The Day of the Lord in the Death and Resurrection of Christ

By Kline, J. Bergman | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Day of the Lord in the Death and Resurrection of Christ


Kline, J. Bergman, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The advent, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inaugurated a new age characterized by the outpouring of the Spirit, through whom Christ carries out the task of redemptively recreating a kingdom people in his own image.1 That the messianic mission ushered in the eschatological era is indeed the main thrust of the NT revelation. This theme is particularly prominent in the Gospel narratives' portrayal of the events accompanying the crucifixion.2

The eschatological thrust of biblical religion had been present from the very beginning of history, having been established in the crowning consummation of the process of creation by God's assumption of his Sabbath throne on the climactic seventh day. This royal rest marked the genesis of the Day of the Lord concept, that day of divine visitation which, somewhat altered in its character by the entrance of sin into the world, was periodically to punctuate postlapsarian history and whose nature was developed in particular detail in the writings of the prophets.3

Three prominent elements characteristic of the Day of the Lord are inaugurated eschatology, redemptive recreation, and trial by ordeal (the latter two being relevant only after the Fall). It is my intention to set forth evidence that each of these (sometimes overlapping) motifs is present in the death and resurrection of Christ, and thereby to provide support for the commonly accepted conclusion that the death and resurrection of Christ constituted a fulfillment (in a sense the fulfillment) of the Day of the Lord concept.

I. THE DAY OF THE LORD

As was mentioned above, the inception of the Day of the Lord concept belongs to prelapsarian history, and more specifically to the end of the original creation week, when God assumed his heavenly Sabbath throne on the seventh day. Having finished fashioning earth and heaven and all their hosts, the Creator entered his Sabbath rest and thereby firmly affixed the stamp of eschatology on history. It was not long before this telic principle came to expression again, for the Day of the Lord arrived immediately after the entrance of sin into the world, this time heralded not by the approbative declaration that all was very good (Gen 1:31) but by the thunderous voice and storm-wind theophany of the Lord which confronted the culpable first couple (Gen 3:8).6

The principles of consummation and final judgment, not content to wait until the last day, have at certain points intruded themselves into history, and it is such proleptic inbreakings of the eschaton that are referred to by the biblical authors as the Day of the Lord. Such days are always days of anticipated eschatology.

II. INAUGURATED ESCHATOLOGY IN THE DAY OF THE LORD

We shall now proceed to examine evidence from both the OT and NT pointing to the eschatological character of the Day of the Lord, paying particular attention to temple and nature imagery. Along the way we shall be observing how this eschatological aspect of the Day of the Lord comes to fulfillment in the person and work of Christ.

1. The phrase "that day" in the OT. The preeminent OT title for the Day of the Lord is "that day." The day so denominated is one of restoration for the afflicted exiles of Israel (Mic 4:6; cf. Zech 6:15; Isa 27:13), of salvation for the remnant (Isa 10:20; 11:11; cf. Isa 17:6-8; Dan 12:1), and of rebuilding (Amos 9:11; Mic 7:11; Zech 6:15), a day of forgiveness, comfort, and thanksgiving (Zeph 3:11; Isa 12:1, 4).7 It is a day of blessing (Joel 3:18-21 [4:18-21]), but also a day of wrath (Zeph 1:9-18; Deut 31:17-18).8

a. Temple imagery. "On that day," says the Lord, he will raise up his servant Zerubbabel (Hag 2:23) to rebuild the temple (Zech 4:9), not by might or power but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zech 4:6).9 This member of the Davidic line presages that son of David to come who, after the temple of his body is raised (cf. Rev 1:18; 2:8), begins, by the Spirit, to construct the people temple of God, which is built of redemptively recreated living stones (1 Pet 2:5). …

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