Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study of 1 Thessalonians, and today we come to chapter 5. Let me remind you that from 4:13 through 5:11, the context is about the Second Coming. In this section, Paul is answering some questions that Timothy had brought back from his visit to Thessalonica. In 4:13 thru 4:18, Paul dealt with their concern about their loved ones who had died. Would they miss out on the Parousia? Paul assures them that they would not miss out but would in fact be the first to rise from the dead at the coming of Christ. In the end of chapter 4, Paul dealt with the resurrection of the dead and the Parousia which were synchronous events.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 ESV
This is probably not the best place for a chapter break. This continues the discussion of the Second Coming. Verses 1-11 are closely linked to 4:13-18. Notice the similar ending in 4:18 and 5:11.
Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
So, the subject of the Second Coming continues, but a new aspect of the event is presented: The Day of the Lord. Paul calls them "Brothers"—which is often used by Paul to mark a transition to a new subject. So, we are still talking about the Second Coming but a new aspect of it.
The Parousia involves three synchronous events. We saw two of them in chapter 4—the resurrection of the dead and the Parousia. What else happens at this time? It is the judgment of unbelievers. At Christ’s coming, he not only raised his own people from the dead, but he also judged his antagonists.
"Now concerning the times and the seasons"—the words "now concerning" are pere de in the Greek. We have seen these words previously in 4:9 and 4:13. They indicate that Paul is responding to yet another question the Thessalonians had asked. This question is probably concerning when the day of the Lord would arrive?
"The times and the seasons"—"times" is from the Greek chronos which is the word from which we get chronology. It simply means clock time, or calendar time, chronological time. It could include the idea of particular dates when predictions would come to pass. The word "seasons" is the Greek kairos which means seasons, epochs, events. It looks at time, not from the viewpoint of a day and an hour but from the viewpoint of an event, of an epoch, of something that happened.
I think we can assume that their question was about when. When will the Day of the Lord happen? Notice what Paul tells them.
"You have no need to have anything written to you"—using the same words as in 4:9, Paul assures the church that they did not need to add anything to the instruction they already possessed on this theme.
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV
This comment, along with what is said in the next verse regarding the day of the Lord (you yourselves are fully aware), shows that he had taught them carefully and thoroughly about these end-time events. This included the day of the Lord which would usher in God’s judgment. The Thessalonians were well-taught about the return of Yeshua and other prophetic matters.
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV
"You yourselves are fully aware"—"fully aware" is from the Greek word akribos which means "accurately, precisely." It was a word of precision and accuracy. Their previous learning had been adequate, definite, and specific regarding the Day of the Lord.
Notice the disciples’ question to Yeshua and his answer.
So, when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6 ESV
This is what the book of Acts is all about—the redemption, restoration, or resurrection of Israel. As the time the Gospels ended, Yeshua had been rejected by the Jewish leadership, and they have put Him to death. They killed their Messiah, so what was to happen to all the promises made to Israel? Does God stop with Israel and turn to the church as the Dispensationalists teach? No! Israel was a type and all of her promises were fulfilled in Christ and His body, the Church. Believers, we are true Israel and inheritors of all of God's promises. The Church is the Kingdom of God.
True Israel is all of those who have trusted in Christ. It includes the Old Covenant saints who looked forward to the redemption of the Lord and all New Covenant saints, those who put their trust for eternal life in Christ and Christ alone. Physical, national Israel was a type that found its fulfillment in Christ. The shadow is gone, the reality is here. Thus, the nation Israel, the Jewish people, have no special significance in God's plan or purpose. It is all about Yeshua and those who trust in Him.
In response to the disciple’s question about the redemption of Israel He said:
"It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." Acts 1:7 ESV
"Times or seasons" is the same phrase used in our text in 1 Thessalonians 5:1. Paul told the Thessalonians that they didn’t need any further instruction because their previous instruction had been adequate, definite, and specific regarding the Day of the Lord.
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV
Why did Yeshua tell His disciples: "It is not for you to know times or seasons." Why did Paul write to the Thessalonians that, "You have no need to have anything written to you, you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night?"
Why the different responses? Yeshua tells his disciples, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." And Paul tells the Thessalonians, "you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night?" Do you see the difference? Yeshua refers to "times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." And Paul refers to "you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night?" They are both talking about the exact timing of the Parousia. Yeshua said that the Father had fixed it by his own authority. And Paul taught that the Lord would come "like a thief in the night." Nobody knows when a thief is coming.
Yeshua did not rebuke the disciples for their question in Acts and He did not answer them "yes" or "no." Instead, He said that this information belonged to the Father alone. This is the same thing He told the disciples in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem.
"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36 ESV
Many today use verse 36 to prove that we can have no knowledge of the time of a future- to-us, Second Coming of Christ. But "that day" refers to the passing away of the heavens and earth which was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Old Covenant. Yeshua had already told them, in verse 34, that it would happen in their generation (in forty years or so). But they did not know the "day or hour" that it would happen.
When a woman gets pregnant, we know that in about forty weeks she is going to have a baby. We don't know the day or hour, but we can know that it will happen in about forty weeks. That is exactly what Yeshua is saying here.
So, the Thessalonians had been taught all about the "day of the Lord" from Paul, so that he didn’t need to add anything to what he had already taught them. They knew that it would come suddenly and without warning.
Let’s consider "The day of the Lord." We are going to park right here for the rest of our time and seek to understand what exactly this phrase means. It is used four times in the New Testament—in Acts 2:20, here in our text, in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, and in 2 Peter 3:10.
Acts 2:20 (ESV). " …. the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." This is a quotation from Joel 2. It doesn’t tell us much about the day of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:2 (ESV). " …. not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." This verse doesn’t tell us much about the day of the Lord either. What we do learn from it is that some were saying that the day of the Lord had already happened.
2 Peter 3:10 (ESV). "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10 ESV
In 2 Peter 3:10 we are given the most information on the day of the Lord. Most Christians would say that this is the end of the world as we know it. They claim that it is the destruction of the physical heavens and earth that is to happen in our future. Is the world going to someday come to an end? The great majority of people, both Christian and non-Christian, think it will. The end of the world is the theme of many books and movies, and there are endless predictions as to when and how it will end. We are constantly told that the world will get worse until God finally destroys it.
One problem with this view is that it violates the hermeneutical principle of the analogy of faith—Scripture interprets Scripture. No part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. And elsewhere in Scripture it teaches that the world will not end.
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." Genesis 8:21-22 ESV
Now, people will say that the Lord destroyed the earth by water one time, and He will destroy it by fire the next time. Is God's promise here to just change his method of destroying everything? Is there comfort in being destroyed by fire instead of water? Or is He promising not to destroy the earth again?
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Psalms 148:4-6 ESV
What decree did God make concerning the establishment of the heavens and the earth that will never pass away? Could it be Genesis 8:21? God said that he would never again destroy every living thing. God can be trusted; He keeps his word.
He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. Psalms 78:69 ESV
If God has established the earth forever, how could it end?
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. Psalms 119:90 ESV
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Ecclesiastes 1:4 ESV
It sounds like these verses teach that the earth will last forever. But what about those verses that say the world will end? Verses like Matthew 13:40?
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. Matthew 13:40 KJV
Doesn’t this teach the end of the world? No. Look at the translation. It’s the KJV. The problem here is the translation of the Greek word aion. Aion does not mean "world" but "age, dispensation, era, or a period of time." We can understand that an age can end and yet the world can still go on. The Bible talks about the end of the age but never the end of the world. Most newer translations of the Bible correct this error in the KJV. Therefore, Yeshua is here talking about something that will happen at the "end of the age" in which He was living.
William Barclay wrote the following:
Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods—this present age, and the age to come. The present age is wholly bad and beyond all hope of human reformation. It can be mended only by the direct intervention of God. When God does intervene the golden age, the age to come, will arrive. But in between the two ages there will come the Day of the Lord, which will be a time of terrible and fearful upheaval, like the birth-pangs of a new age. (William Barclay, "Commentary on Matthew 24").
Zechariah 14 teaches us that the "Day of the Lord" and the destruction of Jerusalem were connected. So, the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the Day of the Lord, marked the end of one age, the Jewish age, and the beginning of the new age, the Christian age of the New Covenant.
Someone may be thinking that the text of 2 Peter sure sounds like the end of the world. To us maybe. But if it is referring to the end of the world, and heaven and earth have not yet passed away, shouldn't the Mosaic Law still be in effect?
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18 ESV
If the passing away of heaven and earth is the end of the world, then the Law should still be in effect. This would mean that all 613 commandments in the Torah must be followed until the cataclysmic end of the world. It means Jews should be sacrificing lambs on the alter. Are they? No. They haven’t sacrificed an animal in Judaism since AD 70. If heaven and earth have not passed away, then the Law of Moses is still in force. But most believers today would say that it obviously has not passed away because the earth has not been burnt up; the elements have not melted.
Modern Christians come up with an end-of-the-world scenario because they are so unfamiliar with the first three-fourths of the Bible and the meaning of terms found there. They, therefore, take that same language literally when they find it in the NT. All of the language that Yeshua and the writers of the New Testament use comes from the Hebrew Scriptures. It is unfortunate that those writings are referred to as the "Old Testament." The Mosaic Covenant is OLD in that it was replaced by the NEW. But the first three-quarters of our Bible are not OLD. That term too often suggests that that portion of God’s Word has been replaced or is irrelevant. It should not be called OLD. It is essential to understanding the NT because everything taught there comes from the Jewish Tanakh. Paul said:
To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: Acts 26:22 ESV
Notice carefully what Paul is saying here. He said that He was, "saying nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said would come to pass." Everything he preached came from the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, if you want to understand Paul or any New Testament writer, you MUST understand them—the first three-quarters of our Bible.
If you are not familiar with the apocalyptic language of the Scriptures, you will not understand what Peter is saying here. If you approach the New Testament's apocalyptic language without recognizing it for what it is and do not know how to deal with its tone, images, and symbols, you are sure to go astray. Notice the use of apocalyptic language in Psalm 114.
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. Psalm 114:1-4 ESV
Did the mountains literally skip? No! This is apocalyptic language. In apocalyptic language, great commotions and judgments upon earth are often represented by commotions and changes in the heavens. This language is not to be taken literally.
Let’s go to the Hebrew Scriptures to see how heaven and earth, sun, moon, and stars are used other than in a literal way. Where do we start? How about Genesis?
Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, "Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." Genesis 37:9 ESV
Is Joseph's dream about the literal sun and moon and stars bowing to him? How would the sun bow down? This may confuse us, but Joseph's father knew exactly what he was saying.
But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" Genesis 37:10 ESV
Jacob, Joseph's father, interpreted this dream as referring to himself, his wife, and their sons, who were the heads of the twelve tribes identified as the sun, moon, and stars, respectively. They represented the foundation of the whole Jewish nation. When the biblical writers, therefore, spoke of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from heaven, they were not referring to the end of the world, but of the complete dissolution of the Jewish state. We see this in Leviticus 26. Yahweh talking to Israel said:
I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. Leviticus 26:17-19 ESV
Notice how the character of Israel's disposition in God's view is personalized: "YOUR heaven" and "YOUR earth." So, the terms "heaven" and "earth" belong or relate to Israel, they evidently constitute a "heaven" and "earth."
One of the major areas of difficulty in understanding correctly "heaven and earth" in the New Testament is the misunderstanding of how God referred to nations by this phrase in the Tanakh. Seeing the biblical concept of "heaven and earth" in the Tanakh will help us greatly in correctly understanding its use in New Testament passages. We must not immediately think of the physical universe and its elements when we encounter such terms.
Apocalyptic language is common among the Hebrew prophets. This idea is seen clearly as we look at passages where mention is made of the destruction of a state and government using language which seems to set forth the end of the world.
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. Isaiah 1:1-2 ESV
Who is God speaking to here? The physical creation? No. He is speaking to Israel. I think we can see this idea clearly if we look at Isaiah 51.
I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.'" Isaiah 51:15-16 ESV
The time of establishing the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth that is referred to here was performed by God when He stirred up the sea (ver. 15) and gave the law (ver. 16), and said to Zion, "Thou art my people." This relates to when He took the children of Israel out of Egypt and formed them in the wilderness into a covenant nation. He planted the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth. In other words, He brought forth order and government.
This idea is seen more clearly as we look at other passages where the context is the destruction of a state and government. In them, we find language that seems to suggest that the collapse of heaven and earth is the end of the world.
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. On a bare hill raise a signal; cry aloud to them; wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles. Isaiah 13:1-2 ESV
In this chapter Yahweh is talking about the judgment that is to fall upon Babylon. The word "oracle" is the Hebrew word massa (an utterance, chiefly a doom). This introduction sets the stage for the subject matter in this chapter and if we forget this, our interpretations of Isaiah 13 can go just about anywhere our imagination wants to go. This is not an oracle against the universe or world but against the nation of Babylon.
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Isaiah 13:6 ESV
Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Isaiah 13:9-13 ESV
Now remember that even though the language seems to picture worldwide destruction, Isaiah is describing the ruin of Babylon. The terminology of a context cannot be expanded beyond the scope of the subject under discussion. The spectrum of language surely cannot go outside the land of Babylon. If you were a Babylonian and Babylon was destroyed, would it seem like the world was destroyed? Yes! Your world would be destroyed.
Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Isaiah 13:17 ESV
This is an historical event that took place in 539 BC. When the Medes destroyed Babylon, the Babylonian world came to an end. In verse 6, this destruction is said to be from the Almighty. The Medes constituted the means that God used to accomplish this task. The physical heaven and earth were still intact, but for Babylon, they had collapsed. This is apocalyptic language. This is the way the Bible discusses the fall of a nation. This is obviously figurative language.
In Isaiah 24-27 we see the invasion of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar. He carries the people away to captivity. Notice the language that he uses.
The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. Isaiah 24:3-6 ESV
The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. Isaiah 24:19-20 ESV
What I want you to see in these verses is how Yahweh refers to Israel as the earth. He says the earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken…the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again (Verses 1,3,4,19,20) Notice how many times God referred to Israel as the "earth." This is apocalyptic language speaking of the destruction of the people of Israel.
So, I hope that you can see that the Bible does not always mean "the physical earth" when it speaks of heaven and earth together. This same thing is true in Jewish literature. They saw the Temple as a portal connecting heaven and earth. They called it the "navel of the earth" and the "gateway to heaven" (Jub. 8:19; 1 Enoch 26:1). Just like the Mesopotamian Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the Temple connected God's realm to where humans lived.
To reflect this belief, the Jerusalem Temple had been built to look like a microcosm of the universe. We see this in the Temple hymn.
He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. Psalms 78:69 ESV
The actual holy place and most holy place inside the Temple building were constructed like earth and heaven. The courts outside represented the sea.
According to Josephus, two parts of the tabernacle were "approachable and open to all" but one was not. He explains that in so doing Moses "signifies the earth and the sea, since these two are accessible to all; but the third portion he reserved for God alone because heaven is inaccessible to men" (Ant. 3:181, cf. 3:123). The veil between the accessible and inaccessible parts of the Temple was designed to represent the entire material world during Yeshua's day. Josephus and Philo agree that the veil was composed of four materials representing the four elements—earth, water, air, and fire (War 5:212-213; Ant. 3:138-144; Quaestiones in Exodum 2:85, cf. Mos 2:88). Heaven was beyond this material world. It was behind the curtain.
Outside the Temple's microcosm of "heaven and earth," the courts looked like the sea. Numbers Rabbah 13:19 records, "The court surrounds the Temple just as the sea surrounds the world." In Talmudic tradition, Rabbis described how the inner walls of the Temple looked like waves of the sea (b. Sukk. 51b, b.B.Bat. 4a). From heaven and earth inside the Temple, you looked out at the sea surrounding the world. Why? Ancients believed the earth had one giant land mass surrounded by sea. The Temple reflected that cosmology. The accessible section of the Temple and the surrounding courts embodied both the land mass and sea believed to comprise the earth. The Most Holy Place was heaven where God's presence resided. So, the Temple complex was viewed as heaven and earth. Please get that.
With this understanding of how "heaven and earth" is used in the Tanakh and by the Jews, let's look at 2 Peter 3. As you read different commentaries, you will read things like, "This is by far the strongest passage to prove the consummation of time, the termination of the earth as we know it."
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10 ESV
What is "the day of the Lord?" It is a time of judgment on Israel; it is the end of the Old Covenant age. Peter is talking about Yeshua's second coming at the end of that Jewish age. When the Lord came, the heaven and earth of the Old Covenant age would pass away.
The words, "heavenly bodies," here are from the Greek word stoicheion and in most translations it is translated as "elements." Some see this as referring to the scientific idea of the elements of matter and of all of the atoms of the universe burning up. But is this what the word elements means? The Greek word stoicheion is only used seven times in the New Testament. Looking at those usages, we see that it has two main meanings. The first use of stoicheion depicts "elements of religious training, the ceremonial precepts that are common to the worship of Jews."
In Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the literal meaning of the word is "element, rudiment, principle." In other words, this is the elements of religious training, or the ceremonial precepts that are common to the worship of Jews and of Gentiles.
But stoicheion is also understood by many scholars to refer to "heavenly spirits." Which is why it is translated "heavenly bodies" in the ESV. Obviously, this "stoicheion" is not about atoms or the destruction of the world.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 ESV
What is being dissolved? The Old Covenant system is being dissolved not the world. Where do we have a promise about a new heaven and earth? Peter was surly thinking of the book of Isaiah, chapters 65 and 66.
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. Isaiah 65:17 ESV
If you read Isaiah 65 and 66, you will notice that before God created the new heavens and a new earth, He would pour out His wrath against Jerusalem, His rebellious people (Isa. 65:1-7, 11-17; 66:3-6, 15-18, 24). When God created the new heavens and earth, notice that physical death would remain (Isa. 65:20, 66:24), home construction and agriculture would continue (Isa. 65:21-22), people would still have descendants (Isa. 65:23, 66:22), the Lord would hear their prayers (Isa. 65:24), there would be evangelism (Isa. 66:19). The new heavens and earth therefore must be referring to a period in human history. This is the period of the Kingdom of God which Christ rules in the hearts of the believers. This is the New Covenant.
The phrase "day of the Lord" is an expression taken from the Tanakh where it is used many times in regards to the judgments against and destruction of various nations. It usually meant a time when God Himself would punish or judge people by means of the armies of other people. The invading armies of other nations brought judgment and destruction upon various nations. These times were each called "the day of the Lord" when they were proclaimed of the Lord.
While the various references to "the day of the Lord" in the Tanakh referred to various nations, all of the references in the New Testament are to that "day of the Lord" which came in A. D. 70 when the nation Israel was destroyed. The phrase "The day of the Lord," therefore, in 1 Thessalonians 5, refers to God’s judgment of the apostate Jewish nation at the end of the age when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies. This was the end of the Old Covenant and the consummation of the New Covenant.