The Day of the Lord -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 04:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: The Day of the Lord
Author: John F. Walvoord

The Day of the Lord

John F. Walvoord

Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas


After the Apostle Paul introduces the comprehensive view of the Rapture, he wrote, “Now, brothers, 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.” (1 Thess 5:1–2). The day of the Lord, like the Rapture, has no preceding signs and therefore is pictured as “a thief in the night” whose coming is not anticipated.

Much confusion on this subject has arisen by interpreters who try to interpret this expression on the basis of New Testament references. It is, however, a major Old Testament reference and, unless the whole Bible is studied on this subject, only confusion arises in attempting to describe the day of the Lord in the New Testament. One of the common mistakes is to make the day of the Lord begin at the Second Coming of Christ as all posttribulationists do. However, the events that precede the Second Coming are precisely what would be anticipated under a correct definition of the day of the Lord. Clarity is brought to the subject when a comprehensive definition of the term is found in all Scriptures.

The Day Of The Lord In The Old Testament

According to the Bible, the day of the Lord is a time when God deals in direct judgment of the world in contrast to a time of grace when he does not. There were frequent days of the Lord in the Old Testament when God dealt with Israel because of their straying and would bring in an invader or would introduce drought or famine or some other catastrophe. These periods had a beginning and an ending, but obviously were more than a twenty-four-hour day. It was an extended period of time, long or short, depending on the circumstances. The term “the day of the Lord” is

also used to refer to the time of millennial blessing, because in the millennium God will deal in direct judgment on sin and there will be a rule with an iron scepter, indicating absolute judgment as in Revelation 19:15. The day of the Lord is pictured as a time of darkness (1 Thess 5:1–4). In a period of twenty-four hours the day comes before the darkness at evening. All these factors are brought out in the Old Testament references to the day of the Lord (Isa 2:12–22; 13:9–16; 34:1–8; Joel 1...

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