Prophetic Days and Nights in World History

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

It is conspicuous that a clear pattern of consecutive days and nights emerges when the entire human history is considered from a spiritual point of view. These alternating periods of light and darkness are associated with times of spiritual restoration and walking with God, followed by times of backsliding and apostatising. On a smaller scale, all nations and individuals move through similar periods as all of them continuously have to make choices between the light of God’s presence and the darkness of sin and unrighteousness. Depending on how these choices are made, certain consequences inevitably follow. Let us now, in a broad perspective, consider the existence of such days and nights in human history.

The day of creation. God made man good. Perfect happiness reigned in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve walked in the light of God’s presence. But they had a free will, and for that reason the possibility always existed that they might sin by despising God’s authority and breaking His laws.

The night of the Fall. Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan to be disobedient to God. In this way, they became sinners with an evil nature that is inclined away from God and His righteousness. Satan’s success ensured that he would have much influence over Adam, Eve and their descendants. He became the god of a depraved, God-rejecting humanity (Rom. 5:12; 2 Cor. 4:4). Because of the Fall, the first people were expelled from the Garden of Eden to lead hard and difficult lives outside its boundaries. The earth was also affected by the Fall. Since then it produced thorns and thistles, it is inflicted by plagues and pests and is detrimentally affected by unstable weather conditions and various natural disasters.

The day of new possibilities. God did not abandon the spiritually fallen people by surrendering them as slaves of sin to their own fate. He gave them a conscience which would allow them to discern between good and evil. They also had the possibility of sacrificing to God and communicating with Him through prayers, thereby walking the way of righteousness. The Lord said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Gen. 4:7). People, therefore, were able to take decisions to choose the good and resist evil. The contrary was also possible: they could harden their hearts against God, choose the way of sin, stray from God and become spiritually more depraved.

The night of the Flood. People’s disposition to sin got the upper hand and developed to such extremes that the entire population of the earth, with the exception only of Noah and his family, apostatised completely and became morally and spiritually utterly depraved. People became so wicked that God decided to destroy the entire human race (Gen. 6:5-13). Because of their own actions, these rebels against God entered a night of apostasy and judgement.

The day of Israel’s calling. After the Flood a new generation of people descended from Noah, his wife, his three sons and three daughters-in-law. According to Genesis 9:1-17, God concluded a covenant with Noah and his sons and blessed them. During the course of time, apostasy became so widely prevalent that God called Abram from among the heathen nations to establish His own people that would live separated from the heathens around them. God would reveal Himself to Israel to enable them to let the light of His kingdom shine in a dark world. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the founding fathers of this nation, from which the Saviour of the world was born in the fullness of time.

The night of Israel’s Egyptian bondage. Widespread apostasy also occurred among the people of God, and that gave rise to the long night of their four hundred-year long bondage under the yoke of the pagan Egyptians. Here, Israel learned to worship idols and as time passed they were more and more oppressed, intimidated and humiliated by the Egyptians.

The day of Israel’s exodus and their establishment in the Promised Land. Israel again entered into the light of God’s presence after slaughtering the Passover lamb, sprinkling its blood on their doorposts, and moving out of the land of their bondage. Under the leadership of Moses, and also by way of the Ten Commandments and other laws, they were instructed how to live as God’s chosen people. In the process they were prepared to take possession of the Promised Land. Although not all of them served the Lord with their whole heart, Israel rose to great spiritual heights under leaders such as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Asa and Josiah.

The night of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity. Later on, virtually the whole of Israel was drawn into apostasy. As a result of persistent rebellion against God, a large part of the northern kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes) were exiled to Assyria in the 8th century BC, while the Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom of Judah (the two tribes) occurred in the 6th century BC. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and Israel lived as exiles among their enemies.

The day of Israel’s restoration from exile. a Time of spiritual restoration dawned for the people of God who were in captivity. They returned to their land and rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple. The Passover was celebrated in Jerusalem and the people dedicated themselves anew to the Lord. But the light of this new day of spiritual restoration also declined and ended in darkness.

The night of Israel’s estrangement from God. As time went by Israel apostatised so severely that they eventually became completely estranged from God. Malachi was the last prophet that God had sent to His people in Old Testament times. When Israel also refused to heed his warnings and messages the voice of God became silent among His wayward people. During the ensuing 400 years there was not a single true prophet who proclaimed God’s word to Israel.

The day of the Messiah’s coming. With the coming of Messiah the Light of the Lord arose and again shone brightly upon Israel: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isa. 9:2). Luke described the Messiah as “the dayspring from on high... to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). He proclaimed the kingdom of God to Israel and then laid down His life on the cross as an atonement for the sins of the whole world. Before His ascension He commanded His disciples to proclaim the message of His saving grace – not only in Israel but to the end of the earth. The disciples were commissioned to let the light of Christ shine all over the world.

The night of Israel’s international dispersion. Because of their legalistic form of godliness and the hardness of their hearts, Israel as a nation rejected their Messiah and thereby opted for the way of spiritual darkness and suffering. This night in their national history started at the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah in 32 AD. The major consequences of their tragic decisions were the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the subsequent international dispersion of Israel. This situation lasted until the 20th century when Israel was restored to their land in 1948 as a prelude to their spiritual restoration when the Messiah comes again. Referring to the long time of the Diaspora, the Lord Jesus said to them: “[You] will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). He also referred to His second coming and future reconciliation to Israel when He said: “You shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39; cf. Ps. 118:26).

The day of Israel’s end-time restoration. In spite of Israel’s long international diaspora God has, according to Leviticus 26:44-45, never broken His covenant with them as a people. Ezekiel says: “Thus says the Lord God: Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land” (Ezek. 37:21). This process started with Israel’s independence in May 1948; it reached a significant further stage when the old city of Jerusalem was recaptured in 1967, and also in 1980 when the entire city was declared to be Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital. The purpose with Israel’s physical and political restoration is that they will also be spiritually revived as God’s special people in their own land. However, Jesus’ position as Messiah is still rejected by the restored Israel, and that accounts for the fact that the full light of God’s presence has not yet dawned upon them. To the contrary – the brightness of their independence in 1948, as well as the famous victories that they achieved in the subsequent wars against their hostile Arab neighbours, is rapidly growing dim in the face of increased hatred of the Jews and the ominous gathering of dark war clouds over the Middle East.

The night of Jacob’s trouble. The spiritually hardened Israel will, back in their land, go through a very dark time of wars and tribulation so that a remnant in Israel may be saved. Jeremiah says, “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:7). God revealed more detail on this time through Ezekiel: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you in the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it, so will I gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you... then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you” (Ezek. 22:19-22). Through Zechariah He said: “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, This My people; and each one will say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:8-9).

The day of the spiritually restored Israel during the Messiah’s reign. The Lord says, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first-born. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:10-11). Because of their true grief the Lord Jesus will forgive all Israel’s sins – that is the whole remnant who will have survived the tribulation period. It will truly be a Day of Atonement to Israel as the whole nation will be spiritually revived on one day. After this, the reign of the Messiah will be instituted with Jerusalem as the capital of the world (Micah 4:2-3).

These are the changing fortunes of Israel throughout the centuries, as well as their future experiences. We now have to revert to the first coming of Christ, as the followers of the Lord Jesus among the Gentile nations were spiritually on quite a different road to that of Israel.

The day of the early Christian church. John describes the Lord Jesus as: “The true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world” (John 1:9). After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the Christian church expanded rapidly throughout the known world of that time. The Lord was served and large numbers of people were saved. They held the torch of faith aloft in a hostile world and thus became the light of the world. Although most of the people loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), the darkness did not comprehend the light (John 1:5).

The night of the dark Middle Ages. After a few centuries, spiritual backsliding due to religious deception and compromise with the pagan world gradually invaded and eventually crippled the church. What Paul warned the Ephesians against, later on became a general problem in most churches: “For I know this that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29-30). As false doctrines got the upper hand in churches, true disciples of Jesus Christ were increasingly persecuted, driven away and even killed because of alleged blasphemy. The result of this subversive movement was the dark Middle Ages that lasted from about the 6th to the 17th century. This period of widespread deception and persecution is often referred to as Satan’s millennium

The day of the great awakening. With the reformation of the church early in die the 16th century the spiritual power of darkness was not really broken in nominal Christian communities. It was only after the revival services in die 18th century that a new day dawned upon the Christian church. Various missionary organisations were formed and they were instrumental in bringing the gospel of salvation to millions of people in the pagan word. The revival continued for about two centuries until early in the 20th century, when nominal Christianity based upon a dead form of godliness became the dominant feature of the church.

The night of spiritual decline during the last days. During the second half of the 20th century, more or less since the establishment of the World Council of Churches in 1948, a period of wide-ranging spiritual decline followed in the Christian world. The effect of doctrinal compromise for the sake of ecumenical unity, kingdom theology and various heretical teachings, became common phenomena. False prophets started dominating churches and religious affairs in general, making life very difficult for small, evangelical churches to survive in the prevailing climate of compromise, false teachings and low standards. The world reacted to the weakened doctrinal position of the church by banning Christianity and the Bible from public life – including schools and the constitutions of countries. These developments played a major role to thicken the darkness and also intensified the struggle of evangelical Christians who have to contend with the works of darkness. This is a time of rebellion against God in which fallen mankind use science and modern technology to exalt themselves to a position of supremacy in which they create their own world of peace and social justice. Even theology is put to the service of this new transformation movement to help establish a humanistic kingdom of peace, unity and prosperity on earth. In the process, the Bible is applied in a highly biased way to create the impression that the kingdom of God has descended upon the earth and is about to be revealed here in all its glory. Spiritual leaders of the new movement turn a blind eye towards the increasing spiritual darkness that enfolds the deceived masses, and they also refuse to proclaim God’s judgements upon the wicked. Impending judgements is bad news to the supporters of the man-made new world order. They prefer to say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” therefore they don’t heed the warning of the Lord Jesus when He says to them, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16-17). In a time of increasing deception and spiritual darkness in a world that is heading for God’s judgements, the Lord will secretly come and take away His true disciples who are not destined for judgement.

The day of the true church’s glorification. The struggle will be over for the born-again children of the Lord when the heavenly Bridegroom suddenly snatches them away to their home in heaven. From then on they will experience everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord.

The night of the tribulation period. Spiritually, it will become utterly dark on earth when those who have been shining as lights in the world, have been taken away by the Lord. Then, the Antichrist as the man of sin and the son of perdition will be revealed. The unsaved nations and their apostatised churches, as well as the unsaved people in Israel, will go through the tribulation period. During the first half of the year-week the Antichrist, who will be accepted and worshipped as God’s special representative on earth by all religions (Rev. 13:3-4), will establish a new world order of international unity and harmony. Like the deceived Israelites after their exodus from Egypt, deceived humanity of the end-time will, after the departure of true believers, become idolaters who worship their own god. That will invoke God’s wrath upon them. These people will not only suffer because of the Antichrist’s tyranny but will also be judged by God because of their sins and rebellion. The Old Testament refers to this dark period in world history where it says: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? ... Is not the day of the Lord darkness and no light? Is it not very dark with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18,20). “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:15). That will be the end of the antichristian kingdom which the deceived people of the end-time are already busy building. There is no future for any person outside the Lord.

The day of Christ’s reign of peace. During the millennium under the rule of Christ, there will be no trace of spiritual ignorance or darkness: “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). Satan and his demons will not be there to deceive people into sinning as he will be bound in a bottomless pit. John says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Rev. 20:1-3). The Lord Jesus will rule from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem: “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; they shall walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart” (Jer. 3:17). During this time of blessing the glorified church that will be revealed to the world with Jesus Christ at His second coming (Col. 3:4), will rule over the world (Rev. 2:25-27; 5:9-10). Only then, the kingdom of God will have been revealed.

The night of the last big rebellion, and the final judgement. The day of Christ’s millennial reign will end in a night of Satan’s last big rebellion against the kingdom of God after he has been released from the pit: “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:7-10). After that, the final judgement will take place, when the wicked people of all ages will be condemned to the eternal lake of fire: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

The day of eternity. After the final judgement when the present heavens and earth will be dissolved by fire the Lord will create a new heaven and earth in which righteousness will live. “There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:4-5). The New Jerusalem will descend upon the new earth and be enveloped in eternal light: “And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light” (Rev. 21:23-24).

To those who are on the narrow way, an everlasting day will dawn in the presence of the Lord Jesus. The majority who are still on the broad way, will enter an eternal night in a place of torment where they will be bound in chains of darkness. Do you walk in the light of God’s presence? Time is running out to come out of the darkness of sin and spiritual ruin into the marvellous light of a new life in Christ (1 Pet. 2:9).

Examine yourself whether you are in the faith, as there are many false foundations upon which people’s lives are built. Make sure that you have not been deceived by the kingdom-now theology with all its false expectations, or by any other false prophet (Matt. 24:4).