The Day of the Lord

What is the Day of the Lord? When does it start and when does it end?

To those out there who think you know the answer to those questions, I’ll bet you’re wrong. Hey, I may be wrong! So I challenge you. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Bryan Ross! David Reid! Fred and Hal Bekemeyer! My mentors and friends whom I love beyond words!) I say bring me your contrarian spirit! Question every assumption! Challenge my logic! Dust off that old shotgun and load up both barrels! I dare you to prove me wrong!

One of the first important points to be made about the Day of the Lord is that we do not even begin to read about the Day of the Lord until we arrive at the Babylonian invasion with all the prophets forewarning a guilty Israel and a guilty Judah of the coming captivity because of their corruption and idol worship. It was then, before the impending invasion of Babylon that the prophet Joel and all his contemporaries – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Zephaniah, they all began to speak with earnest about the coming Day of the Lord. In fact, the prophet Joel would himself speak of the Day of the Lord five times in three short chapters. Of course, the most popular verses about the Day of the Lord is found here in Joel chapter 2.

Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Joe 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. Joe 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

How can we not think of Pentecost here? Peter would quote all four of these verse at Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel… and then he would quote these verses word-for-word. In vs. 28-29, we have the pouring out of the Spirit, which took place at Pentecost. Not only would the sons and daughters prophecy, but the young men would have visions, and even the male and female servants would receive His Spirit. His Spirit would be poured out upon all the believing remnant of Israel.

But an interesting thing happens in these passages in Joel 2. In vs. 30-31, the narrative would jump ahead to events that would take place during the tribulation. He would write in Joe 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke…. In other words, during the tribulation, you will see wonders in the heavens and in the earth, and then he broadly characterizes those wonders into three categories: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. Now that we have a completed revelation of the Word of God, we can venture an educated guess at to what God’s referring to with blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.

I suspect those are reference to the seven trumpets. When does that happen? In the first half of the Tribulation. DAY ONE. The antichrist confirms the covenant with many in Israel for seven years. Then the appearance of the two witnesses who will die and go to Heaven at the midway point. Then you have the seal judgments, which is the beginning of sorrows, which includes the four horsemen of the apocalypse. THEN you have the seven trumpets. And the seventh trumpet is sounded at the midway point, the beginning of the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation, called the Great Tribulation.

And so Joel here speaks of blood, fire, and pillars of smoke¸ signs that I think will take place in the first half of the tribulation when those seven trumpets are sounded.

First, we have blood and fire, which may be references to the first two trumpets that are blown. Rev 8:7 tells us that when the first angel sounded the first trumpet, “there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” When you seen grass, think of Rev. 8:7, because when that first trumpet is blown every blade of green grass will be burned up. Then Rev 8:8 tells us that when the second angel sounded the second trumpet, “as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood…” Horrifying!

The third element we’re given is pillars of smoke, which I think is a reference to the fifth trumpet. When the fifth angel sounds that fifth trumpet, the bottomless pit is opened, and smoke fills the Earth. We’d read in Rev 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. Out of that pit will come locusts with stingers tormenting for five months every person who does not have the seal of God in their foreheads. People will want to die but they can’t.

But then in Joel 2 the narrative jumps ahead again to the midway point in the tribulation. Look at what he says in Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. So the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood will take place after the Abomination of Desolations at the midway point of the tribulation. The Lord Himself would also say this in the Olivet Discourse in Mat 24:29. He had just gone through the Abomination of Desolations at the midway point. Then He says, Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: He’s saying that the sun and moon shall be darkened immediately after the tribulation of those days, immediately after the tribulation to come upon Israel because of the Abomination of Desolations. After the antichrist defiles the temple by entering it and claiming to be the Messiah, those days shall be great tribulation for the people of Israel, especially the believing remnant. The antichrist will massacre the people in Jerusalem and destroy the city. Then he’ll chase after the believing remnant who have escaped into the mountains. And all of that, the Abomination of Desolations and the darkening of the sun and the moon, all of that would precede the great and the terrible day of the LORD.

The big picture of these passages in Joel 2 is that it lists for us in chronological order at different points in time all the events that would precede the great and the terrible day of the LORD. We have the pouring out of the Spirit, which took place at Pentecost. Then the narrative jumps ahead to the first half of the tribulation with a reference to three of the seven trumpets in which the world will face the terrors of blood, fire, and pillars of smoke in the first half of the tribulation. Then, the narrative jumps ahead again to the time after the Abomination of Desolations at the midway point in which the sun is turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and all of this takes place before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Now dear friends of mine whom I love beyond everything and who are also exceptional students of the Word are careful to point out the timestamp of before in vs. 31, that all those events must take place before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come, which for them must mean that the Day of the Lord has to be the Second Coming of Christ, and in that context it’s certainly true.

Except

Except this is not the only time Joel speaks of the Day of the Lord.

Look at Joel chapter 1.

In the first twelve verses, the invasion of Babylon is illustrated as a plague of locusts the likes of which they’ve never seen in the history of their nation. In Joe 1:2 we read, Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? He’s saying that what is about to take place is unparalleled in the history of Israel. Can anyone remember or find in the records of history anything that could even compare to what will happen to you when Babylon invades you? He says in Joe 1:8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. Joe 1:9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’S ministers, mourn. Joe 1:10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Joe 1:11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.

Then we have a call to repentance. Look at Joe 1:13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. Joe 1:14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

How can this be? How can the Day of the Lord be at hand? When Joel talked about the Day of the Lord in 2:31, he speaks of an event that takes place at the end of the tribulation! And make no mistake. When Joel says at hand here, he literally means it’s near. The Day of the Lord is come nigh unto you! How can this be if the Day of the Lord is the Second Coming of Christ?

Look at Joe 2:1 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. Is there any ambiguity about what Joel is saying here? He said the Day of the Lord is nigh at hand! It’s about to happen very soon! How can this be? How can the Day of the Lord be nigh at hand and yet also far distant into the future, that takes place after the sun is darkened and the moon turned to blood?

Flip over to Isa. 13. Isaiah would also describe the coming invasion of Babylon as the Day of the Lord being at hand.

Isa 13:1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. Look at Isa 13:5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (He tells them to scream to the people the day of the LORD is at hand! Howl ye, scream it at the top of your lungs the day of the LORD is at hand!) Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: Isa 13:8 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. Isa 13:9 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.

Turn to Zephaniah 1. Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah warning of the coming Babylonian invasion. Look atZep_1:14 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. I ask again, how can this be? How can the Day of the Lord be near and hasteth greatly if the expression is only talking about the Second Coming of Christ?

Just consider where we are in these passages. Babylon hasn’t even invaded yet. We haven’t even gotten the prophesies of Daniel 9. We’re nowhere near Neh. 2 and the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes in which he’ll give permission to restore Jerusalem, which begins the prophetic timetable and the countdown of 483 years until the first arrival of the Messiah. And yet, these verses we read, which is just a fraction of the verses saying the Day of the Lord is at hand, the prophets are all emphasizing that the Day of the Lord is not only nigh at hand but it also hasteth greatly.

I made the point a few minutes ago that dear friends of mine whom I love beyond everything are careful to point out the timestamp of before in Joel 2:31, how the sun becoming darkness and the moon turning to blood must take place before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. I would agree. We should be careful to note that timestamp, but I would argue that we should also be careful to note of the timestamps in ALL these other passages as well in which all these mighty prophets of God are describing the Babylonian invasion as the Day of the Lord being nigh at hand.

What did we just read? Joel told us that the day of the LORD is at hand. He also said the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand. Isaiah said the day of the LORD cometh. He told the people, Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand!Scream at the top of your lungs that the day of the LORD is at hand! And what did Zephaniah tell us? The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly

How do you explain those verses? How can something be so near and yet also afar off? There is only one possible solution, and that solution is this: I’ve considered just about everything everyone has had to say about the Day of the Lord, and I have to give credit where credit is due. Pastor Richard Jordan was always right. The Day of the Lord began with the Babylonian invasion. All the prophets just told us this! If you spend the time to study it out and think it through, you will be fully persuaded.

So how can all this be true? How can the Day of the Lord be at hand with the Babylonian invasion, while also be used to describe the Second Coming of Christ?

Day of the Lord Expression

The study of the Day of the Lord very much reminded me of other studies we’ve done on peculiar expressions in Scripture like the Angel of the Lord or the Sons of God.

For example, the Angel of the Lord could be one of two possibilities. The Angel of the Lord could be a reference to a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, OR the Angel of the Lord could be an angel sent by the Lord. You have to carefully study the context in order to determine which one it is, and you’ll find that in the OT the Angel of the Lord was predominantly a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, although there were a couple of exceptions. But then in the so-called NT, an Angel of the Lord was always an angel sent by the Lord.

The same was true for the Sons of God. That expression could be talking about angels OR believers. You have to carefully study the context in order to determine which one it is. You might remember Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Who were the sons of God in that verse? That had to be a reference to angels because man hadn’t even been created yet. But then John would write in one of his epistles, in 1Jn_3:1, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God... Paul himself would call us the sons of God in Php_2:15. He writes, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world… You have to study the context in order to determine whether Sons of God is referring to angels OR believers.

The same principles is true for the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord can be a broad period of time involving a number of events OR the Day of the Lord can be specific about the Second Coming of Christ. You have to carefully observe the context in order to determine what is meant by the use of that expression. The context and the careful observance of timestamps helps any Bible student to determine whether the Day of the Lord is used as a broad period of judgment or specifically, the Second Coming of Christ.

Second, the definition of the Day of the Lord. We went through all the passages that we did not just to read that the Day of the Lord was at hand with the impending invasion of Babylon but also to get a sense of what the Day of the Lord is. It is not a happy occasion, because the Day of the Lord is not merely the presence of the Lord upon the Earth but it is a time of judgment that first comes upon Israel. Remember what Joel said. He told his people to Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. It was also a time of shame. He said, Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen. He talked about the LORD’S ministers mourning. And he talked about the complete destruction of Israel. He said The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Isaiah told them to scream at the top of their lungs the day of the LORD is at hand. He described the Day of the Lord as destruction from the Almighty. He told them that all hands shall be faint, 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. And then he described the day of the LORD cometh as cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land of Israel desolate: and then he told them that the Lord would destroy the sinners thereof in Israel. Remember what Zephaniah said? He said that the Day of the Lord is near and hasteth greatly and the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. The Day of the Lord clearly begins as a time of bitter, sorrowful, shameful judgment upon Israel in which they’ll lose everything, and their land would become desolate. Any of those passages could be used as adequate definitions for the Day of the Lord, especially the verses in Isaiah.

But look at what Jeremiah says. Jer_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: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. I thought this verse was fascinating. He’s talking about a day here and not a long period of time. He also talks about judgment not upon Israel but upon all of the Lord’s adversaries. And he also makes this interesting reference to the river Euphrates, which Bullinger connects to the sounding of the sixth trumpet in Rev. 9:13 to the end of the chapter in which four angels bound in the great river Euphrates are loosed and at a fixed point in time, they will slay a third part of man on the Earth. We talked about those angels in the Fear the Reapers message. I’d suggest those angels weren’t bound in the sense of tied up but heavenly angels bound in the sense of obligation. They lying in wait in Euphrates until that moment in the first half of the tribulation, which is clearly part of the day of the Lord, as Jeremiah says here, a day of vengeance upon His adversaries. That sacrifice of the Lord in the north country by the river Euphrates is the positioning of the four angels in Euphrates to be reserved for that day of judgment during the tribulation. It’s the sacrifice the Lord He made BY the river Euphrates in which those four angels would remain IN the river Euphrates until the appointed time.

So we might ask the question, “why are these heavenly angels IN the River Euphrates?” I have a theory: Euphrates was one of the four rivers in the Garden of Eden. It forms the boundary of the Promised Land in the northeast, which the Lord mentioned when He made His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:18). They may have been there ever since man fell into sin. Their presence in the river has always been visible to Satan and the demonic realm, always lying in wait, always ready to bring about God’s judgment upon the Earth, which serves as a constant reminder to Satan and his demons of their coming doom when God will bring about the restitution of all things, when we all, essentially, go back to the Garden. Plus, you have this connection of horses in Jer. 46:9 and Rev. 9:16-19. These horses at the direction of the four angels will kill a third of all mankind with fire, smoke, and brimstone, flashing sulfur, that will shoot out of their mouths. In fact, Rev. 9 seems to indicate that these four angels are in charge of an army of over 200,000 horsemen who will slay the third of all mankind at a fixed point in time, on one day, which Jeremiah calls a day of vengeance.

In any event, from all these passages, we may gather that the Day of the Lord began as judgment upon Israel and will end with judgment upon all of the Lord’s adversaries, which culminates in the Second Coming of Christ. I believe that from all these passages, the Bible is telling us that the Day of the Lord covers that entire period in which Israel would be under the dominion of all the Gentile world empires – Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire, THEN the kingdom of the antichrist – until the Lord’s Second Coming. The Day of the Lord is judgment upon Israel in which they would remain under the dominion of the Gentiles until Daniel’s 70th week and the Lord’s Second Coming in the which He’ll pour out His judgment upon all of His adversaries just as Jeremiah told us. The Day of the Lord began with judgment upon Israel and ends with judgment upon all of the Lord’s adversaries.

Some may be thinking, “I understand what you’re trying to say, but give me a verse that defines the Day of the Lord as covering the entire period of Gentile dominion over Israel. I’ve got a verse for that. Turn to Ezek. 30.

Eze 30:3 For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.

Make no mistake. This verse isn’t merely DESCRIBING the Day of the Lord. This verse is helping to DEFINE the Day of the Lord. It shall be the time of the heathen. If you think that the Day of the Lord begins at the dawn of the Tribulation or it begins with the Second Coming of Christ, then I have to ask, how do you explain the time of the heathen? Because let me tell you, neither the seven years of Tribulation nor the Second Coming could even remotely be characterized as the time of the heathen. The tribulation can only be characterized as the time of God’s judgment. The Second Coming of Christ can only be characterized as the time of God’s judgment.

There is only one explanation for the time of the heathen. The time of the heathen means that the Day of the Lord covers that entire period in which Israel would be under the dominion of all the Gentile world empires until the Lord’s Second Coming. Jordan was right about the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord began with the Babylonian invasion and continues throughout all the Gentile world empires followed by the kingdom of the antichrist until the Lord’s Second Coming.

Now we don’t have the time to go through all the references to the Day of the Lord, but I want to emphasize the fact that, like the Angel of the Lord or the Sons of God, the Day of the Lord is an expression that can mean different things. The Day of the Lord can be a broad period of time involving a number of events OR the Day of the Lord can be specific about the Second Coming of Christ. You have to carefully observe the context and the timestamps to determine what is meant by the use of that expression. The context and the timestamps will help any Bible student to determine whether the Day of the Lord is used as a broad period of judgment under Gentile dominion or specifically, the Second Coming of Christ.

Conclusion

So what are our big takeaways from the Day of the Lord? Jordan was right about the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord began with the Babylonian invasion. The Day of the Lord includes the entire period of Gentile dominion over Israel until the Lord’s Second Coming. Eze. 30:3 helped define the Day of the Lord as being the time of the heathen. The Day of the Lord began as judgment upon Israel but ends with judgment upon all the adversaries of the Lord. 2 Peter 3 connects the Day of the Lord as lasting until we get a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Plus, the Day of the Lord is an expression that can mean different things. The Day of the Lord can be a broad period of time involving a number of events OR the Day of the Lord can be specific about the Second Coming of Christ. You have to carefully observe the context and the timestamps to determine what is meant by the use of that expression. The context and the timestamps will help any Bible student to determine whether the Day of the Lord is used as a broad period of judgment under Gentile dominion or specifically, the Second Coming of Christ.

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