THE DAY OF THE LORD
One of the greatest interpretive mistakes made by Bible students is the assumption that the Bible cannot use the same expression, such as "Coming," in different senses. Much of the present book has been written to refute that basic error. As we have seen, God "came in the clouds" on numerous occasions in Scripture, and collapsing-universe terminology is used to describe several different historical events. Once we understand this, however, we seem to be presented with a different problem: What about the Second Coming of Christ? Since so many prophecies turn out to be references to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, how can we be sure that any prophecy refers to a future, literal return of Jesus Christ?
There are several ways to approach this question. One fruitful method is to examine a common Biblical expression for "Judgment Day": the Day of the Lord. Now, don't misunderstand me - I am not suggesting that "the Day of the Lord" only refers to the end of the world and t-he Last Judgment. Far from it. Nevertheless, a solid grasp of this Biblical concept will provide us with an interpretive key, a method for arriving at an accurate, Scripture-based understanding of the Second Coming.
The first Biblical use of the term Day of the Lord was by the prophet Amos, in a very strange reference. Speaking to the rebellious Israelites who were soon to be destroyed by the Assyrians, Amos said: "Alas, you who are longing for the Day of the LoRD, for what purpose will the Day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light ..." (Amos 5 :19). The important thing for us to notice at the beginning is that this expression had never been used before, at least not in Scripture. Yet it seems to have been a rather common, familiar idea in the Israel of the eighth century B.C. Amos did not question its validity:
"the Day of the Lord" was coming. What Amos sought to correct was Israel's erroneous expectation of that Day's outcome for themselves.
The interesting point (to begin with) is this. Here we find Amos simply adopting an already understood, full-blown, highly developed theological concept. The expression itself did not (apparently) originate from direct revelation, yet the prophets took it up unquestioningly as part of their vocabulary. This indicates that the term must be based on some Biblical concept which was so well-known in Israel that the undisputed expression Day of the Lord almost spontaneously arose to describe it. How can we account for this? Our answer to this question will bring us to some surprising conclusions in several areas. Moreover, it will provide us with firm Biblical data about the Second Coming of Christ - the final Judgment Day.
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