The Day of the Lord

NKJ Revelation 6:17 “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Definition of “the Day of the Lord” – “One of the major lines of prophecy running through the Old Testament and continuing through the New Testament is the prophetic truth related to the Day of the Lord (the same as “the great day of His wrath” in v. 17 – TAR). The scope of the Day of the Lord has been a matter of debate among interpreters of the Scriptures. Some refer the Day of the Lord to the years of the Tribulation period only. Others relate this to the Second Coming Christ to the earth and the judgments immediately connected to that event. There are, however, two major interpretations of this question. One is the view of Scofield who says, ‘The Day of Jehovah (called also “that Day,” and “The Great Day”) is that lengthened period of time beginning with the return of the Lord in glory, and ending with the purgation of the heavens and the earth by fire preparatory to the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).’ The other view is that expressed by Ironside, who says, ‘When at last the day of grace is ended, the Day of the Lord will succeed it. The Day of the Lord follows the Rapture (“The Day of the Lord has no reference to the church” {McGee}). It will be the time when the judgments of God are poured out upon the earth. It includes the descent of the Lord with all His saints to execute judgment on His foes and to take possession of the kingdom, and to reign in righteousness for a thousand glorious years.’ This second view coincides with the previous one as to the terminus, but begins the Day of the Lord with the Tribulation period so that the events of the Tribulation, the Second Advent, and the Millennium are all included within the scope of the Day of the Lord” {Pentecost}.

A Unique Period of Time – “One of the central themes in Scripture is the coming of the final day of God’s wrath known as ‘the Day of the Lord.’ While it is true that ‘God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7:11), the Day of the Lord is an expression used to describe periods when God specifically intervenes in human history for judgment. The phrase ‘Day of the Lord’ appears 19 times in the O.T. and 4 times in the N.T. It is a unique time when God’s power and holiness are unveiled, bringing terror and death to His enemies. The prophets describe the Day of the Lord as ‘destruction from the Almighty (Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15), a time of ‘fury and burning anger (Isaiah 13:9), a ‘time of doom (Ezek 30:3), ‘great and very awesome (Joel 2:11), and “darkness and not light’ (Amos 5:18; cf. v. 20). The phrase ‘the Day of the Lord’ is not limited to future, final wrath, but sometimes refers to imminent historical judgments, which occurred during O.T. history (e.g., Isaiah 13:6-22; Ezek 30:2-19; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18-20; Obad 11-14; Zeph 1:14-18). These historical Day of the Lord judgments were usually preceded by some preliminary judgments of lesser severity. They acted as warnings by providing sample previews of the far more devastating judgments to come when the Day actually arrived (cf. Joel 1:4-12; 2:1-7; the ultimate eschatological Day of the Lord is not until 2:28-32)” {MacArthur}…

NAS Joel 2:28-32 “And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

2:28–29. The Lord announced that His “day” (v. 31) would be accompanied by an outpouring of His Spirit on all people (lit., “all flesh”). The following context indicates that “all people” refers more specifically to all inhabitants of Judah (cf. the threefold use of your in v. 28, as well as the parallel passages in Ezek. 39:29; Zech. 12:10). This will be true regardless of age, gender, or social class (Joel 2:29 is better trans. “and even on the male and female servants”; cf. NASB). At that time recipients of the divine Spirit will exercise prophetic gifts (will prophesy … will dream dreams, and will see visions) which in the past had been limited to a select few (cf. 1 Sam. 10:10–11; 19:20–24). This is probably an allusion to Numbers 11:29, where Moses, responding to Joshua’s misguided zeal after an outpouring of the divine Spirit on the 72 elders (cf. Num. 11:24–28), declared, “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!” This extensive outpouring of the Spirit will signal the advent of divine blessing (contrast 1 Sam. 3:1, where the absence of prophetic visions characterized a period of sin and judgment).

2:30–31. The great and dreadful day of the LORD will be preceded by ominous signs (wonders) of impending judgment (cf. v. 10; see also Ezek. 32:6–8 for literary parallels). Blood and fire and billows of smoke suggest the effects of warfare. The turning of the moon to blood refers in a poetic way to its being darkened (cf. the parallel line, The sun will be turned to darkness, and Joel 2:10; 3:15). Though such phenomena will signal doom for God’s enemies, His people should interpret them as the precursors of their deliverance (cf. Matt. 24:29–31; Mark 13:24–27; Luke 21:25–28).

2:32. At this time of universal judgment, everyone who calls on (i.e., invokes) the name of the LORD will be saved (i.e., delivered from physical danger; cf. comments on Rom. 11:26). “Everyone” does not refer to all people, but the Spirit-empowered people of God mentioned in Joel 2:28–29. In Romans 10:13 Paul related this passage to Gentile (as well as Jewish) salvation, but he was suggesting a mere analogy, not a strict fulfillment of Joel 2:32, which pertains to Israel. In the day of the Lord Jerusalem will be a place of refuge for the survivors whom the LORD calls. This remnant with whom the Lord initiates a special relationship (for the sense of “call” here, see Isa. 51:2) should probably be equated with the group described in Joel 2:28–29, 32a (cf. Wolff, Joel and Amos, pp. 68–9), though some (e.g., Driver, The Books of Joel and Amos, pp. 68–9) see this as referring to returning exiles. On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28–32 in conjunction with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:17–21). His introductory words (cf. Acts 2:16, “this is what was spoken by the Prophet Joel”) may seem to indicate that he considered Joel’s prophecy as being completely fulfilled on that occasion. However, it is apparent that the events of that day, though extraordinary, did not fully correspond to those predicted by Joel. In attempting to solve this problem one must recognize that in the early chapters of Acts the kingdom was being offered to Israel once more. Peter admonished the people to repent so that they might receive the promised Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38–39 where he alludes to Joel 2:32). Shortly thereafter Peter anticipated “times of refreshing” and the return of Christ in response to national repentance (cf. Acts 10:19–21). Not until later did Peter come to understand more fully God’s program for the Gentiles in the present age (cf. Acts 10:44–48). When he observed the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost he rightly viewed it as the first stage in the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Apparently he believed that the kingdom was then being offered to Israel and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit signaled the coming of the Millennium. However, the complete fulfillment of the prophecy (with respect to both the extent of the Spirit’s work and the other details) was delayed because of Jewish unbelief {Bible Knowledge Commentary}

“Day” Can Mean Something Other Than a Period of Time” – “The word ‘day’ as used in Scripture is not necessarily a time word, but may be used for the events which fall within any period. Paul so uses it in 2 Corinthians 6:2 when he speaks of the ‘day of salvation” {Pentecost}…

ESV 2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

“The Day of the Lord” Is Not All Bad –  It is important to understand that the Day of the Lord is not entirely negative. Constable’s description of the Day of the Lord includes this positive dimension: “The Day of the Lord is the period of history mentioned repeatedly in the O.T. during which God will bring judgment and blessing on the people of the earth in a more direct, dramatic, and drastic way than ever before. From other N.T. revelation concerning this period of time it is believed that this will begin after the Rapture of the church, and will include the Tribulation and the Millennium.” Walvoord agrees: “The future period of God’s intervention in the world will begin at the Rapture and will include the period of trouble preceding the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of the Millennial kingdom. The entire period before and after the Second Coming of Christ will constitute a special divine intervention and rule of righteousness on the earth in the way that is not being experienced in the present age. The erroneous teaching that the Day of the Lord does not begin until the Second Coming is refuted by the fact that it includes the Great Tribulation.”

2 Thessalonians 2 Is an Important Parallel Passage – In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul dealt with the Day of the Lord in a way that sheds light on its beginning and the term’s entire meaning. “False teachers had come to Thessalonica and told the believers there that they were already in the Day of the Lord, contradicting Paul’s teaching. Accordingly, Paul attempted to correct this difficulty by pointing out that the major events of the Day of the Lord had not occurred and that there was no evidence that the day had already begun. Distinction must be made between the concept of the Day of the Lord beginning at a specific moment and the major events of the Day of the Lord’s coming which will occur sometime after it has begun. The parallel is the ordinary twenty-four hour period. The day actually begins at midnight, but no activity marks the day until one is raised from sleep to greet the morning.  Then as the events of the day unfold, it is evident that a new day has come. The time-period, accordingly, begins before the major events of the period come. The same is true of the Day of the Lord. The time-period begins at the Rapture of the church, but the major events do not come immediately. There will be unmistakable signs that the Day of Lord is in progress” {Walvoord}.

NAS 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

Verses 16-17 say it all…

– Professor Thomas A. Rohm