During this time of the pandemic, a lot of Christians believe we are now in the “last days”. It was mainly due to the novels and books written about the supposed signs of the impending rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
About a century ago, a pandemic known as the “Spanish Flu” lasted a couple of years, claiming many lives. So if we follow the same line of thought today, perhaps that generation might have also believed they were in the “last days”. In that case, it’s no longer the last days since it have been a hundred years since – actually more than a millennia if taken from the Scripture – yet people still believe the “last days” is here.
The Bible does speak of the “last days,” actually five times in the New Testament Scripture. Let us explore them each, starting with Acts 2:16-21,36-38,40.
But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel [cf. Joel 2:28-32]: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on My male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:16-21)
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit … And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:36-38,40)
What was the occasion of Acts 2? It’s the day of Pentecost, it’s the fourth of the Seven Jewish Feasts; see Leviticus 23:15-17.
You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering [the Resurrection Day of Jesus, cf. Leviticus 23:10-11]. You shall count fifty days [literal meaning of “Pentecost”] to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD [cf. Acts 2:41; 2 Thessalonians 2:13].
The time for God’s harvest began at Pentecost, see Acts 2:41 “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
See also 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
But we [Paul and his co-workers] ought always to give thanks to God for you [the Thessalonians believers], brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
Pentecost was the second of three Jewish Festivals when Jews from everywhere were required to appear before the LORD in Jerusalem. See Exodus 23:14-17.
Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to Me. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before Me empty-handed. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits [Pentecost] of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.
Looking at Peter’s sermon, he quoted the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32) and declared it to have commenced at Pentecost – the last days of the Day of the LORD (Acts 2:17,20), the day of God’s vengeance. See also Luke 21:20-22.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
The “day of the Lord” then was the day of God’s vengeance against Jerusalem. See also Matthew 23; the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of several “woes” against the scribes and Pharisees, focus on verses 36-38 and see who and when will God’s vengeance become a reality.
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS GENERATION. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.
Isn’t it clear that Jesus said “God’s vengeance would be upon the generation He spoke against”? (“Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” Matthew 23:36) And it’s against Jerusalem, for Jesus said, “See, your house is left to desolate” (Matthew 23:38). So we have both the who and the when – Jerusalem, of Jesus’ generation. The “house” that would be left desolate was the Jewish Temple. Jesus, continuing on His discourse, pointed that out clearly; see Matthew 24:1-3.
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Without a doubt then, the last days leads to the Day of God’s vengeance, the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming and the end of the age – the end of the Old Covenant Age. See Hebrews 8:13.
In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Without the Temple, the Jewish people ceased to be God’s covenant people. I remember previously writing about this topic but can’t remember which blog. If you find it worthwhile to dig deeper, you may find the topic in my previous blogs.
The countdown then of the “last days” commenced at the Pentecost until the destruction of Jerusalem. Just look for yourselves if the Jerusalem Temple still stands today. That’s the sign understood by the disciples of Jesus regarding the fulfillment of the Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:3) – the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The second passage in the New Testament Scripture that spoke of the “last days” may be found in 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Though it was a sad thing, the recent revelation and confirmation by Christianity Today about Ravi Zacharias, a renowned preacher within a Christian organization, is a good example of 2 Timothy 3:5. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God; see Romans 1:16.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Such an arrogance and bad hermeneutics for some to believe, claim and teach that the power is with us Christians. Let me be clear, the power is not with the Christian but by the Gospel (Romans 1:16). So Paul, in Philippians 2:12-13 said:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Clearly then in application to 2 Timothy 3:5, the formerly renowned preacher did not benefit from the power of the Gospel to transform people. Hence, Scripture said, “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
This was the second letter of Paul to Timothy. Here, Paul warned Timothy about the challenges of his ministry; the last days will be a difficult time. Not surprising, look at the descriptions of Paul concerning the behavior of people in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It certainly agrees with Peter’s words spoken at the Pentecost regarding the “last days”; once more, see Acts 2:40. “And with many other words he [Peter] bore witness and continued to exhort them [Jews at Pentecost], saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.‘“
Interestingly, on the first chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul did imply that the Day of the Lord was coming in his generation; see 2 Timothy 1:15-18.
You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me [Paul}, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord ON THAT DAY!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
Onesiphorus must still be alive for him to find mercy on the Day of the Lord. Again, as I have said in my other blogs, the Lord Jesus Christ again and again did spoke of His Return in the days of His apostles. See Matthew 10:23.
When they persecute you [the apostles, see Matthew 10:1-5, Jesus was speaking to them] in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Also see Matthew 16:27-28.
For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Now, let’s see the next passage that spoke of the “last days”; see Hebrews 1:1-2.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
The “last days” then covers the people of Jesus’ generation – those who had heard firsthand from the Son, Jesus Christ, the last and Great Prophet of God. So again, Hebrews agrees with both Acts and 2 Timothy that the New Testament people mentioned in Scripture were living in the last days leading to the Day of the Lord.
Next, we have James 5:1-3.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you [the actual audience of James]. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
Lastly, 2 Peter 3:1-4.
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Here, the apostle Peter was rebuking false teachers – see 2 Peter 2:1-2 – for denying the imminent or soon coming of Jesus Christ.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
What was that they denied about the Master, Jesus Christ? It was His promise to return, again see 2 Peter 3:1-4, the continuing narrative of Peter regarding the heresies of the false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-22).
This is now the second letter that I am [Peter] writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Come to think of it, two millennia cannot be soon by any measurement, don’t you think? Peter assures the Lord’s coming was soon in his generation; see 2 Peter 3:13, again the continuing narrative of Peter on the same discourse.
But according to His [Jesus Christ] promise we [Peter and his contemporaries] are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Again Scripture made clear that Peter and his contemporaries indeed was expecting the soon return of Jesus Christ. Still not convinced? Let’s see 1 Peter 4:7. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
Peter said “the end of all things is at hand.” The Scripture Direct, an online lexicon explained that “at hand” in Greek means “the occurrence of a point of time close to a subsequent point of time”. In other words, the time Peter spoke of “the end of things” was close to the time of its fulfillment, so indeed it was the “last days”. However, if it hasn’t been fulfilled, as it was/is taught today, then the end of things which was spoken two thousand years ago cannot in any means be close (at hand) to Peter’s days than closer to us, as claimed by the popular and traditional teachings.
One more, in 1 Peter 5:1-4.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The “glory to be revealed” refers to the coming of Jesus Christ, the chief Shepherd, which Peter assures his audience “they are partakers of the coming glory” – the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Again the lexicon Scripture Direct explained “partaker” means “one who participates with another in some enterprise or matter of joint concern,” and in the case of 1 Peter 5:1, it spoke of Peter’s audience as the partaker or participants of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Once again, it agrees with Jesus’ repeated declaration that His Return would be in the days of His generation – the generation of Jews that crucified Jesus Christ.
See Numbers 32:13.
And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.
A Jewish generation is forty years. In Exodus, as revealed through Number 32:13, the Jews, who were first to received God’s covenant at Mount Sinai, wandered in the wilderness for FORTY YEARS and perished because they broke the covenant. So they failed to enter the Promised Land. At the time of Jesus, the Jews were offered the New Covenant – the Gospel – but they rejected Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant and crucified Him. See Hebrews 12:24.
And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
FORTY YEARS later, beginning with the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ (30 A.D.) that generation of Jews perished with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Similarly forty years, a generation, coincidence? Of course not, because the Exodus account actually foreshadowed both the First and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, Matthew 3:10-12 narrated the story of John the Baptist as he spoke of the last days – the judgment and regathering of God’s people.
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He [Jesus Christ] who is coming after Me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The cutting down of the tree analogy leaving only the stump alludes to God’s declaration found in Isaiah 6:8-13.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And He said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste [the Day of the Lord], and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The Holy Seed is its stump.
Who was the “holy seed”? See Galatians 3:16.
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
The doctrine of the “last days” has intrigued many, and it was/is one of the most misinterpreted idea or concept in the Bible. Simply because readers of the Bible approached the Scripture with a preconditioned mind, the “Second Coming of Jesus Christ” is still in the future. I remember once in the seminary, a professor of mine introduced the idea of the possibility that all Scripture has been fulfilled, meaning even the Second Coming event has been fulfilled. Everyone’s immediate reaction was to reject outright the idea without even considering a second look in the Scripture. The same mistake was/is happening then and now. People will adamantly reject the idea outright, yet if challenged to give a passage in Scripture proving that the Second Coming truly is still in the future, I seriously doubt that it would stand. I’m offering a friendly challenge that proponents of the future Second Coming offer a passage in the Bible that could sustain the popular and traditionally existing belief.
After considering all five times, “the last days” was mentioned in the New Testament Scripture, and all agreed that the generation of the apostles were living in the “last days”. It’s definitely a “last days” – not an unending last days as it would appear in the argument of everyone who insist the Second Coming is still in the future.
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