Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus the Savior, which took place just over two thousand years ago. However, the celebration is not really about a virgin birth, but about who Jesus is and what He accomplished. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, is the Eternal Son of God, who became flesh (a man) for the purpose of being the sinless substitute, to bear the justice demanded for mankind's acts of rebellion against the Creator God and His law. God's Son left Heaven and became a man, so that He could die in our place. He received the punishment due us, so that we would not perish but have eternal life. After His vicarious death, He rose bodily from the tomb and appeared unto hundreds over a period of forty days, after which He ascended up into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father.
Is that it? Is that all there is?
Emphatically No! There is much more!
Just as the Christmas story comes to us from the pages of the Bible, the most printed and copied book in the history of the world, there is also a much more prominent event recorded in its pages. This event has not already past as the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has, but lies in the future. In fact, it is the most spoken of event in the Holy Scriptures (The Bible). It was prophesied over three thousand years ago and it has yet to take place. This event is called the Day of the LORD.
Whereas there were well over 300 specific prophecies fulfilled at the first coming of Christ, there is more than twice that many prophecies concerning the Day of the LORD. The Day of the LORD involves the soon return of Jesus Christ to gather His saints unto Himself, to judge and make war upon the unbelieving world, and to take His rightful place upon the throne - ruling over all the nations of the earth.
The idea of the revelations of the Day of the LORD coming to pass, as it is described in the Bible, is made certain by the phenomenal fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Christ's first coming. Of the over three hundred specific prophecies concerning the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ; if only 50 are considered - the odds of all fifty being fulfilled in one person have been calculated to be less than 1 in 10 to the 160th power. The fact that all these prophecies came true in the man Jesus Christ lets us know that the Bible is no mere book. It is the special revelation of the Almighty God to mankind. The Almighty not only knows all things past, present, and future He has the power to see that His will is done.
With full confidence that what God says through His prophets will come to pass let us look at a few of their statements concerning the Day of the LORD.
The prophet Joel had much to say concerning this eschatological day.
Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. (Joel 1:15)
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; (Joel 2:1)
And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. (Joel 2:31)
These are just a few of the statements of Joel concerning the great and terrible day of the LORD. It is a time when God's wrath is poured out upon the earth. From the perspective of those dwelling upon the earth, it is very “terrible” time, “who can abide it”. It is a day of destruction.
The Apostle Peter spoke of it this way:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2Pe 3:10)
Isaiah the Prophet adds:
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (Isa 13:6)
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. (Isa 13:9)
For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance… (Isa 34:8a)
There is no doubt that this day will be a cruel and fearful one. A day of vengeance. A day of God's wrath and fierce anger.
Seeing this we must ask the question: Why is God so angry?
To answer this it will require that we see what the Bible says about the time that leads up to this day.
This day has been called the eschatological Day of the LORD by theologians, because it takes place at the end of the age or world system as we know it. Eschatos is a Greek word meaning end or last; so the eschatological Day of the LORD is the manifestation of the LORD Jesus Christ in judgement at the end of the age.
Jesus was asked the question by His disciples: "What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?" The Greek word translated world is the word "eon" which refers to a period of time in which a particular world system continues. The world system as we know it today will end at a certain time according to the Bible. In answer to their question, Jesus describes some of the things that will be taking place at the end of the "eon".
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:3-14)
Jesus first warns "Take heed that no man deceive you." This will be a time of great deception. Further He says that there will be many false Christs and "many false prophets." He also says there will be wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. However, He identifies these as only the beginning of sorrows or early birth pangs that appear before a child is delivered. He uses the familiar analogy of child birth when describing this time. In the analogy, the Day of the LORD is the strong labor of birth and the difficulties leading up to it are the various pains which precede the actual birth.
In Christ's very next statement (Matt. 24:15) He says something which allows us to understand the time context of these events, which He says will take place.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (Mat 24:15)
Jesus here refers to a prophecy given by Daniel over 500 years before. Jesus is making it clear that this time period has already been prophesied about. Daniel mentions this abomination of desolation more than once. Let’s look at what he said.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. (Dan 12:11)
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Dan 9:27)
So that we may grasp the fullness of what we are told concerning this time it is necessary to briefly focus upon the last four verses of Daniel chapter 9. These four verses record one of the most astounding prophecies in all of Scripture. This prophecy has come to be called "Daniel's Seventy Weeks".
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Dan 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The key to understanding this statement of the angel to Daniel the prophet, as Daniel recorded it, is to properly identify the meaning of the Hebrew word "shaw-boo'-ah" translated with the words "weeks" and "week" in this English translation. Shaw-boo'-ah means a seven or a heptad. The context determines what it is seven of; whether days, or years, or something else. The context here can be shown to refer to years. So in this prophecy the word week means seven years. Seventy weeks(sevens) would then be 490 years.
· Verse 24 tells us what will be accomplished in those 490 years
· Verse 25 gives us the starting date, and timing of two events, the last of which happened on the 6th of April, 32 AD at the completion of the sixty-ninth week (483 years). This was the very day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and presented himself as the promised King of the Jews only to be rejected and crucified a few days later.
· Verse 26 tells us that Christ is slain for the sins of all mankind after the 483 years were completed. It also tells us of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple which took place in 70 AD. Both of these events take place in an untimed period between the completion of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. That is the period of time that we are currently in today.
· Verse 27 tells us what will happen in the last week (the last seven years). This week is said to begin when the prince that shall come, from verse 26, confirms a covenant with the many (the Anti-Christ confirms a covenant with the people of Israel). In the middle of this week of seven years (3.5 years into the last seven years of this age) the Anti-Christ will defile the Temple. We will see later more details concerning what he actually does to defile it.
It is this defiling of a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:15. It takes place in the middle of the last seven years of this "eon" or age. Prior to it was the birth pangs or beginning of sorrows that Jesus foretold. These birth pangs closely correspond to what John the Apostle records that he saw at the opening of the first 4 seals of the scroll introduced in Revelation chapter 5.