The book of Revelation describes a mysterious time known as the Day of the Lord. What is it, when is it, and how long will it last? And what will it mean for you and your family? Your Bible has the answer!
Bible prophecy reveals that before Jesus Christ returns, the earth will face a time called the "Day of the Lord," when God will judge every nation on earth. Yet few today understand this key prophetic time period—a time that will come very soon.
How do we know it will come soon? The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, described dangerous conditions that would prevail in the end-time. He said, "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:7–8).
Does that sound like our world today? Terrorism threatens the Western nations. Record-setting natural disasters—cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and tornados—have killed hundreds of thousands in recent years. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 ushered in a new age of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons can now destroy all life on planet earth. Will mankind destroy itself, or will God spare us—at least some of us?
What is the Day of the Lord? 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). The phrase John used—the Lord's Day—is used nowhere else in the Bible. What was John writing about? John was not describing Sunday—if he were, he would have called it "the first day" of the week as he did in the Gospel of John. In fact, he was not referring to any day of the week. John was describing the period of time the rest of the book calls the prophetic Day of the Lord—the end-time sequence of events that will culminate in Jesus Christ's return as King of kings and Lord of lords!
Serious students of Bible prophecy understand that we are in the biblical end-times. The history of mankind demonstrates that nations will use every available weapon of war to gain territory and conquer other nations. Since 1947, the "Doomsday Clock" of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has symbolized world nuclear danger and the state of international security. On January 17, 2007, citing "the threat of a second nuclear age and the expected consequences of climate change," the Bulletin moved the hands on the Doomsday Clock forward—to five minutes until midnight. Will the coming years see the Doomsday Clock moved all the way to midnight? Bible prophecy reveals the answer.
In Revelation 5, we read about a scroll sealed with seven seals. Jesus, the Revelator, opens the seals to the book. We read the description of those seals 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. Jesus Himself points out the sequence of these end-time events in Matthew 24, also known as the Olivet prophecy because Jesus spoke it on the Mount of Olives.
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 the resulting famine. The fourth seal shows a rider on a pale horse, with the power over one-fourth of the earth to kill major portions of earth's population.
Cynics say there have always been wars, famines and pestilences. But, as time goes on, we will see the four horsemen of the apocalypse intensify their ride, with increasing global consequences. These four horsemen comprise the first four seals. What happens when the fifth seal is opened? "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).
This fifth seal describes the martyrdom of the saints, true Christians. In the first century, the Emperor Nero violently persecuted Christians, and put them to death. A major end-time persecution of saints is also predicted by this fifth seal. Then Jesus opens the sixth seal, revealing the heavenly signs that will shock people all over the earth: "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." These earthquakes and dramatic events in the heavens introduce the Day of the Lord. God will get our attention! Those who reject the Creator and His way of life will be judged. Obviously, it would be better for all of us to repent and humble ourselves before God now, rather than having to be terribly shaken later.
These heavenly signs introduce the Day of the Lord, the time of God's wrath and judgment on an unthankful, rebellious world. It may surprise some of you, but Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, will be wrathful. He will execute God's righteous judgments. The Day of the Lord is called "the great day of His wrath!" (Revelation 6:17). The seventh seal of Revelation, which follows the heavenly signs, describes the Day of the Lord. And the seventh seal consists of seven major prophetic events introduced by trumpets. Notice: "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).
These are also called the seven trumpet plagues. They comprise the Day of the Lord leading up to the Second Coming. The Apostle John writes about the first four trumpets in Revelation 8:7–13. They describe ecological disaster. One-third of all trees are burned up, and all green grass is burned up. One-third of all living creatures in the sea die; one-third of ocean-going ships are destroyed. One-third of rivers and springs become poisonous. One-third of the sun, moon and stars become darkened.
The whole world will experience the great day of God's wrath! Why? Because the nations have followed false religions. And many nations will follow ungodly dictators who will fight against Christ at His coming.
Just what is the Day of the Lord? It is the time of God's judgments on the nations. Yes, all nations on earth will come to judgment. But God's judgment on the nations will ultimately end in world peace. What is the solution to world wars, violence, and conflicts? The solution to the world's problems is the return of Jesus Christ to rule all nations, and to teach all nations the way to peace. Jesus Christ, the King of kings, will "judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off" (Micah 4:3). Christ will judge the nations during the Day of the Lord, and beyond.
The Day of the Lord is the seventh seal of Revelation. Remember that during the Day of the Lord, seven trumpets sound and announce God's judgments on the nations. After four of the seven trumpets have sounded, three trumpet plagues remain, and the Apostle John writes what he sees and hears in vision: "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).
The last three trumpet plagues are called woes. The word "woe" is an exclamation of grief. The first woe or the fifth trumpet plague is described in Revelation 9. The fifth angel sounds a trumpet that begins a military action that lasts five months. And what power supports that military action? "And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon" (Revelation 9:11).
Yes, the destroyer, Satan the devil, gives power to this military force. The second woe, or the sixth trumpet plague, is pictured with symbols of horses and horsemen. Here we see an intense military counterattack. "One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates'" (Revelation 9:12–14). An army of 200 million drives west across the Euphrates River and destroys one-third of the earth's population! "So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed; by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths" (Revelation 9:15–18). This phase of World War III will kill billions of humans! Jesus said in Matthew 24:22 that unless those days were shortened no flesh would be saved—otherwise, all life on earth would be destroyed!
So far, we have briefly discussed six of the seven trumpet events that comprise the Day of the Lord. The sounding of the seventh and final trumpet proclaims the good news genuine Christians long to hear: "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). This seventh trumpet announces the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the return of Jesus Christ. At this last trumpet, faithful saints, waiting in their graves, will be resurrected as spirit beings (1 Corinthians 15:52). They will then rule with Christ on the earth for a thousand years to produce lasting peace among the nations. Revelation 20 announces that wonderful future called the Millennium. You and I need to be preparing for that time! And we need to study and understand Bible prophecy.
The seventh trumpet announces the good news of Christ's takeover of world governments. But the seventh trumpet is also called the third woe! Why? Because it will also signal the seven last plagues! The sixth of those last plagues includes preparation for what is known as Armageddon. In northern Israel, on the plain of Jezreel near Megiddo, will be gathered massive military power and might! These armies will actually fight against the Commander of heaven's armies, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John writes: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:11–16).
When Christ returns to this earth, He will conquer all His enemies. He will conquer the nations and their powerful armies that fight against Him at His coming. The Day of the Lord will bring God's judgment on the nations. As we have seen, 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 describes 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).
The Apostle Peter exhorts us 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 time of beauty, prosperity and restoration under the rulership of Christ. May God speed that day!