By Dustin Abbott
The theology surrounding the day of the Lord is very important to the Book of Revelation. It adds clarity to many of the end time events and also gives a greater understanding into the character of Jesus Christ. This book was intended to be the revelation of Jesus Christ. On the surface there would seem to be conflicts amongst the references to this event. There are twenty-nine verses in the OT and NT that directly refer to this event. There are a host of other verses that indirectly refer to it. The best way to understand the seeming disparities between these verses is to examine some of them.
Old Testament Doom
Many of the passages from the Old Testament look at the Day of the LORD from Israel’s perspective, focusing on the massive battle that will destroy all of Israel’s enemies. This is the battle we call Armageddon. The resulting passages seem dark and gloomy, describing a day of doom for all that oppose Israel.
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty (Isaiah 13:6).
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 (Isaiah 13:9).
For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion (Isaiah 34:8).
Isaiah speaks of this being a day of wrath and destruction in which sinners are destroyed. He also stated that this would be the year (time) of recompense for the controversy of Zion. This literally means that God will avenge all the wrongs done to Jerusalem and at the same time solve the issue that has been fought over for hundreds of years, namely, “Who does Jerusalem belong to?” The choices seem to be: the Jews, the Muslims, or the Christians. But Jerusalem does not belong to any of these groups; it belongs to the Lord, and in His day He will punish those that have marched against it and will assert His claim over it.
For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts bath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates (Jeremiah 46:10).
Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of the LORD’S anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed (Lamentations 2:22).
Jeremiah verifies that the day of LORD would at least include the battle of Armageddon.
Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come (Joel 1:15).
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand (Joel 2:1).
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? (Joel 2:11).
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come (Joel 2:31).
These OT prophecies all speak of the militant side of the day of the LORD, describing destruction of Israel’s (and the Lord’s) enemies that comes through the battle of Armageddon. Joel adds a reference to the timing of this event in the famous prophecy that Peter partially referred to on the day of Pentecost. He states that the sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood before the Day of LORD occurs. As these events take place in the latter half of the Tribulation, this passage shows that the day of the LORD takes place after the Tribulation.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD (Malachi 4:5).
Malachi adds validity to the writings of Joel by stating that Elijah, one of the two witnesses, will come before the Day of the LORD. This agrees with the fact that the Day of the LORD comes after the Tribulation. There was a partial fulfillment of this passage in the coming of John the Baptist (similar to Peter’s reference to the prophecy of Joel), but the true fulfillment transpires during the Tribulation period.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
The impact of this passage is not so much the stealth of this event, although the inhabitants of the earth will be taken by surprise. The Antichrist will have spewed so many lies that many will actually believe that he is god. They will have assembled an “invincible” army against a vastly inferior foe (the Jews). It will come as a surprise when the real God shows up. But what this verse really describes is the tremendous impact of being robbed by the thief in the night. The thief comes and violates your “dominion,” stealing away your possessions. In like fashion the kingdom of this earth will be violently seized from the hands of the Antichrist.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).
In this verse Peter adds an element that seems to be completely conflicting with the other accounts. He states that in the day of the LORD the heavens and earth will pass away with great heat. This is theologically known as the “conflagration,” and according to biblical evidence, this does not take place until the conclusion of the millennial reign and the great white throne judgment. This is shown clearly in Revelation:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:11-12).
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea (Revelation 21:1).
There is a specific order to the events that John describes. There is a day of judgment, which is shown to occur after the period known as the Kingdom Age, or the Millennial Reign. This falls exactly 1,000 years after the battle of Armageddon. Following the final judgment will be the “conflagration” in which all the existing universe implodes and melts away, to be replaced with three new items: a new universe, a new planet earth, and the New Jerusalem. Peter states that this is a part of the Day of the LORD.
These two positions from the Old Testament and the New Testament seem to be completely contradictory. Events are described as being a part of this day that is actually 1,000 years apart. The apostle Peter sheds further light on the reason why these verses are not really in conflict. II Peter 3:7-10 answers a lot of the questions surrounding this event described throughout Scripture as the Day of the LORD:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (II Peter 3:7).
There is a great catastrophe similar to the flood reserved for this earth. This entire universe has been tainted by the sin of mankind. Bouncing out further and further into space are energy waves that carry records and images of man’s perversion. God has promised that this heaven and earth will be utterly consumed. The same God who warned of the impending flood states that the world will be utterly annihilated by fire. This warning is not dependent upon signs or even upon your belief…it is going to happen! On the day that man is judged, his universe will also be judged.
The coming of Jesus to earth and the reserving of the universe to judgment are tied together, for they are the beginning and conclusion of one event. This event is referred to biblically as the day of the LORD.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (II Peter 3:8).
Many take this verse and apply it to all kinds of things. They have used this for the basis of doctrines and theories. There is actually a very specific context to this verse. Certainly the concept can be attributed to the nature of God (time matters little to Him), this statement is more essential to actual subject at hand. Peter states that we should not be ignorant of the fact that one day with the Lord is like a thousand years. And transversely, a thousand years (with the Lord) is like one day. The understanding of this concept is the only thing that makes biblical prophecy concerning the day of the LORD makes sense. The Day of the LORD is an entirely separate event from the catching away of the saints. We often say that the Lord could come at any time, but we really mean that He could come for His Bride at any time, not that He could come back to earth at any time. The Bible is very specific that there is a gap that is at least seven years long between these two events. In fact, we (the Church) must be with the Lord before He can return to earth, for we come with Him, according to Revelation 19.
Biblical prophecy about the Day of the Lord fluctuates between two major points. Those points are that the Day of the Lord is the return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His earthly kingdom and begin the kingdom age. The second is that the Day of the Lord is a day of great judgment, a day in which the universe will be destroyed as God prepares to create a new one. We understand from the chronology of biblical events that these two points have 1,000 years separating them. This is where this verse comes into the play, for the true “Day of the LORD” is 1,000 years. It is a very full day that includes a host of events! On His day He will return to earth, will subdue all kingdoms and principalities under His feet, will rule and reign for 1,000 years on earth from Jerusalem, then will become the judge of this earth after one final battle and will eventually destroy this physical universe in preparation for one that has never been tainted by sin or Satan. Only God could say of this, “All in a day’s work!”
There is a beautiful symmetry to all of this. God created the universe in six days, then rested, or took a day for Himself, on the seventh. History has now lasted about 6,000 years, and the next age or epoch will surely be that kingdom age or Day of the LORD. Six “days” of man, then a seventh “day” that God takes for Himself. He will conclude His business upon this earth, and at the conclusion of His day He destroys this universe to make a fresh, untainted one that will last for an eternity.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).
The emphasis of this verse is often misplaced. This verse states that God is not slack concerning His promise. What promise is that? The promise that is discussed in this chapter is His promise to return to earth, judge it, and set things right. Despite the fact that God will destroy both this physical universe and the ungodly (they both shall perish in flames), God is longsuffering to us. Although He will be the judge of the earth, He is not willing that any should perish. He will be the judge of men…but He would rather be their Savior. The emphasis on this verse is that we should heed the warning of this passage and realize that Jesus is coming back to earth, but part of His return to earth is to judge the unrighteous. We should thus seek to be righteous in the ways that this book has already instructed and make our election sure. Notice that this verse is sandwiched in between the ongoing discussion of the day of the LORD.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (II Peter 3:10).
The description that Peter gives of the end of the earth and universe is powerful! The very elements that make up everything (atoms, molecules) are going to melt with a fervent heat. Man found an unbelievably powerful force when he split the atom, but it cannot for a moment compare to the force that will be experienced when God splits this universe. This universe will implode with the force of an infinite number of atomic bombs, and in one massive fireball will burn to nothingness. There will be no trace of anything left behind. It will be a fresh palette upon which God can make all things new.
The analogy to the thief in the night is actually not to the stealth of this event (how could it be disguised?) but rather to the impact of the event. There are few things more devastating to the human psyche and level of comfort than to have one’s home broken into. Even worse would be the thief that comes in the night while you are home, the thief that comes not only to steal, but to kill and to destroy. One’s whole world can be destroyed in such a night. It might not only include the loss of possessions but the harm of a family member. One would never be the same. This day will have all the visceral force (and more) of such an event.
Peter reveals how both the OT prophecy and the NT prophecy agree together. All of the following events will be a part of the Day of the LORD.
Elements Of The Day Of The Lord
- Armageddon: This war to end all wars will actually be over remarkably swiftly. It will feature a 100 percent casualty rate to one army and not one loss of life to the Lord’s team!
- Second Coming of Christ: This is the juncture that “every knee should bow” and “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Philippians 2:10-11). With Israel’s enemies destroyed, Jesus will turn His attention to the nation of Israel, and she will be restored to a covenant relationship with Him. Many covenant promises to Israel are fulfilled in these first two events.
- Millennial Reign: This is discussed in detail in Chapter 20 of Revelation. It will be an Eden-like state of perfection lasting for 1,000 years. There will be a rapidly growing population that has only good and no evil to choose. Satan will be bound and righteousness will reign on the earth. The Church body will rule and reign with Jesus, instructing the earth’s inhabitants in both civil and spiritual matters. Jesus gives these people the opportunity to see how good and how powerful He really is, resulting in many who will choose Him.
- The Release of Satan: This is Satan’s last hurrah. God is just, and every other generation has been tempted. God’s justness commands that He allows this generation to also be tempted. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted’ (James 1:13-14). Sadly, despite the perfection of the Millennial Reign, there will be many who side with Satan against God in this final rebellion.
- Gog and Magog: This great army will come from many nations. A final breed of malcontents will be birthed despite all the wonders and benefits they have enjoyed during the reign of Jesus Christ upon this earth.
- Great White Throne Judgment: This will be the judgment of all who were not a part of the First Resurrection. In other words, it includes all the living inhabitants of the earth and all the wicked dead that have not been previously resurrected. The majority of those that are judged at this juncture will go to the lake of fire and brimstone for eternity.
- Conflagration: God destroys all the elements of the old and makes all things new. This is a part of the reward of the righteous. All memories of unrighteousness and sorrow will disappear with these flames. All things will be new
The Day of the Lord Reveals All the
Facets of Jesus’ Character
He is revealed as:
- Savior of Israel: Jesus comes with the might and majesty Israel thought He would come with the first time. He literally saves them from their enemies.
- Conquering Hero: He will single-handedly destroy the enemies of Israel.
- Healer: He heals the nations, the people, and the broken earth.
- Prince of Peace: He brings the true peace that was prophesied by the OT prophets.
- King of Kings: We will rule and reign, but He will be the King over the kings.
- Lord of Lords: We will be earthly lords, but He will be above all.
- Provider: He will provide for the whole world. He will make the world fruitful where it has previously been barren.
- Shepherd: He will lead all people with perfection, protecting the flock.
- Jealous Warrior: He will ably defend His Bride from the attacking of Gog and Magog.
- Righteous Judge: He will not judge from anger but out of His great righteousness at the great white throne judgment.
- Omnipotent Divinity: With His unlimited power He destroys every physical thing that exists. The very universe will implode at His command.
- Creator: Out of the blackness of nothing He once again makes all things new.
The day of the LORD brings everything full circle. It is the perfect way to complete the age of time and begin eternity!
This article “The Day of the Lord” was excerpted from the book Revelation Unveiled by Dustin L. Abbott. It may be used for study & research purposes only.