We sometimes hear someone say, “I believe we are living in the last days” and then follow it with the question, “don’t you?” The answer to the question depends upon what one means by the last days.
If by the last days, one means that the Lord is going to return in the near future, the answer is, “we can’t know”. The Bible clearly teaches that we do not and can not know when the Lord will return. To the Thessalonian brethren Paul wrote, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2). The same terminology is used by Peter when he writes of those scoffing at the second coming. They determined that since the Lord had not come yet, then He must not be coming (II Pet. 3:4). He reminds them that time means nothing to God (II Pet. 3:8) and then assures them that though God is longsuffering (II Pet. 3:9), “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (II Pet. 3:10). In the parable of the 10 virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), Jesus stresses vigilant preparation due to the fact that one does not know when the Lord will return. He states, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13). Many have spoken of “the signs of the times” and referred to teaching of Jesus found in Matthew chapter 24. Wars and rumors of wars (v. 6), nations rising against nations (v. 7), famines and earthquakes (v. 7) and other such “signs” (according to them) point to the near coming of the Lord. However, one needs to note what Jesus was talking about. In the first two verses Jesus is shown the building of the temple in Jerusalem and He tells them that these buildings will all be destroyed. All these so-called signs of the Lords coming are but indicators that the destruction of Jerusalem would be coming. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. In fact Jesus tells them, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34). Concerning the second coming He says, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Many others concoct a date of the Lord’s return from the apocalyptic language of the book of Revelation. It would do them well to start with the first verse of that book. It reads, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass…”
But, is there a sense in which we are definitely living in the last days? Most assuredly. The entire Christian dispensation is prophesied as and called the last days or last times. Both Isaiah and Micah prophesied of the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ, taking place in Jerusalem in the last days (Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1). When that institution had its beginning, Peter stood up and proclaimed that what was taking place on that day was what had been prophesied by Joel. He said, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…” (Acts 2:16-17). Later Peter wrote, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (I Pet. 1:20). And, the apostle John wrote, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (I John 2:18). The Hebrew writer made it plain when he wrote, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). When one asks if we are living in the last days, the answer is obviously, yes! The last days is the term used to denote the Christian dispensation, which is the last dispensation. When the Lord returns, it will not be to set up another dispensation, one with Him ruling from David’s throne in Jerusalem, but instead to bring an end to the last days. He is ruling on His throne now, as King of kings and Lord of lords. When He returns, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:24-26). Thus the last days began on the first Pentecost following the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and will continue until the Lord’s return. If we reject Christ and His teachings, we will have nothing to look to “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10: 27). There will be no more days or times following the second coming of Christ. Thus we should keep in mind what the Hebrew writer said, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30-31). (Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.