by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Acts 2:14-24
I. In Peter’s first sermon, he quotes the prophet Joel who warns of the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
A. As we read the warnings of God through the prophets, repeatedly we find references to “the day of the Lord” or “the day of judgment.”
B. That day was not just a day of destruction and punishment, it was also a day that looked forward in hope to a better future.
C. But what day did God have in mind as He spoke through Peter?
1. We tend to think the day of the Lord, especially in connection with the word “judgment,” to refer to the final day of Judgment at the end of the world.
2. But it is not the only day people have considered.
a. Some believe Peter was speaking of that very day, the day of Pentecost.
b. Others see it as the day of Jerusalem’s destruction
c. Or perhaps another day of destruction.
3. We must remember that God will judge the world and display His wrath against sin, but it doesn’t follow that God will only do this at the end of the world
a. True, the end of time will be the ultimate expression of God’s justice
b. But God’s hatred for sin and His actions against it have been demonstrated repeatedly in history.
II. The history behind “the Day of the Lord”
A. Against Babylon - Isaiah 13:6-11
1. Note the association between the day of the Lord, destruction, cruel, wrath, fierce anger, desolate and the loss of light from the stars, moon, and sun.
2. Though it would be dark day for sinners, it would be a day of hope for God’s people - Isaiah 14:1
B. Against Assyria - Nahum 1:1-8
1. Note the reference to darkness
C. Against Egypt - Jeremiah 46:8-11
1. Ezekiel also cries out - Ezekiel 30:2-4
2. Just as we find a overcast, cloudy day to be gloomy, so the image is used for the destruction of a nation – a dark and stormy day.
D. Against all nations - Obadiah 15
1. But still it is a time for hope - Obadiah 17
2. When the mighty empires tumbled one after another: Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and the many small nations surrounding them, each in their turn faced a day of destruction at the hands of God.
3. A day of doom and gloom for the wicked, but a day of reprieve and hope for the righteous.
E. But Israel and Judah weren’t excluded from God’s wrath - Amos 5:18-20
1. Israel thought that they were shielded from God’s judgment.
2. They were eager for the nations around them to face judgment, little considering that judgment would fall on them as well - Zephaniah 1:7-12
3. God doesn’t take a “hands off” approach
4. A day of wrath. A day of gloom. A terrible day. - Zephaniah 1:14-18
III. The Day of the Lord in Joel
A. Joel witnessed a locust swarm and saw in it the representation of God’s judgment - Joel 1:1-4, 14-15
B. Like others it is described as a day of darkness and gloom - Joel 2:1-3
C. Describing the invading army - Joel 2:8-11
D. From the vision of the current invasion, Joel looks into the future - Joel 2:28-30
1. A time of hope.
2. But also a time of destruction - Joel 2:31-32
3. In the midst of this destruction, deliverance would be brought
IV. The Day of the Lord in Acts
A. The prophecy of Joel began to be fulfilled in on the day of Pentecost - Acts 2:16
B. The Holy Spirit came - Acts 2:1-4
C. People began to call upon the name of the Lord - Acts 2:39
D. An escape was found in Zion - Hebrews 12:22-28
1. An escape that came by calling on the name of the Lord - Acts 22:16
E. But it was also a time of judgment. The old Jewish system was folding - Hebrews 8:13
F. Jesus told his disciples Jerusalem would be destroyed - Matthew 24:1-3
1. He referred to the coming Roman army as that foretold by Daniel - Matthew 24:15-29
2. A complete ruin of the nation, a collapse of the religious system, a day of darkness and despair - Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:26
a. Similar to the destruction of Egypt - Isaiah 19:1
b. Recall Isaiah 13:10?
c. Or, consider Jeremiah 4:20-25
d. Or, Ezekiel 32:7-10
e. Or, Joel 2:10; 3:14-15
3. Jesus coming on the clouds, shaking the land, dimming the lights of heaven is the poetic language of prophets concerning war and God’s judgment
4. Jesus said it would happen in that generation - Matthew 24:34
5. This was the time prophesied - Luke 21:22
a. Such as in Joel 2, but also in Isaiah 61:1-2; 63:4 - a day of redemption and a day of vengeance
b. Just as Jesus said - Luke 21:28
V. Thus, Peter on the day of Pentecost spoke of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem
A. With the coming of salvation was coming a day of destruction for the old order of things.
B. It was a day of vengeance and wrath for all the evil done by Israel
C. But there was an escape in Zion for those who called upon the Lord
D. The events echo the ultimate judgment of the wicked and the deliverance of the righteous
E. Will you be looking forward to the day of the Lord with gladness or despair?