The special period of time, not 24 hours, when Jehovah actively manifests himself against his enemies and in behalf of his people. With divine judgment executed against the wicked, Jehovah comes off victorious over his opposers during this “day.” It is also a time of salvation and deliverance for the righteous, the day in which Jehovah himself is highly exalted as the Supreme One. Thus, in a double way it is uniquely and exclusively Jehovah’s great day.
This day is detailed in the Scriptures as a time of battle, a great and fear-inspiring day of darkness and burning anger, a day of fury, distress, anguish, desolation, and alarm. “What, then, will the day of Jehovah mean to you people?” God asked wayward Israel by the mouth of his prophet Amos. This: “It will be darkness, and no light, just as when a man flees because of the lion, and the bear actually meets him; and as when he went into the house and supported his hand against the wall, and the serpent bit him.” (Am 5:18-20) Isaiah was told: “Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger.” (Isa 13:9) “That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom.” (Zep 1:15) During such a time of trouble, one’s money is absolutely worthless. “Into the streets they will throw their very silver . . . Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.”—Eze 7:19; Zep 1:18.
A sense of urgency is attached to the day of Jehovah by the prophets, who repeatedly warned of its nearness. “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zep 1:14) “Alas for the day; because the day of Jehovah is near.” “Let all the inhabitants of the land get agitated; for the day of Jehovah is coming, for it is near!”—Joe 1:15; 2:1, 2.
Times of Destructive Judgment. From certain features of the prophecies, and in view of subsequent events, it appears that the expression, “the day of Jehovah,” at least in a miniature way, referred to different times of destructive judgment that occurred long ago at the hands of the Most High. For example, Isaiah envisioned what would befall unfaithful Judah and Jerusalem on “the day belonging to Jehovah of armies,” which was coming “upon everyone self-exalted and lofty” among them. (Isa 2:11-17) Ezekiel addressed himself to the unfaithful prophets of Israel, warning that they would in no way serve to fortify their cities “in order to stand in the battle in the day of Jehovah.” (Eze 13:5) By the mouth of his prophet Zephaniah, Jehovah foretold how he was about to stretch out his hand against Judah and Jerusalem, giving special attention so that not even the princes or the sons of the king would escape. (Zep 1:4-8) As the facts show, that “day of Jehovah” came upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E.
In that distressing time of trouble upon Judah and Jerusalem, her neighboring nations such as Edom showed their hatred for Jehovah and his people, causing the prophet Obadiah (vss 1, 15) to prophesy against them: “For the day of Jehovah against all the nations is near. In the way that you have done, it will be done to you.” Similarly, “the day of Jehovah” and all the fiery destruction embraced within that expression befell Babylon and Egypt just as foretold.—Isa 13:1, 6; Jer 46:1, 2, 10.
Later, through the prophet Malachi, another “great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah” was foretold, and it was said that it would be preceded by the coming of “Elijah the prophet.” (Mal 4:5, 6) The original Elijah had lived some 500 years before that prophecy was uttered, but in the first century C.E. Jesus indicated that John the Baptizer was the foretold counterpart of Elijah. (Mt 11:12-14; Mr 9:11-13) So at that time a “day of Jehovah” was near at hand. At Pentecost of 33 C.E., Peter explained that what was occurring was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joe 2:28-32) concerning the outpouring of God’s spirit and that this too was due to happen before “the great and illustrious day of Jehovah.” (Ac 2:16-21) That “day of Jehovah” came in 70 C.E., when, in fulfillment of his Word, Jehovah caused the armies of Rome to execute divine judgment upon the nation that had rejected the Son of God and defiantly shouted: “We have no king but Caesar.”—Joh 19:15; Da 9:24-27.
However, the Scriptures point forward to yet another “day of Jehovah.” After the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile, Jehovah caused his prophet Zechariah (14:1-3) to foretell “a day . . . belonging to Jehovah” when he would gather not merely one nation but “all the nations against Jerusalem,” at the climax of which day “Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations,” bringing them to their end. The apostle Paul, under inspiration, associated the coming “day of Jehovah” with the presence of Christ. (2Th 2:1, 2) And Peter spoke of it in connection with the establishment of ‘new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell.’—2Pe 3:10-13.
Security and safety during the great day of Jehovah should concern everyone. After asking, “Who can hold up under it?” Joel says, “Jehovah will be a refuge for his people.” (Joe 2:11; 3:16) The invitation is graciously extended to all, but few avail themselves of this provision of refuge by following Zephaniah’s counsel: “Before the statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zep 2:2, 3.