It is our belief that the “last days” the bible speaks of were the last days of the Jewish age, the last days of the covenant age God made with
Acts 2: 16-17
“but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days’, God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My spirit upon all mankind’ ”. And in v. 18b, “I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit”. The meaning in this verse is that the Spirit would pour forth throughout those days. If we believe the Spirit does not “pour forth” in this day and age as it did in the first century, then we have to also believe the last days have ended. The pouring forth of the Spirit and the last days were concurrent events.
Heb. 1: 1-2
“God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son..”. The meaning of the scripture is that throughout the age, God communicated to His people through man. Now, in the last days of the age (first century), He has spoken in a new and different way, i.e. through His Son.
1 Cor. 10:11
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Surely Paul was not speaking of the end of the Christian age (which had barely begun) in this verse. Previous verses speak of Moses (v.2), the spiritual rock (Christ) who followed them in the wilderness (v.4), etc. The age which was ending and which had come upon Paul and the Corinthians was the last days of the Mosaic covenant age.
Other verses referencing the “last days” or “last times” are as follows:
I Tim. 4:1, II Tim. 3:1, James 5:3, I Pet. 1:5,20, II Pet. 3:3, I John 2:18, and Jude v.18.
The following commentary will focus on the destruction of the temple, the city and the Judaic covenant and will primarily concern Luke 21, with other references made to Matt. 24 and Mark 13.
The destruction of
Events surrounding the last days were the central focal point of the entire bible. They would bring to an end the temporary things of God’s plan of redemption. The eternal things lost in the Garden of Eden would be regained through Jesus Christ. One covenant, which was temporary and restrictive in nature, would end. The “shadow” was replaced by the “substance”. The new covenant was perfect and complete, and placed man, apart from sin, in a “face to face” relationship with God.
Luke 21: 6
“As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”
Upon hearing Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple (Lk.21:6, Mt. 24:1&2), the disciples asked Jesus three questions. “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mt. 24:3).
Regarding the last question, the “end of the age”, Jesus begins his prophecy. In verse 6, He speaks of “wars and rumors of wars” but says “that is not yet the end”. In verses 13 & 14, “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come”. Note in Col. 1:23, the gospel “was proclaimed in all creation under heaven”. (also see Col. 1:6, Rom. 1:8, 10:18). The prerequisites having been accomplished, the end came just as Jesus predicted. The last days began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and ended with the destruction of
“But when you see
It is interesting that in Luke 24:44 Jesus specifically says that “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”, but He has no qualifying statement such as this in Luke 21:22. He does not say “all things that are written about the destruction of
Luke 21: 26
“…for the powers of the heavens will be shaken”.
It is doubtful that any thing or anyone could actually “shake the heavens” if this statement refers to the dwelling place of God, so we must look for another meaning of the term “heavens”. In Heb. 12:26,27,28, we find the term used again. “…yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven. And this expression ‘yet once more’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken…”.
These verses speak of covenants and kingdoms (see Isa. 51:16). The removal of the old covenant is said to the removal or shaking of heaven and earth. This is the same terminology as used in Luke 21:26 and must be understood in the same way. Question: Since we have a clear precedent for “heavens and earth” being used for “covenants”, how are we to interpret the removal of heaven and earth in II Peter 3? What was the “new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells” that they were looking for “according to His promise” if it wasn’t the perfect, completed covenant of Jesus Christ? The Heb. scripture above clearly states that the first had to be removed in order that the one “which cannot be shaken” may remain.
“But when these things begin to take place,….your redemption is drawing near”.
Redemption: To free from blame or debt. To be released from the consequences of sin. To free from captivity.
“…How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? And they were told that they should rest for a little while longer”. (Rev. 6:10,11).
“…a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:5).
“and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come”. I Thess. 1:10.
“…they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost”. I Thess. 2:16
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”. I Thess. 5: 9.
Redemption, salvation, judging, avenging, wrath. These are just a few of the scriptures that deal with these topics. “This generation will not pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away…”. Luke 21: 32,33. “This generation” is first century, not twentieth century. Let us not be guilty of anachronism, but correctly place these events in the time frame in which they belong.
Didn’t Christ die that “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil”? (Heb.2:14). And isn’t this death the same “last enemy” that was to be conquered in I Cor.15:26? And isn’t this the victory that was gained through “Jesus Christ our Lord” in I Cor. 15:57?
Let’s give credit where credit is due. The death of Christ changed man’s stance before God. To say that we just changed one set of promises under the Law for another under Christ is simply wrong! Most mainstream churches today still bury our salvation in promises, not realized salvation. This theology denies the power of the cross and the death and resurrection of Christ. We no longer fear death, because the sting of death has been removed. We are slaves to sin no longer, because Christ removed our sin. Because we have been redeemed, we no longer suffer the consequences of sin, i.e. eternal separation from God.
“…God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who ABOLISHED DEATH, and brought LIFE and IMMORTALITY to light through the gospel”. Brothers, the “good things to come” in the first century were a reality in the second century. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.