The Day of the Lord
In the last two Learning Activities we have been examining the passage of scripture in 2 Peter, chapter three. Before leaving that passage, we should look into the expression “the day of the Lord” as it appears in the following verse:
1. 2 Peter 3:10
As has been our practice, how this expression is used in the Scriptures helps us to understand what it means in this verse as the Bible is the best interpretation of itself.
2. Isaiah 13:6
3. Isaiah 13:9
4. What would you say the expression “the day of the Lord” means in the two verses above?
5. Isaiah 13:10
We also can see in verse ten above that the stars would not give their light, the sun would be darkened, and the moon would not cause her light to shine. This is a clear case of apocalyptic language using cosmic disturbances (see Learning Activity # 30) which accompanies God coming in judgment. God would come in this “day of the Lord” to bring judgment on Babylon (see verse one) to punish her for her wickedness and iniquity.
6. Ezekiel 13:5
In the verse above, “the day of the Lord” is mentioned in reference to when Jerusalem was attacked and the people were carried away into Babylonian captivity. Once again, the phrase is used in conjunction with judgment being brought forth by God.
7. Ezekiel 30:3
8. The verse above is a prophecy in reference to Egypt being destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. When you read verse six, what will happen to Egypt?
9. Joel 1:6
10. What is being described in the verse above?
11. Joel 2:1
12. What phraseology does Joel use to describe this event?
13. Joel 2:10
14. What kind of language is used in the verse above in conjunction with this particular “day of the Lord?”
All of this points to the downfall of the rulers at the time of the invading armies used by God in His day to bring judgment upon the people. In verse eleven of this same chapter, God even refers to the army as His army!
15. Read Joel 2:28–31.
In the passage above, God said He would pour out His Spirit before “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” and this event was further clarified by Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he said that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled in their day (Acts 2:16–20). If Peter was telling the truth, and I believe he was, we know that the “day of the Lord” was to follow Pentecost, which it did approximately forty years later in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Also note the cosmic disturbances that are mentioned in the passage in Joel and also in Acts 2:19–20 and how closely they are aligned with what Jesus said in Matthew 24:29!
The expression “the day of the Lord” in the Old Testament was applied to many different nations, but all references in the New Testament are to the day of the Lord in AD 67–70 when the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed! Israel was destroyed at the “parousia” or coming/presence of Christ in AD 70!
When the student of the Bible comes to 2 Peter 3:10, how can they think of any other interpretation of “the day of the Lord” than the events that surrounded the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? Peter, in his writing, is speaking prophetically about the coming destruction of Jerusalem through the armies of Rome in the AD 67–70 period. Peter uses the cosmic disturbance symbols and language in the same manner as they were used in the Old Testament when the various days of the Lord have been described in the previously quoted passages.
It is common for Bible readers who are unfamiliar with the apocalyptic imagery of the Old Testament to take these words as literal events associated with a final cosmic event. In spite of these literal interpretations we must keep in mind that Peter had the same intent in his words in this passage as was expressed in all of the Old Testament passages we quoted. Why should 2 Peter 3 be translated differently than the Old Testament applications of this type of language? We must let the Bible interpret itself.
In conclusion, the first heaven and the first earth (the Old Covenant and the Jewish system) have already passed away and were replaced by the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the kingdom that was to come without end (the New Covenant). The passing away of the first heaven and earth does not mean the end of the physical world or the physical universe, but that during the period of thirty to seventy AD the Old Covenant (see Learning Activity #27) was forever destroyed, culminating with the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish religious system. All prophecy to Israel was now fulfilled; the plan for redemption that was from the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4) had been fully accomplished.
For additional study on the topic of “the day of the Lord” it is recommended that the reader go to Learning Activity #47.
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