Old Testament references to a Day of the Lord clearly indicate that a Day of the Lord is a day of God’s wrath. There have been Days of the Lord aimed at Egypt, Babylon, and Israel. There remains a climatic Day of the Lord against all nations. The mere statement that Church saints are not appointed to wrath (I Thess. 5:19) suggests that either (1) the Church is removed prior to the Day of the Lord, (2) or they are protected during that Day.
Acts 2: 9-20 reveals that an unprecedented stellar disturbance will occur “before” the “great and notable day of the Lord.”
I Thess. 4:15-17 describes the rapture without indicating when it occurs; however, 5:1 does concern “the times and the seasons” of the rapture. Verse 2 equates or associates the rapture with the Day of the Lord. The Thessalonians already know about the “times and seasons” of the rapture/Day of the Lord.
Because unbelievers are “in darkness,” the Day of the Lord will surprise them like a thief in the night. The Day should not so catch believers. The instruction to watch (vs 6) indicates that believers will see that day. Perhaps the breastplate and helmet (vs 8) will protect them from the battle. Somehow they will be protected as the 144,000 will be.
In II Thess. 2:7 NT believers are promised “rest.” When? “[W]hen the Lord Jesus is revealed …in flaming fire taking vengeance ….” That seems like the Day of the Lord.
II Thess. 2:1 is a clear description of the rapture (“the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him”). The most obvious assumption is that “His coming” in verse 1 is the same as “His coming” in verse 8. That “coming” is when He consumes the “lawless one,” i.e. at the Day of the Lord. There is no reference in the NT to two stages in the second coming of Jesus.
Suppose it is late 1944. Throughout Germany the news is proclaimed: “The Allies are coming, the Allies are coming.” Is that good news or bad? It depends on which side one is on. Likewise, “The Day of the Lord is soon” is good news to the saints and bad news for the wicked.
Suppose your family is eager for guests to arrive. Perhaps grandparents who live far away are coming or perhaps a friend you have not seen in thirty years. As the predicted arrival time nears, you watch out the window. Then a car pulls into your driveway. Where do the hugs take place? At the door or on the driveway? Probably you run out to the driveway to greet them, then escort them into the house. This may picture I Thessalonians 4: 14-17.
Verse 14 God will bring believers up from the grave, even as He did Jesus. Thus, (verses 14-17) both believers “who are alive” and “those who are asleep” will meet Jesus, in the air, and escort Him to the earth. The Day of the Lord arrives when the Lord arrives. Will we participate in the war of wrath or will we be front row spectators as Jesus suddenly destroys His enemies and establishes His kingdom? Of this I am confident: we will be wherever Jesus is (4:17, John 14:3). The analogy of Malachi 4:1-3 may suggest that we will join the battle.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.