We read in the Bible that God’s chosen people Israel had sinned against him but God had decided to defer his judgment until some time in the future (Exodus 32:34). That undisclosed time came to be known as “the Day of the Lord” and it was foretold more and more vividly through successive prophets. In the Old Testament, the Day of the Lord was described as a time of judgment, destruction, terror, gloom and darkness. The prophets expected the Day to come soon and they asked people to repent before God’s wrath was unleashed. In the New Testament, the Day is also related to the return of Christ to earth or his second coming. It is the beginning of the process of restoration or the establishment of a new world order.

My own interest in the “the Day of the Lord” concept was stimulated by the fact that many prophets have also described it as “a Day of Clouds”:

The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy and say, This is what the Sovereign Lord says, Wail and say, Alas for that day! For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near, a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (Ezekiel 32:1-3)

Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty…a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. (Joel 1:15, 2:2)

The great day of the Lord is near, near and coming quickly. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. (Zephaniah 1:14-15)

Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light, pitch dark, without a ray of brightness? (Amos 5:20)

The prophet Joel says that the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Joel 2:31). These words were reiterated by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:20) and Jesus himself said that in the end times the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken (Mark 13:24-25). Revelation 6: 12-13 also says: The sun turned black…, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth.

In these prophecies, clouds are used to portray the utter darkness and gloom that will prevail on that dreadful day. They could also be symbolic of vast heavenly armies and people engaged in war. But even in a physical sense, it is quite possible that a dense and deep cloud cover may wrap itself around the earth and block the sun’s rays and thereby add to the darkness of the sun and moon.

The Day of the Lord will certainly be a Day of Clouds because at that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).

In real life we know that clouds appearing on a peaceful horizon are often the forebodings of an approaching storm. Jesus himself warned people that they should be on the lookout for the signs of the times so they are not caught unawares on the Day of the Lord (Matthew 16:3, Luke 12:56).

The theological, eschatological or meteorological implications of the Day of the Lord may be complicated and challenging, but we need not be overwhelmed by them. In fact, we should be prepared for the Day of the Lord and look forward to it, since the Bible makes a simple promise that on that Day “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32).

See also: The Clouds of the Bible (1)     The Clouds of the Bible (2)   

Download: “Bible Meteorology” eBook