The Day of the Lord is first introduced in the Old Testament and then later re-confirmed in the New Testament. The Day of the Lord can describe God's cataclysmic future judgment on the wicked. It is mentioned explicitly nineteen times in the Old Testament in passages like Isa. 2:12; 13:6,9; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Zeph 1:7, 14; Zech. 14:1; and Mal.4:5. Some of the passages that mention the Day of the Lord in the New Testament include Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10.(1)
The Day of the Lord must be distinguished from the "day of Christ" (Phil. 1:10; 2:16), The "day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6), the "day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor.1:18), and the "day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). All of these terms refer to the time when believers will receive their rewards from the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-14; 4:1-5; 2 Cor.5:9-10). The Day of the Lord must also be distinguished from the "day of God" (2 Peter 3:12), which refers to the eternal state. (1)
Some of the Old Testament Day of the Lord prophecies have both a near and a far fulfillment, as does much Old Testament prophecy.(1)
To express the time of God's wrath, This day (or time) of reckoning can refer to a near future judgment, (Ezek. 13:5; 30:3) or a future judgment (Zech. 14:1; 2 Thess. 2:2). Two "day of the Lord" expressions remain to be fulfilled:
The day of reckoning can occur through providential means (Ezek. 30:3) or directly at the hand of God (2 Pet.3:10). At times, the near fulfillment (Joel 1:15) prefigures the far fulfillment (Joel 3:14); on other occasions, both kinds of fulfillment are included in one passage (13:6, 9; Zeph. 1:7, 14). Isaiah 2:12 looks to the far fulfillment at the end of the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30:7).(2)
God (through the prophets) has written about signs that the Day of the Lord is near without revealing the specific time that it will come.
Abomination Of Desolation:
When writing to the Thessalonian people in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, out of all the precursors of the Day of the Lord (e.g. Joel 2:31; 3:11; Mal. 4:5) Paul singled out the apostasy of the Abomination Of Desolation from Daniel 9:27(3)
The Day of the Lord will not come until The man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). This means the rise of the anti-Christ and his desecration of the temple (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; and Matthew 24:15) will precede the Coming Day of the Lord.
Paul's unarguable point to the Thessalonians was that God had fixed in the future an unmistakable event that must take place before the Day of the Lord arrives. That event still has not happened.(3)
Another sign is the appearance of an Elijah-like forerunner. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). Like some other Day of the Lord prophecies, this one had a historical fulfillment in John the Baptist (Luke 1:17) and will also have a future fulfillment in the end times. Some of the Old Testament Day of the Lord prophecies have both a near and a far fulfillment as does much Old Testament prophecy.(1)
One birth pang is a proliferation of false teachers, false prophets, and false religions. They will succeed in explaining away the signs so that people will not recognize that they point to the Day of the Lord. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many (Matthew 24:5).(1)
Rebellion Against God And His Word:
Another sign will be a worldwide rebellion against God and His word. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first...(2 Thessalonians 2:3). This will include false religion.(1)
Assembly Of Nations:
The nations will begin to assemble in the valley of decision for the battle of Armageddon. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14). Often this valley is thought to be the valley of Jehoshaphat. A better description is found by reading Joel 3:1-14.(1)
Dramatic Signs In The Heavens:
Preceding the Day of the Lord will be dramatic signs from God in the heavens. The prophet Joel speaking for God teaches us: I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes (Joel 2:30-31).
The New Testament confirms this is God's plan. But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matthew 24:29).
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind (Revelation 6:12-13).
The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way (Revelation 8:12).
In the Olivet discourse, (Matthew 24:3-25:46) Jesus gave another list of precursors to the Day of the Lord- a list paralleled in the first five seal judgments in the Book of Revelation. God often used providentially controlled circumstances, such as using one nation to destroy another, or natural disasters, as an instrument of His judgment.(1)
The metaphor of a thief coming is never used to refer to the Rapture of the church. It describes the coming of the Lord in judgment at the end of the thousand-year kingdom of Christ on earth (2 Peter 3:10). A thief coming is not a hopeful, joyful event of deliverance, but an unexpected calamity.(1)
Pages inside of JewishRoots.Net that are tribulation related include:
Other pages on interest include:
1). John MacArthur's Commentary on the New Testament 1& 2 Thessalonians p.143-146.
2). The MacArthur Study Bible p.940.
3). John MacArthur Commentary on the New Testament 1&2 Thessalonians p.269.