My transcript of The Bible Project animation is below:
Jon: “The Day of the Lord.” It is a phrase in the Bible that religious people use, usually when talking about the end of the world.
Tim: Yeah, things like Armageddon or the apocalypse. You might be familiar with this image of Jesus returning on a white horse. He has got sword to bring final judgment.
Jon: Everyone wants to know how will it all go down.
Tim: So a lot of these images come from the last book of the Bible. But to understand them, you have to go back to the first book.
Jon: When the story begins, we watch God create an amazing world. Then He gives humans power to rule over it on his behalf.
Tim: But the humans are tempted by this mysterious, unhuman character, who offers them a promise: you could define good and evil on your own terms and put yourselves in God’s place.
Jon: Which is what they do. And the resulting stories are about the broken relationships and violence that results.
Tim: Yeah, this promise creates huge problems. Now everyone has to protect themselves and fight for survival. They are all using death as this weapon to gain power.
Jon: It all leads to a story about the building of the city of Babylon.
Tim: Or in Hebrew, “Babel”. Everyone comes together to elevate themselves to the place of God. God knows how devastating this could be: a whole culture redefining good and evil, as if they are God.
Jon: So God confuses their language and scatters them.
Tim: Now from here on Babylon becomes like an icon in the biblical story. It is an image that represents humanity’s corporate rebellion against God.
Babylon becomes like an icon in the biblical story. It is an image that represents humanity’s corporate rebellion against God.
Jon: And the next time we see it is in the story of ancient Egypt.
Tim: Yeah, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, feels threatened by these immigrant Israelites. He starts killing all of the boys and enslaving the rest.
Jon: This is really evil.
Tim: Yeah, Egypt is like this bigger, badder Babylon. They take care of themselves at the expense of others, by redefining evil as good. And so God turns Pharaoh’s evil back on him. His pride drives him forward and he is swallowed up by death.
Jon: Now after this great deliverance, the Israelites sing a song about how God is their warrior who liberated them from evil.
Tim: The Israelites referred to this moment as “The Day”.
Jon: The day they were rescued from a corrupt human system.
Tim: And every year since then, the Israelites have celebrated the day of their liberation with the symbolic meal of a sacrificial lamb. It is called “Passover”.
Jon: Eventually Israel comes into its own land, have their own kings, and they face new enemies.
Tim: So that past Day of the Lord—celebrated every Passover—begins to generate hope that God will bring “The Day” again to save Israel from new threats.
Jon: Now out in the hills was a sheep herder named Amos.
Tim: He was appointed by God as a prophet to announce shocking news to Israel that God was bringing another Day of the Lord against his enemies. This time, the target is Israel.
Jon: Ah, what?
Tim: Sadly, Israel’s leaders had also redefined good and evil for themselves, resulting in corruption and violence.
Jon: So God’s people have become like Babylon? The oppressed become oppressors. Babylon seems like a trap no one can escape.
Tim: So the day of the Lord comes upon Israel. They are conquered, taken captive into exile. From then on, Israel suffered under the rule of continuous oppressive empires.
Jon: This is the story Jesus was born into.
Tim: Yeah, in his day the oppressive empire over Israel is Rome.
Jon: So, is Jesus going to confront Rome, take him out?
Tim: Well, no. Jesus saw the real enemy as that mysterious, unhuman evil—the evil that has lured Babylon, Egypt, Rome, Israel. All humanity has given in to evil’s promise of power. This is what Jesus resisted alone in the wilderness, when he was tempted to exploit his power for self-interest.
Jesus saw the real enemy as that mysterious, unhuman evil—the evil that has lured Babylon, Egypt, Rome, Israel. All humanity has given in to evil’s promise of power. This is what Jesus resisted alone in the wilderness, when he was tempted to exploit his power for self-interest.
Jon: But he didn’t. And after that he started to confront the effects of evil on others.
Tim: Yeah, He started saying that he was going to Jerusalem—for Passover—for a final showdown to confront the evil of Israel and Rome by dying.
Jon: Dying? I mean, that feels like losing.
Tim: Jesus was going to let evil exhaust all of its power on him, using its only real weapon: death. Jesus knew that God’s love and life were even more powerful, that he could overcome evil by becoming the Passover lamb, giving his life in an act of love. Something changed that day. When Jesus defeated evil, he opened up a new way for anyone to escape from Babylon and discover this new kind of power, this new way of being human.
When Jesus defeated evil, he opened up a new way for anyone to escape from Babylon and discover this new kind of power, this new way of being human.
Jon: Okay, so something changed. But, the power of evil is still alive and well. We keep building new versions of Babylon.
Tim: Right, so the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, points to the future and final Day of the Lord. It is when God’s kingdom comes to confront Babylon the Great, this image of all the corrupt nations of the world.
Jon: Yeah, this is it. Armageddon. Final judgment! How is Jesus going to finish off evil?
Tim: Well, it is not how you would expect. In the Revelation, the victorious Jesus is symbolized by a sacrificial bloody lamb… When Jesus does arrive in the end, riding his white horse to confront evil, he is bloody before the battle even starts.
Jon: Pre-bloodied? That is a strange image.
Tim: Yeah, it is because Jesus is not out for our blood. Rather, he overcame with his blood when he died for his enemies. The sword in his mouth is a symbol of Jesus’s authority to define good and evil, and hold us accountable when he brings final justice once and for all.
Jon: And so, in the meantime, the Day of the Lord is an invitation to resist the culture of Babylon.
Tim: It is a promise that God will one day free our world from corruption and bring about the new thing that he has in store.
[The Day of the Lord] is a promise that God will one day free our world from corruption and bring about the new thing that he has in store.