This article, a continuation in our series on prophetic themes, looks at the Day of the Lord.
ITS DIVERSITY FROM OTHER DAYS
Quite often confusion exists in the minds of saints regarding the different days of Scripture, especially those days which lie in the future. The Day of the Lord must be distinguished from the “Day of Christ” (Phil 2:16), from the “Day of the Lord Jesus” (1Cor 5:5), from “the Lords day” (Rev. 1:10), and from “the Day of God” (2 Peter 3:12). When the Day of the Lord is mentioned it refers to that period when He will assert His rights upon earth. Hence it is always associated with judgment. Since the Fall, man has in various ways asserted his rights, so that the present age can be termed mans day. God now deals in grace with the wicked world, and appears to be silent when His wrath is deserved. On the other hand, there have been times when His judgment has fallen on the corrupt doings of men and nations, and such occasions are a preview of what lies in store for the world. In the O. T., some of these may be called “the Day of the Lord,” but in the N.T. the term ever looks forward to the future and to a special display of divine power displayed in the destruction of His enemies. When “the Day of Christ” is mentioned it has a special reference to the time when in heaven the saints will be rewarded, and when “the Day of God” arrives, referred to only by Peter, then the eternal state will commence and continue for ever. After it, there will be no more special days or periods.
THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF IT
These will be very different to the conditions which now prevail in the world. Quite often wrong is on the throne and righteousness is debased. The proud are called happy and the humble are despised. Then, all will be different for the authority of the Lord will be on a righteous base, and wickedness will no longer be tolerated. In order to establish such a condition, great judgments will fall on all who rebel. Many would like the benefits of perfect rule, but they do not desire the way it can be achieved. They fail to realize that the difficulties they encounter are the result of human failure, so as long as it prevails, the opulent conditions of which they dream cannot be realized.
It is almost impossible for human minds to grasp the severity of the judgments that will be poured out in that day. The past calamities which have stunned the world are but mere shadows of the storms that shall descend at that time. There will be famines, consuming fires, and even the heavens will join in the display of the Lords anger. The crushing of human rebellion energized by Satan will not be without drastic measures and intense suffering on the part of those who refuse to bow to the Lords demands.
THE DESIRE FOR IT
Because most are unaware of the conditions needful to be ready for the day of the Lord, they will be desirous of it and wonder at its delay in coming. Amos who was one of the first to mention it had to write, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lordthe day of the Lord is darkness and not light” (ch 5:18). Joel asks the question after he has described it, “Who shall abide it?” (ch 2:11). Many want the blessings that this great day will bring, but they fail to consider that these times of delight will not be enjoyed by sinners. Those in a future day who will fear the Lord and who will be fitted to enter the kingdom will welcome that day for it will be the time of their deliverance. If all on earth were to be destroyed, then there would be no inhabitants to enjoy the reign of Christ, but the faithful will be numberless according to Rev 7. Not only will heaven be filled, but the earthly side of the kingdom will likewise be well populated.
THE DURATION OF IT
That the Day of the Lord is not composed of merely twenty-four hours all are agreed, but as to when it begins and when it will end, there may be some disagreement. The references to it in Isaiah, Joel, Amos, and Zechariah might give the impression that it was already past. Certainly, Gods dealings with Israel and with surrounding nations were referred to as the Day of the Lord, but in most of these prophecies, if not in all of them, there is a stretching out into the future, so what was then experienced was but a foreshadowing of the future great day referred to in the NT. Neither the reference in 1 Thess 5 or 2 Peter 3 can be anything other than future. Of this we can be sure, it will not commence during the present period of grace, so the rapture of the church must occur before it begins. Once the Church is removed then, possibly much sooner than many think, the great change will be manifest throughout the world. When the last week of years spoken of by Daniel in ch. 9 of his prophecy commences, then the Day of the Lord will begin. The many judgments referred to in Rev 6 – 19 will manifest that the Lord is taking control of the world and that He is removing out of it those who are unfit for his kingdom. Doubtless, the great crisis of these times will be the time when Christ will come to earth in person to establish His kingdom. The destruction, with flaming fire poured out upon His enemies and upon those who reject the gospel, will be of such a nature that nothing so desperate will ever have been previously seen on earth. Obviously, it will descend unexpectedly, as does a thief in the night, so when the enemies may feel that they are winning the struggle and the hearts of the faithful may be almost in despair, then the great display of divine power will be revealed.
Once the authority of the Lord is established and His kingdom reign commences, this will not end the Day of the Lord, but it will continue throughout the Millennium. Never again will sinful man be in control of the earth, but the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The great day that will follow the Day of the Lord will be the Day of God. It will endure for eternity and be the consummation of all Gods purposes.
Concerning the Day of the Lord, not all who expound Scripture agree with what has here been said of its duration, for some have limited it to that special period of judgment that will precede the Millennium, and do not think that it continues throughout that sublime period. They fail to see that if it was so limited and was only a time of judgment, then there would have been no possibility of any desiring it.
Apparently from the very beginning, some idea of its glory was anticipated, otherwise it would not have been desired (Amos 5:12), but what was not realized was that it demanded a condition in keeping with its character. This is why in Scripture, the sterner side of its character manifest at its beginning is prominent and its subsequent sublimity barely mentioned. The same principle obtains in relation to heaven, of which comparatively little is said compared to the extensive account of the judgments that will befall those who miss it.
THE DAWN OF IT AND THE PRESENT TIME
Some might imagine that since the Church will be safe at home in heaven when the Day of the Lord commences, it is of no interest to them. This is not so, for the revelation of it has a twofold effect on the minds of all who love the Lord. It assures them that the Lord, Who is now rejected, and whose claims are disowned, will at length be given His rightful place, and at the same time the evils that have grieved them so much, will then be given their due reward. All who love righteousness are grieved at how much transpires on earth that is totally opposed to the will of God, and at times wonder how He sits in heaven and allows so much corruption to continue unpunished. All know that there will be a day of reckoning, when all evil will be judged, but viewed as seen on earth, the norm is wickedness on the throne and righteousness in the dust. When the persecutions of saints both in the past and present time are considered, it is a comfort to know that when the fullness of the Day of the Lord is come all this will end. It will be the joy of all the saints in Heaven as well as all upon earth to see the will of the Lord done on earth as it is in Heaven. In the meantime, the believer acts in keeping with the day of grace and does not avenge himself (Rom 12:19).