The Day of the Lord

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More than 30 Bible prophecies signal a major prophetic milestone called the Day of the Lord. Is it a day of judgment—or just a day of the week? You need to know how this soon-coming event will affect your life!


More than 30 Bible prophecies signal the great event called the Day of the Lord. Is it a day of judgment-or just a day of the week? What significance will it have in the flow of Bible prophecy, and how will it affect your life in these end-times? You need to know!

A major prophetic event looms on the horizon. The great prophets of the Bible-Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel-wrote about it. The so-called Minor Prophets-Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi-also emphasized this event. Even the Apostles Peter and Paul wrote about it. It is called the Day of the Lord. But just what is it? And how does it fit into the framework of Bible prophecy?

The book of Joel contains a prophecy for our generation: "Blow 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 is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations" (Joel 2:1-2).

Trumpets sound alarms-to announce major battles or, as described here, an invading army! We read of terrible destruction-a scorched-earth policy-as the Day of the Lord commences, leaving the land desolate. "A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them" (Joel 2:3).

We read that, in addition to total destruction on the land, humanity will see incredible disruption of the heavens. "The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?" (Joel 2:10-11).

Almighty God will intervene in human affairs in a dramatic way. There will be major wars during this time when God executes judgment on the nations. And not only will military weapons bring destruction; there will also be vast ecological devastation. "What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten" (Joel 1:4).

Even in our modern times, locust invasions are not unheard of. Australia's Plague Locust Commission estimated last year that locusts would cause more than $500 million Australian dollars in damage to grain, vegetables, vineyards and other crops (London Daily Telegraph, September 17, 2000). China last year experienced its worst locust plague in 25 years, with more than 13 million acres of crops and grassland destroyed-scientists found more than 5,000 locusts per square yard in badly affected areas of Tianjin, near Beijing (London Daily Telegraph, July 12, 2000).

Serious though these may be, the future insect plagues that some nations experience will make today's seem minor by comparison. When God brings punishments upon rebellious nations, He will call upon them to humble themselves and repent! Of course, you and I need not wait until then: "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty" (Joel 1:14-15).

God's word tells us to "cry unto the Lord!" As conditions worsen, we all need to pray and cry out to God-and make sure we are on God's side! God promises protection for His people-to be "a shelter" for them: "The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain" (Joel 3:16-17).

Yes, the Lord-the Savior-will rule the earth from Jerusalem! That is the Good News that Jesus preached, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We pray, "Thy Kingdom come!" We look forward to tomorrow's world-the world to come! Our hope is in the Savior and His coming rulership over all the nations!

So we can see that the Day of the Lord is the time of God's judgment on the nations. It is the time when Almighty God will begin to intervene more directly and powerfully in mankind's affairs.

A Day of the Week?

In the Book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, the Apostle John wrote: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet" (Revelation 1:10).

John was speaking not of a day of the week (as some commentators wrongly believe), but of the major prophetic period described in the rest of Revelation as the Day of the Lord. John was not referring to Sunday as the Lord's Day. If John were doing so, he would have referred to Sunday as "the first day" of the week as he did in the Gospel of John. Jesus Himself said He was Lord of the Sabbath-and He was not speaking of Sunday! The expression "Lord's Day" here in Revelation plainly refers to the theme of the whole book, the prophetic Day of the Lord, culminating in the return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords!

In Revelation 5, we read of a scroll sealed with seven seals. Jesus, the Revelator, opens those seals, as described in Revelation 6. The first four seals are known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first horse (the white horse) and its rider represent false religions-false Christs.

The second seal reveals a horseman (riding a red horse) with the power to take peace from the earth. The third seal presents a rider (on a black horse) representing the scarcity of food and resulting famine. The fourth seal shows a rider (on a pale horse) with the power to bring destruction to one-fourth of the earth.

This description parallels the events Jesus outlined in His Olivet Prophecy: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places" (Matthew 24:7).

Even today, we must face the threat of widespread pestilence as a military weapon. The United Nations inspection team, UNSCOM, has dealt with the dangers of chemical and biological weapons of destruction produced in Iraq. As recently as last November, Western intelligence reports indicated that Iraq's Saddam Hussein held 610 tons of "precursor chemicals" for the production of the lethal nerve gas VX-enough to kill every man, woman and child on the face of the earth (London Daily Telegraph, November 19, 2000).

The dangers of pestilence, disease and death are very real as we near the climax of this age! But the 21st century is adding greater technologies for mass destruction. Bill Joy, co-founder and chief scientist of the pioneering minicomputer firm Sun Microsystems, has delivered a stirring warning about the dangers mankind now faces, warning that a new realm of 21st century technologies-genetics, nanotechnology and robotics-are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses.

In his article entitled, "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us," Mr. Joy sounded the alarm against genetic engineering. He wrote, "The USDA has already approved about 50 genetically engineered crops for unlimited release; more than half of the world's soybeans and a third of its corn now contain genes spliced in from other forms of life. While there are many important issues here, my own major concern with genetic engineering is narrower: that it gives the power-whether militarily, accidentally, or in a deliberate terrorist act-to create a White Plague" (Wired Magazine, April 2000, pp. 238-262).

The trumpet plagues described in the book of Revelation are waiting for us on the horizon. And we are laying the foundation for our own destruction. Mr. Joy stated, "We should have learned a lesson from the making of the first atomic bomb and the resulting arms race. We didn't do well then, and the parallels to our current situation are troubling."

As Jesus said: "Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:22).

Mr. Joy's shocking appraisal of 21st century technology agrees with Jesus' prediction. Joy observed, "I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals." Think about that warning as you read through the book of Revelation.

Mr. Joy also quoted from Carl Sagan's 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot, "This is the first moment in the history of our planet when any species, by its own voluntary actions, has become a danger to itself-as well as to vast numbers of others."

The Bible gives us plenty of warning concerning the moral state of the world and the resulting punishment if we, as human beings made in the image of God, do not repent of our violence and evil ways. The book of Revelation informs us of the major events to occur, including the rise of a world superpower, called in your Bible, the Beast. To learn more about this prophesied Beast, write for your free copy of our booklet The Beast of Revelation.

We have seen that the Day of the Lord is the time of Almighty God's powerful intervention in world affairs. God will judge rebellious nations, even letting the nations themselves destroy one another in world conflict. We saw from the book of Joel that God will use the elements of nature, even great locust plagues, to destroy vast areas of vegetation. And God calls on all human beings to repent and seek Him.

An Intensified Ride

Critics say there has always been war, famine, and pestilence. But we will see the four horsemen of the apocalypse intensify their ride with increasing global impact as time goes on. These four horsemen are revealed as Christ opens the first four seals. What happens when Christ opens the fifth seal? "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9).

Here we read of the martyrdom of the saints-true Christians. In the first century, the Emperor Nero violently persecuted Christians and put them to death. This fifth seal also predicts a major end-time persecution of God's people. Then Jesus opens the sixth seal, revealing the heavenly signs that will shock people all over the earth.

John wrote: "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place" (Revelation 6:12-14).

Not only will asteroids and meteorites frighten people, but massive earthquakes will also shake the earth. As the Apostle John saw in vision, "every mountain and island was moved out of its place." Almighty God will get the attention of rebellious humanity through these earthquakes and heavenly signs. The Creator God tells us, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven" (Hebrews 12:26).

Obviously it would be better for all of us to repent and humble ourselves before God now, rather than having to be shaken for our rejection of the Creator and His way of life! Yes, the great men of the earth will flee in terror. The Apostle John recorded their fearful response when they said to the mountains and rocks: "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17).

To use the vernacular, God will "get our attention!" The heavenly signs will terrify people. The great leaders of the earth will be frightened.

The heavenly signs introduce the Day of the Lord, the time of God's wrath and judgment on an unthankful, rebellious world. Jesus Christ, the Lamb, will be wrathful. He will execute God's righteous judgments. The Day of the Lord is called here, in Revelation 6:16-17, "the great Day of His wrath!"

A Day for a Year

Just how long is this Day of the Lamb's wrath? As many Bible students know, prophecy often uses a day to indicate a year. The Day of the Lord, in one sense, is the year preceding the return of Christ! Isaiah made this plain. "For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (Isaiah 34:8).

The environmental and political problems symbolized by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will continue to intensify. There will be wholesale religious persecution as revealed through the fifth seal of Revelation. The sixth seal, the heavenly signs, will awaken the world to the beginning of the Day of the Lord, the seventh seal!

The seventh seal lasts approximately one year and consists of seven trumpet plagues. As John described: "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets" (Revelation 8:1-2). The trumpets give us warning-they announce seven plagues or judgments!

Notice in Revelation 8 that, as the first four angels sound their trumpets, there is great ecological devastation all over the earth. There are earthquakes; vast areas of vegetation are burned up; a third of all sea life dies; water sources are poisoned. The heavens are darkened.

The last three trumpet plagues are called woes. The word "woe" is an exclamation of grief! "And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, 'Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!'" (Revelation 8:13).

Revelation 9 describes the first woe, or the fifth trumpet plague. This "plague" is a devastating military action lasting for five months. The second woe, the sixth trumpet plague, pictures an intense military counter-attack from the east, by a 200 million man army that will kill one-third of the world's population. This phase of World War III will kill billions of people! Yes, Jesus said that unless those days were shortened no flesh would be saved-otherwise, all life on earth would be destroyed (Matthew 24:22).

Next we hear the sound of the seventh trumpet. For Christians, the sounding of the seventh trumpet is good news, because it announces the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the return of Jesus Christ. We all need to be preparing for that time! "Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15). What wonderful news!

But the seventh trumpet is also called the third woe! Why? Because it will also signal the final seven plagues. This will be an intense fulfillment of the day of God's wrath. "Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete" (Revelation 15:1).

You can read the description of these plagues in Revelation 16. They include plagues of painful sores on those who have worshiped the Beast power and its image. They include even greater poisoning of rivers and seas to the extent that "every living creature in the sea died" (Revelation 16:3). The sun will become hotter-resulting in extreme heat waves tormenting those who will not repent of their sins (vv. 8-9)!

A Victorious Ending!

Finally, when Christ returns to this earth, He will judge and conquer all His enemies. These are the enemies of peace. These are the enemies of Christ-and these powerful armies are influenced by fallen angels or demons (cf. Revelation 16:14).

This year-long period called the Day of the Lord ends with the announcement that Christ is taking over all the kingdoms and governments of this world! That is the good news we all look forward to hearing!

Jesus Christ will be victorious over the world's armies! They will foolishly choose to fight Him at His coming, but God Himself, the King of kings, will prevent humanity from destroying itself! Jesus Christ will save the world from destruction and will bring our planet peace and restoration for a thousand years! We all look forward to hearing that seventh trumpet sound, because it will announce the coming Kingdom of God on earth.

In one sense the Day of the Lord is the year preceding the return of Christ. In another sense, it continues on through the millennium and on out to eternity.

The Apostle Peter described it this way: "But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Peter exhorted Christians to be in a spiritual state of readiness. We must be alert to the Day of the Lord, a sobering period of judgment on the nations. Beyond that lies tomorrow's world, a wonderful millennium with beauty, prosperity and restoration under the rulership of Christ. May God speed that day! And may you and I be ready for it!

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