Jon: The Day of the Lord. It’s a phrase in the Bible that religious people use, usually when talking about the end of the world.
Tim: Yeah. Things like Armageddon or the apocalypse. You might be familiar with this image of Jesus returning on a white horse. He’s got a sword to bring final judgment.
Jon: And everyone wants to know. How will it all go down?
The Setup [00:21-01:58]
Tim: So a lot of these images come from the last book of the Bible, but to understand them you have to go back to the first book.
Jon: When the story begins, we watch God create an amazing world, and then he gives humans power to rule over it on his behalf.1
Tim: But then the humans are tempted by this mysterious un-human character, who offers them a promise. You could define good and evil on your own terms and put yourselves in God’s place.2
Jon: Which is what they do, and the resulting stories are about the broken relationships and violence that results.
Tim: Yeah. This promise creates huge problems. Now everyone has to protect themselves and fight for survival. And they’re all using death as this weapon to get power.
Jon: It all leads to a story about the building of the city of Babylon.3
Tim: Or in Hebrew, Babel. Everyone comes together to elevate themselves to the place of God. And God knows how devastating this could be––a whole culture redefining good and evil as if they are God.
Jon: So God confuses their language and scatters them.
Tim: Now from here on Babylon becomes like an icon in the biblical story. It’s an image that represents humanity’s corporate rebellion against God.
Jon: And the next time we see it is in the story of ancient Egypt.4
Tim: Yeah. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, he feels threatened by these immigrant Israelites. He starts killing all the boys, enslaving the rest.
Jon: This is really evil.
Tim: Yeah. Egypt’s like this bigger, badder Babylon. They take care of themselves at the expense of others by redefining evil as good. And so God turns Pharaoh’s evil back on him. His pride drives him forward and he’s swallowed up by death.
The Day [01:59-02:21]
Jon: Now, after this great deliverance, the Israelites sing a song about how God is their warrior who liberated them from evil.5
Tim: And the Israelites referred to this moment as, “the day.”
Jon: The day they were rescued from a corrupt human system.
Tim: And every year since then, the Israelites have celebrated the day of their liberation with this symbolic meal of a sacrificial lamb. It’s called Passover.6
Israel Becomes Babylon [02:22-03:14]
Jon: Eventually, Israel comes into its own land, have their own kings, and they face new enemies.
Tim: So that past Day of the Lord, celebrated every Passover, begins to generate hope that God would bring the day again to save Israel from new threats.
Jon: Now, out in the hills was a sheep herder named Amos.
Tim: He was appointed by God as a prophet to announce shocking news to Israel––that God was bringing another Day of the Lord against his enemies, and this time the target is Israel.7
Tim: Sadly, Israel’s leaders had also redefined good and evil for themselves, resulting in corruption and violence.
Jon: So God’s people have become like Babylon? The oppressed become oppressors? Babylon seems like a trap no one can escape.
Tim: And so the Day of the Lord comes upon Israel. They are conquered, taken captive into exile, and from then on, Israel suffered under the rule of continuous oppressive empires.
Jesus and The Day [03:15-04:30]
Jon: This is the story Jesus was born into.
Tim: Yeah. In his day, the oppressive empire over Israel is Rome.
Jon: So is Jesus going to confront Rome? Take them out?
Tim: Well, no. Jesus saw the real enemy as that mysterious unhuman evil, the evil that’s lured Babylon, Egypt, Rome, Israel. All humanity has given into evil’s promise of power. This is what Jesus resisted alone in the wilderness when he was tempted to exploit his power for self-interest.8
Jim: But he didn’t. And after that, he started confronting the effects of evil on others.9.
Tim: Yeah. He started saying that he was going to Jerusalem for Passover for a final showdown, to confront the evil of Israel and Rome by dying.
Jon: Dying? I mean, that feels like losing.
Tim: Jesus was going to let evil exhaust all of its power on him, using its only real weapon, death. Jesus knew that God’s love and life were even more powerful, that he could overcome evil by becoming the Passover lamb, giving his life in an act of love.10
And something changed that day. When Jesus defeated evil, he opened up a new way for anyone to escape from Babylon and discover this new kind of power, this new way of being human.
The Great Day of the Lord [04:31-05:46]
Jon: Okay, so something changed. But the power of evil is still alive and well. We keep building new versions of Babylon.
Tim: Right, and so the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, points to the future and final Day of the Lord. It’s when God’s Kingdom comes to confront “Babylon the great,” this image of all the corrupt nations of the world.
Jon: Yeah! This is it––armageddon! Final judgment! How is Jesus going to finish off evil?
Tim: Well, it’s not how you’d expect. In the Revelation, the victorious Jesus is symbolized by a sacrificial, bloody lamb. And then when Jesus does arrive in the end, riding his white horse to confront evil, he's bloody before the battle even starts.11
Jon: Pre-bloodied? That’s a strange image.
Tim: Yeah. It’s because Jesus isn’t out for our blood. Rather, he overcame with his blood when he died for his enemies. And the sword is in his mouth. It’s a symbol of Jesus’ authority to define good and evil and hold us accountable when he brings final justice once and for all.12
Jon: And so in the meantime, the Day of the Lord is an invitation to resist the culture of Babylon.
Tim: And it’s a promise that God will one day free our world from corruption and bring about the new things that he has in store.