The Great Day
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul refuted claims that the “Day of the Lord” was imminent if not already underway. Contrary to what some voices claim, that day will not come until the “Apostasy” occurs and the “Man of Lawlessness” is unveiled in the House of God. And when Jesus does “arrive” on that final day, he will gather his elect to himself and destroy this malevolent figure.
The “Day of the Lord” is a term found often in the Hebrew Bible for the time of visitation and judgment by God, namely, the “Day of Yahweh” when He intervenes to rescue His people and judge His enemies.
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And in the Hebrew scriptures, that day will be characterized by celestial and terrestrial upheaval, and it will result in the vindication of the saints and the condemnation of their enemies - (Isaiah 2:12, Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:31, 3:14, Malachi 4:5).
THE DAY OF CHRIST
In the letter known as 2 Thessalonians, Paul connects this event to the “arrival” or ‘parousia’ of Jesus when he “gathers” his saints and destroys the “Lawless One.”
In the same context, he describes the future “revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven” when he will “take vengeance” on all those who disobey the gospel. But he will also be glorified in the “saints” and “marveled at” on that very same day. When Jesus is revealed from heaven, both the righteous and the wicked receive their just desserts - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2:1-12).
Paul also discusses the “Day of the Lord” in his first letter to the Thessalonians. That day will mean “sudden destruction” for the unprepared, but the “sons of light” who remain faithful and ready for its sudden arrival will not be overwhelmed or destroyed. Instead, they will “acquire salvation” - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-8).
Elsewhere in his letters, Paul identifies the “Day of the Lord” as the “Day of Jesus Christ,” the moment when he vindicates his righteous ones but judges the wicked.
Thus, at least in this Apostle’s letters, the “Day of the Lord” becomes intimately connected with Jesus and his “arrival” from heaven. The terms “Day of the Lord” and the “Day of Jesus Christ” become synonymous - (1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:14, Philippians 1:6-10, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
The connection between the “Day of the Lord” and the return of Jesus did not originate with Paul. Jesus himself applied language from key Old Testament passages about the “Day of the Lord” when he described the future “coming” of the “Son of Man” – (Matthew 24:29-31).
And so, on that day, the “sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.” When the Lord appears from heaven, “All the tribes of the earth will mourn,” and he will dispatch his angels with the “sound of a trumpet to gather” his elect. This description echoes several passages from the Hebrew Bible, including:
- (Isaiah 13:10) – “The day of Yahweh is coming… For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine.”
- (Joel 3:15) – “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of Yahweh is near… The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. ”
- (Zechariah 12:10) – “They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son… On that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem.”
- (Isaiah 11:12) – “And it shall come to pass on that day… He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
PETER AND REVELATION
The Apostle Peter also links the “Day of the Lord” to the ‘parousia’ at the end of the age. Despite “scoffers” who ask, “Where is the promise of his arrival” or ‘parousia,’ the “Day of the Lord” will come. And when it does, the “heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat.”
In the meantime, believers must live righteously and “earnestly desire the coming of the Day of God” - (2 Peter 3:7-12).
The Book of Revelation also uses the Old Testament language that originally described the “Day of Yahweh,” only now, it is identified with the slain “Lamb.”
For example, on that day, the “sun became black as sackcloth, the moon became as blood, and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth.” All men attempted to hide in caves or under rocks to escape the “face of Him that sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath is come” - (Revelation 6:12-17).
Likewise, all the “kings of the earth” were gathered to the “war of the great day of God, the Almighty” at “Armageddon.” That will be the moment when Jesus arrives “as a thief in the night” - (Revelation 16:14).
Thus, the New Testament consistently identifies the “Day of the Lord” with the “arrival” of Jesus from heaven, the time when he gathers his saints but also renders judgment on his enemies. It will be a day characterized by celestial upheaval and tremendous events on Earth.
But that day will not arrive before the final “falling away” and the unveiling of the “Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Destruction,” the one who will seat himself in the “Sanctuary of God” and employ “all power and signs and lying wonders” to deceive all those who refuse the “love of the truth.”