To help them prepare for what I hope to teach tomorrow night in my class on the second coming (and all other things eternal, it seems!), I handed out a list of Old Testament scriptures. It’s not a complete list, to be sure, but it does give a flavor of apocalyptic language and several different descriptions of “The Day of the Lord,” among other things – including God’s hint to Ezekiel about resurrection.
Jesus draws from these passages when He speaks of His return (we’ll study that on July 6; we’re having a church picnic June 29). Peter and Paul and other New Testament writers quote them, too. That’ll be our study July 13 – “Six Authors In Search Of An Ending.”
So here’s that taste I promised:
Joel 1:15 – “Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.” (The context is invasion, famine, catastrophe and it continues through chapter 2.)
Joel 2:28-31- “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (Following this is a promise of judgment on the nations.)
Amos 5:18-20 – “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD – That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?”
Isaiah 2:2, 12 – “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. ? The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).”
Isaiah 13:6, 9 – “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. ? See, the day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate, and destroy the sinners within it.”
Jeremiah 46:10 – “But that day belongs to the LORD, the Lord Almighty – a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes. The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood. For the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will offer sacrifice in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.”
Ezekiel 13:5 – “You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.”
Ezekiel 30:3 – “For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near – a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.”
Ezekiel 37:3 – “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’ “
Daniel 9:20-27 – “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Obadiah 1:15 – “The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”
Zechariah 14:1-9 – “A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime?a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.”
Zephaniah 1:2-3, 7, 14-16 – “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. ? The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. ? Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. ? The great day of the LORD is near ? near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers.”
Malachi 3:1-5 – “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.”
Malachi 4:1 – “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”
Much of the prophetic or apocalyptic language of these passages paints a picture of judgment. Not surprisingly, so does Jesus. And so do the NT writers inspired by His Spirit. How literally can we interpret it?
I view these writings as a writer. They are poetry – in fact, though I’ve quoted the New International Version here, I love the poetry of these passages in the King James and Revised Standard versions even more. That’s not to say they are just poetry, because some poetry is little more than rhythmic, rhyming drivel. The best poetry is truth, expressed simply and powerfully. It uses words to try to describe what there are no words to describe. That’s what these passages do, too. They do it very well. They make you sit up and take notice; pay attention.
That’s what God wants you to do. Pay attention. Watch. Get ready. (As Flip Wilson used to flippantly say, “Here come de Judge.”) And, if He asks you a really tough question, take a cue from Ezekiel.
Answer Him: “Sovereign Lord, You alone know.”