Defining the day of the Lord is an increasingly important exercise when it comes to eschatological, or ‘end times’, Bible study. Many have hijacked this term or expression and imposed either partial or completely inaccurate definitions to it. For example, those that subscribe to a ‘premillennial’ understanding of Christ’s return will quickly assert that the day of the Lord is not something that applies to God’s people. Rather, it is a ‘special judgment’ reserved only for the wicked and sinful.
Fortunately, God has said much about this special day of His. The Old Testament prophets spoke often about it, and the New Testament writers added their voice as well. Of course, it’s all God’s voice – His words – so let’s allow them to tell us what the day of the Lord is all about…
How Scripture answers "What is the day of the Lord?"
The day of the Lord is any day, or event, or period of time, where God’s justice is delivered – either destruction and death for the wicked2,3,4,5,7,11, or a day of vindication and salvation for God’s people1,2,6,8,9,10,11. When the prophets speak about the day of the Lord, they often speak of it near-term and long-term1,3,4,5,7,8. True to their role of being recorders and interpreters of Israelite history6, prophets often explained God’s direct role in raising up or defeating a nation in their day2,3,4,5,7. This ‘near-term’ application of a day of the Lord often blends and/or morphs into one of two ‘long-term’ days of the Lord1,3,4,8,9,10,11…and this is where the New Testament writers pick it up…
…New Testament writers speak about the day of the Lord in one of two ways. First, they give inspired confirmation that events on the day of Pentecost were a type of day of the Lord12,17. Indeed, it was something long foreshadowed by the prophets that often spoke of “that day”1,4,8,9,10. Second, they looked forward to the final judgment – the final and ultimate ‘day of the Lord’13,14,15,16,18 when all will face judgment.
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