The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

by Joshua Tilghman on August 14, 2013

Judgment DayThe “great and terrible day of the Lord” is a very misunderstood event. Sometimes called the “the day of Jesus Christ” and usually associated with the Great Tribulation, many believe it will be the end of our current world system because God will judge the wicked with great devastation before Christ reigns for a thousand years. One website in the top three spots on Google’s SERPS states that the day of the Lord will begin with the rapture, continue with a seven-year tribulation and thousand-year reign of Christ, and finally end with a new heaven and a new earth. That pretty much sums up most of the sermons on this subject.

Fortunately, this is not the Biblical meaning of the great and terrible day of the Lord. There is a much better alternative from esoteric literature that not only makes more sense, but has far better consequences. So what is it?

Put simply, the day of the Lord is the death of the lower personality. I use the term “lower” because the personality which we experience in one life-time is not who we really are as a soul. The lower personality is transient. It is a necessary means to an end, and that end is the evolution of the soul.

The Real Purpose of the Lower Personality

People on the spiritual path need to understand the purpose of the lower personality. J. Allan Danelek explains this wonderfully in his book, The Case for Reincarnation: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Soul:

Without a manifest personality, the soul is unable to interact with the world, for the physical plane of existence is foreign to it. In a way, then, the personality is like a diving suit that permits the swimmer to descend deep beneath the water without being crushed or drowned, a feat that would be impossible without such a device. In effect, the soul simply can’t manifest itself on our plane of existence without an “ego suit” within which to roam about” (p. 62).

One of the problems with Biblical literalists is that they really don’t understand the nature of the soul. Many make the assumption that who they are in this lifetime is who they are going to be throughout eternity. In other words, their current sense of “I” is the real them. They also assume that this same “I” that they currently experience is the same “I” that they will experience in a heavenly type of existence. This has never been Biblical. The soul is much bigger than that. The soul could never express all of its manifest potential in one lifetime. In fact, the soul could never express all of its manifest potential in the linear space-time continuum (our currently physical world reality).

One lifetime is but a glimpse of the soul’s true nature. It is the personality of one lifetime that reflects just a glimpse of the soul. Danelek puts it like this:

What is important to recognize is that the soul empowers the personality, and the personality then becomes a reflection of the soul that is animating it” (p. 63).

While Danelek explanation hits the spot, it should be remembered that the reflection (personality) is but a small portion of the soul’s overall potential. The higher soul is a much, much bigger conglomeration of who you are than you could ever imagine. In fact if you were suddenly aware of all of it at once in your limited physical brain right now, it would probably overwhelm you, causing more harm than good. That is why we step into the fullness of the soul’s many facets over many lifetimes through personal spiritual and conscious development.

The Lower personality and the higher spiritual ego

The lower personality is the ego manifested right here and now in the physical plane, and, as we have already discussed, it’s the part of us that is the thinking “I.” This “I” that I am speaking exists because of all the memories you have built up in this life. Memories make up who you are. Think about it; if your memory currently disappeared, who would you be? Do you really think an omnipotent and omniscient God determined who you are as a soul based on the memories of one lifetime? Such limited religious thinking is what fueled the ignorance of the Dark Ages!

The current “I” that you think yourself to be right now is transitory. Upon the death of your physical, emotional, and lower mental bodies, that “I” that you were through your life experiences is extinguished. Don’t let that scare you; the spiritual ego, a potential conglomeration of all the soul qualities you have developed over many lifetimes cannot be extinguished. So yes, a part of you will live on after physical death. The part of you that is extinguished is only a very limited aspect of you. It should also comfort you that for most of us, the many experiences that you are having in your present earth-life will be downloaded into the higher aspect of you (causal body) continuing to evolve and grow your spiritual ego for future incarnations. That is what I mean by your spiritual ego. It is spirit-minded man inside all of us keeps evolving over every incarnation.

Both Great and Terrible

You may have noticed that the language of the Bible states the day of the Lord is both great and terrible. The terrible side of it has nothing to do with an eternal punishment. The day is seemingly terrible for the individual soul who has consciously advanced to the point of Christ consciousness, where the lower personality is merged with the higher and therefore it becomes completely extinguished, never to be manifested again. The egoic “I” which has continually manifested for many lifetimes is suddenly expunged. This would seem terrible (like a serious judgment) because the ego, or separate sense of “I,” is afraid of losing itself in the vastness of the soul. The lower ego wants to keep gratifying its own selfish desires, but in the end, it must relinquish its sense of separateness and be joined with the higher nature.

People who often experience a sudden awakening or enlightenment often go through the terrible Day of Judgment that is described in the book of Revelation. They can experience what would seem to be lightning, thunders, and voices of immense proportions inside their heads as a rush of kundalini burst through the crown chakra.

It is these experience that are actually giving many preachers all the doom and gloom judgment talk that is supposed to happen in the great tribulation and return of Christ, but these grand religious experiences happen within the consciousness of the individual. It has always been this way and it always will be.

At the same time this day is also great because it is the Lord’s Day, a day when the lower and higher natures of the soul are finally joined in divine union, or the “Divine Marriage” as it is sometimes called. It is a day of rejoicing and salvation through the Logos, the divine that is within us. It is the culmination of many lifetimes of experience that has finally resulted in the egoic “I” realizing its true nature; that it is not alone in this vast cosmos of existence, but rather it is a part and parcel of that which we call God.

Where’s the scriptural proof in all this?

Let’s look at an important scripture to support what we have discussed.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).

The key to truly understanding this verse is knowing what Elijah the prophet and what children symbolize in scripture. Children are emphasized by Jesus as those who are able to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us all:

“…except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).

In scripture children symbolize the higher emotional nature through which comes the godly principle of wisdom.

Elijah the prophet symbolizes the same thing. The higher emotional nature is the forerunner to Christ consciousness. That is why Malachi 4:-5 states that the Lord will first send Elijah the prophet before the terrible day of the Lord (divine union that takes place wherein the lower personality is extinguished as it merges with the higher).

Elijah isn’t literally going to come back. Like John the Baptist, he is symbol and forerunner of Christ consciousness. That is why both Elijah and John must come back and prepare the way for Christ. It all happens within the individual.

Closing thoughts

The great and terrible day of the Lord isn’t about the physical doom and gloom we hear preached about from pulpits on Sunday. It is about something that happens within you.

As I often point out on this website, Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. If the kingdom of God is not an external event, then why would the great and terrible day of the Lord be?


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

anny August 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hi Joshua,

Terrible is only one of the translations of the Hebrew word nora; the other one is awesome. You can see the link with terrible: awful, which however also can be seen as full of awe. Both fit completely with the word great, much better than terrible. In the same way is often the word fear used where awe might be more applicable. Somehow I remember that as a child I still understood (I do not know how) that awe was meant where fear of God was mentioned.

People should never forget that when they read the Bible in translation, they always get the interpretation of the person(s) who translated the text and as someone who has worked on translations of the Bible myself, I know how difficult it is to give exactly the same meaning as in the original text. So often you tend to include your own views/doctrine into the text, which might or might not be what the original text says at all.

Nora contains the word nur, which means fire, and that of course also points to enthusiasm and the rising of the kundalini but also to purification. From the opposite perspective this word can also be frightening of course.

Reply October 8, 2014 at 3:30 am

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show
up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless,
just wanted to say excellent blog!


dee November 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I just accidentally got on your site a few days ago and I pray you will humbly pray to the spirit for guidance on truth. For most of my life I did not believe in the literal interpretation of the bible because my human intellect couldn’t make sense of it. I always loved jesus and knew he was my savior but I could not believe fundamental Christianity. I am only commenting because I feel urged to. I still believe in the esoteric interpretations also but they were not lining up what my common sense and understanding of human nature was showing me. I got tired of my own intellect I thought I had because it still didn’tanswer what I saw transpiring in the world. So I prayed for truth again and the literal story of the bible in 2006 became alive for me. You are all in a body , on a computer, going to a job, etc, The story God created for us is thte world we live in now and it has a 6000 year time span from the first adam to the return of Christ. God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. Yes, he created this manifestation and the spiritual backstory that also exists, the one you identify with.. But the physical, like a movie or video game, you are in it. You are a character. God has a great plan and purpose for it. As I understood the bible and realized the literal history I was reading I also realized history is still being made and Jesus said if you truly know him you will recognize the signs of his coming. Bible prophecy is literally being fulfilled quickly. Only the holy spirit can reveal this to someone or lead them to a place that can fill in the gaps. Then a person must understand world events and have a teachable attitude that helps. For many the lifting of the veil isn’t meant to happen till God calls. We don’t choose, the father does. But for anyone interested the Philadelphia church of God has a book called Mystery of the ages by Herbert Armstrong written 20 years ago and many other booklets about prophecy, etc. Big things are getting ready to happen, it is between the individual and the holy spirit though. God Bless. Love is always the answer so I pray for everyone. I know the Lord will guide and advise as you each pursue the truth in a humble open minded way.


Joshua Tilghman December 27, 2014 at 11:55 am


I appreciate your sincerity. However, for me, the opposite experience unfolded. I began believing in the literal history, but the older I got I realized it didn’t line up with the world or reality around me. Not just my intellect, but my soul yearned for something deeper and more true. It’s ironic, but the truth for me was found in realizing the myth. Of course that truth is still a journey of discovery, and I admit that I have a looong way to go.


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