James B. Jordan describes five elements to each “Day” of the Lord.
Jordan says that in Creation, the “day” starts at night and moves to the light/day as an eschatological picture of the history of redemption: the night time of the Old Covenant would move into the day of the New Covenant. When the day of the New Covenant comes, Jordan points out that the ultimate Day of the Lord follows a pattern:
- God always announces his judgment. This is usually done through his prophets (Moses; Amos, Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah; John the Baptist and Jesus). In this phase, God clearly makes his intentions known.
- After grasping his people in his hand, he moves them from one place to another. The ultimate example of this is the exodus. This is why the transfer of the Church out of Jerusalem of the flesh at the dawn of the new covenant is described in new exilic terms (cf. Wright, Christian Origins and the Question of God.)
- God establishes a new world: he gives his promise and command and sets up a new tabernacle. This would be the time at Sinai where he gave the Law and the instructions for the tabernacle. Another example would be Jesus on the Mount of Olives, giving the Sermon on the Mount to the new church made up of the people filled with the Spirit.
- As history moves, God judges his new order. “Before the Cross, this is a period moving toward judgment.” This is where God judges his people on their faithfulness and their unfaithfulness.
- God comes in judgment. God declares judgment on the old world and moves humanity into the new world.
God’s coming is a Sabbath phenomenon. The last day of God’s week and the first day of man’s week. It is simultaneously the end of the old week (for God) and the beginning of the new day (for men). It is a time of covenant-renewal on the parts of God and man. Thus, it is a time of worship. “The worship service, then, should be a time of leaving behind the old world of the previous week, and the receiving the gift of the Kingdom, the new world, for the new week.”
Viewing the day of the Lord this way gives us a better understanding of the biblical view of time. It is linear; rhythmical; liturgical. It is linear in that history moves forward from a definitive start time (the creation of the world by God’s word) and the end of the world (the consummation of the kingdom with the bodily return of Christ). It also helps us understand how the Day of the Lord can have more than one referent: each day follows a specific pattern, and that pattern is discernible in each day.
James Jordan, Through New Eyes, pp. 167-69