The Day of the Lord Will Soon Dawn

Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (September 2016)

It is noticeable that there are various time-scales in the Bible to indicate shorter or longer periods. Because of this, the Bible has a number of different applications of the concepts “day” and “week”:

·         There is a week of days composed of days of 24 hours each. This is the most common unit of time (cf. Lev. 23:3).

·         There is a week of weeks, i.e. 50 days (cf. Lev. 23:15-16). In terms of the Jewish system of inclusive reckoning of time there are 50 days in seven weeks as both the first and last days in this period are counted as full days. The Feast of Pentecost (the Feast of the 50th Day) is reckoned from the Sunday after Passover until the eighth Sunday, seven weeks later, when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the year 32 AD.

·         There is a week of years in which seven years are grouped together as a year-week or a “sabbath of years” (Lev. 25:2-8). In Daniel 9:24, year-weeks are referred to as “weeks” or “sevens”. The coming tribulation period will also be a year-week. The 50th year after seven year-weeks is called a Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-11).

·         Then there is a week of millennia in which each day represents a thousand years. The entire human dispensation from Adam to the end of the millennial reign of peace can be fitted into such a week. “… with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8).

As far as this last-mentioned “week” is concerned, it is conspicuous that there were two millennia between Adam and Abraham, two millennia between Abraham and Christ, followed by two millennia of church history, and then ultimately the millennium of the thousand-year reign of peace. Together they constitute about seven millennia.

It is important to be mindful of this time-scale, since the church age and the time of Israel’s spiritual hardening and international dispersion are sometimes referred to as “two days”, meaning two millennia. The inception of the church was in AD 32, while the long period of Israel’s spiritual blinding after rejecting the Messiah also started in the same year. Their international dispersion indeed only occurred in AD 70 during the Roman invasion, but that was the direct consequence of what had happened in AD 32. The “two days” of Israel’s spiritual blinding therefore elapse between Israel’s national rejection of the Messiah and His second coming when the whole remnant of the nation will be reconciled to Him. That will be followed by the seventh day of this week of millennia, i.e. Christ’s thousand-year reign of peace. This period is often described as “the day of the Lord” or simply “that day”.

As far as the church dispensation is concerned, Jesus Himself referred to it as two days: “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” However, when He said this He still continued for much more than two days of 24 hours each with His earthly ministry of healing the sick and delivering those who were demon-possessed. In fact, during the past two thousand years He further continued with His work of salvation to heal the sick and deliver those who are bound by satanic bonds of sin. He will continue with this work until He reaches His destination as King in His reign of peace. He will only then conclude His duties of the previous “two days”. According to the Strong’s Concordance the Greek word which is rendered “perfected”, teleioo, means “to complete, accomplish, finish, consummate, fulfil, make perfect.” The NIV says: “… on the third day I will reach my goal.” The Lord Jesus is not only Prophet and High Priest but also King. In the third thousand years after His first coming He will reach His destination as King and rule the whole world from the throne of David. That was His ultimate mission from the very beginning, and was confirmed by the angel’s message to Mary: “The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David” (Luke. 1:32).

Zachariah also refers to “that day” in which Jesus will rule as King: “And in that day it shall be – that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them towards the eastern sea and half of them towards the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:8-9). In this “day” there will be multiple summers and winters, which suggests a period of many years. The one half of the stream will flow easterly towards the Dead Sea and heals its water so that many fishes will live there (Ezek. 47:1-12). The other half of the stream will flow westerly towards the Mediterranean Sea. That will all happen during the “third day” after Christ has returned to Jerusalem.

The two days of the church dispensation are also associated with the spiritual blindness and diaspora of Israel. In a Messianic prophecy the Lord says to Israel that they will only, as a nation, discover the truth after two days (two millennia) during the afflictions of the great tribulation, and will then look for their Messiah whom they have rejected: “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. [Through their open hostility and rejection of Jesus the Jewish leaders left Him no choice but to announce the destruction of Jerusalem and the diaspora of the nation]. I will return again to My place [the ascension of Jesus] till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction [during the great tribulation] they will earnestly seek Me. Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight” (Hos. 5:14–6:2). From this scripture it is evident that the Lord Jesus has temporarily terminated His physical presence in Israel when He ascended to heaven. The Jews in Jerusalem will only see Him again in Jerusalem after “two days” when He will appear on the Mount of Olives at the end of the tribulation period. That is when their national reconciliation to Him will take place.

The two days of Israel’s spiritual and physical exile have therefore started when He ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. Subsequently, they no longer had the light of the world in their midst and all of a sudden events in the Holy Land took a turn for the worst – they were involved in increased clashes with the Roman authorities and all hope on peace quickly faded away. Only the Messianic Jews, who had the Holy Spirit in their hearts, made the light of Christ to shine in a dark world. However, they were also driven away from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4). Because of these developments Israel rendered themselves an easy target to the kingdom of darkness; consequently, they were on a downward course towards the great judgement of AD 70 when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the surviving Jews dispersed across the globe.

It is a wonderful prophetic prospect that, during the great distress of the tribulation period after many centuries of wanderings, Israel will seriously reconsider the woeful mistakes which their forefathers made two millennia ago, humble themselves before the Lord, confess these sins and become reconciled to the Messiah (Zech. 12:10). Because of this spiritual awakening all of Israel (the remnant) will be saved at the beginning of the third day and then joyfully walk in the presence of the Messiah during His reign of peace. They will serve Him with all their heart and never again apostatise: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:31-34). The great rebel, Satan, will be incarcerated in a pit together with his demons (Rev. 20:1-3), and only the Christian faith will be recognised and practised worldwide (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 3:17).

Characteristics of the day of the Lord

It is important to correctly understand the concept “the day of the Lord” in all the different contexts in which it is used. It refers to the long period of God’s end-time revelations to humanity through Jesus Christ, starting with the rapture and ending with the judgement of the great white throne at the end of Christ’s millennial reign, which will be followed by the creation of the new heaven and earth. Some of the prophecies about this time only refer to the meeting between Jesus Christ and His bridal congregation, others (most of them) refer to the severe judgements of God during the great tribulation, others to Christ’s reign as King and other aspects of His millennial reign, while yet others only reflect on the final judgement and the new creation. However, all these themes are constituent parts of the same period known as “the day of the Lord”. The following are the most important applications of this concept (emphasis is added to indicate where the concepts “the day of the Lord”, “that day” and “the great day of His wrath” occur in the quoted scriptures):

·         Coming of the Bridegroom. The end-time revelations of Jesus Christ will begin on the day when He reveals Himself as heavenly Bridegroom to His earthly bride, glorify them and take them away to their home in heaven (John 14:2-3). There, they will appear before His judgement seat to receive rewards of grace. Paul eagerly looked forward to this “day”: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

·         The great tribulation. Many of the prophecies on the day of the Lord refer to the judgements of the great tribulation: “For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? … The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD” (Joel 2:11, 31; cf. Isa. 13:9-13). John says: “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. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and 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?” (Rev. 6:12-17). During the climax of these disasters and judgements Christ will appear on the Mount of Olives: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4).

·         Israel will be spiritually purified to truly become a people of God. “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. It shall be in that day, says the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land” (Zech. 13:1-2). In the same way in which the church now has the responsibility to evangelise the world, the saved Israel will be commissioned to proclaim the gospel to all nations during the millennium: “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6). Paul made the following remark on Israel’s spiritual calling: “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” (Rom. 11:11-12). The disciples were commanded to take the gospel which was rejected by Israel to all nations so they can be grafted into the olive tree of God’s kingdom (Rom. 11:17-21). We are now faced with the duty to serve the Messiah and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in such a way that we will provoke the Jews to jealousy with a view to their salvation – even if only a small minority of them respond positive to our testimony. When all Israelis are saved during the millennium they will, even more than in the past, be a blessing to the entire world. They will be held in high esteem by all nations: “Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:22-23; also read Isaiah 60:10-22).

·         Jesus as King in the millennium. “The LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously” (Isa. 24:23). “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10). “In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 17:7). “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be – the LORD is one and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). He will rule from Jerusalem over all nations (Acts 15:16-17).

·         Peace and harmony in the Middle East. It is not only the remnant of Israel who will be saved during the second coming of Christ, but also a remnant of all the other nations (Matt. 24:29-30). Because of this, all non-Christian faiths will vanish from the scene, resulting in absolute peace and harmony among all nations. There will no longer be religiously motivated wars (so-called “holy wars”), and that will be particularly evident in the relations between various (formerly hostile) nations in the Middle East: “Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land [the earth], whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isa. 19:21-25).

·         Jerusalem will be the unanimously accepted capital of the world. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:2-4).

·         Recreation at the end of the Lord’s day. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which [at the end of 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. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:10-14).

We have every reason to entertain a short-term expectation on the dawning of the seventh day in the “week” of human history. Only at the end of this week the “former things” will pass away and “all things” will be made new (Rev. 21:4-5).