In the Bible, what period of time do you think the term "in that day" is referring to?

Email Received:

I see the phrase "in that day" numerous times in the Bible, mostly by the Old Testament prophets. Do you feel that this expression is significant in describing a particular period of time?

Ted’s Response:

It seems that most people who study the Bible look for historical events that have taken place, or are taking place, and attempt to attach certain passages in the Bible (especially from the ancient prophets) to those events. Similarly, some will look at Bible passages and then assign specific events or periods, that already have taken place in history, to these passages. On the contrary, I feel a great deal of prophecy that people believe already has happened or is happening now, still has yet to take place.

The ancient biblical prophet who used the term "in that day" the most was Isaiah. I feel that Isaiah 2:1-21 provides excellent clues as to when this period of time applies. This major prophet spoke of "Judah and Jerusalem" (2:1). I am convinced that this is the main locality on the earth to which events "in that day" will apply, although there will be others as well. And I believe the time known as "that day" is yet in the future (rather than, for instance, at any time from 1948 to the present).

Let us look at some passages later in this chapter where "in that day" is used three times. Then we will return to some of the initial verses to learn more. Consider the following verses:

10Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! 11The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 12The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).... 17The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, 18and the idols will totally disappear. 19Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. 20In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. 21They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (Isaiah 2:10-12,17-21)
Much of this passage should look familiar to those who have read the book of Revelation:
12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. ... 14The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12,14-17)
So, the Lord Almighty has "a day reserved for all the proud and lofty" (Isaiah 2:12), often referred to as "that day," which will follow the events of the Sixth Seal. Here are signs indicating when "that day," yet in the future, will be imminent: The "day of the Lord's wrath" is a direct reference to the "day of vengeance," evidently lasting for a year (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4)—the seventh year of the 70th Week. This initial segment of the millennial Day of the Lord will ensue following the opening of the Seventh Seal.

In the earlier verses of Isaiah chapter 2 are other major clues about when "that day" will occur:

2In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house [temple] of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:2-5)
Thus, here are other things related to the time referred to, in prophecy, as "that day": To summarize, then, Isaiah 2:6-21 describes the dawning and then the manifestation of "that day," commencing with a relatively brief period of time, most likely a year, known as the "day of vengeance"—during which all of mankind, including Israel, will be brought low and humbled. At that time, we know that Israel will receive a share of the destruction and devastation because of what is written about Jerusalem and Judah in Isaiah 3:1–4:1, which includes the phrase "in that day" three times (3:7,18, 4:1).

The events of the "day of vengeance" will lead to the greater part of the Day of the Lord period, lasting a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). During that Millennium, Jesus (having returned at the Seventh Trumpet) will rule and reign gloriously on the earth, from Jerusalem. "In that day," after the "Branch of the Lord" (that is, the Messiah, Yeshua/Jesus) returns (Isaiah 4:2), those remaining in Israel and Jerusalem will be very productive and will be called holy (4:2,3), and Israel will "walk in the light of the Lord" (2:1-5). Therefore, "that day" refers, collectively, to

  1. the relatively short "day" (year) of the Lord's wrath, followed by
  2. the "Day" (Millennium) of the Lord's glorious reign on the earth as its King.

There are numerous verses in the Bible containing the phrase "in that day":

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