The Return and Judgment Seat of Christ
Throughout the Bible the Spirit of God indicates certain periods in the history of mankind. In doing this He occasionally employs terms which must be understood in their own context because some of them are used figuratively. The word “world,” meaning age, appears many times, so also do the words “time,” “day,” and “hour.” This study deals particularly with the word “day,” used metaphorically. In some instances modifiers are used which limit its application. There are four such distinctive days: Man’s Day, the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord and the Day of God. To discover the respective place of each in the complete plan of God in redemption, it is necessary to carefully examine each one in the light of divine revelation.
The Four Distinctive Days
Man’s Day (1 Cor. 4:3, marginal reading): This is a significant designation for the present period, a period of great achievement on the part of man. While technologically man has accomplished much, some of the other biblical expressions relative to this same period denote that morally he has not improved. Man’s Day is also called: “This darkness” (Eph. 6:12, marginal reading), “The night” (Rom. 13:12), “The present evil age” (Gal. 1:4), “The course” (lit. the age) of this world (Eph. 2:2). Notwithstanding the black picture these appellations paint of this period, it is also called, “The day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2), and “The acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19), for from the nations in their darkness and evil God is gathering out to Himself a people for His name (Acts 15:14).
Man’s Day had begun when Paul wrote to the Corinthians; it will probably continue for a short time after the Church has been removed from earth. Logically we might consider Man’s Day to have commenced with the rejection and crucifixion of Christ and continuing through the time of the Anti-Christ, who will be the climax of human self-assertion.
The Day of the Lord: In Scripture there seems to be a transitional passage from Man’s Day into the Day of the Lord, and from the Day of the Lord into the Day of God. Man’s Day reaches its climax in the Man of Sin, the Anti-Christ, and yet the manifestation of this wicked one could also be a feature of the Day of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:2-4). Again the last act of the Day of the Lord, the dissolution of the heavens and the earth appears also to usher in the Day of God (2 Pet. 3:10-14).
The Day of the Lord is referred to in both the Old and New Testaments (Joel 3:14, Obad. 15, Zeph. 1:7, Zech. 14:1, Acts 2:20, 1 Thess. 5:2, 2 Thess. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:10). It is called the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (Joel 2:11, Mal. 4:5), the Day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph. 2:1-3), the Day of Vengeance (Isa. 61:3; 63:4; 34:8), and the Day of Recompense (Isa. 34:8).
The day of the Lord will begin when the gospel dispensation as we know it ends, and the Church is removed (Isa. 61:2), and will end with the dissolution of the heavens and the earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13). It will therefore include the seventieth week of Daniel, the millennial reign of Christ, and the final human-satanic revolt against God.
During the present period man seeks to govern all on earth. The Day of the Lord will take place here in the same sphere, but with this difference, the will of God will then be sovereign; God will be supreme in Christ.
That future period, the Day of the Lord, is said to be “great and terrible.” “Great” suggests its magnitude and eminence; “terrible,” the awesomeness that will produce apprehension in the heart of men. It will be the Day of the Lord’s anger for in it He will manifest His anger against human sin and wickedness.
Another appellation for this period is, “The Day of Vengeance.” This describes the result of divine anger, God will avenge Himself of man’s arrogance and opposition. “The Day of Recompense” expresses the fact that eventually man must reap the harvest he has sown (Gal. 6:7), and be recompensed for all the evil he has committed.
The Day of God: The Day of God is mentioned only once in Scripture. This reference is found in 2 Peter 3:12, and is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:28. The event that ends the Day of the Lord, the dissolution of the material universe, ushers in the Eternal State, the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Believers, according to 2 Peter 3:12, K.J.V. are urged to accelerate the coming of the Day of God by holy living. This exhortation is difficult to understand, for how may man, even redeemed man, hurry the purposes of the Divine Sovereign? It may probably mean that believers should manifest by holy living and godliness a real longing for the coming of the Day of God.
The words, “Wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,” may be more accurately translated, “On account of which,” that is, on account of the coming of the Day of God the present order must be removed in order that the eternal day break.
According to 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 our Lord Jesus as King of the Kingdom must reign until every foe is vanquished, even death the last enemy. “When all things shall be subdued under Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” Eternal Supremacy will not belong to the Father exclusively, but to God in all His Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Day of Christ: The designations Man’s Day and the Day of the Lord always bear a relationship to earth, the former to the present, the latter to the future. The Day of Christ is altogether otherwise, it always bears a relationship to Heaven, and involves the New Testament Church only.
From a comparison of Scriptures (1 Cor. 3:13, 1 Cor. 5:5, 2 Cor. 1:14, Phil. 1:6-10; 2:16), it appears that the Day of Christ begins with the rapture of the Church and ends with Christ’s descent back to earth in glory with His Bride, and is characterized by the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage of the Lamb.