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The Day of the Lord

Understanding Prophecy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:10
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It may seem odd to be talking about the Day of the Lord on Father’s day, but as I considered whether to stay on our series about Understanding Prophecy, or switching to a special message for Father’s Day, I thought that the Day of the Lord actually does fit.
How? Well, just wait, and I will see if I can explain that in a bit.
First, I want to remind us why we should study prophecy.
Why study prophecy?
Assurance of the truth (Literal fulfillments)
Assurance of God’s faithfulness (to His Covenants)
Proper Priorities for Life (Kingdom of God)
Key Concepts
How to interpret prophecy
The Covenants of God
The Kingdom of God
The Day of the Lord
How to interpret prophecy
The Covenants of God
The Kingdom of God
Today’s topic, The Day of the Lord is another of the key concepts we need to understand before jumping into some of the passages, like Matthew 24. Without understanding key concepts that come from an overall understanding of scripture, it is easy to get mired down and confused studying one specific passage.
Having these key concepts down will help us understand what we find in specific passages, like Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation.
Some have taught things that are not true about Matthew 24 because they did not keep in mind the key concepts from all of scripture, like the Day of the Lord. We do not want to fall into error, so let’s get these concepts down.
To Learn about the Day of the Lord, we are going to look at some passages, and answer some basic questions.
What? Who? Why? When?
What is the Day of the Lord?
What is a part of the Day of the Lord?
Who is acting upon whom?
Why is this happening?
When is the Day of the Lord?
Keep those questions in mind, as we read some passages about the Day of the Lord.
So, where in the Bible does it talk about the Day of the Lord?
That phrase occurs in about 23 passages. Then, the phrases “that day,” or “the day,” or “the great day” occur more than seventyfive times in the Old Testament.
Let’s look at a few of them.
Zephaniah 1:14–18 NIV
The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness— a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.
Isaiah 13:6 NIV
Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Isaiah 13:9–13 NIV
See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.
Ezekiel 30:3 NIV
For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
Joel 1:15 NIV
Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Joel 2:1 NIV
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—
Amos 5:20 NIV
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

What is the Day of the Lord?

So, keeping in mind those passages, what is the Day of the Lord? What characterizes the Day of the Lord?
Time of judgment. Wrath. Darkness. Gloom.
It is a time that God is pouring out His wrath upon mankind.
It will be darkness, gloom, fearful. It is not something of which you, or anyone you know would want to be a part.
Joel describes it this way...
Joel 2:1–2 NASB95
Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the Lord is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.
It will be so bad, that there has never been a day like it...

What is a part of the Day of the Lord?

Or, what will take place on the Day of the Lord?
Zephaniah 1:15 NIV
That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness—
The word distress in this verse, is the word for tribulation.
Matthew uses this word in 24:21.
Matthew 24:21 NIV
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
It is interesting that Matthew 24:21, Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1 all describe this day as a day of tribulation and trouble unlike any before it, just like Joel did.
The time period of the tribulation is described in Daniel 9 as a seven year period, and it is described in detail in Revelation 6-19. This seven year period of tribulation is all a part of the Day of the Lord.
How can the “Day” of the Lord be a seven year period?
Well, in Hebrew, just like in English, when the word day is used with an ordinal it is just one 24-hour period. 1st day, 2nd day, etc.
Otherwise, context dictates whether day is a 24-hour period, or a longer period.
For example,
“Back in the day, when I was in Jr. High, I would ride my bike all day.”
the first use of day, is a period of time, defined in context of when I was in Jr. High.
The second use of day is a 24-hour period.
Context is the key.
When we take all of the scriptures referring to the Day of the Lord together, we see that there is a lot taking place in the Day of the Lord, and that it is an extended time period.
So, what all is taking place during the Day of the Lord?
Daniel 9 says this will start with a ruler that is to come making a covenant with Israel for a seven year period.
Daniel 9:27 NIV
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul confirms that the Day of the Lord will not be until the revealing of this man.
2 Thessalonians 2:2–3 NIV
not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
So, part of the Day of the Lord will be this ruler that makes a covenant with Israel.
Another part is the breaking of the covenant, and the abomination that causes desolation, which Jesus also refers to in Matthew 24. (Which did not take place yet.)
It is interesting that both Isaiah and Revelation refer to something that will happen in the Day of the Lord.
Isaiah 2:19 NIV
People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.
Revelation 6:16 NIV
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
When God is pouring out His wrath on mankind, they will hide in mountains and caves. Revelation 6 is in the beginning of the tribulation.
Zechariah 14 refers to a number of things that will happen on the Day of the Lord, which will take some time to accomplish.
Zechariah 14:1–4 NIV
A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
Jerusalem will be attacked and taken. Some of the people will be taken into exile. This will take some time.
The Lord will return to fight the nations and establish His kingdom.
So, the return of the Lord is in the Day of the Lord.
Zechariah describes it this way:
Zechariah 12:8–10 NIV
On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
Revelation details this as happening after the seven year tribulation period.
Zechariah 14 also refers to the time of His kingdom on earth as being a part of this day. So, the time period of His kingdom is a part of the Day of the Lord, when He rules the nations with an iron scepter.
Zechariah 14:9 NIV
The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
Revelation says this...
Revelation 19:15 NIV
Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
Peter says there is yet another thing which will be a part of that day.
2 Peter 3:10 NIV
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Zephaniah wrote about this as well.
Zephaniah 1:1–3 NIV
The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah: “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea— and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.” “When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,” declares the Lord,
Thus, the destruction of the heavens and the earth will be a part of the Day of the Lord. Revelation has this after the Great White Throne Judgment, so that also would be a part of the Day of the Lord.
So, the Day of the Lord, is an extended period of time. It stretches from the Ruler making the covenant with Israel, through the time of the seven year tribulation, through the time of Jesus 2nd coming to earth, through the kingdom Jesus establishes on earth, on to the destruction of the heavens and the earth. That is a long time. And it is all a time of wrath and judgment, in which the Lord will be punishing the world for sin, and pride.

Who is acting upon whom?

This may seem like a silly question, but it is important because some people have looked at certain passages, and said the tribulation is the wrath of man, or the wrath of Satan.
Whose wrath is it? The wrath of the Lord.
He will use the nations, and use Satan to punish Israel, but it is His wrath.
All through Revelation, where the seven year period is described in more detail, who is the one who is opening the seals, and pouring out the wrath? The Lamb. God is.
And who is He acting upon? Who is He judging?
Some have read Matthew 24 and said the Day of the Lord is God’s wrath and judgment against Israel? Is that right?
Partially.
It is God’s judgment against Israel.
Jeremiah 30:7 NIV
How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.
But, in the day of the Lord, Israel will be saved and restored!
A big part of the Day of the Lord is God pouring His wrath upon the nations.
Obadiah 15 NIV
“The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.
We have seen this in other verses as well.
So, The Day of the Lord is the Lord pouring out His wrath and judgment against Israel and the rest of the nations of the world, and God restoring Israel. That is the answer to who is acting upon whom.

Why is this happening?

We already have talked about judgment. Why is that happening? Because mankind, Jew and Gentile alike, are all sinful, rebelling against God. We are all prideful, wanting to be our own gods, instead of worshiping and serving Him!
Isaiah says,
Isaiah 13:11 NIV
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
Two parts here: 1. Punish the world for its evil, and 2. End of arrogance
Isaiah 2:17 NIV
The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
And, to punish and prepare Israel to receive their Messiah.
Or, as Daniel put it,
Daniel 9:24 NIV
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
The whole point of this time period, and everything in it, is to end sin, atone for wickedness, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. All of the things that are a part of the Day of the Lord are for that end.

When is the Day of the Lord?

We do not know when the Day of the Lord will begin. We know that it will begin when the ruler who makes a covenant with Israel is revealed, as we saw in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.
However, it is coming at an unknown time.
1 Thessalonians 5:1–2 NIV
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
Summary:
The Day of the Lord is a time period of judgment and wrath coming soon, at a time known only to the Father, and extending from the revealing of the Anti-Christ that makes a covenant with Israel, through the seven year tribulation, the coming of Christ to punish the nations, save Israel and establish His kingdom, through the kingdom, the final judgment and the destruction of the present heavens and earth. The purpose is to punish sin, end the arrogance of man, end sin and bring in everlasting righteousness.
When we look at the description of the coming wrath and destruction, we do not want to be a part of this, nor should we want anyone to be a part of this.

Application: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 NIV
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Or, as Peter puts it...
2 Peter 3:10–14 NIV
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
So why is this appropriate for Father’s Day?
As we mentioned in the beginning, the study of prophecy is good for leading us to right prioritization in life.
As the father, we have the responsibility in our homes to set the priorities.
Are we setting priorities in our home in light of the coming of the Day of the Lord?
...
Homework:
Read passages which describe the Day of the Lord (aka. ‘that day’, ‘the day’, ‘that great day’), and answer the questions yourself:
What is the Day of the Lord? What characterizes the Day of the Lord? How is it described?
What takes place during the Day of the Lord?
Who is acting? Whose wrath is it? Who is it against?
Why is the Day of the Lord coming? What is the purpose of the Day of the Lord?
When is the Day of the Lord?
Passages:
Isaiah 2:11-21
Isaiah 13:6, 9-13
Isaiah 24:1–4
Isaiah 24:19–21
Isaiah 24:20–21
Isaiah 26:20–21
Isaiah 34:1–3
Jeremiah 30:7
Ezekiel 30:3
Ezekiel 38-39
Daniel 9:27
Daniel 12:1
Joel 1:15
Joel 2:1-2, 11, 31
Joel 3:14
Amos 5:18, 20
Obadiah 15
Zephaniah 1
Zechariah 14
Matthew 24:21-22
Luke 21:25-26
1 Thessalonians 1:10
1 Thessalonians 5:3
1 Thessalonians 5:9
2 Peter 3:10-11
Revelation 3:10
Revelation 6:16–17
Revelation 11:18
Revelation 14:7
Revelation 14:10
Revelation 14:19
Revelation 15:1
Revelation 15:4
Revelation 15:7
Revelation 16:1
Revelation 16:5
Revelation 16:7
Revelation 16:19
Revelation 19:2
Revelation 20:11-15
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