Last night I was reading the Old Testament book of Malachi with my wife Brittany; we read chapter four it was quite a terrifying chapter because it talks about the coming Day of the Lord – “yom Yahweh.”
Yom Yahweh – a day of horrific judgment when God’s power is unleashed on his enemies. It is a day of God’s visitation. The day God “shows up.” (Not that he wasn’t present before…but now he is present differently.) Or as Tom Wright would say, this is the day when God “puts the world to rights.” Moreover, it was a blessed day of restoration for those whose hope is in God. They will skip with joy like a newborn calf learning how to use it’s legs (Mal 4:2).
So the question we asked is this: has this day already happened or is it still in our future?
The answer is that it’s both.
The day of the Lord’s visitation happened when Jesus visited the earth – that’s why Elijah/John the Baptizer had to come before him (Mal 4:5; Matt 17:10-13). In Jesus’ message on the Mount of Olives recorded in Luke 21, Mark 13, and Matthew 24 , he appears to say that when the temple is destroyed in AD 70 that was also a sort of fulfillment (or better, instantiation) of God’s great DAY. And then of course, Paul exhorts us to look forward to the return of Jesus on his “day” (1 Thess 5:2).
In other words, this “day” is actually a larger, ongoing reality that is fulfilled over many days.
It’s like a huge freight train in the night. Malachi saw the light at the front of the train, and he saw it from afar and in it’s radiance. But as the train starts moving passed we see one car after another, on and on…connected, progressive, and unstoppable. The day of the Lord is like that – one huge day. Yet the fulfillment is ongoing until we finally see the caboose, when justice is totally meted out and total restoration is here.
So with that a I’d encourage you to get on board. The ticket is free but it will cost you everything. Don’t get crushed underneath. Turn to Jesus and be saved.