The Biblical imagery for the Day of the Lord, the Day of Judgment, begins (as we should naturally assume) in Genesis. Right at the beginning of the creation account we are told that God created light and named it Day (Gen. 1:2-5). We must recognize just what happened at that moment. As we saw in Chapter 7, God was hovering over the creation, robed in the glorious light of the Cloud, shining as the original Light (cf. John 1:4-5). This means that when He created light, it was as a mirror-image, a sort of "clone," of Himself. From the start, therefore, we are taught to associate Day and Light with God. This basic association is developed and carried through the rest of the creation week, as the first of two concepts which are important for our understanding of the Biblical idea of the Day: Day is in the image of God. The light of day is a reminder of God's bright, unapproachable Light (1 Tim. 6:16). For this reason the sun and the dawning of the day are used in the Bible as symbols of God and His coming (Ps. 84:11; Isa. 30:26; 60:1; Mai. 4:2; Luke 1:78-79; Eph. 5:14; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:16).
The second concept is that Day is the time of God's judicial assessment of His creatures, when all things are judged by Him. Here Moses records seven acts of seeing (assessment) and declaration: "God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:4,10, 12, 18, 21, 25), climaxing with the seventh declaration: "And God saw all that
He had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). This statement leads right into the summary and conclusion:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven (Gen. 2:1-4).
God's "resting" on the seventh day is an important part of the judgment theme of the Day, for it actually speaks of His enthronement in heaven, surveying and judging His creation from His seat in the Glory-Cloud. In fact, His sitting on the throne is often termed a "rest" in Scripture (1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 132:7-8, 13-14; Isa. 11:10; 66:1).
Thus, when we think of the Day, we are to think first of God's light on the world; second, we are to think of God's judg-of the world. In other words, the very first "Day of the Lord" was also the very first Day. It is easier for us to see all this when we read Genesis 1 in the light of other Scripture passages, but we should also remember that it was implicit in the text from the beginning.
There is one other early passage in Genesis which informs our understanding of the content of the "Day of the Lord." We saw in an earlier chapter that when Adam and Eve sinned, they heard the characteristic sound of the Glory-Cloud blasting its way like an express train through the Garden: the thundering Voice of the Lord caused by the beating of angels' wings. The literal translation of that verse reads:
And they heard the Voice of the Lord God traversing the Garden as the Spirit of the Day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden" (Gen. 3:8).
In other words, Adam and Eve heard the sound the Cloud makes when God comes as "the Spirit of the Day," when He comes as He did at the Beginning, as Judgment. Admittedly, this view of the text spells doom for that old pietistic-evangelical hymn favorite, "In the Garden" (that fact alone makes this interpretation especially attractive). God did not take evening strolls through the Garden, contrary to the sentimental reflections of third-rate evangelical poets. When Judgment came to Adam and Eve, it came in the form of the Glory-Cloud: with blinding light, scorching heat, and deafening noise - the Spirit of the Day.
The Day of the Lord, therefore, is defined by Scripture in terms of the Glory-Cloud: "For the Day is near, the Day of the Lord is near; it will be a Day of Clouds, a time of doom for the nations" (Ezek. 30:3; cf. Joel 2:1-2; Zeph. 1:14-15). Where the Cloud is, there is the Day of the Lord, when God is manifesting His judgment.
This makes our understanding of the Day of the Lord take a quantum leap forward. More than merely a reference to the end of the world, it should rather be understood in the same terms as so many other concepts in Scripture: definitively, progressively, and finally. The definitive Day occurred at the beginning, on the first day (it might be more precise to say that the entire week was the definitive Day, in seven stages). But we also see the Day revealed progressively, in God's historical judgments. In a final, ultimate sense, we are told that the Last Day will come, when God will render His final judgment of all things.
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