In this and the next postings we want to discern what is meant by "the day of the Lord," "the day of judgment," "the day of redemption," "the revelation of Jesus Christ," and the "coming of the Lord."
The Day of the Lord
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." (I Thess. 5: 2)
J. A. Seiss, the learned author of the Apocalypse and other numerous books, wrote (emphasis mine):
"When we speak of the day of the Lord, or the judgment period, many have the notion that it is but one day, or a very brief space of time. They are consequently led to wonder how we can speak of the impending nearness of that day, and yet look for the rebuilding of a great city then to be destroyed. The difficulty, however, does not lie in the nature of the things, but in the popular misapprehensions of what the day of the Lord means, and the length of the period which it covers. The mistake is in taking the day of the Lord, or the coming again of our Saviour, as if one particular moment of time, and one single event or scene were to be understood. What the Scriptures describe as the day of the Lord, and the second coming of Christ, is no more limited to a single event or moment of time than was the day of his first coming, which extended over more than thirty years, and embraced various stages and successive presentations. If we take the prophecies concerning the first advent, we find it impossible to apply them to any one day, year, or scene, in the evangelic history. Micah said that Christ should "come" out of Bethlehem (Ephratah), but Hosea said that he would come "out of Egypt." Malachi said that he should "suddenly come to his temple," and Zecbariah that he would come to Zion "riding upon an ass, upon a colt the foal of an ass;" whilst, according to Isaiah, "the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali" were to see the "great light." All these presentations were his coming. He did eome when he was born at Bethlelem; he did come out of Egypt; he did come when he announced himself at Nazareth; he did come as a great light among the people of Northern Galilee; he did come riding into Jerusalem on the ass; he did come suddenly to his temple when he twice drove out the moneychangers; and he came when he reappeared after his resurrection. Each one of these particular incidents is alike called his coming; but they were only so many separate presentations, at different dates, extending through a period of thirty-three years, all of which together are required to make up the first advent as a whole. And just as it was then, so it will be again. The second coming, like the first, is complex and distributive, extending through a variety of successive and diverse scenes, stages, events, and manifestations, requiring as many, if not still more, years." (The Apocalypse page 160)
The opening of the seven seals take in "the day of the Lord." The "day of the Lord" is also that same period of time called "the day of judgment." The first part of this "day," the "evening" as it were, is called the time of the "great tribulation" while the "morning" part of that day is the time of wrath.
Day of Judgment
"But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you...But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." (Matt. 22: 22, 24)
"An important feature cf doctrine is thus brought out, well worthy of notice as we pass. It is this, that the day of judgment, like the day of the Lord, is not a day limited to twenty-four hours, as people often erroneously imagine. All the acts described under these seven seals, are acts of judgment. Every scene is a judgment scene. The throne is a judgment throne. The agencies are all messengers of judicial power. Their operations are all connected with judicial awards. The finished work presents Satan and his world powers vanquished, the saints in resurrection glory on their thrones, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ forever. There is another and final judgment scene, at the end of the thousand years; but all the elements of that, and more, are found in what is described under these seals, trumpets, and vials. Indeed, that is only the finishing up of what is here so vigorously begun. The one gives us the morning, and the other the evening, of the great day of judgment viewed as a whole. The judgment is not one simple act, but a series of varied administrations, which do not reach all alike, nor all at the same time. It begins at the house of God, before it at all touches the world, except in a mere symptomatic way. And when it comes upon the present world powers, it takes in many diverse and successive acts, running through the course of years, and finally concludes a thousand years afterward, by the consignment of Satan and all his seed to "the lake of fire," which is "the second death." (Rev. 20:14, 15.)" (Page 305)
Here are a sampling of some of the biblical passages that identify "the day of the Lord" with "the day of judgment."
"Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty...Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it..herefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.." (Isa. 13: 6, 9, 13)
"Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." (Joel 1: 15)
"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (Amos 5: 18-20)
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD." (Mal. 4: 5)
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." (II Peter 2: 9)
Many Christians err in thinking of the coming day of judgment as being what is commonly called "the general judgment." Those of this persuasion are commonly of the "amillenial" school. Their idea is that all will be resurrected at the appearing of Christ and simultaneously judged. The judgment day is limited to "the great white throne" judgment of Rev. 20: 11. But, this is an error. All will not be resurrected at the same time. Nor, is the great white throne judgment the day of judgement nor the totality of judgment.
The Book of Revelation, as we shall see, gives the chronology of events related to the day or the Lord and the day of judgment. The opening of the first seal (Rev. 6: 1) till the seventh seal is opened (which includes the seven judgment angels and trumpets and the seven vials of wrath) is properly the day of the Lord and the day of judgment. Then follows the millenium and the great white throne judgment. Whether that period of time in which the seals are opened takes in seven years, three and a half years, or more, it is nevertheless all that period called by prophets and apostles as the day of the Lord and the day of judgment. It is also, as we shall see, called "the day of redemption," and "the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Just as the "day" of Christ's first coming was not limited to one day, so the "day" of his second coming will not be limited to one day. Jesus said "Abraham rejoiced to see my day" (John 8: 56), which of course corresponded to his entire earthly presence.