THE ARMY OF THE LORD

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

THE ARMY OF THE LORD Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Day of the Lord is at hand. Christ is coming. Jews and Christians understand this. But what will be the nature of Christ’s coming? The Lord is coming with His army to destroy sin and establish righteousness on the earth. The appearing of the Lord and His army is good news for the meek of the earth, but a fearful prospect indeed for the wicked.

Table of Contents

Introduction The Coming of the Lord     The viewpoint of the Thessalonians     The coming of the Lord and His saints     Why will the Lord bring His saints with Him?     The army of the Lord     The welfare of the deceased saints     The catching up of the army Preparing the Soldiers of the Army of the Lord     Making the saints worthy by suffering     The body and blood of Jesus Conclusion

THE ARMY OF THE LORD

Introduction

The world of our day is becoming increasingly sinful. Judaic and Christian moral values, once held in high esteem, are now scorned as the obscene rules of the Judaic-Christian religion. In some instances "Jehovah" of the Old Testament is viewed as the evil side of a god with Satan being the other side of goodness and light. Every form of crime and debauchery is on the rise.

Fetuses are murdered by doctors. Children are sold into sexual slavery. Adults are looking for new ways of debasing themselves. Nature, responding to the filthy behavior of the descendants of Adam, is rising in protest. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and devastating fires are commonplace. Disease and famine are worldwide.

Wars continue in many places. Religious hatred accounts for the murder of innocent people. Some people are starving while others are overweight. Contemporary civilization, in which man views himself as god, is one great lie.

The politicians, educators, and philosophers advance various schemes for peace and prosperity. But the worldwide government they are seeking will be the worst possible circumstance for those who love God and His ways. The new world order will be driven and guided by Satan-inspired people—people who are all the more dangerous because they consider themselves righteous.

The daily announcements of the newspapers are enough to cause the meek of the earth to despair. But there is hope! Christ is coming! Christ will put an end to evil and bring righteousness, peace, and joy to the saved peoples of the earth.

When we state that Christ is coming we mean Christ—Head and Body.

If only the Head of Christ, the Lord Jesus, were to be the Servant of the Lord who is coming to bring justice to the nations, then He would have done so two thousand years ago. Christ has the authority and power! He at His will can summon the powerful warrior angels!

One of the stupendous mysteries of the Scriptures is that Christ is in us and we are the Body of Christ. This revelation was given to the Apostle Paul.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 2:12)

Christ, Head and Body, is the Servant of the Lord announced by the Prophet Isaiah.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles [justice to the nations]. (Isaiah 42:1)

The Servant is Christ, the Olive Tree, Israel. The Lord Jesus prayed for the members of His Body.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:9)

Israel is the royal priesthood, the Olive Tree, Christ, the Kingdom of God. By Israel we mean the one Seed of Abraham. The one Seed of Abraham is Christ and all who belong to Christ.

Those who are part of Christ will appear with Him when He returns to earth. These people will compose a large, powerful army that will drive Satan and his works from the earth.

Based on the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews we believe that God's saints began with the "righteous Abel." How did the saints of old become joined to Christ? We cannot answer that. But we do know that they without us cannot be made perfect, implying they all are one with us in Christ and therefore part of the one Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord who is to come and bring justice to the nations.

Referring to the saints of history:

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39,40)

The Coming of the Lord

What will the coming of the Lord be like? What do the Scriptures tell us about the appearing of Christ?

Let us begin our study with a review of Paul's epistle to the church of the Thessalonians.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

The words that follow in First Thessalonians were written to comfort Christians whose loved ones, fellow believers, had died before the Lord Jesus had returned.

The viewpoint of the Thessalonians. If we would understand Paul's words to the Thessalonians we must put ourselves in their place. We must see the vision of the Day of the Lord in their terms.

Thessalonians viewed the appearing of Christ according to what they had been taught from the prophecies of the Old Testament. The Apostles always taught from the Old Testament.

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (Acts 3:18)

And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (Acts 15:15)

Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: (Acts 26:22)

And when they had appointed him [Paul] a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. (Acts 28:23)

What did the Prophets teach concerning the coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord? The Hebrew Prophets spoke among other things of two main events:

The coming of Christ and the installation by force of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and the accompanying righteousness, peace, and joy for the inhabitants of the earth.

The resurrection of the dead and the Day of Judgment.

Concerning the installation of the Kingdom by force:

And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. (Micah 5:8,9)

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:1-3)

Concerning the resurrection of the dead:

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead.

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:8)

It appears that Paul believed the Lord was coming in His lifetime and would deliver the Thessalonians from the persecution and suffering they were experiencing.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (II Thessalonians 1:7)

As we have said, if we would understand Paul's epistle to Thessalonians we must view the future as the believers in Thessalonica did. These Gentile Christians had been taught that the Kingdom of God was at hand. If they would be saved in the Day of the Lord they must put their faith in Jesus and be baptized in water. Having done that they were to wait patiently until the Lord Jesus came and established His Kingdom on the earth, in the meantime serving the Lord and obeying the commandments given by the Apostles..

Try to adopt this frame of mind and it will aid your understanding of the Scriptures. It is the true vision of salvation and the Day of the Lord.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

We see from the above verse that the purpose of the following verses in I Thessalonians is to give the living Christians hope concerning their fellow believers who had died.

We would expect Paul to comfort the saints by telling them they had no reason to grieve because their deceased loved ones were in Heaven with the Lord Jesus and that some day they, the living Christians, would also go to Heaven to be with their friends. This is what we tell Christians today.

But what did Paul actually say?

The coming of the Lord and His saints.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

"Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." "Will God bring with him"!

Who are those who sleep in Jesus? We believe, based on what took place on the Mount of Transfiguration, that those who sleep in Jesus (who are physically dead but in the Presence of the Lord) include the true people of God from the time of the righteous Abel.

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. (Mark 9:1-4)

If this manifestation indeed was the "kingdom of God come with power," then the coming of the Kingdom will include the saints of all time, not just the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Elijah and Moses were present as well as the three Christians.

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

The Lord's elect of all time, not just of the Christian Era, will be summoned at the time of Christ's return to earth.

Consider the implications of the fact that when the Lord returns He will bring His elect with Him. The number of true saints (those who sleep in Jesus) from the time of Abel to the present must be very large (from our viewpoint, perhaps not from the Lord’s). What will it be like to have Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, the Apostle Paul, and a multitude of saints, known and unknown, come to the earth with the Lord Jesus?

This is the hope the Apostle Paul was offering to Thessalonian believers. "You are experiencing suffering now. But do not worry. Very soon the Lord Jesus will come and bring with Him a vast multitude of righteous people. Then your suffering will come to an end and the Lord will govern the nations of the earth."

Why will the Lord bring His saints with Him? One reason for the coming of the Lord with His saints will be to deliver the physical land and people of Israel from the forces of Antichrist.

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:2-5)

"And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."

A great number of the saints, the true witnesses of God, will have been in Heaven with the Lord for thousands of years. Why will they leave Heaven, which has been their home for such a long period of time, and now appear on the earth?

We understand—although the Lord may remain in the air above us for a brief season— that the sleeping saints will descend to the earth and raise their bodies from their place of rest. Then there will be standing on the earth a great group of saints. But it is more than a group. It is an army—the army of the Lord!

The army of the Lord.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

The coming of the army of the Lord is mentioned in several places in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament.

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (Isaiah 13:5,6)

It is true that the immediate application of the above verse may have been referring to the conquering of Babylon by Darius the Mede. However in this, and similar passages we will mention, it appears obvious that there will be a greater fulfillment in the Day of the Lord.

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)

Can we find the expression "the day of the Lord" in the context of the passage in First Thessalonians we are considering? Yes, we can.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (I Thessalonians 5:2)

There is only one Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord, which includes the coming of the Lord, is discussed in the Book of First Thessalonians as follows:

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (I Thessalonians 2:19)

To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (I Thessalonians 3:13)

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)

Paul's teaching concerning the coming of the Lord continues in the Book of Second Thessalonians.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (II Thessalonians 2:1)

The term "coming," as used in First and Second Thessalonians, is always the Greek word parousia , the same Greek word used in Chapter 24 of Matthew.

There is only one coming of the Lord, one appearing of Christ, one Day of the Lord. It was announced by the Prophets of Israel and was described as a time of fearful destruction. In several instances the coming of a great and powerful army is discussed in association with the Day of the Lord.

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

So terrible was the sight of the army of the Lord that Habakkuk feared greatly.

Compare:

Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Solomon 6:10)

Does the New Testament teach that God will destroy the wicked at the hand of His saints?

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)

The destructive force of the Day of the Lord will be unleashed at the appearing of Christ both with and in His saints.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:7-10)

The Lord shall be glorified "in his saints."

When the Lord appears with and in His saints He will remove the sinners from the midst of His people.

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Matthew 13:41)

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14,15)

A study of the context will reveal that the "all" upon whom the Divine judgment will be executed are those who assemble with the saints but who actually are wicked.

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (Jude 1:12)

The Lord will destroy Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the wicked nations that have invaded Jerusalem.

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:20,21)

The hope of the Thessalonian believers, their vision of the future, was that the Lord Jesus would appear in the power of His Kingdom with His saints and deliver them from suffering and at the same time establish His righteous Kingdom on the earth.

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; (II Thessalonians 1:6)

The welfare of the deceased saints. But what about the saints who had died before the Kingdom appeared from Heaven?

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

There is no problem! The Lord is going to bring them with Him. The true and scriptural hope of the Christian who has lost a loved one is that the Lord will bring that person with Him when He returns.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [go before or have any advantage over] them which are asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)

We who are living on the earth at the time of the Lord's return will not enter the Kingdom before those who are asleep, or have any advantage over them, even though they have died before the Kingdom was installed on the earth. Therefore we are not to be concerned about their welfare.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)

The shout is the shout for the battle.

It was a custom for many centuries for soldiers to shout as they went into battle.

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. (Joshua 6:5)

The voice is that of the archangel, Michael, the commander of the warrior angels.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (Revelation 12:7)

The trumpet announces the Battle of Armageddon.

The resurrection. "And the dead in Christ shall rise first."

This is the promised resurrection from the dead.

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)

The dead in Christ shall rise! This is the climax of redemption, the destruction of the last enemy, the resurrection from the dead. The vast multitude of saints of all ages will now be standing in invincible power on the surface of the earth.

They are invulnerable. They cannot be touched by tribulation, or Antichrist, or sickness, or death, or any other form of harm or corruption. They have overcome the enemy through the Virtue of Christ. They are the army of the Lord.

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. (Joel 2:6-8)

Can you imagine the terror of Antichrist, the False Prophet, and their followers when the army of the Lord appears on the earth clothed with indestructible, incorruptible resurrection life?

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:11)

"Great fear fell upon them which saw them"!

The catching up of the army.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

There is one event that Paul does not mention here, and that is the change in the living saints that will take place before they are caught up to be with the Lord. Perhaps Paul does not mention the change because he is emphasizing our reunion with our deceased loved ones. But Paul does emphasize the change in the "Resurrection Chapter" (Chapter 15) of First Corinthians although he does not mention the catching up of the army in this chapter.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52)

Those who sleep in Jesus will rise from the dead in incorruptible bodies. The saints who are alive at that time will pass from flesh-and-blood life into resurrection life without the benefit of having died first. No doubt this transition will require a great deal of faith if the believer is not to draw back in dismay.

How long a period of time will transpire between the time the dead are raised and the army is caught up into the air to be with the Commander in Chief we cannot say. There were a number of days between the Lord's resurrection and His ascension. We believe there also will be a number of days between the resurrection of the saints and their ascension to be with the Lord so that they may have time to appreciate what has happened and to have fellowship with one another.

There will be no need to hurry. Antichrist can hurt them no longer. Tribulation cannot touch them. They have been raised from the dead in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood. They are God's sons and kings and they will rule with Christ for the eternity of eternities.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

When the appropriate moment arrives, the great multitude of victors will be caught up to be forever with the Lord. No doubt the light radiating from them will be as the lightning that shines from horizon to horizon. Notice how Isaiah anticipates this moment.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Indeed the Bride of the Lamb will be adorned with the Glory of the Lamb, and the Lamb will be adorned with His Bride for whom He has waited so patiently at the right hand of the Father.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

We shall meet the Lord "in the air." Why in the air? Because the spiritual thrones that govern the earth are located in the air above the earth's surface.

Satan is the ruler of the authority of the air.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (Ephesians 2:2)

"The prince of the power of the air."

The thrones of the air will have been vacated because Michael and his angels have driven Satan and his angels from the heavens. This victory has been possible because the saints through Christ have finally overcome the accuser of the brothers.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10,11)

The thrones of the air will now be occupied by the Lord Jesus and his victorious saints.

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. (Daniel 7:9)

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21,22)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

This is why the resurrected saints are caught up to be with the Lord where the thrones of the air are located. The saints cannot be harmed by any power or authority on the earth and so their being caught up is not an escape from evil. Rather they are ascending the thrones that govern the creation so they, through the Lord Jesus Christ, may release the creation from evil.

For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

The material creation is waiting for the appearing of the sons of God because it is they, through the Lord Jesus, who will deliver the creation from the bondage of corruption.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

What a glorious hope we have! As spiritual darkness fills the world we look up because our redemption is coming from Heaven with Christ. The painful travail of the earth is the pain that accompanies birth—the birth of the Kingdom of God.

Best of all we shall be reunited not only with the Lord Jesus but also with our loved ones. We now can live on the earth with them in a body that can never know weariness, pain, heat, cold, weakness, sickness, or death. Can you think of anything more wonderful than that? What a comfort this is for those who are suffering in the present hour!

This is the good news of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Preparing the Soldiers of the Army of the Lord

One can observe that God's people of today are not ready to march as the army of the Lord. The Old Testament type of Israel confirms this. Sinai typifies Pentecost. It was after the giving of the Law on Sinai that Israel was organized into an army.

The Church today is at Pentecost. Now the trumpet of God is sounding and it is time to organize the saints into the army of the Lord.

The members of the army that will ride behind the Lord Jesus have been called, have then been chosen because of their dedication to the Lord, and now are being proved faithful.

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

We cannot overemphasize the fact that only those believers who have followed the Lord with a perfect heart, repenting of their sins when they fall and getting back up on their feet to press forward, are competent and eligible to ride with Jesus in the Day of the Lord. They alone are the soldiers of the army of the Lord.

Joel's vision of the army.

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. (Joel 2:1,2)

There shall be a great people and a strong. They shall come from one end of the heaven to the other when the trumpet of the Lord sounds. They have been trained on earth and in Heaven. They follow the Lamb with a perfect heart and always are with Him.

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

Whoever would desire to ride with the Lord in the Day of the Lord must give his or her attention wholly to the Lord. He is preparing His saints today. The Lord Jesus has come to us in the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Trumpets. The Lord has come to wage war against the spirit of Antichrist that is in us, our sinful lusts, and our self-will and rebellion against God.

Before any believer can ride with the Lord in the Day of God's wrath he himself must first be judged and cleansed of all worldliness, sin, and rebellion. Only those who are totally obedient to the Father are permitted in the Lord's army.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. (Joel 2:3)

We find the same thought in Second Thessalonians.

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:8)

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (II Thessalonians 2:8)

Satan shall be crushed under the feet of those in whom the Lord Jesus Christ is abiding.

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. (Joel 2:4)

The war horses have an important role to play in the Day of the Lord.

He [the war horse] paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. (Job 39:21-24)

Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. (Habakkuk 3:15)

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

The coming of the Lord from Heaven with His warriors will be a cavalry charge.

Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. (Joel 2:5)

"A strong people set in battle array" does not describe the churches of our day. But the events of world and Church history from today forward will bring into existence a warlike remnant who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. (Joel 2:6)

The wickedness of Satan-inspired people in our day is foul beyond belief and becoming ever more foul and corrupt. Mankind will not be turned from its wickedness in a moment. The coming of Christ, Head and Body, will be the beginning of the pain of the wicked.

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; (II Thessalonians 1:6)

The faces of evil people will "gather blackness" at the sight of the glorified saints. This is only the beginning of their sorrow. Some of the wicked will be destroyed at the coming of the Lord. The nations that remain, the saved nations, will be governed with a rod of iron, that is, with force that will smash all resistance.

The rule of the rod of iron will continue until Satan is released from the bottomless pit. Then Satan will summon the rebellion that is left in the personalities of those whom the saints have governed throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The Satan-inspired nations will rise in rebellion against the saints.

The rebellion that will come at the end of the Kingdom Age marks the termination of the race of Adam—the termination that was announced on the cross of Cavalry. The earth and the heaven will flee from the face of Christ. The dead shall rise from their place of burial and stand before the White Throne, the Judgment Seat of Christ.

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: (Joel 2:7)

The Lord's soldiers climb over obstacles by praying to Him constantly.

The Lord's soldiers march straight in their own paths. They are neither passive nor ambitious and inventive. They present their body as a living sacrifice and prove the perfect will of the Father for their life.

The Lord's soldiers do not break rank. They are faithful and true, like their Lord. Other members of the Body of Christ can count on the fact that each soldier will be there in his place, not giving place to the world, Satan, his own lusts, or his personal ambition or willfulness.

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. (Joel 2:8)

"Neither shall one thrust another." Satan understands very well the military strategy of dividing and conquering. One of the main problems in the Christian churches is that of division, special loyalties, envying, gossiping, slandering, personal ambition, supplanting, strife, and so forth.

All such special loyalties, divisions, strife, are evidences of the adamic nature, of spiritual immaturity. Such babies cannot be fed the strong meat of the Word of God. They are unfit for the conflict that is coming. Their hope of being resurrected and rising to meet the Lord at His coming is not founded on reality.

They will not appear with the Lord as members of the royal priesthood until they put away their adamic thinking, speaking, and doing.

"They shall walk every one in his path." Most of the history of the Christian Church for two thousand years has not been that of obedient servants of God performing their divinely appointed service but of the personal ambition of religious people. Millions of true believers have been murdered by the Catholic Church, for example, because of the fierce desire of the popes and bishops to govern God's people. The Protestant churches also have been filled with strife, supplanting, and the desire of men and women to be preeminent in the churches.

No individual who is determined to have his own way, to pursue his own soulish course, will ever be able to walk in the path that God has laid out for him. Religious people who are filled with their own ambitions and ways cannot enter the rest of God. Neither do they have any hope of appearing with Christ in that Day.

"When they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded." The Word of God always "slays" those who are being prepared to ride with the Lord in His Day. They are dying to the world, to the appetites and lusts of their adamic nature, and to their own ambitions. They, like the Apostle Paul, are dead-living people. They no longer can be injured by the two-edged sword of the Word of God.

They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. (Joel 2:9)

"They shall run to and fro in the city." It appears that by the time of the Day of the Lord the major cities of the earth will be connected by computerized communication systems. The cities, because of the instant communication, may be considered as one great city. Antichrist and his followers will be active in this tremendous banking, political, military, legal, religious, and educational center. It is here that the Christian witness will be removed—driven out by those who view themselves as being God. It is in the great city that the wrath of God will be expressed to the fullest extent.

And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:13)

The lie that Antichrist is, the lie that has filled the world for two thousand years, is that man is his own god and must never be allowed to suffer.

The issue today is that of suffering. Does God permit His children to suffer? The Christians who claim that a "loving God" will never permit His children to suffer will be sent (and have already been sent) a strong delusion. None of these are eligible to appear with the Lord Jesus in His Day.

The Christians who are willing to understand that throughout the Scriptures the people of the Lord have suffered, and accept the fact that suffering is an important factor in our redemption, will learn patience, become perfect in the Lord, and will rejoice in glory when the Lord Jesus returns.

The issue today is suffering. Those who refuse to take up their personal cross and follow the Master will be rejected. Those who take up their cross, denying themselves that they may follow the Lord through much tribulation into His Kingdom, will rule with the Lord. They will be glorified together with Him.

The true prophets of today are speaking of the Divine judgment that soon is to fall on America, England, and other ungodly nations that had sought the Lord in time past. Some of the believers are repenting and seeking the Lord. They fear God! Other believers are refusing to hear the so-called "gloom and doom" of the message of judgment to come. They do not fear God and will have no place in the army of the Lord.

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (Joel 2:10)

The shaking of the earth and the heavens, the darkening of the sun, the moon, and the stars, has never occurred in history to this extent and, after this fearful event takes place, shall never occur again.

The shaking of the created universe by the hand of God is the calling card of Christ. Whenever we see this event described in the Word of God it is referring to the Day of the Lord and the appearing of the army of the Lord.

Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. (Isaiah 13:9,10)

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:31)

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. (Habakkuk 3:11)

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)

The shaking of the earth and the heavens will take place immediately after the great tribulation. It is the herald of the appearing of Christ and His army. The generation alive on the earth when the heavenly signs take place will not pass away until the Lord returns.

There may be people who decide to wait until the signs take place before they prepare themselves to meet God. They are deceiving themselves. The events will take place so quickly and with such ferocity that while the careless believers go to purchase the oil of the Lord's Spirit the door will be closed and they will knock on it in vain!

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)

The only individual who can survive the Day of the Lord is he or she who has clean hands and a pure heart. God accepts the righteous. The wicked will be removed from His Presence in the Day of the Lord.

Making the saints worthy by suffering. We have said that a willingness to suffer in the Lord is an important aspect of competence and eligibility to ride with the Lord in His Day—competence because suffering destroys the sin and self-seeking from us; eligibility because the Scripture states that it is those who suffer who will rule with the Lord.

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (II Timothy 2:12)

Let us turn now to Second Thessalonians to see how suffering saves us and makes us worthy of the Kingdom of God. The same concept of salvation through suffering may be found also in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter.

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: (II Thessalonians 1:4)

The Christians in Thessalonica were being persecuted. They were suffering for the Gospel's sake. Most of us are aware of the intense persecution that Christians suffered at the hands of the Roman Empire during the first few centuries of the Christian Era.

Because the saints in Thessalonica responded to their suffering with patience and faith the Apostle Paul was able to boast of them to the other churches.

It may be noticed that Paul did not comfort them by telling them they would not be permitted to suffer. Paul was pointing toward their godly response to their suffering and promising them that Christ would come and destroy their enemies.

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)

The sufferings that come upon us are the judgment of God on our personality. It is through these sufferings that we are changed and made worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Our change and our worthiness depend on our response to the persecutions and tribulations. If we murmur, complain, grumble, blame people through whom we think our trouble is coming, as did Israel in the wilderness, we will not be found worthy of the Kingdom. We will not be changed in personality. We will not share in the Kingdom of Christ unless we continue through the wilderness patiently and joyously until the Lord returns.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

Peter states that we are saved with difficulty.

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:18)

In what way are the righteous saved with difficulty?

We are saved with difficulty in that our nature is so full of sin, God is obliged to send fiery sufferings upon us. When He does we do not always choose to abide patiently and cheerfully under the correction of God. We complain and rebel because of our pain and frustrations.

The Spirit of the Lord works patiently with us. The Lord chastens every son in this manner that he might be a partaker of God's holiness and walk in the peaceable ways of righteousness. The fire of suffering burns the sin and self-seeking out of his personality.

If we refuse and rebel we will find ourselves in a barren desert. If we continue to defy the Lord, not repenting and seeking His forgiveness and deliverance, we will never ride with Him in His Day.

We always, like the Apostle Paul, ought to pray that God will remove our suffering. Sometimes our problems are not coming from the Lord and we will be delivered if we pray.

On other occasions no matter how much we pray the difficulties do not disappear. But we do receive the grace to forgive others and to praise the Lord as we continue to walk carefully before Him.

The Lord will return, and when He does He shall bring vengeance upon our enemies. In that Day we will be revealed together with Him provided we have profited from the numerous tribulations through which we are entering the Kingdom of God.

The body and blood of Jesus.

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Matthew 24:28)

The key to membership in the army of the Lord is the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. When the slain Lamb appears in the heaven, those who live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood will be gathered together to be with Him forever.

Notice that the believers who will appear with Christ are those whose life He Is.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

"Christ who is our life." Until Christ becomes our very life we are neither able nor qualified to ride in the army of the Lord.

Jesus has invited us to drink His blood and eat His flesh.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Today the Lord is standing at the door of the heart of the Christian people. The Lord Jesus will enter each open door and dine with the believer on His body and His blood, for these elements are our eternal life.

If we learn to live by the Lord's life, then we will be invited to sit on the Father's throne with Jesus. That throne is in our own personality. The Christian personality is the throne of God and of the Lamb.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Each person who does the will of God, each victorious saint, is continually being refreshed with the hidden manna. The hidden manna is the body and blood of the Lord and it is given to us as we crucify our flesh with its appetites, passions, and lusts.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

As we deny our adamic life the Lord gives us His life in its place. Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The true saints are no longer yielding to their adamic nature but are crucified with Christ. They are living no longer. It is Christ who is living in them. The soldiers of Christ are those who are living by the Life of Christ.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. (John 6:53)

The race of Adam is spiritually dead. Our flesh and blood body is dead, cut off from God, because of sin. It cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God in its present state.

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Our inner, spiritual personality was dead—cut off from God because of the rebellion of Adam. But now in Christ our inner nature has been made alive by the Holy Spirit because of the righteousness of the blood of Calvary.

Each day we are given an opportunity to crucify our adamic nature.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections [passions] and lusts. (Galatians 5:24)

As we do, the eternal life of the body and blood of the Lord are fed to us.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:56)

Every member of the army of the Lord, of the Body of Christ, must learn to live by the body and blood of Christ as Christ lives by the Father.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)

Those who live by the body and blood of the Lord are members of the Bride of the Lamb. They eat the Lamb and in this manner are married to Him. The Lord will raise them up at His appearing.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)

Conclusion

Christ is coming. Christ is coming in and with a large, powerful army of righteous people. The whole earth will shake under the feet of the glorified saints of all ages.

In that day the meek will rejoice. The saved nations will come to Jerusalem to learn the righteous ways of the Lord.

The wicked will be terrified. They will fight to maintain control of earth's peoples but they shall be destroyed!

The Lord Jesus will proceed to the city of Jerusalem. There, on the Temple Mount, He will be crowned King of all kings and Lord of all lords. His mighty men will shout and rejoice until the entire city is lighted with the Presence of God.

From now on Jerusalem will be called the Throne of God. The knowledge of the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Christ has come at the head of His army. The nations of saved people will submit to the rule of the rod of iron. All that was lost in Eden will be restored through the work of the sons of God.

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)

The sons of God are those who live by the Life of Christ.

Christ will return to earth as He has promised. Then the army of the Lord will march and the most wonderful dreams of the righteous of all ages will be brought to pass. The earth will be a marvelous place in which to live for all who love and fear God.

. . . and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:5)

. . . them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

You and I can ride with the Lord Jesus in that Day provided we give ourselves wholly to the will of the Father in the present hour.