The Day of the Lord

This is a continuation of sorts of the posts Soon and So…What Happened? as well as sidebars of other post. These posts were written also to stand on their own in the case that God leads me in another direction with writing. Generally, the day before, I have no idea what I may write about on the following day. Likewise, yesterday was the same. While talking with God this morning, this seems to be the next step. In addition, I generally only have a discombobulated concept in my head that makes perfect sense to me but takes some correlation to put it in words.
As with, and correlating to, the soon terminology, there is a lot of language pointing towards a specific “day” throughout the New Testament. This language is also mentioned in the Old Testament writings and more adamantly presented in Malachi. Though the specific day and hour were unknown, the time frame is listed as that generation. As well, Jesus and the disciples also make reference to their respective audiences that some of those listeners would live to see that “day” (as referenced in the “Soon” post).
Here are some of the verses that all seem to be referencing that day, with my emphasis for easier reading. Please refer to the full context if interested and feel free to skip around as the concept may become quite repetitive:
Malachi 4:5—Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. (Matt 11:13-14 John the Baptist was Elijah).
This is no doubt referring to the Second Coming of Jesus when he comes in judgment. If it were referencing Pentecost, it wouldn’t have been referenced as terrible. Likewise, it seems the rest of the scriptures were also referencing this same day.
Matt 7:22—Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’
This is referencing a soon-coming judgment as also repeated in Matt 25. The time frame starts in Matt 23:36-37, is reiterated at the beginning of chapter 24 (i.e. v1-3), and continues in Matt 25 as one continuous prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus in judgment.
Luke 10:12—I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
A few interesting things are going on in this verse. First, as with the others, it’s referencing a specific day of judgment. Additionally, it is hinting that there will be varying degrees of judgment, some more tolerable that others! This throws quite the monkey wrench in the doctrine of all sinners burning in hell for all eternity.
Luke 17:30—It will be the same way in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
Again, this seems to be referencing the Second coming of Jesus since this was at a point when he was already in the full swing of his ministry. Additionally, the next verse is again referencing the prophecy of the coming destruction (v31).
Luke 21:34—“So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly.
Here we see something very interesting—the why of the early church being told to be careful and aware. If these early Christians weren’t paying attention to the signs, they would likely get caught up in the judgment coming. Verses 35 and 36 go on to state that they could be snared and even that escape was possible (for those who watched the signs carefully). These are some directed concepts that only seem to make sense in regards to those of the 1st century. Like with Matt 24, this was again all in the context of the temple’s destruction (v5-6)
Romans 2:16—in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.
As all of these “day” references reiterate, there is to be a judgment. The context of timing is always soon.
1 Cor 3:13—each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is.
Hebrews 10:25—not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
This is one of those verses that is often taken out of it’s context and misappropriated to something that wasn’t its’ original intent. The author here is encouraging the congregation to continue to meet under extreme persecution based on the time period and the rest of this letter. This wasn’t about requiring people to meet or else they were doomed to hell. In addition, this verse makes reference to these people seeing the signs of the Second Coming as imminent! This is (in my opinion based on the rest of the N.T. passages) referencing Jesus’ prophetic warning signs from Matt 24 and the likes.
2 Thess 2:2—I wanted to point this passage out to mention that some Christians knew that the day was coming so soon that they thought it might have already passed. Paul reminds them that the “man of sin” must come first and there must be a falling away. Many Christians did fall away under the persecution. The “man of sin” is another topic, but again seems to have transpired, based on the timing suggested in the N.T. around the period leading up to the temple’s destruction.
I’ve only made it part of the way though the passages, but I believe the point is fairly clear. I’ll list some of the other verses if interested in further research, though there are many more. Emphasis below is mine for easier viewing.

1 Thess 5:2 – for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thess 5:4 – But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
2 Tim 1:12 – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
2 Tim 1:18 – May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
2 Tim 4:8 – Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
1 Cor 1:8 – He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 5:5 – hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Phil 1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil 1:10 – so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
2 Peter 2:9 – if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment
2 Peter 3:7 – By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:12 – as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
Acts 2:20 – The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
Jude 1:6 – And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Rev 6:17 – For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Rev 16:14 – 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.
Rom 2:5 –  But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God;
Matt 10:15 – Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Matt 11:22 – But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
Matt 11:24 – But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Matt 12:36 – But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
1 John 4:17 – This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
Ephes 4:30 – Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
John 6:39-40 – And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.  For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 6:54 – Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 11:24 – Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

All of these point to a day of the Lord, day of judgment/wrath, great day, last day, etc…They all reference the same time period and signs that were being made evident to the 1st century Christians. They were all looking forward to that day as it was rapidly approaching. If we deny the overwhelming evidence of scripture, we in turn make the Bible of little use other than a book of random philosophical teachings. Our religion then becomes the same as any other religion on earth. When placed into the context of the soon terminology, Jesus’ words—also reiterated in the apostles’ teachings, and the repeated association of the “day” terminology, we get a different view of when and to whom the scriptures were directed. Such evidence, when laid aside in favor of tradition, can violate the very passages we uphold so adamantly.
Now, I know I come across as quite direct here, but I think this is quite a glazed over concept that is stretched into a far-future fulfillment. Based on the contexts, this doesn’t seem very likely when comparing all of the varying books and authors. They all seem to be talking about that soon-coming Day. They all seemed to speak as though that Day would undoubtedly come within their generation. They seem to intimate that the signs Jesus spoke of were being seen by themselves and their fellow Christians in the 1st Century.
If, for all their divinely inspired writings, they were so inexorably wrong about this concept, then we have a Bible that we can never hope to understand and is subject to whatever whim we, or anyone else, wishes to apply to it.
As always, I would like to say this can all be set aside if it isn’t something that is helpful in your journey towards Father, with Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. I only wish to present my viewpoint so as to help clarify the awkwardness in which these passages are often viewed.
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So…What Happened?

This is a continuation of the post, Soon. In summary, the apostles all seemed to believe, based on their letters, that Jesus was returning soon, within their generation, and some of them would live to see it. This notion, as alluded to from the former post, seemed to have been instilled in them by Jesus. So, what actually happened?
There’s three ways to look at this. The first unlikely scenario is that both Jesus and the apostles were wrong. I don’t think this needs much refutation to Christians.
A second view is that they meant something else. However, the soon language is so prevalent throughout the New Testament and Jesus’ second coming seems to be alluded to, if not outright stated, in almost every letter of all the apostles, that this scenario also seems heavily unlikely.
The third view is that both Jesus and the apostles were right and something significant and literally world altering happened in the 1st century after Jesus’ ascension.
If we argue for the first view, then atheist have every right to disregard scripture. If Jesus and the apostles were wrong about one thing, how much else were they wrong about?
If we argue for the second view, then we can make scripture say anything we want by twisting the wording to our own desires. Sadly, this happens a lot in modern Christianity.
If we take the third view, and consider that something apocalyptic happened in the first century, then it better aligns with the rest of scripture.
We can skew the Bible to mean anything, but if we do that, then we in turn invalidate the Word. If we take it for what it says, relevant to the people it was written to (most of it wasn’t about us today), then we can begin to come to a better understanding of what the Bible is for and what relevance and application it actually does have in our lives today. This can be a far greater and more beautiful meaning than we ever hoped to dream by our current views.
A note, I don’t tend to write on Saturdays unless God lays something on my heart that I just can’t shake. This topic goes far deeper and I encourage research by anyone viewing this. Just what was going on in the 1st century that would have made everyone believe that Jesus was returning very soon? What type of end of the world, or age, event took place? The answers to these questions may be astounding when uncovered.

Soon

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to more fully address to whom and for what reason the New Testament prophecies were written. Many today live under the assumption that they were written to, and about, us. Jesus and the apostles, however, use a lot of “soon” language in reference to the end times (aka the end of the age). Have you ever wondered why such wording was used, yet today we insist it hasn’t happened yet?
First, there has been much research done and a general acceptance that most of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled. The problem is more in the New Testament prophecies.
In this particular post, I wanted to focus more on the timeline in which these prophecies were to take place—that is, soon.
For brevity’s sake, I will only list some of the more appropriate and direct verses:
Matthew 16:27-28
Matthew 24:1-3, 34
Revelation 1:13:1122:7, 12, 20
These verses appear to be fairly straight forward if we let them speak for themselves. It’s when an external meaning is attempted to be retrofitted that they become confusing and lose their original intent.
In addition to the above, the apostles also taught this soon theology in regards to these same prophecies.
So what’s the point of bringing up this timing issue? Either the events have already happened like Jesus said they would, and the apostles reiterated, or we have to do theological gymnastics to justify our stance that these things haven’t taken place yet.
One of the verses commonly used to circumvent the “soon” terminology is 2 Peter 3:8. This verse is referencing God’s patient in bringing judgment on Israel, but now that Jesus had come, delivering a timetable (that generation), the judgment would commence, and the new age would be fully substantiated, very soon.
A second verse like this is when Jesus states that no one knew the day or time, but only Father did (Matt 24:36). How could Jesus state “soon” if he didn’t know? The question is answered from the other verses (above). Jesus knew it would be within that generation and that some standing there would in no way taste of death until they saw it. The day and hour, however, weren’t specified.
Another view is that prophecy can mean multiple things, having a double or triple meaning and fulfillment. However, this isn’t how prophecy worked in the Old Testament, and isn’t how it works in the Bible all together. A prophetic passage always related directly to the specified event or people. In addition, if a passage can have multiple meanings, we can manipulate scripture to mean whatever we want. If scripture can have any meaning, then it has no meaning at all. I believe this to be also communicated in Rev 22:18-19 as adding to or taking away from what was originally intended to be heard by those the passages are written directly to. Revelation, for example, is written to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Why would Jesus give assurances to these churches that wasn’t relevant to their lives? Why would the apostles give the same kind of false hope to the recipients of their epistles?
Yet another view is that Jesus and the apostles wanted everyone to be ever vigilant throughout all of human history. This is a bit of a stretch as it would give false hope of deliverance from oppression to those that the messages of “soon” were delivered.  This was a large part of the prophecy—that the extreme persecution would come to an end, and soon. The call was to be on the lookout for “The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.” Great for those being delivered from oppression, terrible for those doing the oppressing. The idea, I believe, was for the sheep not to be caught up with the goats (Matt 25:32—this was part of the same prophecy), but instead, flee from Judea when they saw the signs of the judgment coming lest they be caught in the tribulation also.
So this is my view of the “soon” terminology used. Overall, the topic of New Testament prophecy goes much deeper, but I only wanted to point out how the timetable was applied relevant to those that were originally receiving these messages. I may continue deeper into this as God prompts.
One last question for thought—If that Day was to be within a generation, and some of those that heard the prophecy would live to see its fulfillment, when did it actually happen?