“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
This verse describes how God winds up the affairs of the universe as we know it. It is approaching a catastrophic culmination. God will make good on His word.
But the day of the Lord
We must distinguish between the “day of Christ” and the “day of the Lord.” The “day of Christ” is the point where Jesus comes for the church and takes her back to heaven.
Php 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”
Php 1:10, “…that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…”
Php 2:16, “…holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
The “day of Christ” is the church’s rapture into heaven, which is part of the First Resurrection. This is a signless, timeless, and any-moment event. It could happen today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. The Bible gives no specifics as to when this event will occur. When Christ comes for the church, first, the dead will be raised six feet, then those who are alive will be caught up with those raised from the dead to meet the Lord in the air. The Old Testament does not mention this day.
The “Day of the Lord” refers to the period extending from the Second Advent to the end of the universe as we know it. The Old Testament calls this event the “Day of Jehovah.” This is the event of our verse. This “day” is a series of events that cover a period of time, including the tribulation period, the millennium, and finally, the decomposition of the heavens and earth as we know them. In “the day of the Lord,” Jesus will come right to earth as over against just coming in the air like He will for the church.
Is 2:12, “For the day of the Lord of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up—
And it shall be brought low—”
Is 13:6, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.”
1 Th 5:1-4, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”
Another “day” of prophecy is “the day of God” (v.12). We live in the day when man does as he pleases. These are the days of the silent sky and the hushed heavens. God does not strike down murderers and rapists on the spot. He does not stop wars. We live in man’s day. Man is at bat. Man continues to demonstrate what a mess he can make of the world.
God divides up time into segments (“days”) to execute His will.
Do you think about and place confidence in God’s plan for time?