabbath school of the services were not known until the early 1780s.
We would be hard pressed to see anything of the Jewish or the present day order of Christian churches as having to do with the Sabbath. In name only, perhaps, and using the seventh day of the Gregorian calendar as being that day of holiness, or the first day, depending on one's theological persuasion. Sadly, this is what the Sabbath has largely come to--a name and a date on a calendar that was devised by Pope Gregory XIII, a man far removed from the Israel's Sabbath Day of rest.
The Sabbath had nothing to do with man's order of things that people unwittingly fell into. It was a time of giving one's life to the LORD, and He accepted it in the form of their sacrifices. He met them in the giving of themselves unto death, all of which were types. In a measure, He died with the spotless lambs that had been created in Himself. A part of His life was in each of those sacrifices; but they only pointed to His Firstborn Son in whom He ultimately identified, the one who fulfilled each of the rituals, the one who was in the image of both His Father and man. This, dear brothers and sisters, is the true Sabbath, the true Day of Rest, even Jesus, whereinto we enter.
What could possibly be more pure, undefiled, spotless, unblemished, and void of sin than Jesus as the true sacrifice and offering unto the LORD? The people brought their sacrifices to the priests to be slain on behalf of their sins, and so it was with Him. The religious leaders had the Sacrifice bound by the soldiers. He was examined (interrogated) for blemishes of any kind. He, of course, was pure, a Lamb without spot or blemish. Unknown to them the real reason, He was turned over to His executioners, Herod and then Pilate. Having been found without sin, He could have lawfully been released; but the incited people demanded His crucifixion; for it was imperative for Him to die. Only He could atone for and take away their sins. They, of course, were unaware of it; but this did not stop them from presenting the true Passover Sacrifice in order to free them from sin, forever!
Mankind was represented that holy day by those who cried out, "Crucify Him! Let His blood be upon us and our children!" His Father, who was one with Jesus, granted their request and accepted the unblemished sacrifice that they had offered to Him. His blood did exactly what they had asked, it was upon them, it covered them all, including their children, and all their children's children from that day forth, even unto all the ages and all men everywhere and at every time.
This, dear ones, was the Sabbath, the Day that was kept Holy! It was the most pure day to have ever graced this sin-ridden world. Please, don't take it lightly.
Notwithstanding, that day, as holy and pure as it was, cannot be called the Lord's Day. This is surely becoming apparent. By knowing this, we are assured that there is much more to His Day than a few selected hours of the week; and, no doubt, this causes a vast number of believers in Jesus Christ to eagerly look forward to "His Day," "the Lord's Day," "the Day of The Lord." Maybe, maybe not! With a little more understanding one's desires might change; for according to the prophet Joel, this is a day of alarm, and it did not exclude His holy mountain. All the inhabitants of the land would tremble in that day. He said it would be a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, a day of devouring fire that would leave the garden of Eden a desolate wilderness. So you see, if we knew anything at all about the day of the Lord, we would most likely not be welcoming it into our lives. If we understood its implications, the moment the signs appeared of its approaching, we might run as fast and far as humanly possible to escape it. That's what those in Jerusalem did when they saw the signs of the Lord's day coming upon them. They took note of Jesus' warning and fled the city. Yet, with John, there was no place where he was able to flee. Moreover, he was not forewarned of that day, and so it has been with us.
Theologically, other than Saturday being called the Sabbath, among other views of this often misunderstood day, it has also been said to be:
1) The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
2) The time of great tribulation at the end of this age.
3) The manifestation of the sons of God as they bring worldwide righteousness, peace, and joy.
4) The holy fire of God coming down upon all flesh and the apostate church.
Regardless of which or all are embraced as being true, the day of the Lord of any manner is devastating to all who have not been refined and made to be a part of the day itself, which includes just about everyone at some time or to some degree. The sons of God, of course, will have their day of the Lord prior to those who will ultimately be on the receiving end of that day of reckoning/reconciliation; for as the apostle said, judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).
John heard the voice of the Son of God behind him when he was in the Spirit. If he had not been in the Spirit, he would not have heard one word that great voice trumpeted from the heavens. As with a radio with its switch turned on and the dial tuned to the proper frequency, John was in the Spirit, he was tuned in, and when the Lord's voice sounded, he heard. Surely, it was a higher and more glorious place in Christ than he had ever known. To have entered that foreign place of both death and life! However, he had to turn to the sound of the voice and from his usual perception of things, and he did!
He made a 180 degree u-turn. The voice caused a dramatic change to his focus. The direction in which he had been looking might have been the day of his release from captivity so he could again be an asset to his Lord and His kingdom. But leave it to our Lord to mess up one's best laid plans of helping Him, and it seems that very often when He speaks, that is what happens.
My, oh, my, when will we learn? Perhaps when we come to the realization that revelation does not come by joining a church that's on the move, or being among a band of enlightened brethren and believing like they believe. Or maybe we will learn that performing religious practices and activities is of little or no value. The fact is, the only thing required is to simply be in the Spirit. It is then that the voice of the Lord will be heard! If we are not in the Spirit or He isn't speaking--we won't be hearing the thunderous roar of revelation. It will be business as usual. Some will hear their own souls echoing in their minds, others will hear the command of their task masters in grueling labor camps of religious rock quarries. There are voices that are much more pleasant but just as deceptive, i.e., those espousing the celestine glamors of eastern mysticism. There are other supplanters of truth, but too numerous and laborious to list at this time; but you can know that none of them open the portals to our Lord's throne from where His voice is heard. They are without the key which is to be in the Spirit, and this is not the spirit that has not been joined to the Spirit of the Lord.
When we are in the Spirit and His voice is heard, we can be assured that great changes will be made. Our world will move, it will literally end as our heaven and earth are shaken. The powers of our doctrines and works will come to an end. Such a change of power does not bring gladness and joy or proud exultation. We won't parade around with the attitude of "I know something you don't, and it's doubtful that you will ever attain to my level of understanding; however, if you listen to me, you will be much wiser and farther ahead than all the others." Platitudes like this might raise goose bumps on many; but they grate severely against the Spirit. The day of the Lord has nothing to do with that sort of thing. The apocalypse of His day brings the opposite--the fearful, unexpected destruction, and death to what we knew. It causes us to fall at His feet as dead. There's no pride in that day! Religious rhetoric is silenced! Theatrics fail. Theological debates are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Flesh is flesh, carnality is carnality, and men will continue therein until they are in the Spirit and hear a voice behind their ignorance of the deep spiritual matters of the Lord's Day! All who see the One from where the voice is spoken will humbly fall at His feet. Their former views and expectations will vanish as a vapor with no substance, no worth.
The voice from behind will turn each of us completely around. We will know what it is to have earthquakes in divers places. It will shake and change everything about us. The voice of our Lord will transform our minds, our thoughts and imaginations, our precepts and understanding of what we thought we knew. Our motivation and purpose will be totally altered as our own Patmos refines and makes us ready for such a time as this, a time of being in the Spirit and hearing the voice that shakes our heavens and earth, transforming the man.
Because of the desolation of Patmos, it was used by the Romans as a place to banish political and religious criminals. Some historians say that they were forced to work at hard labor in the island's rock quarries. Patmos was not a resort by any means, at least, not at that time. People didn't book voyages there to get away from it all. It was a place that tried the mind and the body, especially the 95 year old body of John. It is not clear as to how much hard labor he was subjected; but it was surely a furnace of affliction. And it was out of that furnace that the apostle came to be in the Spirit, hear by the Spirit, and saw by the Spirit that which changed his life forever.
The eighteen months (as some authorities report) in banishment brought him to nothing. We don't know, but can assume, his morale was beaten down as low as it could be brought, and with the hardships upon his mind and body, he was in the perfect condition to be caught up to the heights of the heavens. It was out of this pit of despair that came the Revelation, the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ!
The flesh and blood of John could not inherit or partake of such a holy Kingdom that he was shown; but rather, the natural man of the apostle was slain. He fell as dead at the feet of the One who drew him into His day! The other prisoners with him neither heard nor saw anything; for they were not in the Spirit in that Imperial day. Their ears were closed to the voice from the heavens. But John heard it, and when he heard he turned from viewing things by the natural eye to that of the Spirit. He heard a great voice trumpeting from behind him, and when he turned he saw the Lord's day, and in the midst of his weakness he was able to be lifted into that day. Otherwise, his spirit and mind would have remained earth-bound and the only thing for him to look forward to was another earth-bound day of hard labor in the quarries.
When he turned from his former perceptions, his vision was raised to where all power and authority comes. He saw things so high that he could not look upon them, that is, not until the one with the voice of many waters laid His hand upon him and told him to fear not. Will it not be the same with us when we hear the same voice and the Lord's Day shines upon us? Unless He sustains us, we would be but dust and consumed by the heat of His brightness.
John's perception was changed in the day of the Lord, as ours will also change, and has been changed, but not completely. We may think that we have a grasp on all things spiritual, that our doctrines of belief are the pinnacle of all beliefs; but the day of the Lord has a way of changing and bringing things into proper perspective.
The day of the Lord comes to us at different seasons of our lives, and we are changed by each of them. After His light shines in our dark places, never again are we the same. Before His light was quickened in me, my life was that of the world, one hundred percent. As it had been with many of you, I lived in total darkness, but to me it was light. It was the only world I knew. However, when His day came and the shining of his sun set my heart on fire, my perception changed from darkness to light, true light!
It may not have been the same with some of you; but after that initial burst of the light of His transforming love that was shed abroad in my heart, for a short season I ignorantly incorporated doctrinal errors of the church Margit and I attended. Even though it was hard to reconcile what I was experiencing in spirit, I held several things of darkness as though they were light. For instance, I thought the rapture doctrine and eternal hellfire and damnation to the lost were infallible truths, that they were good, scriptural doctrines to lay a solid foundation upon which to build my immovable house. I believed the authorities of the word; namely, my friends who had been saved ten years or more and had attended church every Sunday, sometimes Wednesday evenings. If anyone knew what the truth was, surely they did, so I had assumed, not realizing there was no truth at all in some of their foundational beliefs which proved to be sand and not the Rock. There was nothing but arrant darkness and conjecture in so many of their strongly embraced doctrines, dogmas, and tenants. They, of course, did not know this.
I have no reason to believe that these dear people were being deliberately deceptive--deceived, yes, but knowingly deceptive, absolutely not. In my earlier months of being deceived, as it was with my friends, I did not knowingly and willingly deceive anyone; but those who were influenced by what I said about the rapture and eternal damnation were deceived. Neither they nor I were like Nicodemus and his colleagues, the Pharisees. They knew the greatest truth to be known, that Jesus was sent from God; but rather than embracing Him, they chose to continue teaching a lie and calling his works that of the devil when it was their father who was the devil. Jesus pointed this out to them in no uncertain terms. He did not mince words when it came to those who knew better but did otherwise, and those religious stars fell from the heavens in A.D. 70. Likewise, will those luminaries of the night fall from their heavens of power at the end of this age, in the Lord's Day, the day of the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ and His many membered body.
But praise God! It was not my doing, but His, when my deception vaporized in the light of revelation, and I could not remain in that religious vein. He had my journey mapped out and I was totally oblivious to it. I was not expecting it. I could not have imagined it. And neither had I desired it. For how do you desire something that you've never heard of nor knew existed? Why others were not called to this wonderful, but perilous journey, I cannot say other than it is God's election to place every soul as He sees fit. If it had been left up to me, I would have called each and every believer out of that little country church I loved. If possible, they would have made this journey into the deep, but it wasn't for them and it wasn't in my hands to make it so. Oh, I tried! Believe me, in my ignorance, I tried! But all it brought was sadness for my friends who saw one that they loved fall into what they truly believed to be grave deception, not knowing, of course, I had been delivered from it. What a strange world this religious stuff is. The horrid things that are false are embraced as truth, and God's love that is truth is seen as a lie worthy of eternal damnation. Strange! Strange, indeed!
As for my plans in the early months of my life-changing experience as a new-born in the body of Christ, I intended to be one of the best Baptist preachers in the county; but once again the day of the Lord came dawning upon me, first, upon the distant horizon of my well-planned world. Not knowing exactly what the new light was about, my mind was focused on church activities, visiting homes, recruiting, testifying, witnessing, and snatching souls out of the hellfire of eternal damnation. I was also busy preparing to be about our Lord's command given to the apostles to teach all nations, even though I had not heard the spirit of His word to do the same. However, I was hearing His word as a still, small voice that was easy to ignore... for a couple of months, but that was about all. Then the fiery blaze of His apocalypse shot like lightning from the east to the west and the north to the south, from one end of my heavens to the other. His Day came and wrecked havoc with my day.
The days of the Lord have come and gone since then, and each of them made a profound change in my life. And from the testimonies we hear, it is clear that it has been the same for many thousands whose calling was unto Him and His Day whether it was evil in our sight or glory unspeakable.
Day after day we heard His voice trumpeting from behind. And without fail, His voice broke the sound-barriers of our minds, and day after day we turned from our religious contentment to see that strange voice that spoke with us. This has been an ongoing process that has brought us down to this time. Now we come to the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ as the shadow of this age grows long and draws to a close.
We have known the fierce furnace of many afflictions, the lonely caves of Adullam, the wilderness of no fellowship, the great depressions of the soul. And all of this has made us ready to be awakened and in His Spirit, in His Day, and we are turning to see Him and falling as dead men before Him.
Something similar happened to Ezekiel. It must have been very much the same as the Day of the Lord; for it was not what he would have chosen, and evidently he wasn't pleased about it:
"Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. 13I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. 14So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the *heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was **strong upon me. 15Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days." Ezekiel 3:12-15.
*heat: heat; figuratively anger, poison (from its fever). (Strong's Exh. Conc.). The KJV translated it as:
"anger, bottles, hot displeasure, furious (-ly, -ry), heat, indignation, poison, rage, wrath (-ful)."
It was after Ezekiel had been taken by the Spirit that he heard the voice, and as it was with the apostle, he heard the voice behind him. It did not come from the midst of his daily prayers or his duties as a priest. The voice did not come from the forefront of any of his religious activities, but from behind, from where he did not expect it. If He had expected it, surely he would have already been turned in that direction, not outwardly but inwardly, and would have been waiting to hear what the voice had to say, but that was not the case. He was unprepared for that which overtook him.
Ezekiel was not pleased at all about what was taking place. First, the Spirit took him away from his honored office of authority to which he had grown accustomed. Then the voice of the Lord did not come from where he would have thought. I can imagine him questioning: "Why can't you speak to me out of the holy things that I was doing in your name? If you had, I wouldn't have to change my routine, my theology, or the comforts of home. Wouldn't it be just as easy to speak from where I minister to You everyday rather than from behind which takes me away from my holy services. When I turned to hear you, I had to forsake my calling that you had ordained." Well, he might not have thought along those lines; but that is the way the natural mind would think. It doesn't want the improvisions and interruptions from the daily norm, and according to the verses cited above, we can see that Ezekiel was not a happy trooper about this; for he went in bitterness, in the heat of his spirit.
Most people would think they would be overjoyed to stand in the day of the Lord and hear the call to do His bidding; but this priest/prophet did not share those sentiments. For he went in bitterness, in the heat of his spirit. According to the meaning of these two words, it would be a very great stretch of the imagination to portray him as being overjoyed. He was disturbed! He was upset! This wasn't a pleasant day for him, not by any means. But that's what the day of the Lord does to people. It turns their worlds upside down, and although it is very much of the Lord, it is not always enjoyable.
Have you heard the term, hot headed? Surely so, and this must have been Ezekiel that day. Since he went in the heat of his spirit, in anger, as poison surging from his soul. He knew that this was not going to be a picnic, and he recorded his feelings for the whole world to know just how he felt about it, especially after he sat in awe for seven days staring at those who were held captive.
Astonishment such as Ezekiel's sweeps over us when we are taken into the day of the Lord and we also see by the Spirit the rebellious ones of this day. Many are the ones who are held captive by the religious systems and ideals of the world. And when we speak the word of the Lord to them, whether in publications or by any other means, we are often reviled for being so harsh and offensive to the willingly ignorant, blind, and misled.
If you feel that my assessment of this is wrong, please forbear and forgive me; but I have only taken the words that Ezekiel wrote of himself. And having been one of the major prophets of the LORD, should we not take him at his word? I hope so. I do.
My Lord and my God! Who can abide Your Day? At the brightness of Your rising, who can not be changed? Who can continue seeking their own glory? In Your Day, who is able to lift themselves as renowned ministries or desire positions of praise and prestige before You? Who can be anything in their own might? Who can lift his face in pride from the dust from where he was formed. We know! O God, how well we know--NONE! Not one when the afflictions of hard labor in the quarries of their own Patmos have made them ready to be in the Spirit in Your Day! Each and every one of the them will turn to see Your voice that they hear trumpeting behind them. It is then that they will hear! They will see! And they will understand! Not as one man abiding alone, but as the voice of many waters, as the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ! They will see themselves among those waters and will know that which was ordained from the beginning is coming upon them!
It is finished in the throne of His heavens and waiting to be revealed at the proper time upon His footstool of the earth! O praise His wonderful name!
Elwin R. Roach
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