For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
Any reader of the bible, Old Testament or New, casual reader or diligent, will have read that expression. It is rendered frequently. For example Ezekiel 30:3 states the Day is near, so does Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1, Zephaniah 1:14, and so on. Were all the prophets wrong? It has been two thousand years! What can we make of this?
S. Lewis Johnson explains.
Now, he [Obadiah] says the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. Well, of course, that would lead us to ask the question, "Well, now what a minute, the day of the Lord has not come yet. It's been hundreds of years since the prophet Obadiah prophesied and not only has it been hundreds of years but we don't have anything in the immediate future to indicate that the day of the Lord is nigh at hand. The catching up of the church has not even taken place yet, so how can he write near? Was he wrong? Did the prophet speak not unto inspiration when he said the day of the Lord is near? What do we mean when we say near in the sense of the prophetic word?
Well, probably we mean something like imminent; that is, it may come at any moment. We don't mean it must come at any moment. That's evident from the Biblical teaching in the Old Testament as we see here and also in the New Testament. So the term really means something like it is imminent, it may come. Now, it so happens we know that the day of the Lord has not come and it's been a long time.
One of the students of the Book of Obadiah, a very good student has said, "Now, when we say that a prophetic event is imminent just what do we mean?" The following illustration is helpful. With a little care one may balance a heavy book on the edge of a table. There the book remains poised. Let the room remain absolutely quiet and the book may stay there indefinitely yet at any moment a slight jar may cause it to fall.
No one can predict the precise instance of its drop, for its fall is imminent. So it is with the next event in the prophetic schedule. He says, "The rapture may come in our day or it may linger far beyond our time. Not itself, the day of the Lord, it is the vestibule of that day."