The “Day of the Lord”?

A friend recently sent me a video on this topic, so I thought I would share an excerpt from my upcoming book, Dawn of This Age, that quickly discusses this notion as well! Here goes:

The concept of the “Day” or the Day of the Lord was first introduced in Exodus 14:30: “So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” This was the day the Hebrews stood on the other side of the Red Sea as the witnesses the Egyptian armies destroyed by the closing walls of water. This was the first Day of the Lord.[1] And before it even happened, Israel was given a major national holiday to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt by the hand of Yahweh through the celebration of Passover in Exodus 13.

As time went on and Israel’s history unfolded, the Day of the Lord during the Exodus became iconic, representing God’s deliverance of the righteous from oppressive empires. Egypt had become like Babylon, and thus God orchestrated it’s downfall in order to set those who were being oppressed free. This notion of freedom for the oppressed and the justice of God is what we find woven into the writings of the major and minor Old Testament prophets.

Here are some notable examples of the Day of the Lord taking place again and again, as God moved against nations and empires, including Israel itself:

· When the Medes destroyed Babylon (Isaiah 13, Daniel 5). · When God punished Egypt through Sargon of Assyria (Isaiah 19-20). · When Edom was destroyed by Babylon (Isaiah 34). · When the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Amos 5:18, Micah 1:3-4). · When Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon (Southern Kingdom) were destroyed for the first time by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 4:23-26, 46:10; Zephaniah 1:2-3, 12-18).

In short, the Day of the Lord represents sovereign moves of God in which He orchestrates events that result in the downfall of an oppressive regime in order to bring freedom to the oppressed. This happened several times in the Old Testament, and the last instance recorded in the Bible was in 70 AD, when apostate Israel itself became like Babylon and Egypt. These are all historical events, and they took place through people and nations. Yet in each instance of the Bible, God is given credit.

There was also a Day of the Lord when Jesus was crucified. It was not by coincidence that he was crucified during the commemoration of Passover.

“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, ‘You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ (Matthew 26:1-2)

The Day of the Lord took place upon the cross, where sin was defeated and the powers of darkness shaken. Jesus rose from the grave in triumph, holding the keys of death and hades (Rev 1:18), and assumed authority over the realms of God and man (Matt 28:18). And the Coming of the Son of Man, The Day of the Lord Jesus, took place in 70 AD when Jerusalem and the Temple were razed (Hebrews 10:24-31).

I’ll even go a step further and suggest that there have been other Days of the Lord since then, as God is not bound to what has only been chronicled in Scripture. For example, the Nazi Regime was most certainly brought down in what I believe was a Day of the Lord, when everything changed in one day, on May 8, 1945. And when Jesus returns, there will be one final Coming of the Son of Man, a Day of the Lord Jesus, where the regime of Satan and evil itself is destroyed once and for all (Revelation 20:9-15).

Now, there is another reference we have in the Scriptures to the Day of the Lord through the words of Jesus. In the Gospels you will notice that He says, “Coming of the Son of Man”, in his prophecies concerning Israel. Why? Jesus WAs actually substituted the phrase, ‘Day of the Lord’, with ‘coming of the Son of Man’, in order to reference certain Old Testament prophecies. For example in Daniel 7:13 we find “One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.” Daniel 7 specifically spoke of the time from 30 to 70 AD, including the oppression of the saints and the end of the Mosaic Age.

It is important to know this in order to understand that Jesus was also picking up on the language of Ezekiel when speaking of the second destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. No other prophet in the Old Testament had the phrase “son of man” recorded more often than Ezekiel. This is most evident in Matthew 24 and 25 (the phrase is used 7 times), and echoed by John in Revelation 1:13 and 14:14.

Jesus was pulling on Old Testament prophecy to provide Scriptural context for the events that were to unfold within the Holy Land in the years leading up to the final destruction of the Temple, and an uprooting of Jerusalem and its people. In a “blitzkrieg” type of assault, the Roman legions stormed upon the unsuspecting (former) Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Son of Man came to bring an end to the obsolete Temple sacrificial system that had continued to keep the Jewish people veiled (2 Cor 3:15) under deception. Hebrews 10:25 and 1 Peter 2 Peter 3:10, for example, also referred to this same event.

The fall of Jerusalem and the Temple was the event the prophet Joel spoke of when he wrote,

“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

Then immediately the prophet writes, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God…” Joel 2:12-13a

The call to repentance was to Israel in light of the coming Roman onslaught. This was part of the context for Peter’s quote of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2. The words of the prophet could not have just been isolated to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Twice, just before and after the mention of the Spirit of God, we find sun and moon turning dark and the Day of the Lord coming. It is impossible for only 1/3 of the prophecy to have been relevant for Peter’s day, and the rest for a distant time in the future. The prophecy had indeed begun its fulfilment, and there was a countdown leading up to the destruction of the Holy Land, from 30 to 70AD. Peter and the followers of Jesus had just tasted the first fruits of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the prophet Joel then warned again,

“I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” Joel 2:29b-31

You can see that Matthew picks up on this imagery much more heavily than Luke. If you read Luke 19 to 21, you will find a more literal reading of Jesus’ prophecies concerning the fall of Jerusalem. But Matthew (chapter 23 to 25) decided to layer his account with more Old Testament prophetic references in order to show his readers that Jesus was speaking of the same events spoken of by the minor prophets (like Malachi 4:5-6).

So why was the event both great and terrible? It was terrible for those that propagated the apostasy in Israel. They deceived the masses, and made sure the persecution against the followers of Jesus was constant. For the Saints, it was great because their deliverance from oppression was coming. And it was great because the Mosaic Age was about to be concluded once and for all.

As Rabbi Dawson notes,

“This vengeance and vindication took place at the same time. Both groups of people saw the same event, the end of Old Covenant Israel (at the hands of the Romans in AD 70) and interpreted it entirely differently. The wicked saw cruel destruction; the righteous saw their salvation from the wicked.”[2]

In short, the Day of the Lord and the Coming of the Son of Man were the same event. And these events have happened several times in Israel’s history, the world’s history, and will happen one last time at the end of history (that Day of the Lord will fulfill what John wrote in Revelation 20:9-15). The only difference in the phrases is in the fact that the Day of the Lord is were Yahweh God is credited for the deliverance, and the “Coming of the Son of Man” are Day of the Lord events where Jesus is credited for the deliverance.

Grace and peace,

Leo De Siqueira

[1] Credit to Tim Mackie and his team at The Bible Project for hashing out this theme as well. Check it out at https://thebibleproject.com/explore/day-lord/

[2] Dawson, Samuel. The Teaching of Jesus - From Sinai to Gehenna: A Faithful Jewish Rabbi Urgently Warns Rebellious Israel (Kindle Locations 3245-3251). SGD Press. Kindle Edition.

Leo De Siqueira