The Old Testament prophets frequently used the term “The DAY of the LORD,” but it is interesting when you wonder what the writers considered the term meant.
None of them could see the roll-out of history and the unfolding of their prophecies. In the case of “The Day of the Lord,” which is still unfulfilled except the smallest shadow touching on the destruction of Israel in the past, all these great prophecies remain to be fulfilled.
I have been considering all these references for more than 10 years and now wish to post this article as a guide to what this term means.
DOUBLE AND PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
Mention must be made again of the principles of double fulfillment and partial fulfillment. Sometimes a prophecy is made and is partially fulfilled, but its greater fulfillment still is in the future. As an example, I cite this one:
Luke 4:16-21 “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read, and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord.’ He closed the book and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'”
Jesus read from Isaiah, actually from Isaiah 61, and He said that the scripture that day was fulfilled in their hearing. Now we will look at the scripture as it is written in Isaiah and take note of the underlined parts. 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favourable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant those who mourn in Zion–giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
The underlined parts above still await fulfillment.
The vengeance refers to the Tribulation, and the comfort for those who mourn will be for the Jewish saints when the Lord comes for them at the Second Coming. At His first coming, the Lord did not come in judgment on the world, but after the Rapture, this Isaiah passage will be fulfilled completely. That Luke scripture is an example of a double fulfillment, a partial fulfillment. Some of the Old Testament passages that speak of the Day of the LORD are looking at the judgment of God that happened in the Old Testament (especially Judah’s overthrow), but they will all go beyond that for a greater fulfillment.
The DAY OF THE LORD is “The Day of Jehovah,” and its usage is always associated with something dire, with judgment, and with events outside the implementation of man. In other words, it is the intervention of God with the power of God in the affairs of this world. It has a primary application to Israel, but that is always extended often to a wider field, and that involves the world.
The term covers the chronology of events after the Rapture right up to the new heavens and the new earth, which is the culmination of all human history before the eternal state. It is the time when God openly and dramatically intervenes in the undertakings of this earth in awesome power and wrath. Therefore, the DAY of the LORD covers the Tribulation; the judgments and the way humans will react to it. In particular, the greatest concentration of prophecies and the usage of this term relate to the Second Coming of the Lord – His glorious appearing; the Second Coming, which is for Armageddon and His Return to His earthly people, the Jews. It often deals with signs and people’s emotions and cosmic happenings. It is very much connected with Israel and her dealings with God and the nations.
There are so many references to the time period known as “The Day of the LORD,” and many of them don’t mention the whole term, but we know that is what is being referred to as it parallels other passages. The list is exhaustive and too big to include all texts, but I want to list most of the major mentions for the OT and NT references for the DAY of the LORD, and special points are underlined:
. Isaiah 13:6-13 “Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will fall limp, and every man’s heart will melt, and they will be terrified, pains and anguish will take hold of them. They will writhe like a woman in labour, they will look at one another in astonishment, their faces aflame.
“Behold, the DAY of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation, and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger.”
((It is essential that each separate passage in this study be looked at in context. This context here begins speaking about Babylon, but it is not long before one realizes that it goes way beyond Babylon to be placed in a whole world sphere. The destruction of Babylon is prophesied, the ruin coming from the Medes (verse 17) who will reduce the land to a fate like Sodom and Gomorrah. The study of the above verses clearly indicates that the prophecy goes way beyond Babylon and can only have its setting in the Tribulation time, especially right at the end, on the eve of the Second Coming.
Look at the parts underlined, and you will see this far exceeds the Medes conquering Babylon in the past, for it touches on cosmic signs. God is really going to shake the whole solar system, even our galaxy and people at the end of the 7-year Tribulation will be terrified, hearts melting in anguish.
People who reject the Lord will be compelled to acknowledge His terrifying power. The cosmic signs feature often in the prophetic writings, for it is through the signs that God displays His message. The destruction of Babylon in the past, in a minor application to the “Day of the LORD,” will have a worldwide application in the future on Babylon the Great and Mystery Babylon just before the Second Coming (Revelation 17 and 18).
In fact, a good portion of it parallels what Jesus gave as signs of His Second Coming, which are signs of the end of the age, the end of the Tribulation. Matthew 24:29-30 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”
There is one interesting statement in verse 12 – “I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.” On a previous occasion, I outlined the great loss of life through the book of Revelation so that when you come to the gathering of the entire world’s armies against Jerusalem and Israel on the eve of the Second Coming leading to Armageddon, their numbers are really small by that time. (It is in the Gog/Magog post a fair while back.) Isaiah confirms that fact in verse 12 – that the world’s population at the Second Coming will be quite small.
Also, the expression in verse 13 – “the earth will be shaken from its place” will happen just before the Second Coming as described by John, the last of all the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments. Revelation 16:17-20 “The seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is done.’ And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
This Isaiah 13 passage sits right in the dreadful time of the conclusion of the wrath of God, at the end of the Tribulation when all is prepared for the Second Coming.))
. Lamentations 2:22 “You called, as if to a festival day, my terrors on every side, and there was no one who escaped or survived in the day of the LORD’s anger. Those whom I bore and reared, My enemy annihilated them.”
((I am going to do this one very carefully. The Lamentation references are not directly, as others, relating to the Day of the LORD in an obvious sense, but are more specific as a lament for the fallen and defeated nation because of the Babylonian devastation when Judah was overthrown. It resulted in terror and great judgment, for the Lord’s anger was severe. However, there is a connection, for the time is coming at the end of the Tribulation when Israel will experience terror and threat to its very existence. All this happens in the period of the Day of the LORD.
In the Tribulation, when God again takes up Israel, the nation comes under the discipline of the Lord, but at the same time, he calls them to salvation (a sizable number, maybe one-third). However, terror and distress will be known for Israel in the Day of the LORD. We know that from Zechariah, for example, in the following verses:
Zechariah 12:1-2 “The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel. Thus declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, ‘Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah.’
Zechariah 14:2-3 “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.”
The following verses from Lamentations could equally be applied to the time of Jacob’s trouble when the nations are gathered against Israel, ready to devour it, as detailed in Zechariah above.
Lamentations 2:16-18 “All your enemies have opened their mouths wide against you. They hiss and gnash their teeth. They say, ‘We have swallowed her up! Surely this is the day for which we waited. We have reached it, we have seen it.’ The LORD has done what He purposed. He has accomplished His word which He commanded from days of old. He has thrown down without sparing, and He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you. He has exalted the might of your adversaries. Their heart cried out to the Lord, ‘O wall of the daughter of Zion, let your tears run down like a river day and night. Give yourself no relief. Let your eyes have no rest.'”
Also, we must not overlook the following verses that close Lamentations because it would parallel any prayer the faithful saints will make on that terrible day, when the Day of the LORD has reached its culmination right on the eve of the Second Coming – 5:19-22 “You, O LORD, rule forever. Your throne is from generation to generation. Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored. Renew our days as of old, unless You have utterly rejected us, and are exceedingly angry with us.”))