Statement of Fundamental Beliefs -
THE "DAY OF THE LORD"
Framework for Prophecy
We need to understand the time sequence leading up to the Christ's second coming. There are three major prophetic milestones leading up to His return:
- The Great Tribulation
- The Heavenly Signs
- The Day of the Lord
These three events cover a period of about three-and-a-half years. There are more than 30 prophecies in your Bible referring to the Day of the Lord. How long is the Day of the Lord? Two scriptures give us the answer. Speaking of God's judgments on the nations, Isaiah writes, "For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (Isaiah 34:8). Isaiah 63:4 also shows that the Day of the Lord in end-time prophecy, the time preceding Christ's return, is a period of one year!
The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord is a major prophetic event that will affect the lives of every human being on Earth. You need to understand the meaning of the Day of the Lord, its powerful significance, and its place in prophecy. The great prophets of the Bible, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel spoke about it. The so-called "minor prophets"—Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi—also emphasized this event. Even the Apostles Peter and Paul wrote about it. The Day of the Lord is the seventh seal of Revelation, consisting of seven trumpet plagues, through which God judges the nations. The seventh trumpet plague includes Armageddon!
In Revelation 6, the sixth seal or the heavenly signs introduce the Day of the Lord, also called "the great day of His wrath" (Revelation 6:17)! So, what is the Day of the Lord? It is the climactic time of God's judgment on the nations. It is the time when Almighty God begins to intervene more directly and powerfully in the affairs of humanity. Holman Bible Dictionary defines the Day of the Lord as follows: "The time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence."
The book of Revelation emphasizes prophetic events leading up to the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John writes in Revelation 1:10, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet." John is not describing a day of the week, as some commentators believe. He is speaking of the major prophetic period of time described in the rest of the book as the Day of the Lord. The expression "Lord's Day" here in Revelation is plainly referring to the theme of the whole book, the prophetic Day of the Lord culminating in Jesus Christ's return as King of kings and Lord of lords!
We need to understand that John is not referring to Sunday as the Lord's day. If He were doing that, he would have referred to Sunday as "the first day" of the week as he did in the Gospel of John. Jesus Himself, who kept the seventh-day Sabbath, said He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27–28)! He was not speaking of Sunday!
This year-long Day of the Lord is the seventh seal of Revelation. And the seventh seal consists of seven trumpet plagues or judgments. John writes in Revelation 8:1, "When He [Christ] opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." They are introduced by "noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake" (v. 5).
The first four trumpets announce ecological devastation that will plague our planet. A third of all trees are burned up, and all green grass is burned up. A third of all living creatures in the sea die; a third of ocean-going ships are destroyed. A third of rivers and springs become poisonous. A third of the heavens become darkened.
Notice Joel's sobering warning: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations" (Joel 2:1–2).
The trumpet is used to sound an alarm—to help people prepare for major battles or as described here, an invading army! Here the prophet Joel warns of a unique time in all history. The next verse describes terrible destruction, a scorched-earth policy—everything is left desolate. "A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them" (v. 3). During the Day of the Lord, invading armies will burn vast territories. Humanity will also see incredible disruption of the heavens as well as total destruction on the land. "The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?" (Joel 2:10–11).
God calls this destructive Gentile force His army! A powerful army of 200 million, prophesied to destroy one-third of Earth's population, will send troops into the Middle East. Almighty God will intervene in human affairs in a dramatic way. Major wars will erupt when God executes judgment on the nations.
Not only will military weapons destroy vast regions, incredible ecological devastation will destroy agriculture. "What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten" (Joel 1:4). In October 2007, The West Australian News reported the following: "Locusts are emerging as the latest threat to WA's drastically slashed grain crop and sought-after livestock feed…. Last year, the department spent $11.1 million spraying 450,000 hectares across about 70 shires through the northern, central and southern agricultural regions. Farmers matched those efforts. While the campaign was mainly a success, the pests remained in big enough numbers to invade about 70 towns and healthy enough to reach the south coast and put down eggs to produce the latest generation."
In the not-too-distant future, the insect plagues some nations experience today will seem minor by comparison. When God brings punishments upon rebellious nations in the future Day of the Lord, He will call upon the nations to humble themselves and repent! Of course, you and I do not need to wait until then! As we approach the coming Day of the Lord, we see that God calls His people to humble themselves: "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty" (Joel 1:14–15).
We need to remember that—as devastating as these events may be—they lead up to the great hope we all have, the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ! God will judge the nations during the Day of the Lord, but He will also be preparing a time of restoration.
Notice: "The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain" (Joel 3:16–17). Yes, our hope is in the Savior and His coming rulership over all the nations!
The last three trumpet plagues are called woes. The word "woe" is an exclamation of grief! "And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, 'Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!'" (Revelation 8:13).
Revelation 9 describes the first woe or the fifth trumpet plague. The fifth angel sounds a trumpet that begins a military action that lasts for five months. The Apostle John describes the war in apocalyptic terms: "And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit [Satan], whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things" (Revelation 9:9–12).
The second woe, or the sixth trumpet plague, is pictured with symbols of horses and horsemen. Here we see an intense military counter-attack. We read: "Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates'" (vv. 13–14).
We should note one biblical key that can help you understand the future in the Middle East—prophecies concerning the Euphrates River. The Euphrates River runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. The nation of Iran lies immediately to the east of Iraq.
An army of 200 million, prophesied to destroy one-third of the planet's population, will move troops westward across the Euphrates River. "So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths" (vv. 15–18).
This is describing world war! And this phase of World War III will kill billions of human beings! Jesus said that unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved—all life on planet Earth would be destroyed (Matthew 24:21–22).
Then the seventh trumpet sounds. For Christians, the sounding of the seventh trumpet is good news because it announces Jesus Christ's return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on planet Earth. We all need to be preparing spiritually for that time! "Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
If you would like to receive more information or have any questions please call our Canadian Regional Office toll free at 1-800-932-4262, or (905)814-1094 within Toronto, and ask to speak with a minister.