Who is "email"?
Who is "email"?
There is more than one "day of the Lord" throughout the Bible. For example:
- Destruction of Israel (northern kingdom, Samaria) by the Assyrians (Amos 5-6, especially 5:1-2, 18-20, 27 - 6:1)
- Crushing defeat of Egypt by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 46, especially vs. 1-2, 8-15; see also Ezekiel 30, especially verses 1-11)
- Defeat and capture of Judah (southern kingdom, Jerusalem) by the Babylonians (Zephaniah 1, especially verses 1-4, 7-8, 14-18)
- Destruction of Edom by the Babylonians (Obadiah 1, especially vs. 1, 6-9, 15)
- Destruction of the nation of Babylon by the Medes (Isaiah 13-22, especially vs. 1, 6, 9, 17, 19)
When you read of the Lord coming soon in the New Testament, please understand you are most likely reading about the Lord's judgment on either the Jewish nation (destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D.) or the Roman empire. These events occurred or began to occur during the lifetime of the first century saints. These days did indeed happen "soon" for them. Contrariwise, how could the New Testament apostles and prophets have declared that the "day of the Lord" was to arrive soon, if it did not and has still not arrived after 2000 years?
The way to distinguish between the days of national judgment (Jerusalem or Rome) and final judgment (all mankind, the earth) is context. The destruction of Jerusalem and Rome were always declared to arrive soon. Furthermore, the people were even provided with signs to mark the coming destruction of Jerusalem, so they could flee and avoid judgment with the unbelievers. However, the end of the world was specifically described as coming as a "thief in the night". It was to take all men by surprise and come without warning. Furthermore, its date was unknown. It was never declared to be coming soon.
Matthew 24 shows this distinction very clearly:
Jesus' startling prediction of the temple's complete destruction prompted the apostles' to ask him about the circumstances surrounding the temple's destruction. But, it also prompted them to ask about His return and the end of the world. Whether or not they distinguished these events or lumped them together is not significant to this question, because they clearly misunderstood many things about Jesus, His kingdom, and their work even very late (Acts 1:6-11). The important words were uttered by Jesus, resolving their confusion:Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them ... (Matthew 24:1-4a)
Please notice a few things about this first answer, the timing of the first "day" discussed in this context:Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. ... 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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:15-35)
- They were given a specific sign, which was foretold by Daniel (Daniel 11:30-33), the "abomination of desolation". Jesus was giving them help to avoid this day. Can anybody avoid the last day?
- When they saw the signs, they were to flee to the mountains. Will fleeing to the mountains help the living at the end of the world? Clearly, this is was a geographically limited "day" of wrath.
- They were not to waste time trying to save their belongings, but they were to flee immediately. Again, what good will it do run on the last day?
- How would open city gates (not Sabbath day, Nehemiah 13:15-22), hospitable weather, and unburdened lives (not pregnant or nursing) be advantageous on the last day? Would these advantages help someone avoid the destruction of the entire world?
- How could that day be "shortened", if it is truly the last day? How will any "flesh" be saved on that day? Will not all flesh and time cease on that last day?
- How could that "generation not pass away" until all those words of Jesus were fulfilled? Do we still have people living that are almost 2000 years old?
This in no way describes the last day, the end of the world. However, Jesus does transition to that second question, and please notice the first word he uses to make the transition and set up the contrast for the second "day" under question:
Notice the clear contrast ("But ...")! Jesus sets this second day, the end of the age, as a day that is unknown. It will come suddenly and without warning. We all must always be ready, because we do not know when it will come. There is no sign nor warning that Jesus can give us, so we must be ready at all times! Just as the thief enters without warning, so will Jesus come return the second time.But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44)
Furthermore, this matches descriptions of that last day found elsewhere in Scripture:
Therefore, to answer your question, we have no clue as to when the Lord will return and the world will end. However, we do know, from the above verse, that these events will occur in the same day, the last day - not with 1000 years between!But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in 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. (II Peter 3:10-13)
Be careful when you read about the Lord coming or the "day of the Lord". It could be referring to the destruction of a nation, like Babylon, Egypt, Jerusalem, or Rome, but it could also be referring to the destruction of all nations and peoples, the end of the world. You must be careful to study the context to determine which day is under consideration.
Much more could be said on this passage, and I have skipped over many details for brevity's sake. If you have additional questions, comments, or feedback, I would love to hear it. Studying the Bible is one of the highest joys and responsibilities that all share, who wear the name of Christ.
Footnote #1: Jesus did use very catastrophic language in Matthew 24:29-31; however, this symbolic language is very similar to the language used to describe past days of the Lord, when God destroyed Babylon, Edom, Israel, Egypt, etc. These figurative phrases describe the confusion of lost lights of guidance and rule (confusion in government) and the general instability that surrounds the doom of a nation and its capitol. Compare to passages mentioned at beginning for even more dramatic description of a capitol's fall.
Footnote #2: Jesus "second" coming is "second" among His bodily appearances. The other "days of the Lord" are spiritual and may provoke spiritual recognition of the Lord (Mark 14:61-62), but not physical. The bodily return of the Lord will only happen on the last day (Acts 1:9-11; I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
This is a very deep question, which often leads to many more questions. If you have more, please let me know. ... I look forward to hearing from you soon.