Day is one of the units of time we use to mark life. Typically, we think of days as the time between sunup and sundown, followed by night. But right from the beginning, God has exercised his divine authority over time by defining days in an unexpected manner. In the account of creation in Genesis 1, six times the record repeats, “There was evening, then morning-the first day” (v5), changing only the number of the day of the week. In Jewish thinking, days began at dusk and continued through the night and the following daylight hours. With the exception of day seven, the Sabbath, the Jewish people did not name the days of the week. But the Sabbath was also a day established in the order of creation for rest. God stopped creating on the seventh day, not because he was tired, but because he chose to cease and consider what he had accomplished. Enshrined among the Ten Commandments is the order Jesus said (in Mark 2:27) was for our benefit:
Remember the day of worship [Sabbath] by observing it as a holy day. You have six days to do all your work. The seventh day is the day of worship dedicated to the LORD your God. You, your sons, your daughters, you male and females slaves, your cattle, and the foreigners living in your city must never do any work on that day. In six days the LORD made heaven, earth, and the sea, along with everything in them. He didn’t work on the seventh day. That’s why the LORD blessed the day he stopped his work and set this day apart as holy. (Ex 20:8-11)
The words day and days are sometimes used to mean times or even years. As the writer of Chronicles puts it, “When David had grown old ad had lived out his years, he made his son Solomon king of Israel” (1 Chron 23:1). In Hebrew, the expression for David’s again is literally “full of days.” Psalm 20:1 speaks of “times of trouble” (literally “day of trouble”), meaning not so much a certain day, but those periods of difficulty we often experience in life. The writer of Hebrews talks about the last days,” meaning the time we live in now, before the second coming of Christ (1:2).
the word day is also used as a symbol for what is right and good. First Thessalonians 5:5 states that believers’ identities are tied to being people of the day: “You belong to the day and the light not to the night and the dark.” As people who follow Jesus, the light of the world, our actions should bring light to others and be things we need not be ashamed of.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
The phrase “day of the LORD” is used with somber overtones, for it highlights God’s control over events that will occur (or have occurred) on that day (Joel 1:18; Amos 5:18, 20). It is used as a symbol of God’s intervention in human affairs. In Lamentations 2:22 Jeremiah looked back in deep sadness on the disaster that befell Jerusalem: “You have invited those who terrorize me on every side, as though they were invited to a festival. No one escaped or survived on the day of the LORD’s anger. My enemy has murdered the children I nursed and raised.”
Often, when the Old Testament prophets predicted the coming day of the Lord, their anticipation had a short-term as well as a long term fulfillment. Isaiah predicted events that would come to pass in Babylon (Isa 13:5-10), but Jesus extended and expanded the Old Testament’s view of “that day” into a picture of the final day of the Lord at the end of human history (Mark 13:24-37). Joel spoke of the coming “terrifying day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31), but Peter highlighted the hopeful side of that prophecy by pointing to what God promised to do among his people “in the last days” before the day of the Lord (Acts 2:16-21). In this case, “last days” represents years and centuries that come to a close when God reveals his day.
The term “day of the Lord” also makes specific reference to Jesus, pointing as a sign to the fulfillment of all that he came to accomplish (1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:10; 2:16). Although the day of the Lord will involve a terrifying last judgment on all sin and difficult events leading to the renewal of the earth, the finality and justice of God’s wrath are also reasons for great hope. The day of the Lord is the last day before eternity for those who are in Christ. Peter described both aspects of the day of the Lord in this way:
The day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day heaven will pass away with a roaring sound. Everything that makes up the universe will burn and be destroyed. The earth and everything that people have done on it will be exposed.
All these things will be destroyed in this way. So think of the kind of holy and godly lives you must live as you look forward to the day of God and eagerly wait for it to come. When that day comes, haven will be on fire and will be destroyed. Everything that makes up the universe will burn and melt. But we look forward to what God has promised-a new heaven and a new earth-a place where everything that has God’s approval lives. (2 Pet 3:10-13).
What a day that will be!