The Day of the Lord
This lesson focuses on the prophetic phrase
the Day of the Lord, found in many references in both Testaments. The focus will be to define, describe, and analyze the whole teaching of scripture on this topic.
Definition and Description
- a day preceded by a dark sun and blood moon (Joel 2:31)
- a day preceded by Elijah (Mal. 4:5)
- a day unexpected (1 Thes. 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10)
- a day of destruction and cruelty (Isaiah 13:6,9, Joel 1:15)
- a day of God’s anger/wrath (Lam. 2:22, Ezk. 7:19)
- a day of battle and despair (Ezk. 13:5-7)
- a day of darkness and doom (Ezk. 30:3, Amos 5:18)
- a day to be dreaded (Joel 2:11)
- a day near a gathering for battle the vally of decision (Joel 3:14)
- a day for all the nations (Obadiah 1:15)
- a day of judgment and wrath (Zeph. 1)
- a day of possible acquittal (1 Cor. 5:5, 2 Cor. 1:14)
- a day followed by the destruction of the present skies and earth (2 Peter 3:10)
These are only references specifically naming the Day of the Lord, but there are many others that describe the same Day in other terms.
While the individual contexts in the passages above don’t always refer to the end times, the great majority do, and the future experience will be very different for those who had accepted Jesus compared to those who had not. The emphasis throughout is not so much on the timing of the precise calendar day but on the character or nature of an era, much the way we might say,
That’ll be the day…. (Contrast these contexts with that of Genesis 1, where
day is always paired with
evening and morning, day ___.)
Almost all Bible prophecy centers on the nation of Israel; in fact, the only prophetic passages concerned exclusively with the Body of Christ describe an event quite separate from the Day of the Lord (see lesson The Rapture). Often other nations are included in the passages on the Day of the Lord, and the ones yet to be fulfilled all do, but none exclude Israel.
Jesus is the ultimate infallible interpreter of scripture, so we will approach this analysis from his own teachings on the topic. Please study this document for a thorough analysis of the Olivet Discourse.
The Day of the Lord in its prophetic, future sense is a specific time of the wrath of God on an unbelieving, rebellious world. It is focused on faithless Israel and designed to purge it until only the faithful are left. This will in turn usher in the return of Jesus to earth and the Millennial Kingdom of Israel, when all other nations will bring it tribute. Details of this time can be seen in the book studies in both Testaments.