There is a popular animated video series called, the Bible Project. It seeks to summarize the Bible and biblical theology in short, easy to understand episodes. I love this idea! This could be a fantastic way to introduce the Bible to people unfamiliar with it, or to help explain some of the more difficult passages and concepts. Until recently I had not watched many of the episodes, but then I noticed they did an episode on “The Day of the Lord.”
This piqued my interest, because it is such an important but rarely understood Biblical concept. I expected them to treat it very basically. I did not expect them to take much of a stand on any specific eschatological system, but I expected them at least to acknowledge what the Bible clearly attributes to The Day of the Lord. Sadly, they didn’t even do this. I’ll just highlight one major problem with their treatment of the Day of the Lord. (Please open your Bible and read the passages I mention in context!)
They didn’t make it clear that Jesus’s judgment of the world will be physical, but seemed to imply that it would be spiritual, in some way. Here’s the relevant portion from the video:
“The Revelation points to the future and final day of the Lord, it’s when God’s kingdom comes to confront Babylon the great; this image of all the corrupt nations of the world.”
“…Armageddon, right? Final judgment! How is Jesus gonna finish off evil?”
“Well it’s not how you’d expect.”
They go on to explain that Jesus on his white horse (from revelation 19) has a robe dipped in blood, and they say it’s his own blood.
“Because Jesus isn’t out for our blood. Rather he overcame with his blood.”
Finally, they say the sword symbolizes how he he’ll
“hold us accountable when he brings final justice [not judgment] once and for all.”
Nowhere in the video do they say that the Day of the Lord is a literal, physical, judgment. They might affirm this elsewhere, but it isn’t clear in the video.
Yet, the scripture references to the Day of the Lord do seem clear. The Day of the Lord is an intervention in history, a wrathful invasion of earth followed by a literal kingdom of peace on earth. Peter even directly compares it to the Flood. Scoffers, “willfully forget” that the earth was judged once before, and that it won’t continue on as it has, but will be judged again (2 Peter 3). If we believe the judgment of the flood literally killed people, it seems hard to justify that Christ’s coming in judgment will not literally kill people.
Afterall, just two verses after the passage about his robe dipped in blood, Jesus “treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God,” which is connected in thought to the sword from his mouth, used to “strike the nations.”
And verse 21 says, “ And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” This is even affirmed by Jesus himself when speaking of the Day of the Lord, saying, “where there is a dead body there the vultures will gather,” in Luke 17:34-37.
If there was any doubt that the blood on Jesus’s robe was not his own, but his enemies, it disappears the moment we read Isaiah 63:1-6:
Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
“I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.”
J. Vernon McGee says rightly that Revelation, “Is like a great union station where the great trunk lines of prophecy come in from other portions of scripture.” It’s obvious from the similarities, that the track that comes from Isaiah 63 finds its terminus in the description of Jesus in Revelation 19. Isaiah 63, then, helps us interpret Revelation 19, and if there was any question before, there is none now. The blood on Jesus’s robe is the blood of his enemies. The Bible Project, however, doesn’t even seem to be aware of Isaiah 63. They don’t even address it in their 3 hours of podcast material on the Day of the Lord.
In the video, to defend the idea that Christ’s robe in Revelation 19 is dipped in his own blood, the blood of the cross, they point to Revelation chapter 5. Here, Christ is symbolized by a bloodied lamb, and this is indeed a reference to the cross. But this takes place 14 chapters earlier than the passage in question. It’s sloppy interpreting to point to a passage so far out of context without any argument. They need to give a reason for thinking the symbolism of chapter 5 is relevant to the symbolism of chapter 19.
So, is there a connection? Yes, but not the way they use the passage. The context of chapter 5 makes it clear that the lamb who was slain is the only one worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals. In other words, Christ is the only one worthy to proclaim and execute judgment on the earth. He is worthy because he sacrificed himself under the wrath of God so that no one else would need to endure it. Because he defeated death and sin at the cross, and because the nations reject his sacrifice on their behalf, even persecuting those who do receive him, he is worthy to pour out vengeance on them.
The Bible Project says the Day of the Lord is, “not how you’d expect.” Well, I expect it to happen just as the Bible says it will. Jesus will kill the those in rebellion to him at his return, with a sharp sword proceeding from his mouth. The sword is a symbol, but it’s a symbol that represents something powerful and literally deadly. Many places in scripture, the sword is a symbol used to refer to the word of God, or judgment (never justice). So, Jesus will literally destroy his enemies with a word from his mouth. Revelation is full of symbols, but symbols stand for something, or else they’re not symbols.
Jesus is most certainly not out for our blood; not the blood of those who trust in him. As Paul says, speaking of the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5, we who belong to Christ are not appointed for wrath. But if we, “who are of the day,” are NOT appointed to wrath in contrast to those, “who are of night and of darkness,” to what are they appointed?
Jesus is worthy to execute the righteous judgment of God on a sinful world, which must be done to defeat evil, and must be done before setting up his peaceful kingdom. If corporate rebellion happens in history, then God will judge it and its legacy, in history. And this is the plain teaching of scripture on the Day of the Lord.
The Bible Project has a lot of good material, and their goal is really noble, but they missed the mark badly on this subject. More could be said, but I encourage everyone that wants to know more about the Biblical doctrine of The Day of the Lord, to read the passages that describe it. My biggest frustration with the Bible Project in general, and this is a trend in the church today, is that they teach scripture in such a way that discourages their students from learning the Bible for themselves. Rather than empowering them to understand biblical doctrine by reading their bibles, they belittle the plain meaning of the text. They imply that the true meaning is between the lines. “If you only knew how the Hebrew word is used here.” “You really need to understand this archetypal theme.” “The literary style of this book…” The deeper layers of insight are all well and good, but let’s just see what the text says before we look for subtext. Let’s read the lines before looking in between.