For the next coming weeks, I will explain what “the day of Jesus Christ” means in Phil 1:6. This study will take four (or so) weeks. For this week’s installment, I’d like to explore “the day of the LORD,” an OT phrase that forms the background of “the day of Jesus Christ.”
The “day of the LORD” is a prominent theme in the Prophets. In every place it is referenced in the OT, it is a terribly awesome “day” (not necessarily a 24-hour period) in which the sovereign Lord pours his wrath upon his foes. Sometimes “the day of the LORD” can refer to incident of divine judgement that has already occurred (see Ezek 7:5–8 where this “day” refers to Israel’s destruction in 586 BC at the hands of the Babylonians). Other times, it refers to a future time of final judgment. It is this last type of “day of the LORD” that I will focus on by exploring Isa 13:6–13.
In this passage, we learn that this “day” will be a terror. God’s enemies “will be dismayed; pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame” (13:8). This will be “cruel” period of “wrath and fierce anger” (13:9). The natural pattern of the celestial bodies will be disrupted: “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light” (13:10). God will “punish the world for its evil.” He will “put and end to the pomp of the arrogant” (13:11)
The “day of the LORD” refers to a period of climactic divine judgment. This will be a “day” unlike another day. It will be unique. God’s patience with the wicked will end, and he will judge the wicked once for all. Nevertheless, it says in Phil 1:6 that Christians will be saved on this “day.” How are we to relate what the OT says regarding “the day of the LORD” as the day of wrath with what Phil 1:6 says regarding the “day of Jesus Christ” as the day of salvation? Stay tuned.