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Throughout the entire Cannon of scripture is a theological theme of the Day of the Lord or Day of Yahweh. But in this paper I will specifically b focusing on the theme within the context of the book of Isaiah. So what exactly is the Day of the Lord? Ralp Klein writes "more recent discussion, however, has focused on Gerhard von Rad's identification of the day of Yahweh as a pure event of war, with imagery going back to the holy wars of Yahweh in which He appeared personally to annihilate His enemies" (Klein, 1968). Walter Elwell also has some commentary regarding the day of the Lord and he writes in his Evangelical Dictionary of Theology about the day of the Lord "This day of the Lord was anticipated by Israel as a future day of Yahweh's visitation" (Elwell 2001, 319). Gerhard Von Rad says that Isa 2:9ff is a primary passage for dealing with the effects of the day of the Lord. Von rad writes regarding the day of the Lord "The concepts connected with the Day of Yahweh are, therefore, in no way eschatological per se, but were familiar to the prophets in all their details from the old Yahwistic tradition"(Von Rad 1962, 99).
There are some views on what will happen on that day, but general themes do exist throughout the scriptures as to the meaning of the day of the Lord. General themes of the Day of the Lord meaning that most passages that refer to the Day of the Lord infer that the day will be a time of great judgment and restoration of the Lords kingdom. Zephaniah writes a description for the day of the lord in verses 1:15-16a. He concludes that the day will be a time when the following will happen.
That day will be a day of wrath
A day of distress and anguish
A day of darkness and gloom
A day of clouds and blackness
A day of trumpet and battle cry
Many of these characteristics of the day of the Lord are also in the book of Isaiah. When the LORD returns, he will come to judge Israel, judge the nations, and finally to establish his earthly kingdom where he will be exalted and praised.
Judgment towards Israel
Dealing with the sins of Israel will be a
high priority on the Lords plate in that day. In chapter 2 of Isaiah
the Lord has Isaiah speak to Judah and Jerusalem concerning the day
of the Lord. Israel was guilty of many sins, and one of the most
deadly of all sins was their sin of lack of real worship. In chapter
1 the LORD says that Israel's worship is not authentic. The LORD has
no delight in the animals that they sacrifice. For Israel has been
sacrificing bulls, goats and lambs and the LORD has no pleasure in
such meanliness worship as he writes in 1:11. Israel had been
sacrificing animals to the LORD. The bible knowledge commentary
The Lord rejected the people's appeal to several aspects of religious ritual-including animal sacrifices (v. 11), incense (v. 13a), festivals and feasts (vv. 12,13b-14), and prayers (v. 15)-as
compensation for their iniquity. Some people have mistakenly said (from v. 11) that God has not established the sacrificial system. But this is wrong. Isaiah's point is that people assumed that merely by¬Ý offering sacrifices at the altar they would be made ceremonially clean before God.
So bad are the sins of Israel that when the LORD returns he will judge their sins. It's so tragic that when he returns he will have to deal with Israel so strictly, but nevertheless they asked for such a judgement. Israel's sins are very great according to verse 18 of chapter 1, which reads according to the NIV translation; "Come now, let us reason together says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." It's interesting how the LORD uses such figurative language in this verse. Such language is common all throughout the book of Isaiah. Stanley Horton comments on the verse above and writes;
Reason together" is a legal term that is part of the court scene. It may mean "let us cease the arguments; let us do something about it." God is making the initiative. Their sins are indeed "like scarlet--the deepest kind of red--referring back to the bloody hands of verse 15. It is implied that if they admit, or confess, this they shall become as white as the clearest, brightest white of snow or wool, a white that is white by its nature, indicating that their own nature would be changed by God's grace. This exhortation continues.. (Horton 2000,58).
Besides the great sin and punishment of Judah and Jerusalem it's also important to note that they Israel be restored in the Day of the LORD as chapter 2 verses 1-5 tell us. Israel has to be restored as God did make covenants with Abraham, Moses and David. God would never lie about anything he has promised. In verse 2 of chapter 2 the LORDS temple Mountain is mentioned "his mountain will be established."The word "mountain" or "mountains" in the bible typically means or signifies a governmental authority. In the book of Isaiah the word mountain is used a total of 20 times out of a total of 123 times in the OT. In the NT the word mountain is only mentioned 22 times, so it's obvious that the symbolism of the word "mountain" has a great theological meaning in the OT scriptures. But in this context the LORDS Mountain will be, as a chief among the nations and all nations will steam to it. In verse 3 of chapter 2 John Aswalt comments "The nations encourage one another over the good thing that has been revealed to them" (Oswalt 1986, 117). This verse tells me that only believers will inhabit the earth during this time of the Lords reign on earth. Unbelievers would not find worshipping God a good thing, so they will not be around.
Judgment against many nations
Besides Israel the LORD will judge many other nations in that day. The first of the many nations that the LORD will judge will be the nation of Assyria. This is discussed in detail in chapters 13:1-14:27. Its interesting that Babylon is the first nation that is named in this context. William Kelly writes, "Babylon was the great Gentile power first allowed to take possession of Jerusalem" (Kelly 1979, 156). In verses 13:2-18 we learn of Gods army that will carried out in wrath against the wicked Babylon. In verses 2-5 we learn of Gods forming of his army to strike Babylon. We learn here that God's army will be a great multitude, like an amassing of entire nations and their sole mission will be the destruction of Babylon.
The nations listed after Babylon but before Egypt in which the LORD will judge are Philistia, Moab and Damascus. Next in line according to the order of Isaiah but not necessarily chronological is the judgement of Egypt. It says in verse 1 of chapter 19 that the LORD will ride on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt (NIV). In the Hebrew the word for cloud in 19:1 is the word ab. Next, in verse 1b it says that the idols of Egypt will tremble before the LORD, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them. Verse 2 of chapter 19 it says that the LORD will turn the Egyptians against each other. The Egyptians will turn against each other, because at the LORDS coming they would finally see that their gods were merely idols that could not save them in the day of the LORDS wrath. The many disasters that Egypt will face in that day are great, and not one of them could their own gods save them from. In verse 5 it says that the waters of the river will dry up. What river is the writer of Isaiah talking about? Obviously looking at a geographical perspective it will be their very own Nile river. We know that such a loss would be devastating to Egypt as the country depends on the Nile greatly.
Then in verse 16 of chapter 19 it says that in that day the Egyptians will be like women. What this does mean is that the terror Egypt will have will be so great because Egypt will finally realize that Judah is under the Lords hand and not them. This will be a reversal of the Isaiah days when Judah would turn to Egypt for help. More curses will come to Egypt in that day, but most importantly is to note that in 19:22 it says that the LORD will strike Egypt with a plague and they will turn to him. Then in verse 23-25 it says Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will worship the Lord together, because they will be his people. In the end Egypt got restored.
Judgment against the nation of Tyre
The Lord has many more nations to judge after Egypt, and they are Edom, Arabia, and Tyre. Of these I will focus on Tyre. The judgement towards Tyre is written chapter 23. In 23:1 Isaiah writes that Tyre will be destroyed. The Lord in his judgement against Tyre has no intentions of restoring them like he did with Egypt in chapter 19. A little background information at Tyre from the Life Application study bible notes tells me that Tyre had a major trading center and a large seaport. Tyre was also a very wealthy and evil city (Life Application study bible, 1988). At the end of this judgement in chapter 23 Isaiah writes that this nation will be forgotten for 70 years, but at the end of these 70 years will be restored only for another judgement of the Lord.
Establishment of his kingdom
In that day the Lord will establish his kingdom in Jerusalem. In Isa 27:13 it says that many will come and worship the Lord on his holy mountain which will be located in Jerusalem. In Zech 14:4 it says that this mountain will be the Mount of Olives. This mountain is not mentioned in the book of Isaiah, but is in Zech. In Isa 24:23 it says that the Lord will reign on Mount Zion. The Lord will again return to the Mount of Olives, but it will be split in two, and then he will rein on Mt Zion as Isa writes.
No question the Day of the Lord will both be a great restoring day for some, and a horrible day for others. I have already mentioned the specific details of the nations that he will judge. Some will have good news and be restored; yet others will be destroyed. Jerusalem will be the location of his new kingdom, and the Lords mountain will be Mount Zion. But he will first come to the Mount of Olives, which will be split in two after of which he will reign on Mount Zion.
Elwell, Walter, A. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001.
Oswalt John N. 1986. The New International Commentary on the New testament Grand Rapids: Michigan.
Horton Stanley M. 2000. Isaiah. Springfield: Missouri.
Kelly William. 1979. As exposition of the Book of Isaiah. Minneapolis: Minnesota.
Klein, Ralph W. The Day of Yahweh Concordia Theological Monthly 39 (1968): 517-525.
Rad, Gerhard Von. The Message of the Prophets. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.
The Life Application Bible Notes. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers
Walvoord John F., Zuck Roy B. 2000. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries
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