The only places in the Old Testament scriptures at which the expression “Day of the Lord” occurs are the following: Isa. 2:2; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 13; 3:4; Am. 5:18; Oba. 15; Zeph. 1, 8, 14, 15; 3:14; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:5. Though the expression is not found in the discourses of the other prophets of this school, yet they, too, know of such a day as “The day of the Lord.” (The one exception is Jonah). The term which they use in referring to it is “That day” or simply “The day.” Also the discourses of the others contain these equivalent terms. The one exception is again Jonah. Daniel uses the expression “seventy weeks.” And Moses, the only other Old Testament prophet to make mention of “The day of the Lord,” also simply speaks of that day. (Deut. 31:18).
What was that day to these prophets? It was the day of the Lord, thus a day filled with His doings. And these doings were the fulfillment of all the predictions of each and every prophet of God. In this day all their prophecies were realized. The truth of this statement is born out by the fact that in their discourses the expression that day is associated with all their predictions.
Let us now address ourselves to the task of ascertaining: 1) the doings of the in that day; 2) The significance of that day; 3) The times of its coming. As the doings of the Lord to be accomplished in that day are, as was just said, the very events foretold by each and every one of God’s prophets, showing what these doings are is a task that consist in setting forth at least the substance of the predictive sections of the discourses of these prophets.
In his parting addresses (Deut. 29-34, read especially Deut. 30), Moses predicts the dispersion of the Israel of the ten tribes, the captivity of Judah, the return of the exiles to the earthy Canaan, the destruction of foreign nations, the permanent dispersion of the Jews through the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and the gathering of the church in the Gospel period (New Testament Dispensation). These discourses form the foundation of all later prophecy. Isaiah and the prophets that belonged to his school stood upon Moses’ shoulders. But at the hands of these prophets the doings of God in that day receive a much more definite treatment than Moses could have given them. What must also be observed is that what may be termed definitely predictive prophecy, the forecasting of what the Lord would do in that day, practically ceased with the death of Moses and was not revived until the time of Amos and Isaiah. The reason is that at this time the day of the Lord was soon to come anew with exceptional terribleness. The calamities already foretold by Moses, and progressively fulfilled during the ages subsequent to his prophetic activity, were now soon to overtake the nation with marked severity. The people of Israel were to go into captivity. Their national existence was to be terminated by the exile. From then on the nation was to be ruled from out of the capital of heathen states. And the yoke of the foreign despots was to be hard. On this account there was need of a clearer and fuller prophecy than had thus far been given. Had this need not been met, the Church would have concluded that the hour of her extinction had come. So the Lord raised up prophets to speak to His people His word for a light upon their path in the wilderness of woe through which he was to lead and is still leading them on and on to His house, their everlasting habitation. There were in all sixteen such prophets whose discourses have come down to us. They comprise a group by themselves. They foretell, as did Moses, what the Lord will do in that day. They reiterate God’s promises and shed new light upon them. They maintain that, contrary to appearances, the people of God have a glorious future, in that Zion shall be redeemed with judgment and her converts with righteousness.
The view that prophecy ceased for the time being with the death of Moses is, to be sure, thoroughly wrong. Prophecy could not cease then as the people of Israel in their very existence as a commonwealth of Jehovah, and in all their institutions and literature showed forth the realities of the kingdom of heaven. The thrust of the above observations is merely this In at what ceased with the death of Moses is the making of more or less definite statements on the part of God’s prophets as to what the Lord will do in that day.
Let us now get before us the substance of the discourses of these late prophets. The prophecy of Jonah need not to be considered here as in the book bears his name, the expression “day of the Lord” does not occur.
Isaiah foretold the appearing of Immanuel the son of a virgin; the judgments of God to be accomplished by Assyria and to overtake the Israel of the ten tribes; the salvation of Israel through Assyria’s destruction; the judgments of God to overtake the nations, to wit, Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, and Tyra. He predicted finally the entire future salvation beginning with the Babylonian exile and concluding with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile and captivity of Judah; the return from captivity of both Judah and the Israel of the ten tribes in the remnant; the permanent stability and glory of the church; the advent of the Branch, his growing up and righteous rule; the coming of Jehovah against foreign nations in judgment—against Egypt, the Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, the Arabians, Elam and Babylon. As Jeremiah was a prophet who belonged to the fifth century, he did not announce the dispersion of the ten tribes, though he did foretell their return from captivity.
Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah. But in distinction from this prophet, who remained with the poor of the land in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel labored among the exiles in Babylon. His task was to represent the glory of Jehovah in exile. But his active service began some years before the exile, for he sets out in his prophecy with a symbolical representation of the impending doom of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. In the 25th chapter he passes from the prophecy of judgment to the prophecy of mercy by means of the predictions of doom against Ammon, Moab, Edom, the Philistines, Tyrus, Sidon, and Egypt. In the remaining section of his discourse he rebukes the unworthy shepherds; holds forth the promise of the Shepherd mercy of Jehovah toward His flock, and of His servant David; records his vision of the Resurrection and the quickening of the dead bones; forecasts the destruction of Gog of Magog for the glorification of Jehovah in the world; and ends with a description of the glory of the temple and its services and of the glory of the Holy land and the Holy City.
Daniel’s services were spent exclusively in exile. His calling was to represent the sovereignty and glory of God in the courts of pagan monarch’s. The visions which he receives forecasts the destruction of the world-kingdoms, of Babylon, the Medo-Persian empire, the world-power founded by Alexander the Great, the four kingdoms of the Diadoche, which should rise out of the Greek world-monarchy, and the southern kingdom and the northern kingdom, which were to constitute the principal states that should arise from the ruins of the Macedonian world-power. The overturning of all these kingdoms is to be the accomplishment of a kingdom—the kingdom of God—that God Himself will establish on this earth. These prophecies are supplemented by a final revelation that pertains to the duration of the period of severe affliction for the Church of God before the coming of Christ’s kingdom. The whole closes with an exhortation of the angel to the prophet to wait patiently until the end of all things, and until the resurrection to eternal life.
The date of Hosea is to be fixed during the latter half of the eighth century B.C. Hence his prophetic labors proceed the dispersion of the Israel of the ten tribes. He forecasts the judgments of God against these tribes and also against Judah without mentioning the human agent through whom these forecasts are to become accomplished facts. Yet he does suggest who this agent will be through his affirming that the apostate nation will return to Egypt, which is Babylon (7:13). He also foretells the return from captivity and holds forth the promise of a glorious and permanent restoration of Israel to intimate fellowship with Jehovah.
Joel is to be dated about 830 B.C. He shows the approach of terrible judgment against Zion and Israel. He forecasts the repentance of the people, the restoration of Jehovah’s presence, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, the judgment of the nations who wronged Jehovah’s people, and ends with a description of the judgment scene and the glorification of the Church.
According to 1:1, Amos prophesied while Jeroboam was king of Israel, and Uzziah king of Judah. Hence his date is to be fixed at approximately 810-783 B.C. He announces the approach of judgments that come against both the Israel of the ten tribes and Judah. He predicts the overthrow of six foreign nations on account of the sins which they committed against God’s people. The nations mentioned are: Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. The epilogue of this prophecy holds out promises of a glorious future for the Church: the Davidic dynasty will be restored; the surrounding nations will be conquered; there will be extraordinary fertility of the soil of Canaan; the exiles will return and be permanently re-established in the promised land.