I back off on the prophecy posts, but I guess that’s why people come here. So here is the next prophecy (eschatology) post.
On my post on 11-9-06 about the length of the Great Tribulation, I concluded (along with scripture) that the Great Tribulation is NOT a seven year period. There is a future seven year period (see my post 11-14-06) which we can scripturally term Daniel’s seventieth week. But that entire seven year period is not the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation begins at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week and runs partially through a 3 1/2 year period and is cut short by the return of Christ otherwise no flesh would be saved. The mistake that many Bible scholars make is to equate the entire seven year period with the Great Tribulation which is not scriptural.
Now here is another mistake that Bible scholars make. They also equate the Biblical phrase "The Day of the LORD" with the entire seven year period as well. This also is something that cannot be proven scripturally. The Day of the LORD is actually a period in time that immediately follows the Great Tribulation. I’m not going to do an exhaustive study on the phrase The Day of the LORD, but a couple of key scriptures will help us to understand the timing of this event.
First off, the phrase was used by the OT prophets in conjunction with God’s coming judgement. God would judge, but not all of the prophecies concerning The Day of the LORD would be fulfilled. Let’s take Isaiah 2 as one example. Isaiah prophesies of a coming judgement of God upon the nation of Israel for their idolatry. The Day of the LORD is mentioned in verse 12. Nebuchadnezzar comes in and judges the nation of Israel for their idolatry. Those who scoffed at the thought of God judging the nation of Israel are proven wrong and Isaiah is vindicated. All of Isaiah’s prophecies are saved because he is proven to be a prophet of God.
However, not every detail of the prophecies were fulfilled. Consider the phrase "the LORD alone will be exalted in that day", vs. 11. It wasn’t the LORD alone who was exalted as the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. In vs. 19 we have the promise that God will arise to shake the earth in a terrible way. We have no record of the earth quaking as Jerusalem was invaded by the Babylonians. We look for these prophecies to be fulfilled at a future time when the LORD alone will be exalted and the earth will literally be shaken. Now let’s look at two key OT prophecies that give us the timing of The Day of the LORD.
#1- Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
The context in Malachi 4 is the end of the age at the judgement of the LORD. Although John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecies of Elijah in part, Jesus made it plain in Matthew 17:10-12 that the coming of Elijah was still future. So we still look for a future coming of the prophet Elijah that will fulfill this very ministry spoken of here in Malachi 4:5-6. Now notice the timing.
Elijah will come FIRST, before the day of the LORD to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Elijah’s ministry will take up a considerable length of time in restoring the nation of Israel to prepare the way for "the Sun of Righteousness", Malachi 4:2. We understand from our NT perspective that Elijah’s ministry will prepare the way for the Messiah at His second coming, and this preparation will happen BEFORE The Day of the LORD. The Day of the LORD mentioned in verse 5 is a throwback to verse 1 of the chapter which states, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven". This is speaking of the future judgement. Remember that Malachi is a post-exile prophet. The judgement that happened from Babylon was in the past, yet this "Day of the LORD" remained future.
So if we can understand when this "Elijah" persona will come, we will have a better understanding of when The Day of the LORD will begin. Without getting into too much detail, let me summarize and say we can read about the "Elijah" persona in Revelation 11. We read about the two witnesses that will perform miracles after the manner of two OT prophets, Moses and Elijah. We read that these two prophets will have a ministry that lasts for 3 1/2 years (where have we read that measurement of time before???) The time that they minister runs concurrent with the treading down of Jerusalem, Revelation 11:1-3. This must begin at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week, which we know to also begin the Great Tribulation. So the scriptural progression shows us this sequence:
#1- Midpoint of seven year period, abomination of desolation
#2- Ministry of Elijah, concurrent with the Great Tribulation
#3- The Day of the LORD follows the ministry of Elijah
This was a bit lengthy, but I hope you see the progression. The second scripture is much more direct and to the point. Hopefully, you remember that the Great Tribulation is immediately followed by something that I like to term, the Cosmic Signs. In Matthew 24:15-31, the sequence is very simply laid out; the abomination of desolation, followed by the Great Tribulation, followed by the Cosmic Signs which herald the return of the Son of Man in power and glory. So the Cosmic Signs happen AFTER the Great Tribulation. Now notice what Joel has to say about the relationship of the Cosmic Signs with The Day of the LORD.
Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Did you catch that? While the Cosmic signs happen AFTER the Great Tribulation, they happen BEFORE The Day of the LORD! Feel free to read my post on Joel 2:28-32, Past or Future? dated 10-20-06. So the Great Tribulation and The Day of the LORD are absolutely NOT the same thing. In fact, the Cosmic Signs stand as the divider of the two time periods. The Great Tribulation will happen, followed by the Cosmic Signs, followed by the Day of the LORD. To get a little deeper here, the Great Tribulation is Satan’s wrath against the saints (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 12:17), while the Day of the LORD is God’s wrath against unbelievers, (Zephaniah 1:14-15, Zechariah 14:1-3, Revelation 6:12-17, 15:1, 16:1) with the Cosmic Signs standing as the divider between the two. It’s the great reversal. Unbelievers have been persecuting the saints, Christ shows up, then vengeance is taken on behalf of the saints. We see this exact progression in II Thess. 1.
So when the Apostle Paul writes that The Day of the LORD comes as a thief in the night, (I Thessalonians 5:2), does he mean that it could occur at any moment? Absolutely not. The Apostle Paul clearly defines what he means by The Day of the LORD coming as a thief in the night. He means that it will take unbelievers by surprise because they are unprepared; they live in a spiritual night or a spiritual darkness. Believers will NOT be overtaken like a thief in the night because they are children of the light. This is one of those verses that is taken out of context quite frequently. Read the entire passage please! The Apostle Paul was well aware of the OT scriptures and is drawing on this imagery of a false covenant of peace and safety followed by sudden destruction. The pangs of a woman in travail was a common OT metaphor that Paul was using as well, but that’s probably another post.
To sum up, The Day of the LORD must occur after the prophet Elijah has come and restored the hearts of the children to the fathers and fathers to the children, and it must occur after the Cosmic Signs. The Day of the LORD happens in conjunction with the second coming of Christ as He judges the earth at His physical presence pouring out His wrath on the ungodly. Keep reading, I’ll post more.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman