Series: Maintaining this hope
The Day of the Lord…setting the record straight Pt. 2
Now, when we ended two weeks ago I told you that the DAY of the Lord does not appear in scripture as if it were just one event taking place at a particular time, but rather a series of events which build on one another. All throughout the Old Testament, the Day of the Lord was presented as something which was TO COME and which was very, VERY scary if not understood in context.
The Thessalonian believers were being told, it was already here and it caused some concern & confusion! These people were under constant threat and persecution, so no doubt they interpreted the idea that the Day of the Lord was already here as if they were on the wrong end of that stick!
Now the word for ‘day’ in this context really means the time of the Lord… or the time when the Lord begins to judge His creation and bring things to a closure.
The specific things which are included in the events of the “time of the Lord”, in my opinion, fall into one of about 5 separate events, three of which have already happened.
(1) The Advent – His birth…His parousía [coming] to earth as a baby to grow up, train disciples, be sacrificed for our sins and be physically raised from the dead for our justification.
(2) His return from the grave. This began a 40 day ministry to confirm the faith of His disciples. This is mentioned in Matt. 26:32; Mark 14:28 & in John 16:16 ópsesthe, the fut. tense of the verb horáō (G3708), to see, or optánomai (G3700), to with one’s physical eyes, is used.
Matt. 26:32, “But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
(3) Then ten days later, His coming in the person of the Holy Spirit, to enter into and abide in close spiritual fellowship with His disciples as their teacher, guide into truth and comforter.
As the Risen Savior, Jesus was to return to the Father after a short time of affirmation and training. He was then going to come to them in the person of the Holy Spirit to abide with them forever. John 14:16-22
In this sense the Lord Jesus regarded His coming again as a vital experience to be shared by all believers throughout the future of the church.
“(15) If you love me, you will obey My commandments. (16) Then I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – (17) the Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see Him or know Him. But you know Him, because He resides with you and will be in you. (18) “I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. (19) In a little while the world will not see Me any longer, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live too. (20) You will know at that time that I am in my Father and you are in Me and I am in you. (21) The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”
Other References: John 15:26; John 16:14.
All of those are the past comings of Christ or the events of the Day of the Lord which have already happened.
When Jesus left He told them He would return.
The angels told them as well.
“9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
(4) The Rapture, which is when He comes to remove His brothers and sisters from their earthly labor and persecutions for the kingdom and take them home to the place He is preparing for them in His Father’s house.
John 14:2-3, “that where I am, there ye may be also”.
This is what is referred to as the parousía of the Lord in 1Thess. 4:15.
This coming is going to be startling and unexpected. The Lord will come to raise the dead in Christ, to transform the living who have believed, and to take them all to be with Him (1Cor. 15:50-54; 1Thess. 4:13-17) which we will read in that order.
First 1Cor. 15:49-58,
“(49) And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man. (50) Brothers, I tell you this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption.*
(51) Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
(53) Because this corruptible must be [Why? See * above] clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality.
(54) Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory. (55) O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?”
(56) Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
(58) Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
“(13) We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
(14) Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, IN THE SAME WAY God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. (15) For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord:
We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.
- (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
- with the archangel’s voice,
- and with the trumpet of God, and
- the dead in Christ will rise first.
- (17) Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air;
- and so we will always be with the Lord.
(18) Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
These two passages constitute the Day of the Lord Jesus which is also found referenced in (1Cor. 5:5; 2Cor. 1:14; Php. 1:6, Php. 1:10; Php. 2:16; 2Thess. 2:2).
This phase of the Day of the Lord will however, begin a time of great delusion and suffering for those unbelievers who are alive at the time of the parousía.
The phrases “that day” or “the day” or “that great day” occur more than 75 times in the OT. All of which, in one way or another, speak of the Tribulation and include judgments that extend over a period of time prior to the final coming of the Lord for His millennial reign which is the 5th and final event in the ‘Day of the Lord‘ .
(5) The coming of the Lord at the end of the seven-year tribulation period is what the Lord describes in Matt. 24:15-22, Matt. 24:32-34; Mark 13:14-23, Mark 13:29-30 (cf. Luke 19:41-44; Luke 21:20-23, Luke 21:32-33; Luke 23:28-30). The judgment of the Lord is designated as a specific coming by the specific verb in the aor. subjunctive tense indicating that this specific coming is prior to the final judgment of the world. This coming is also called apokálupsis (G602), revelation (Rom. 2:5; Rom. 8:19; 1Cor. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:7, 1Pet. 1:13; 1Pet. 4:13) and epipháneia (G2015), manifestation (2Thess. 2:8; 1Tim. 6:14; 2Tim. 1:10; 2Tim. 4:1, 2Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:13).
This is going to be the Last Day and will bring about the termination of the existing order of things.
So you can see pretty clearly that it does not seem to refer to a single day, but to a season when God rapidly advances His agenda towards the end of the age.
Regarding the phrase, ‘the Day of the Lord’, Hiebert says,
“It denotes the day when God intervenes in history to judge His enemies, deliver His people, and establish His kingdom.”
This sudden coming, in a time when many say “Peace and safety!” which Paul mentions in chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, almost has to be distinct from the coming of Jesus described in Matt. 24:15-35 which we will read about a little later.
The coming of Jesus described in Matt. 24:15-35 happens at a time of great global catastrophe, when no one could possibly say “peace and safety!” Though that time may be the first 3.5 years of the tribulation, just before God’s wrath is poured out.
Comparing passages like these show us that there must be, in some way, at least two aspects to Jesus’ future returns.
- One aspect of His coming is at an unexpected hour, the other is positively predicted.
- One coming is to a ‘business as usual’ world, the other to a world in cataclysm.
- One coming is meeting Him in the air (1Thess. 4:16-17), the other is Him coming to the earth with the saints (Zech. 14:5).
You may remember that I told you early in the year that though the Old Testament taught on the coming of the Lord, by the time Jesus came, the average Jew thought all of the things mentioned regarding the “day of the Lord” were congruent with one single advent.
In their thinking He would:
- come as Messiah and declare war
- liberate the Jews from all bondanges
- set up His kingdom and the uncontested establishment of the Promised land to the Jews forever
- Judge the world
…all in one event – “His coming”.
Most Jews, both then and now, did not see where the Gentiles fit into this. They did NOT see the Church Age or the Age of grace and they did not see the rapture.
Now, on the website I will offer a list of Old Testament passages where you will see the Day of the Lord, mentioned in association with many of the things we see mentioned in the New Testament so you can further enhance your knowledge by studying them later.
(Isa. 2:12; Isa. 13:6, Isa. 13:9; Ezek. 13:5; Ezek. 30:3; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11, Joel 2:31; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18, Amos 5:20; Obad. 1:15; Zeph. 1:7, Zeph. 1:14; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:5; Acts. 2:20; 1Thess. 5:2; 2Pet. 3:10).
I only want to take a glance at a few of them now…
As I read them, you tell me which return of the Lord it is referring to – the rapture of the church, or His coming to judge the beast, the false prophet and the anti-christ before establishing His 1,000 year earthly reign.
“(6) Wail! For the day of the LORD is near. It will come like destruction from the Almighty. (7) Therefore everyone’s hands will become weak, and every man’s heart will melt. (8) They will be horrified; pain and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look at each other, their faces flushed with fear. (9) Look, the day of the LORD is coming–cruel, with rage and burning anger–to make the earth a desolation and to destroy the sinners on it. (10) Indeed,
- the stars of the sky and its constellations will not give their light.
- The sun will be dark when it rises, and
- the moon will not shine.
(11) I will bring disaster on the world, and their own iniquity, on the wicked. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant and humiliate the insolence of tyrants. (12) I will make man scarcer than gold, and mankind more rare than the gold of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will shake from its foundations at the wrath of the LORD of Hosts, on the day of His burning anger.”
As I have taught you, prophecy often has a dual meaning and fulfillment if given in the Old Testament. The first and most obvious is that which addresses a current issue with Israel and its enemies.
Secondarily, it often has a future fulfillment either in the advent of Christ, the ministry and work of Christ, the return of Christ for the church or His final coming with judgment in His kingdom.
So it is with this passage we just read in Isa.13, which is specifically talking about Judah’s future exile to Babylon, as we have been reading in Jeremiah on Wednesday nights. However, I think you will easily recognize words here which Jesus Himself spoke regarding His return and His future coming in His kingdom and judgment.
“Woe because of that day! For the Day of the LORD is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty.”
“(1) Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the Day of the LORD is coming; in fact, it is near– (2) a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come.”
Compare that last statement with Jesus’ prediction of the Day of the Lord in Matt. 24:21-22, “(21) For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. (22) And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
Back to Joel…
“(3) A fire destroys in front of them, and behind them a flame devours. The land in front of them is like the Garden of Eden, but behind them, it is like a desert wasteland; there is no escape from them.
(4) Their appearance is like that of horses, and they gallop like war horses. (5) They bound on the tops of the mountains. Their sound is like the sound of chariots, like the sound of fiery flames consuming stubble, like a mighty army deployed for war. (6) Nations writhe in horror before them; all faces turn pale. (7) They attack as warriors attack; they scale walls as men of war do. Each goes on his own path, and they do not change their course. (8) They do not push each other; each man proceeds on his own path. They dodge the missiles, never stopping. (9) They storm the city; they run on the wall; they climb into the houses; they enter through the windows like thieves.
(10) The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining.
(11) The LORD raises His voice in the presence of His army. His camp is very large; Those who carry out His command are powerful.
Indeed, the Day of the LORD is terrible and dreadful–who can endure it?
…(21) Don’t be afraid, land; rejoice and be glad, for the LORD has done great things… You will praise the name of Yahweh your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you. My people will never again be put to shame. [3rd coming – the advent]
(27) You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame. (28) After this [the coming of the Holy Spirit] I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. (29) I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. (30) I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. (31) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the LORD comes.
(32) Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised, among the survivors the LORD calls.”
“(9) Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for holy war; rouse the warriors; let all the men of war advance and attack!
(10) Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning knives into spears. Let even the weakling say: I am a warrior.
(11) Come quickly, all you surrounding nations; gather yourselves. Bring down Your warriors there, LORD. (12) Let the nations be roused and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit down to judge all the surrounding nations.
(13) Swing the sickle because the harvest is ripe. Come and trample the grapes because the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because the wickedness of the nations is great.
(14) Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. (15) The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will cease their shining.
(16) The LORD will roar from Zion and raise His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites.”
“(15) For the Day of the LORD is near, against all the nations. As you have done, so it will be done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head.
(16) For as you have drunk on My holy mountain, so all the nations will drink continually. They will drink and gulp down and be as though they had never been. (17) But there will be a deliverance on Mount Zion, and it will be holy; the house of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them.
(18) Then the house of Jacob will be a blazing fire, and the house of Joseph a burning flame, but the house of Esau will be stubble; they will set them on fire and consume them. Therefore no survivor will remain of the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken.
(19) People from the Negev will possess the hill country of Esau; those from the Judean foothills will possess the land of the Philistines. They will possess the territories of Ephraim and Samaria, while Benjamin will possess Gilead.
(20) The exiles of the Israelites who are in Halah who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the cities of the Negev.
(21) Saviors will ascend Mount Zion to rule over the hill country of Esau, but the kingdom will be the LORD’s.”
“(14) The great Day of the LORD is near, near and rapidly approaching. Listen, the Day of the LORD–there the warrior’s cry is bitter.
(15) That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, (16) a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities, and against the high corner towers.
(17) I will bring distress on mankind, and they will walk like the blind because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung.
(18) Their silver and their gold will not be able to rescue them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. The whole earth will be consumed by the fire of His jealousy. For He will make a complete, yes, a horrifying end of all the inhabitants of the earth.”
“(14) But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Jewish men and all you residents of Jerusalem, let this be known to you and pay attention to my words. (15) For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. (16) On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
(17) And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. (18) I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy.
(19) I will display wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. (20) The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, BEFORE the great and remarkable day of the Lord comes; (21) then whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“(1) Dear friends, this is now the second letter I’ve written you; in both, I awaken your pure understanding with a reminder, (2) so that you can remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets, and the commandment of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles.
(3) First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, following their own lusts, (4) saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”
(5) They willfully ignore this: long ago the heavens and the earth existed out of water and through water by the word of God. (6) Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded by water. (7) But by the same word the present heavens and earth are held in store for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
(8) Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day. (9) The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
(10) But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.
(11) Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness (12) as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be on fire and be dissolved, and the elements will melt with the heat. (13) But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
(14) Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found in peace without spot or blemish before Him.
(15) Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. (16) He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.
(17) Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of the immoral and fall from your own stability. (18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
2Pet. 3:10 appears to include the entire millennial age within this period.
Thus the coming of the Lord or His parousía consists of several comings which are in reality stages of a continuous process.
All of us who, due to our love, faith, good works, labors of love in the gospel, as well as our ongoing and faithful testimony to the goodness, faithfulness and kindness of God – are ridiculed, persecuted and scoffed at by the world which both our actions and those which oppose us turn into a testimony of God’s work in our lives and our being made fit for His kingdom.
So it is only fitting that we should be the first rewarded for our actions – proving that they were NOT in vain or for nothing!
As such Jesus will come and retrieve us out of the world, before beginning His judgment of those who denied Him and scoffed at Him. It is at this time we will go to the great wedding feast of the Lamb and be married to Him.
During this time, anyone left on earth… can still defect from satan’s kingdom to our Lord’s, but they will also have a proving time of persecution as well as having to endure the Great Tribulation.
At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will come to the gate of Heaven on a white horse and all of us will join Him in like fashion.
We will ride down to the earth to make war and will cast the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, bind satan and begin Jesus’ uncontested reign for a thousand years.
During this time, men will come to know the Lord and be faithful to Him and others will conspire privately against Him and hate Him.
You can read about this in Revelation 18-19.
When you arrive at Chapter 20, you see that when satan is released, he will go to those who have held Jesus in contempt and deceive them into waging war against Him and the saints. The Father will destroy them with fire from heaven and then will begin the great white throne judgment, afterwhich all the ungodly and satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire away from the presence of the Lord, and we will be God’s dwelling place forever!
All of this was what Paul was setting straight for these Thessalonians.
Now, let’s finish this letter of encouragement and instruction to these persecuted, yet faithful brothers and sisters.
“(1) Finally, pray for us, brothers, that the Lord’s message may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, (2) and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith.
(3) But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.
(4) We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do what we command.
(5) May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
(6) Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us.
(7) For you yourselves know how you must imitate us:
- we were not irresponsible among you;
- (8) we did not eat anyone’s bread free of charge; instead,
- we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you.
(9) It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. (10) In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you:
“If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.”
(11) For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others.
(12) Now we command and exhort such people, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that quietly working, they may eat their own bread.
(13) Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. (14) And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter,
- take note of that person;
- don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.
- (15) Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
(16) May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.
(17) This greeting is in my own hand–Paul. This is a sign in every letter; this is how I write.
(18) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.”