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The Day of the Lord

What is the meaning of "The Day of the Lord" and how does it relate to the Second coming of Jesus?

The day of the Lord is given a very distinct meaning in the Old Testament prophecies. The following verses will easily define the phrase:

  • Isaiah 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
  • 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: 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.
  • Joel 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.
  • Joel 2:11 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 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
  • Amos 5:18 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.
  • Zephaniah 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. 15 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,
  • Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

The day of the Lord clearly refers to the day of God's judgment on the earth. However, the phrase is used in slightly different contexts and it is sometimes important to look at those contexts. Consider the following:

  1. Most specifically, the day of the Lord refers to the time of the tribulation when the great day of God's wrath will come (Revelation 6:17).
  2. By application, the day of the Lord may refer to any time of great destruction when God's patience runs out and He sends His judgment on the earth. Though this is not a complete fulfillment of the phrase, it can refer to those times that picture the final judgment.
  3. By extension, the day of the Lord can refer to the end times in general. In this usage, it can include the rapture and the kingdom age. The day of the Lord in this respect is the time when God overtly takes over history and turns all things to His end.

Finally, the day of the Lord occurs at the same time but is not exactly the same as the "day of the Lord Jesus." This exact phrase is found two times in scripture (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14). This seems to refer to the time that Jesus comes for His own and matches with "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:8) and the "day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6) and the "day of Christ" (Philippians 1:10; 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:2).  Six of these seven references point to the time that Jesus will come for the saints at the beginning of the tribulation. As a rule, these references refer to rejoicing and not wrath. The reason is simple. For although the inhabitants of earth will be experiencing the wrath of God, those taken from the earth at the beginning of the day of the Lord will be experiencing heaven.

Therefore, it is a time to rejoice (2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 2:16) and a time to be blameless and complete (1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6).  2 Thessalonians 2:2 seems to go against this definition and many commentators try to change the text here. However, there is no need. The verse states, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." The Thessalonians feared the day of Christ because this passage looks at the day of Christ from another perspective. This day of Christ refers to the coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation with His saints and not at the beginning for His saints. This refers to the time "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

The day of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 is defined in context (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8).  This is the meaning God clearly gives in this passage. The distinction to be made is between the day of Christ for the saints (the rapture) and the day of Christ for the lost (the Second Coming).

David Reagan
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.