The Day of the Lord

       In the Scriptures, the day of the lord is a phrase that is used to describe a day of destruction.[1]

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. Am. 5:18

       Accordingly, wherever we see this phrase being used, it should not always be assumed to be describing the actual Return of Christ, Himself, but rather His coming in judgment. This can be seen in the following verses that describe the Attack on Jerusalem, which will occur on the day of the Lord.
A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Zech. 14:1-2

       Similarly, the Battle of Armageddon is also described as taking place onthe Great Day of God Almighty, even though it will occur before the actual Return of Christ.
They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Rev. 16:14-16

       In these verses, the Battle of Armageddon is described as occurring on the Great Day of God Almighty, even though it will not occur at the Second Coming of Christ. Likewise, during this battle, the Lord is said to comelike a thief, which is a phrase that is also used to describe a day of judgment when those in darkness will be destroyed. 

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thess. 5:1-3
       As in the previous instances, the use of the phrase, the day of the Lord should not be taken to mean that the Lord himself will appear, but that He will come in judgment. This is also true in the case where we are told that the Lord will be revealed during the Attack on Jerusalem.

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.” Luke 17:30-31

       In these passages, the word revealed refers to how the people of Israel will know in their hearts that it is God who is judging them, and not that Christ will literally appear to them. This can be seen by how the word that is translated as revealed(apokalupto; SEC 601) means to uncover and is used in the Scriptures to describe when a person receives an inner revelation from God. 

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed
(apokalupto; SEC 601) to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Matt. 16:15-17

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed
(apokalupto; SEC 601) by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. Eph. 3:4-5

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear (apokalupto; SEC 601) to you. Phil. 3:15

      From the above passages, we see how the word that is translated as revealed, and that is used to describe the Attack of Jerusalem, is elsewhere used to describe when a person receives an insight from God.Correspondingly, when the Scriptures say that the Lord will be revealed to Israel during the Attack on Jerusalem, it does not mean that He will literally appear to them but that the people will know in their hearts that the attack is the result of the judgment of God.       
       Likewise, in the description of the earthquake that will provide a way of escape for the Fleeing Remnant of Israel, the Lord is portrayed as standing with His feet on the Mount of Olives.  

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. Zech. 14:4

       The above description does not mean that God’s feet will literally appear on the mountain, or that the Return of Christwill take place at this time. Instead, this is the Scripture’s way of describing how it will be the Lord who will cause the earthquake to occur. This is a common theme in the Scriptures where God’s intervening in acts of nature is described as the Lord’s arm coming down or as the Lord sweeping His hand over the earth etc.   

The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. Isa. 30:30

The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over in sandals. Isa. 11:15

       In the above examples, God’s physical arm,hand, or feet do not literally appear. Instead, these are instances where figurative language is used to describe how God will bring judgment through acts of nature. Accordingly, the Scriptures must be read with the understanding that whenever the Lord is described as coming down or being revealed, or when His hand, feet, or arms are said to appear over the earth, it does not mean that Christ himself will appear but that He will be seen in acts of judgment.
       The actual Return of Christ will not take place until the Destruction of Heaven and Earth by fire where we read that the Lord Himself will come down and the dead in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the air.

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. 1 Thess. 4:16-17

       When the Scriptures tells us that the Lord Himself will come down, it is a description of the literal Return of Christ when the dead will be raised and the living will be caught up to meet Him in the air.

[1] Is. 13:6,9; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 3:14; Ez. 30:30; Obad. 1:15; 2 Thess. 2:8