“The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” “It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Isa. 63:4; 34:8.
THUS the Prophet Isaiah refers to that period which Daniel (12:1) describes as “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation”; of which Malachi (4:1) says, “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble”; wherein the Apostle James (5:1-6) says the rich men shall weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon them; the day which Joel (2:2) describes as a day of clouds and thick darkness; which Amos (5:20) says is “darkness and not light, even very dark and no brightness in it”; and to which the Lord refers (Matt. 24:21,22) as a time of “great tribulation,” so ruinous in its character that, if it were not cut short, no flesh would survive its ravages.
That the dark and gloomy day thus described by the prophets is a day of judgment upon mankind socially and nationally—a day of national recompenses—is clear from many scriptures. But while noting these, let the reader bear in mind the difference between national judgment and individual judgment. While the nation is composed of individuals, and individuals are largely responsible for the courses of nations, and must and do suffer greatly in the calamities which befall them, nevertheless, the judgment of the world as individuals will be distinct from its judgment as nations.
The day of individual judgment for the world will be the Millennial age. Then, under the favorable conditions of the New Covenant, and granted a clear knowledge of the truth, and every possible assistance and incentive to righteousness, all men individually, and not collectively as nations and other social organizations, will be on trial, or judgment, for eternal life. The judgment of nations, now instituted, is a judgment of men in their collective (religious and civil) capacities. The civil institutions of the world have had a long lease of power; and now, as the “Times of the Gentiles” shall come to a close, they must render up their accounts. And the Lord’s judgment, expressed beforehand by the prophets, is that not one of them will be found worthy of a renewal of that lease or a continuance of life. The decree is that the dominion shall be taken from them, and that he whose right it is shall take the Kingdom, and the nations shall be given to him for an inheritance. Ezek. 21:27; Dan. 7:27; Psa. 2:8; Rev. 2:26,27 Hear the word of the Lord to the nations assembled before Him for judgment: “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people; let the earth hear, and all that is therein: the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies.” “The Lord is…an everlasting King: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation.” “A noise shall come, even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations….Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind [intense and complicated trouble and commotion] shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth.” “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth [the present social order] shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy; and then [afterward] will I turn unto the people a pure language; that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.” Isa. 34:1,2; Jer. 10:10; 25:31-33; Zeph. 3:8,9; Luke 21:25