A Brief Look at ‘the Day of the Lord’

Posted on May 18, 2019


By David Ettinger

An Ominous Term
“The Day of the Lord” is an ominous term indeed. Though it is generally associated with the “hellfire and brimstone” prophesies of the Old Testament, several instances of it appear in the New. Indeed, “the Day of the Lord” is a prominent theme of the entire Bible.

Defining “the Day of the Lord”
In a nutshell, “the Day of the Lord” speaks of the time at the end of this era of human history when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to Earth. Two events will highlight the Lord’s second coming.

The first will be the rapture of the Church, which is the resurrection of the righteous (believing) dead and the living followers of the Lord Jesus. (For more on the Rapture, read my blog, “A Quick Look at the Rapture.”) The second event will be God going to war with the earth, not to destroy it, but to purge it of all which defiles it.

Following that purging, Christ will establish His Millennial (1,000-year) Kingdom in Jerusalem (Psalm 48:1-2; Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 14:8-9) as He will usher in an unprecedented era of peace upon the earth (Isaiah Chapter 11; Revelation 20:1-6).

Biblical References to “the Day of the Lord” and its Character
There are approximately 30 references to the term “the Day of the Lord.” I won’t list them all, but here are some of the more prominent ones, those describing the character of this unique time:

  • “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Isaiah 13:6).
  • “See, the day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (Isaiah 13:9).
  • “Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15).
  • “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11).
  • “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31).
  • “Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?” (Amos 5:20).
  • “The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry” (Zephaniah 1:14).
  • “… for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). (See my blog, “Wrongly Interpreting ‘A Thief in the Night’”.)
  • “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).

When Will “the Day of the Lord” Occur?
There are four basic positions for the timing of the Rapture (signaling the onset of “the Day of the Lord”):

  1. Pretribulation: That God will rapture the Church before the final 7 years of this era of human history. This time is wrongly referred to as “the Tribulation period.” It should more accurately be called, “The 70th Week of the Book of Daniel” (see Daniel 9:24-27).
  2. Midtribulation: The Rapture will occur at the midway point (3½ years) of Daniel’s 70th week.
  3. Posttribulation: The Rapture will occur following Daniel’s 70th week.
  4. Prewrath: The Church will be raptured before God pours out His wrath upon the earth.

Prewrath is the rapture position I hold, as well as the ministry with whom I work, Zion’s Hope. This view acknowledges Paul’s proclamation in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that “… God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is Paul telling the Church we will be raptured before the Day of the Lord when God pours out His wrath.


Briefly, the Prewrath Rapture teaches that the first six seals of Revelation are natural consequences of man’s evil coming to a head at the end of the age. Interestingly, from Revelation 1:1 through 6:15, the word “wrath” never appears. Not until Revelation 6:16-17 do we read (emphasis added): “They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

THIS is the point at which “the Day of the Lord” begins; the time when God raptures the Church (Revelation 7:9-17) first, and then pours out His wrath second (Revelation Chapters 8 through 19). This will occur approximately 4 to 5 years into Daniel’s 70th week. During this time, many of God’s people – both believing Christians and the Jewish people – will be killed (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:7).

A Brief Study
This, of course, has been a very brief study of a huge topic, designed to bring some clarity and to kindle your interest. For a comprehensive look at the topics examined in this post, I highly recommend Marv Rosenthal’s groundbreaking 1990 book, The Prewrath Rapture of the Church, which you can purchase here.

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.