Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chapter 1

Chapter 1
The Essence of The Day of the Lord


The sun is suddenly darkened, the moon glows the color of blood, the ground shakes violently, the sky splits and rolls away like a scroll, and the stars fall. Grown men run frantically to and fro, screaming like babies, trying to find somewhere to hide, while others just faint from terror.

It is at this time that all the people of the world will have an epiphany. The epiphany will occur at the yet future event known as the Day of the Lord, which is mentioned many times in scripture. It is even the subject matter of the entire book of Joel. Many parts of scripture have whole chapters and paragraphs devoted to the topic. Understanding the Day of the Lord is foundational to a proper understanding of all biblical end-times prophecy. In this chapter, we will examine the essence, reason for, and duration of this Day.

First, we need to come to an understanding of the essential nature of what this future event entails. Renald Showers describes its essence beautifully.

The Day of the Lord refers to God’s special interventions into the course of world events to judge His enemies, accomplish His purpose for history, and thereby demonstrate who He is—the sovereign God of the universe.[1]

This time of God’s special intervention known primarily as The Day of the Lord has been referred to by other terms in scripture, such as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7); His Strange Work/Act (Isa. 28:21); the Day of Israel’s Calamity (Deut. 32:35); the Indignation (Isa. 26:20; Dan. 11:36); the Overflowing Scourge (Isa. 28:15, 18); the Day of Vengeance (Isa. 34:8; 35:4; 61:2); the Day of Wrath/Distress/Wasteness/Desolation (Zeph. 1:15); the Day of Darkness/Thick Darkness/Gloominess (Zeph. 1:15, Joel 2:2); the Day of Trumpet and Alarm (Zeph. 1:16); the hour of trial (Rev. 3:10); the Wrath to Come (1 Thess. 1:10); the Wrath (1 Thess. 5:9), and the Hour of His Judgment (Rev. 14:7). In some instances, the Day of the Lord, due to its unique nature and importance, has been referred to as simply “that day” (Isa. 2:11, 17; 2:20; 4:2; Joel 3:18; Mark 13:32; Luke 21:34; 2 Tim. 1:12, 18; 4:8).

In relation to the events of the last seven years on earth, the yet future Day of the Lord can be characterized as a time of wrath and vengeance poured out upon mankind for their wickedness. As it says in Isaiah 2:10–22:

Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low…and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth…To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

The pouring out of God’s wrath during the end times is only part of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will also include the pouring out of His blessings during the millennium.

The future Day of the Lord will have at least a twofold nature. First, it will be characterized by darkness and a tremendous outpouring of divine wrath upon the world (Joel 2:1–2; Amos 5:18–20; Zeph. 1:14–15; 1 Th. 5:1–11). Amos 5:18–20 emphasizes that this will be the total nature of the Day of the Lord for God’s enemies. It will bring no divine light or blessing to them. This will be the nature of the Day of the Lord during the 70th week of Daniel. Second, the Day of the Lord will also be characterized by light, an outpouring of divine blessing, and the administration of God’s rule. The Prophet Joel, after talking about the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars and God’s Day of the Lord judgment of the armies of the nations gathered in Israel (Joel 3:9-16), foretold great divine blessing “in that day” (Joel 3:17–21).[2]

So even though the portion of the Day of the Lord that occurs before the millennium will consist of the wrath of God being poured out on a sinful world, after that aspect of the Day of the Lord is finished, then blessings will be poured out during the Millennium.

There have also been past fulfillments of the Day of the Lord:

The Bible indicates that there have been several Days of the Lord in the past in which God demonstrated His sovereign rule by raising up several nations to execute His judgement on other nations. He raised up Assyria to judge the northern kingdom of Israel during the 700s B.C. (Amos 5:18, 20), Babylon to judge the southern kingdom of Judah during the 600s and 500s B.C. (Lam. 1:12; 2:1, 21–22; Eze. 7:19; 13:5; Zep. 2:2–3), Babylon to judge Egypt and its allies during the 500s B.C. (Jer. 46:10; Eze. 30:3), and Medo-Persia to judge Babylon during the 500s B.C. (Isa. 13:6, 9).[3]

Many passages concerning the Day of the Lord speak not only of some of these past fulfillments but also a future fulfillment of a yet to come great Day of the Lord. These double reference passages[4] can be difficult to interpret. However, upon reading them, it is clearly evident that their remains a yet future great Day of the Lord. For example in Amos 5:18 it says “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” This passage in Amos, as referenced above, refers to the judgment brought upon the Northern tribes during the 700’s B.C. but yet it is clear to see that the passage also makes reference to the yet future Day of the Lord in which there will be darkness over the whole earth as described in Acts 2:20.

Scripture also makes it clear that there is only one Day of the Lord that is yet to come. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land” (Hag. 2:6). “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven” (Heb. 12:26). The passage from Hebrews tells us, in reference to the Mount Sinai occurrence, that it was the voice of the Lord that shook the earth and that the shaking of the earth from the Lord’s voice will happen only once more. The Isaiah 2 passage above tells us that this will occur during the Day of the Lord, “when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” This yet future one remaining great Day of the Lord—when God will shake the heavens and the earth—is the time in which God’s wrath will be poured out upon men and they will be so afraid, as we read in the Isaiah passage, that they will try to hide themselves in the clefts of the rocks because of their fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty. At that time, all men will be humbled and God will be exalted. Isaiah again describes it as a day of destruction, fierce anger, and wrath; and again echoes that men will be terrified during this time. They will experience extreme anguish like they have never experienced before:

Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isa. 13:6–13)

This last passage not only reiterates the fact that the Day of the Lord is a time when God’s wrath is poured out upon the world, but it also tells us the reason for it. Namely, it is a punishment for the sins and wickedness of the world. As it says in verse 11, “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity.” Thus scripture tells us that the purpose for the Day of the Lord is to punish the world for its sin.

Isaiah 34:8–10 also brings this out, describing the Day of the Lord as a day of vengeance.

For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

God is the one responsible for pouring out judgment upon mankind for their sins at this time. It is the righteous punishment for sinning against a holy God. God has a limit to the sin that He allows. Once a society or a people group reaches a certain level of sin, they are in danger of His wrath being poured out on them. This was the case in the days of Noah when the world was hit with a devastating worldwide flood. This was the case with Sodom and Gomorrah when they were obliterated with fire and brimstone. This was the case with the Egyptians who received God’s wrath through the hand of Moses. This will also be the case with our world when the Day of the Lord arrives. It will be the day when wicked unrepentant men reap the just retribution for their evil deeds.

This is again echoed in Jeremiah 46:10: “For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries.”
Consider what Zephaniah and Malachi say about this day:

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. 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, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. 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. 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. (Zeph. 1:14–18)

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Mal. 4:1)

Again, we see that the Day of the Lord brings great destruction upon the world because they have sinned against Him and remained unrepentant. Zephaniah sums it up, describing it as a day of wrath.

The book of Joel is an expose that exclusively refers to the Day of the Lord and contains a wealth of information about that time. Among other things, it reveals to us another purpose for the Day of the Lord: that people would be brought to repentance. This is clearly seen in Joel 2:11–14:

For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?

God does not take pleasure in judging people. It breaks His heart, and He earnestly desires that sinners might turn to Him and not be judged.[5] He pours out His judgment only as a last resort.

There are many reasons judgment falls. One is that He is a just judge and will righteously recompense those who have broken His holy law. He also brings judgment because He does not want cancerous sin to spread to others—such was the case with Sodom and Gomorrah. And He brings judgment or the threat of judgment because He wants people to repent and experience a wonderful relationship with Him. God is very merciful and always wants people to repent; and judgment or the threat of judgment is always the last resort.

God never springs judgment upon people unawares. He will always warn them before the final judgment comes. Sometimes, this warning comes through lesser judgments. Many times these warnings come by way of His prophets in His holy Word, who through the ages have proclaimed His warnings, even for us today. A classic example of this was with what happened to the city of Nineveh. God sent the prophet Jonah to proclaim the message that their city was to be destroyed in 40 days because of their wickedness. After this warning was issued, the people repented, and the judgment was stayed.

The Day of the Lord will be a time of severe judgment that God has been warning us about for thousands of years. Those who choose to repent before that day will escape His wrath.

Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zeph. 2:2–3)

Even during the time that His wrath is being poured out people can still repent. In fact, Joel goes on to tell us that as a result of the Day of the Lord, many in the nation of Israel will be brought to repentance. In Joel 2:15–21, it says,

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.

In this passage, we see that as a result of some of the events of the Day of the Lord, Israel will repent. This is evidenced by their blowing a trumpet, sanctifying a fast, and calling for a solemn assembly. Their turning to the Lord will result in the blessings of God being bestowed upon them.

Blessings in the Day of the Lord
We have established that the Day of the Lord is a day of wrath and destruction upon mankind. God brings judgment because He wants to cleanse the world of sin and because He sincerely desires for people to repent. Some will choose to repent and they will experience blessings during the Day of the Lord in the millennium:

So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:17–18)

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. (Zech. 14:6–9)

So even though the Day of the Lord will primarily be a day of wrath, it will cause some to repent and will culminate in blessing. Next, we will consider the length of time that the Day of the Lord will encompass.

How Long Will the Day of the Lord Last?
How long will the Day of the Lord last? Will it be a literal 24-hour day or will it be longer? In the Bible, the word “day” can refer to part of a day, a whole day (24 hours), or a longer period of time. In Matthew 20:2, it refers to part of a day: “And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” Clearly, this refers to only the working part of a day. In Genesis 7:17, the word “day” refers to a 24-hour period: “And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.” But the word “day” can also refer to an undetermined period of time as in John 9:4, “day” refers to an undetermined period of time: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Clearly, “day” in this context refers to a longer period of time, namely the time that God has given to each of us for service to Him.

So when we talk about the Day of the Lord, what are we referring to? A part of a day, a whole day, or a longer period of time? I contend that the Day of the Lord is a period of time and not a single day. In Chapter 7, I will detail many of the events that will transpire in the Day of the Lord. One of those events will be demon locusts torturing people for five months (Rev. 9:1–6). Thus, it stands to reason that if it is one of the events of the Day of the Lord, then the Day of the Lord refers to a period of time longer than a day.

The pouring out of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord—the Day of wrath—will be one of the most horrific times the earth will ever go through. It is a time in which God’s wrath is poured out upon men as just retribution for their wickedness. Hopefully, many will heed the clear call to repent and be spared from this time of great wrath. This is the essence of the Day of the Lord.
Now that we have an understanding of the essence of the Day of the Lord we will turn our attention to the signs that precede it—letting all who recognize the signs know of the imminence of that great day.

[1] Renald E. Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 38.
[2] Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come, 32–33,39.
[3] Ibid., 30.
[4] “This law observes the fact that often a passage or a block of Scripture is speaking of two different persons or two different events which are separated by a long period of time. In the passage itself they are blended into one picture, and the time gap between the two persons or two events is not presented by the text itself. The fact that a gap of time exists is known because of other Scriptures." Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 4.
[5] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Mt 23:27)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, i agree the day of the Lord is longer than one 24 hour day,(Isa 34 seems to teach it will be 1 year + ?) but i believe you are mistaken in thinking it goes into the Millennium. Amos 5:18 declares it is a time of darkness, not light, as do the Scriptures you have above. I believe Zech 14:7 is describing the glory of the Lord, when He appears. "It shall be one day which is known to the Lord". You have to really observe the context to see what "in that day", is talking about: during that time, or age, and when the subject changes from Mill, to day of the Lord. You see? God declares, "It is Done!" Rev 16:17. This meaning after the last plague, and the battle of the great day of God, the day of the Lord proper will be over, never to come again. Peter confirms this in 2nd Pet 3. Notice verse 7, Peter says the present heavens and earth are preserved until the day (time) of judgment. Then we read about the this judgment through verse 10-13. Then we read about the new heavens and earth, when Christ is reigning, during the Millennium. This is not a wholesale annihilation of the earth and heavens, as many believe, but a cleansing and changing. This would have to take place before conditions of the Kingdom could be realized. Right?. Is not the curse lifted at the start of the Millennium? Rom 8:18-21 seems to teach it is. I believe God will put final touches on what He created(the new heavens and new earth), after the great white throne judgment, when the eternal Kingdom will be a reality. But i do not believe He will destroy the earth, and what His Son and the righteous saints have built during the 1000 years. (see Heb 2:10-12, Jer 31:35-36, Ezek 43:7-9, Joel 3:20-21, Ps 78:69, these are just some). Rev chapter 20, could be an overview, as Gen 1 is. Chapter 21-22, doing what Gen 2-3 does, goes back and zeros in on what God wants us to see. Just a thought. :) Hey, this is heavy stuff! A great book besides your own is, "Heaven", by Randy Alcorn. I had to rethink what i thought I knew about Heaven when i read this book. It will open your eyes from errors we have been taught, or just biases we have picked up about Heaven. I encourage you and your readers to pick up a copy. It helps to know what the Bible says about Heaven to help us hold fast when the ---- gets deep. :) Not saying i agree with all his conclusions, but it will get you to thinking and studying, which is good! :)

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