The Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple, James Tissot (1836-1902) / Source: Brooklyn Museum
Mat 24:3 YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’
Christ’s return was to take place at the culmination of the last days of the age. It is therefore important not only to identify the timeline of ‘the last days’, but also ‘the age’ in question.
The last days neither referred to the end of time, nor to the end of the world. The last days were those prior to the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70. Allow me the opportunity to explain.
Old Testament Prophecy
Moses and the Last Days
Moses prophesied to the Children of Israel that in ‘the latter days’ of the Old Covenant Age ‘evil will befall you’. Old Covenant Israel would provoke the Lord to anger.
Daniel and the Last Days
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed the kingdoms that would rise before the appearance of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The final empire prior to Christ’s advent was the Roman Empire, and Daniel referred to that period as ‘the latter days’.
In my opinion, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’. The Church does not need to ‘hold the fort’ desperately awaiting rescue from the enemy’s horde. Christ defeated His enemies exactly as and when He said He would.
Joel and the Last Days
Joe 2:28-31 KJV And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Joel’s prophecy was to Old Covenant Israel about events ‘before the great and the terrible day of the LORD’, which took place in AD 70. His prophecy is irrelevant to Christians 2800 years later!
Did Jesus Live During ‘the Last Days’? Yes He did!
The Writer to the Hebrews and the Last Days
Heb 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
The Epistle to the Hebrews c AD 65 preceded the culmination of the Old Covenant. The waxing away of the Old Covenant reached its consummation with the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.
The writer to the Hebrews said they were living at the ‘end of the world’ (King James Version), or ‘the full end of the ages’ (Young’s Literal Translation). Thereby, meaning the end of all the preceding ages.
For Example: Antediluvian, Postdiluvian, Patriarchal, and Old Covenant.
Obviously, he was not alluding to the end of this physical world, he was writing to Jewish believers who lived during the Old Covenant Age.
The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews consists of a series of comparisons between the Old Covenant passing away and the arrival of the New Covenant that will never pass away.
Paul and the Last Days
1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,
Audience relevance is vitally important, Paul told the Corinthians ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.
Peter and the Last Days
1Pe 1:19-20 WNT but with the precious blood of Christ–as of an unblemished and spotless lamb. 20 He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him,
Peter wrote that Jesus shed His precious blood ‘in these last days’, further affirmation that Jesus lived during the last days!
John and the Last Days
1Jo 2:18 YLT Little youths, it is the last hour; and even as ye heard that the antichrist doth come, even now antichrists have become many–whence we know that it is the last hour;
This Scripture presents a considerable problem for Dispensationalism since there are no hours after ‘the last hour’, how can a millennium on earth follow after the last hour?
John narrowed the imminence factor to the last hour when he wrote 2000 years ago saying the last hour had come, yet there have been many hours since; he was actually referring to the last hour of the Old Covenant Age not to the end of time.
Fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy
The Acts of the Apostles and the Last Days
Act 2:16-20 KJV But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
‘this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel’ Peter quoted Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost to warn his fellow Jews that they were living in the last days prior to ‘the great and notable day of the Lord’.
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’ Even although Peter declared his generation was living in ‘the last days’ and witnessing the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, Dispensationalism insists this prophecy is still unfulfilled. To proclaim the Day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, and we are living in the last days of the so-called Church Age, is to fly in the face of Scripture. If Dispensationalism is correct, then the whole 2000 years of the ‘Church Age’ has consisted of the last days of the ‘Church Age’!
Consider also, since Jesus’ ministry was during ‘the last days’… Hebrews 1:2, then ‘the last days’ existed prior to the Day of Pentecost! Therefore, the last days clearly applied to the Old Covenant Age.
The Day of Pentecost was not the birthday of the Ekklesia; it was the empowerment thereof, by the coming of the promised Holy Spirit… Joel 2:28-32
The 1st century Church lived during a transition period called ‘the last days’. Not until that period ended would the saints enter into the fulness of the New Covenant Age.
Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;
Christ’s generation lived during the Mosaic Old Covenant Age and eagerly awaited the Messianic Age. The New Testament describes these two ages as ‘this age’ and ‘the coming one’.
Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension occurred during the last days of Old Covenant Israel, which ended at His return with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
There is no doubt we live in troublesome times and war is not outwith the realm of possibility. However, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’ described in the Bible.
Jesus kept all His promises!
What do you think?