By Charles H. Welch
The Greek word hemera corresponding with the Hebrew yom is used of (1) The natural day, the interval between sunrise and sunset, and so distinguished from night, and (2) The civil day of twenty-four hours, which consequently includes the night as well. The word is used in a figurative sense in such expressions as ‘the last day’, ‘the day of the Lord’, ‘the day of Christ’ and ‘that day’, etc., which impinge upon the subject of this analysis and must here be given attention. The form semeron, which is a compound indicates ‘this day’. The Greek word has entered into our own tongue in the name of the Mayfly - the ephemera, because of the brevity of its life, and as an adjective ephemeral having the sense of being short-lived. The following list contains the figurative use of the word as it has any connection with Dispensational Truth:
The day of the Lord, the day of God, man’s day (in the A.V. of 1 Cor. 4:3 man’s judgment). The day of Jesus Christ, the day of the Lord Jesus, the day of Christ, the day of salvation, the day of redemption, the evil day, that day, the last days, the day of temptation, the days of His flesh, the days of Noah, the day of visitation, until the day dawn, the day of judgment, the day of the age (2 Pet. 3:18 in the A.V. ‘both now and ever’) the great day and the day of Pentecost.
To attempt an examination of these twenty phrases, with any fulness, is manifestly beyond the limits of the present work, and we shall, perforce be obliged to select those which appear to be of dispensational importance.
The day of the Lord.
The Hebrew and the Greek languages differ in many ways, and it is impossible in Hebrew to say ‘The Lord’s day’. The word ‘Lord’ cannot be used as an adjective, and the words must be ‘in regimen’, ‘the day of the Lord’, whereas in Greek either mode of expression is possible. There is no essential difference between ‘the Lord’s day’ and ‘the day of the Lord’, the only difference is one of emphasis. The occurrences of ‘the day of the Lord’ whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament are marked by the number four. There are sixteen occasions where the Hebrew yom Jehovah, ‘day of the Lord’ is used: Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 13:5; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 (twice), 20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14 (twice), and Malachi 4:5. In four other places, the Hebrew adds the preposition, the letter lamed or ‘L’, ‘a day to or for the Lord’ (Isa. 2:12; Ezek. 30:3; Zech. 14:1 and 7). The New Testament as we have seen has four references, 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (R.V.); 2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 1:10. The Church of the Mystery has no reference in any way to this great prophetic day.
There are four occasions where John tells us that he was ‘in spirit’, viz., Revelation 1:10, he became in spirit in the day of the Lord; 4:2, he became in spirit, and saw the throne in heaven; 17:3 he is carried away into a desert in spirit to see the woman sitting on the scarlet beast; 21:10, he is carried away in spirit to see the holy city. When John is to be taken to a desert or a mountain he is ‘carried away in spirit’, and when he is transported into time, ‘the day of the Lord’ or to the future heavenly sphere, he writes, ‘I became in spirit’.
The four references made by John find an echo and an explanation in the statement to a like effect by Ezekiel:
In Ezekiel 40:2 we have a close parallel to Revelation 21:10 :
The man with the measuring reed (verse 3), and the command to declare what he saw (verse 4), also find their parallels in the Revelation. This and the seven succeeding chapters are punctuated by the words ‘then’, ‘and’, or ‘afterwards’, ‘he brought me’. Ezekiel 43:5 records similar words. Ezekiel was not merely taken in vision from one locality to another, but was taken into the yet future even as was John.
In Ezekiel 8:1-3 the parallel with Revelation 1 is most pronounced:
The description of the wondrous being who appeared to Ezekiel is very similar to the description of the Lord Who appeared to John. The vision is a prelude to a revelation of dark apostacy and the retiring glory of God. It is so also in the book of the Revelation.
The Day of Christ; of Jesus Christ; of the Lord Jesus
Something of this same association of reward, loss and assessment of service, is attached to several passages where the reader’s attention is directed to ‘that day’. This phrase is borrowed from the Old Testament where it will be found in frequent use by the Prophets. Isaiah 2:11, 26:1, Ezekiel 29:21, Hosea 2:18, Zechariah 2:11,14:4, and Malachi 3:17 will serve as specimens. It is found in the Gospels with much the same association of judgment as for example: ‘It shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom’ (Luke 10:12). So when we read in 2 Timothy 1:12, 18 and 4:8:
For an examination of 2 Timothy 1:12, and what was committed see the article entitled GOOD DEPOSIT .
To be children of the day is one of the gracious characteristics of the redeemed, 1 Thessalonians 5:5,8, Romans 13:13, a variant of this being ‘children of light’ in Ephesians 5:8. In the section of Ephesians which speaks of ‘the whole armour of God’ the believer is warned of an ‘evil day’ which must come, and which will demand self-discipline, courage and ability to use the sword of the spirit (Eph. 6:11-18), there is also ‘a day of redemption’ spoken of in Ephesians 4:30, a passage that looks back to Ephesians 1:14, and necessitates some knowledge of the Old Testament types of the Jubilee, the Kinsman Redeemer and the book of Ruth, if the full meaning of these two passages is to be attained. Some help will be found under the heading REDEMPTION which distinguishes between the two aspects found in Ephesians 1:7 and 14.
The term ‘the last days’ is used in more than one sense in the New Testament. Hebrews 1:2, contrasts ‘these last days’ with the days of the Old Testament prophets, whereas 2 Timothy 3:1, James 5:3 and 2 Peter 3:3 use the term ‘the last days’ of the future. Paul speaks of the apostate nature of the closing days of the present dispensation; Peter speaks of the days immediately preceding the day of the Lord. One of the commendable characteristics of the Bereans, was that they ‘searched the Scriptures daily’ (Acts 17:11) as well as endeavouring to see whether what was taught them was ‘so’. One peculiar use of the word ‘daily’ is found in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘give us this day our daily bread’ (Matt. 6:11, Luke 11:3). No more common expression of everyday life can be imagined than the word ‘daily’ and in the sixty occurrences of the word in the Old Testament and New Testament nothing extraordinary is to be found. The two references taken from the Lord’s Prayer, however, are the exception. The word translated ‘daily’ is so extraordinary, that apart from these two passages, it is unknown and unused in any extant Greek writing. Origen in his commentary says:
Scholars disagree as to the actual derivation of the word. Some say that it is composed of epi ‘upon’ and eimi ‘to be’, but this is objected to by others, who say that had the word derived from eimi ‘to be’, the participle would have been epousa, and that epiousion is a compound of epi and eimi, a word of the same spelling but meaning ‘to come’ or ‘to go’, and so literally, the prayer would read: ‘Give us this day, the bread that cometh down upon us’. To say, ‘give us this day, our daily bread’ introduces a tautology that does not appear necessary. No Jew would need to be told what bread that would be that ‘came down from heaven’ and this petition will go up in the full meaning of the term, when the persecuted believer, in the day of the Lord, will be miraculously fed in the wilderness once again by God, as revealed in Revelation 12:14. To repeat many times in one day this request for daily bread, when the cupboard is well stored and there is plenty on every hand leads to insincerity, but there will be no insincere repetition in that three and a half years sojourn in the wilderness, even as there was a sense of real need, that led to the original gift of the manna in the forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness at the beginning of Israel’s history.
While we have not recorded every variety of combination in which the word ‘day’ figures in the New Testament we believe what has been brought forward will be sufficient to guide the believer in his studies, and as this analysis is especially concerned with Dispensational Truth some restraint must be practised.