But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (RSV)
The “day of the Lord” is a term used in the Bible to denote a time of judgment. We usually think of it as the end of the world, but this is not always the case. When Judah was destroyed and taken into captivity, Jeremiah equated that to the day of the Lord. Lam 2:22 "As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side. In the day of the Lord's anger no one escaped or survived; those I cared for and reared, my enemy has destroyed." (NIV) On thing is very consistent about the day of the Lord – God is angry and He has had enough. Whether it is a day that has already past or it is a future judgment, God uses physical destruction to bring judgment on people.
References to the day of the Lord are warnings of what He is going to do in the future. These warnings are directed to unrepentant sinners so that they will repent and turn from the evil that He is going to judge. Isa 2:12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled). (NIV) Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. (RSV) The prophet, Isaiah, used clear and concise words to describe the day of the Lord. Think about it. It is cruel. Cruel means deliberately and remorselessly causing pain or anguish. We seldom think of our loving Heavenly Father as someone who would be cruel, but there it is in black and white. God is going to be cruel; He will demonstrate His wrath and fierce anger. There is no way of getting around this and it should make us wake up and take notice. God’s purpose in the destruction of the earth is to destroy sinners. His warnings are provided so that those who heed the warnings will repent and not suffer the wrath the will come.
At some point in time, as we know it, God is going to be fed up with sin on the earth and He will no longer be patient. We have no way of knowing when that day will come. It will be like a thief in the night. Jesus warned us in parables to be watching. Luke 12:39-40 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (NIV)
What does it mean to be watching? Since His wrath will be against sinners, then the obvious thing a watcher must do is to get out of the “sinner” crowd and into the “holy” crowd. In Matt 25:1-12 Jesus tells of a parable of ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. What was the distinction between the two groups of virgins or between the “sinner” crowd and the “holy” crowd that the virgins represent? The wise virgins had enough oil to last the night and the foolish didn’t. They were prepared the others were not. The “sinner” crowd isn’t prepared because they still cling to their sins. They don’t have the oil of the Holy Spirit because they have never repented from their sins and put their faith in Jesus for salvation. They may think they are “spiritual” but they don’t have the only spirit that matters, the Holy Spirit.
In the parable, the foolish bang on the door to get in but the bridegroom says he doesn’t know them. The “sinner” crowd may even say they know Jesus but their actions show that they don’t. They had all the time necessary to get prepared, they had the company of the wise virgins and could see that they were prepared, but they put off the decision too long. Just as the bridegroom says he doesn’t know the foolish virgins, so Jesus will tell the sinners it is too late on the day of the Lord. They will face the full fury of the Lord.
Just as the wise virgins are given entrance to the wedding supper, so the “holy” crowd will be taken out of the way of God’s wrath when it is finally demonstrated. 1 Thess 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV) The meaning is very clear. We, who have put our total faith in Jesus for salvation, will not undergo God’s wrath. We may have to suffer in many ways, but that is not His wrath. Go back to the verse in Isaiah and think about His wrath. It is cruel and fierce. When we suffer in this world it is not because God is cruel or angry with us. When God becomes cruel and wrathful against sinners, we don’t want to be anywhere near them.
Sometimes, we do suffer because we have been associating with sinners or we are simply living in sinful world. When God brings judgment on them, it causes us pain. When anyone sins, it causes us pain. Even though Jeremiah didn’t partake in the sins of Judah, he suffered loss when God judged them.
However, the day of the Lord that we are looking forward to is not like the day of the Lord that God brought upon Judah. It is more like the judgment of Korah’s rebellion. Num 16:23-24 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Say to the assembly, 'Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'" (NIV) God calls us to be separate from sinners even when we live in the world. We don’t want to be in harm’s way when God does judge them.
I think there is going to be at least three more days of the Lord. The first is when Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church. 1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (NIV) This is what we call the rapture of the church. God will separate us from sinners and will then execute judgment on them. Jesus spoke of this in Matt 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-35 when He said one will be taken and the other left. At this point the great tribulation will begin.
During the great tribulation there will be some people who become Christians and separate themselves from the “sinner” crowd. At the end of the tribulation, there will be another day of the Lord. Again, the Lord will separate sinners from the righteous. Jesus spoke of this time in Matt 13:37-43 when He explained the parable of the weeds in the field. Matt 13:41-42 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NIV) Note the difference between these verses where the wicked are gathered up and tossed in the fire and the verses in 1 Thess 4:16-17 where the righteous are caught up. This second day of the Lord will occur when Jesus comes back in Rev 19. The separation is also previewed in Rev 14:14-20 where an angle swings his sickle on the earth to reap a harvest and put them in winepress of God’s wrath.
The third day of the lord will be the very last one and is the one that Peter talks about. It is described in Rev 20:7-21:1. During the millennial reign of Christ, there will be unbelievers. It is hard to imagine that people would not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior when He is physically present on earth. However, there will be billion as is demonstrated at the end. Satan will gather all those who oppose Christ and they will march against Him as He reigns in Jerusalem. Poof! Fire from heaven, end of the world, new heaven and new earth. It will be quick and it will be final. It will be the last day of the Lord as believers enter into eternity in the presence of God and unbelievers enter eternity in hell.
I wrote two novels to describe how the events before this last day of the Lord might happen. The Sovereign Reigns, or Does He? (part 1) and The Sovereign’s Last Battle (part II.) They are out of print but Amazon may have a couple left. I have a few left in the garage and you buy them from me.
Click on the button to order The Sovereign Reigns, or Does He?
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