The Day of the Lord

What did the prophets mean by the term "the day of the Lord?"

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One of the interesting terms that comes up in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament is that phrase, "the day of the Lord." And it is the day that the prophets refer to when God will save his people and when he will judge the nations. In Amos chapter… Sorry, in Joel 2:31 we read this: "The sun will turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." It's a day of judgment for Joel, and yet it is also a great day of salvation. He goes on and he says, "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance as the Lord has said among the survivors whom the Lord calls." Obadiah speaks of the same day of the Lord in Obadiah 15: "The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done for you. Your deeds will return upon your head." Again, he is thinking there of judgment eventually coming upon the nations. What they do is they see this as a time in the future, a specific time when God will return, and they don't see it in the way we as Christians understand it, that this will be about Christ returning. They just know that the prophets have told them God will return on a certain day, and when he does, he will bring judgment to those who have been our oppressors as God's people, and he will bring salvation and relief to us as his people. In the New Testament, of course, that is now taken up, and we understand it to be the time when Christ returns in glory, when he vindicates his people, and when his own name is vindicated in both the judgment on the one hand and in the great salvation and blessing of the end days for his people.

Answer by Dr. Paul Gardner

Dr. Paul Gardner is Senior Pastor of ChristChurch Presbyterian in Atlanta, GA.