In the Old Testament the term "at hand" refers to the first one-half of the prophetic Day of the Lord and Daniels Seventieth Weektwo of the titles given to the same seven year period wherein God will pour His wrath out upon those on the earth who persist in doing wickedly. (This 7-year period will be divided into two 3 ½-year periods: one following the rapture of the Church and the other at the end of the Kingdom AgeSee the book Clock of the Ages on our web site for the particulars.) The term Day of the Lord (Is. 13:6; Zeph. 1:1-18) has more of a Gentile slant while Daniel's 70th Week is determined upon Israel (Dan. chap. 9).
THE OLD TESTAMENT USE OF "AT HAND"
In the first three passages, at hand is used in passages that foreshadow* the 1st ½ of Daniels 70th Week following Israels dispersion; and they should be read in their context. (*Foreshadowing = person[s] or event[s] that represent or point forward to similar person[s] or event[s] sometime in the future).
To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
In the following passage the 1st ½ of Daniels 70th Week is prophesied for the nation (not the generation the prophet was addressing) because the nation would reject their Messiah and miss their blessings for the Grace Age. The kingdom of heaven in a mystery should have been theirs, but it was given to the Gentiles instead. As a result, the first half of the day of Gods wrath is at hand for this nation chosen by God through Isaac, the seed of promise. It should be noted, however, that they will go through this time under Gods special watch care (Revelation 7:3). I have included the whole passage and inserted some of the meanings of the prophetic terms to show how such passages of the Scriptures are "prophetically" read.
Joel 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their
children, and their children another generation.
4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten. [This is the state of Israel at the time.]
5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. [This is symbolic of Israel during the Visitation of their Messiah.]
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. [The lion symbolizes the Babylon nation under King Nebuchadnezzarthe nation that took them into captivity. Cf. the slaying of the lion and the bear by young David (a type of Christ)the bear represents Media-Persia. From Easton's Bible Dictionary: Bear - a native of the mountain regions of Western Asia, frequently mentioned in Scripture. David defended his flocks against the attacks of a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-37). Bears came out of the wood and destroyed the children who mocked the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2:24). Their habits are referred to in Isa. 59:11; Prov. 28:15; Lam. 3:10. The fury of the female bear when robbed of her young is spoken of (2 Sam. 17:8; Prov. 17:12; Hos. 13:8). In Daniel's vision of the four great monarchies, the Medo-Persian empire is represented by a bear (7:5) Under Media-Persias King Darius the Israelites were able to rebuild the city, but they were still under subjection to a Gentile rule.]
7 He hath laid my vine [the faithful of Israel cf. the True Vine of John 15:1-2] waste, and barked my fig tree [the nation of Israel under the Law of Moses (Mt. 24:32)]: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
Almost every noun in the remainder of this passage has a spiritual application and undoubtedly the Jew of the day understood their significance. Im elaborating upon only a few of them.
8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her
9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD's ministers, mourn.
10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. [The vine and the trees represent the nation Israel under every age from Promise through The Kingdom AgeIsrael under Promise and the Law failed because their hearts were far from God she will also fail at the end of the Kingdom Age as well! For more on the prophetic language of the Bible, see our on-line book, THE CLOCK OF THE AGES.]
13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. [At hand for the nation Israelnot the generation he was addressingand this because the nation would reject its Messiah and miss its blessings for the Age of Grace.]
16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
18 How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
19 O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
Chapter two of Joel is a continuation of the passage in the first chapter. Verses 1-3 speak of the 1st ½ of The Day of Wrath (the 1st 3 ½ years of Daniels Seventh Week). Then, as the Scriptures often do, Joel jumps to the last ½ of Gods Day of Wrath.
Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion [the Rapture], and
sound an alarm in my holy mountain [flee to the mountainscf. Mt. 24:16]:
let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is
nigh at hand;
2 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 [to the Kingdom Age wherein longevity will be restored].
3 A fire devoureth before them [before the people God will be using as an instrument of judgment]; and behind them a flame burneth [where they have been]: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. [This pinpoints the time of the 1st ½ of Daniels Seventieth Week/Gods Day of Wrathit shall be before the thousand years of peace (the Kingdom Age) and after Israel has been turned into a desolate wilderness.]
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5 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.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 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:
8 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.
9 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.
10 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:
11 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?
[Although were told that there will never again be anything like the 1st ½ of Daniels Seventieth Week at the end of our age, this time at the end of the Kingdom Age doesnt sound like a picnic!]
In Zephaniah 1:1-18, "at hand" again designates the 1st ½ of The Day of Wrath (the 1st 3 ½ years of Daniels Seventh Week).
1 The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.
3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.
4 I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims [idol worshippers] with the priests;
5 And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham [an idol];
6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.
7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice [the cross], he hath bid his guests [Matthew 22:1-14].
8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD's sacrifice [the time of Israels Visitation by their Messiah], that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel [the self-righteousness of religion].
9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh [a place in or near Jerusalem inhabited by silver merchants], for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
13 Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.
14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
NOTE: All of the O.T. mentionings of the prophetic term "at hand" are for the nation Israel and they point forward to the 1st ½ of the Day of the Lords Wrath/the 1st ½ of Daniels Seventieth Week.
THE NEW TESTAMENT USE OF "AT HAND"IN THE GOSPELS: For The Believers
The Kingdom of Heaven*
Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 10:7; Matthew 26:18;
The Kingdom of God*Mark 1:15; Luke 21:31
*The Kingdom of heaven is mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel targeted for the Hebrews, and it contains the parables of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13). The kingdom of heaven differs from the Kingdom of God in that the Kingdom of Heaven contains the Hebrews as well as the organizational church of the Grace Age which includes those born again into the Kingdom of God (the possessors) and the trash fish in the net (the mere professorsMatthew 13:47). The Kingdom of God contains only the born-again believers (John 3:3) who hear the voice of the Lord and love to follow Him (John 10:27). It is mentioned both in Mark, the Gospel with the church in mind, and in Luke, the Gospel that emphasizes the field (the world), and the seed that is to be spread in the world by the Church (Luke 8:10). Both kingdoms are cloaked in mystery (Mark 4:11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 5:32; Colossians 1:26), and they are at hand at the time of Christ, the prophecies about them being fulfilled at Pentecost with the birth of the Grace-Age Church (see Acts 2).
IN THE GOSPELS: For Jesus the Christ
In Matthew 26:18; Matthew 26:18; John 2:13; John 11:55; and John 19:42 "at hand" is used by Jesus when speaking of the things having to do with the fulfilling of his mission on the earth.IN THE EPISTLES/BOOK OF REVELATION: To the Church
For the workers in the Church, the day for harvesting was (is) "at hand" (Romans 13:12).
For the called-out Church universal, the day of Christ (the events that will take place after the Rapture) is "at hand" (Philippians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:10).IN THE EPISTLES/BOOK OF REVELATION: To the World
For all unbelieving/ungodly men, the day of the Lord (the day of Gods wrath/judgment) is "at hand" (1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 22:10).