Editorial - The Terror of the LORD

There's an expression in the Bible – it recurs in the Old Testament prophets and in the New Testament Letters, as well as in the Book of Revelation – it's called the day of the Lord. It speaks of the day when the Lord will take charge of this world – its nations and peoples – to show Himself mighty in word and deed, and to punish evil with His judgements.

This awesome day is fast approaching. We can sense by the escalation of natural disasters and violence and suffering that many people are apprehensive and they are anxious about the future and can often be distraught day after day. Fear and despair and frustration can take hold of them till they feel they have nowhere to hide.

Associated with the day of the Lord we read of the terror of the Lord, and the word means also the dread, the fear of the Lord. The fear of man is one thing – the fear, the terror of the Lord quite another.

The prophet Isaiah tells of the day of the Lord when people will "enter into the rock and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty" ; they will "go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty" (2:10,19,21). We see the same scene in the Book of Revelation (6:15-17) and the prophet Hosea (10:8).

It is a scene of real fear and dread, and the results of the terror of the Lord are awesome in their severity. The prophet lists the reactions of people at that time, and the world conditions that will occur, and for all the Lord does a comprehensive work of dealing with all evil, yet the word declares six times: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still (in judgement) " (5:25; 9:12,17,21; 10:4; 14:27). He does a thorough work when He once begins.

We are assured however that with the terror of the Lord the glory of His majesty is also to be seen, and "in that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped" (4:2).

When the Messiah, the Branch of the Lord, is finally revealed, and His judgements are accomplished, then surely we will be able to see clearly and appreciate "the glory of his majesty" for "the earth shall be filled with the knowedge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).