Bible Study:  Eschatology

"THE LAST DAYS!" by Dr. J.W.Bernard 

"The Last Days?" (Are we living in the last days?)  The Biblical last days spoke of the extinction of the earth or the Old Testament economy of Temple, sacrifice, priest, etc.? 

Because of recent events, we hear the question, "Is this what the Bible refers to when it speaks of 'the last days'?"  Should we prepare ourselves for the "end of time" and the "second coming of Christ?"  In this study, we shall look at verses concerning last days" madness.  

Unlike Old Testament prophets, who announced the coming of the kingdom in some unknown future, John the Baptist announces that its arrival is imminent.  The last days were introduced by John the Baptist when he said: "the axe is laid unto the root of the tree" (Matt. 3:10,12) and introduced Jesus to Israel as the One who will divide the true seed from the chaff.  The images of the "axe" and the "fan" both call attention to the radical nearness of the kingdom.  The one holding the axe is standing by the foot of the tree.  He is not merely thinking about cutting the tree down.  The axe is in His hand and has already penetrated the life giving support, the "root."  The "fan" refers to the winnowing fork used by farmers to separate the wheat from the chaff.  The picture here is not that Jesus is heading to the barn to get a fan.  It is already in His hand and He is about to begin His work of winnowing.  After John introduces Jesus to Israel, Jesus began speaking to them about "the last days" and the oncoming age.  Paul speaks of the days when Jesus spoke to Israel: 

Hebrews 1:2 "(God) hath IN THESE LAST DAYS (at the end of these days) spoken unto us by (through) His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by (through) Whom also He made the worlds (ages: past and those coming),"  Paul recognized the days of Jesus' ministry on the earth as "these last days."

After Jesus was rejected and killed by rulers in Israel, Peter rose to the occasion and accused them and proved that they were still in their last days by defending what was happening at Pentecost:

"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'." (Acts 2:17)

Later, James warned the 12 Tribes in writing: 

"...Ye have (now) heaped treasure together FOR THE LAST DAYS." (James 5:3)  James was the brother of Jesus and a truthful witness to the Hebrews during those "last days."

Then, Peter warned Jews who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Asia, Cappadocia and Bithynia about scoffers in their midst: 

"Knowing this first, that there shall come IN THE(SE) LAST DAYS scoffers, walking after their own lusts." (2 Peter 3:3)

The words, "in these last days" are very plain and speak of the end of a time period that was understood by the first century Christians and should be thought of as a definite point of time, a terminus in itself, or a certain segment of time that concludes the purpose of it's arrival.  Today, for example, if we speak of a week-end visit, we do not mean a visit sometime during the week.  We mean "at the end of the week" in the sense of one or more days at the close of the full week of seven days.  It is in this sense that the word "last" is used, both by the Old Testament prophets and the writers of the New Testaments.  "These last days" are the conclusion of a known period of time.  Then Paul tells the Hebrews believers about their Christ:

Hebrews 9:26 "For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now (C.E. 30)  once IN THE END OF THE WORLD hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."

The words, "these Last Days" are also understood to be the same as in Hebrews 9:26, which says, "in the end of the world" (in the end of an economy).  The Gospel writer, John gives us the meaning of the word "world."  Jesus said in John 18:20, "Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in their synagogue, and in their temple, where the Jews always resort..."  In John 12:19, the Pharisees were worried because, "the world has gone after Him."  The leaders of the Jewish economy called themselves and their people "the world."  The statement, "in the end of the world" is referring to the end of the Jewish nation and to the time of their last Prophet, John the Baptist and the judgment of the Jews in C. E. 70, the time when the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy commenced.  However, how is "the end of these days" to be interpreted in harmony with this statement of the case?  Just what did the writer mean by "these days" and "the end"?  The words, "these days" mean the very days in which He and His readers were actually living in that first century and spoke of their end coming soon.  The Second Coming of the Messiah was near and would close "these days" according to their prophetic culmination.  Jesus answered Pilate's questioning, "My kingdom is not of this world."  In other words, Jesus said that He was not connected with an economy that was going to be destroyed soon.  C. E. 70 brought an end to that "world" of synagogues, temple, priests and specific people.

When we read the statement in John 7:7, by our Lord, "the world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that it's deeds are evil."  We see something of why that "world" of Jews hated Him so much.  Can we expect our President, George Bush to get away with describing the Terrorists' actions as evil deeds against mankind?  The religious crowds of the first century are no different than the religious crowds of the New Millennium.  Evil deeds come from sick and sinful minds.  They do not reason with others.  Our world (the American economy) may come to an end.  However, it is not the subject of Bible prophecy.  All prophecy was fulfilled in C. E. 70. 

We must put forward this phrase as the technical Old Testament expression, "be-acharith-ha-yamim" be acharith ha yamim (Numbers 24:14), which in the Septuagint is rendered many times, "in the last days" or "at the end of the days."  These expressions which in themselves simply stand for the end of certain days, became to the ancient Jews an expression for "the times of the Messiah."  That is the reason Peter said at Pentecost (C. E. 30) that his generation is now in what Joel called 'the last days'. (Acts 2:16, 17).

The Jews divided their religious history of the world into two periods. One period they called Olam Hazzeh ( Olam Hazzeh ), the time before the Messiah ( B.C. 6) whom they were expecting, the time which preceded the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah.  The other period they called Olam Haba ( Olam Haba ))), (C.E. 30) the time after the Messiah had come, which coming, in their minds, was to be accompanied by the resurrection of the dead.  They knew nothing of a second coming in judgment and a delayed resurrection of the dead.

The Jews called the former of these periods "this age" (Greek, aion outos).  and the latter period they called "the age to come" (Greek, aion mellon).  The end of "this age" was "the last days" of the Old Testament period that concluded as the Body of Christ was being formed, giving the world the age of Grace.  The book of Acts is the transitional period from Old Testament economy to the new life "in Christ" economy.

The first century Christians believed that the Messiah had come and the former period, as conceived by the Jews, had, in their mind, already ended in C. E. 70.  They were living in the Olam haba, what was, in reality for the Jews, the "age to come."  

Dr. Lindsay says, "The word 'these' was added by Paul to plainly indicate that the days referred to had already begun in their life time.  Those days were styled 'the end of the days,' and 'the last days' by the most ancient prophets.  And now, says Paul, these are 'the last days' because the long expected Messiah had appeared.

God spoke in ages past by the prophets.  However, "in these last days, (God) hath spoken to us by His Son."  The "last days" were during the "days of His flesh" and the closing of the New Testament ... B. C. 6 to C. E. 70, when the words of Christ were spoken and written down for our learning.  The New Testament, which included the writings of Paul were written during "the last days."  There are no words beyond the New Testament that are considered the words of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ does not speak in "the ages to come."  We now to live according to the words spoken "by His Son" in "the last days."  The last books of Paul (Ephesians & Colossians) give us the key to living in the age or the new economy of Grace.

A Preterist is someone who believes that prophecies have been fulfilled, that is, their fulfillment is in the past.  Most Christians are preterist, concerning the 322 distinct predictions which were fulfilled in Christ during the days of His flesh.  Jews, who look for a Messiah are anti-preterist since they reject the fulfillment of the prophetic passages concerning the coming of Christ.  Jews are futurists.  Therefore, for them no other view on prophecy can exist.  

Old Dispensationalism was always in a development and refinement.  It should be called Progressive Dispensationalism.  The new "2002" refinements in this system have to do with past fulfillment of prophecy.  Many dispensationalist are becoming Dispensational Preterists.  Therefore, each student of the Bible should take another look at the topic of eschatology, the study of last things and get out of the sand that their old theology was built upon.  Do not get trapped in an eschatological system that is filled with contradictions.. 

You can order the vital information on this subject in the new video, "The Last Days." Send $19.99 to: Jerry Bernard, PO Box 202, Montrose, CA 91021-0202. Ask for Last Days Video.  Or order with Credit Card - Click Pay Button by Video.

We are not living in the Biblical "last days."  We are now living in "the ages to come," when "the exceeding riches of His Grace" reigns supreme "through Christ Jesus."

"But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love, wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7) 

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)

References to the Last Times

The End of the Age

  1. Matt. 13:39 The harvest is the end of the age.

  2. Matt. 13:40 So it will be at the end of this age.

  3. Matt. 13:49 So it will be at the end of the age.

  4. Matt. 24:3 ...the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?

  5. Matt. 28:20 I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

  6. Heb. 9:26 But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared.

The End

  1. Matt. 10:22 He who endures to the end will be saved.

  2. Matt. 24:6 But the end is not yet.

  3. Matt. 24:13 He who endures to the end shall be saved.

  4. Matt. 24:14 Then the end will come.

  5. 1 Cor. 1:8 Who will also confirm you to the end.

  6. 1 Cor. 10:11 On whom the ends of the ages have come.

  7. Heb. 3:6 Firm to the end.

  8. Heb. 3:14 Hold ...confidence steadfast to the end.

  9. Heb. 6:11 Show the same diligence...until the end.

  10. 1 Pet. 4:7 The end of all things is at hand.

  11. Rev. 2:26 He who...keeps my works until the end.

The Last Times, Days, etc.

  1. 1 Tim. 4:1 In latter times some will depart from the faith.

  2. 2 Tim. 3:1 In the last days perilous times will come.

  3. Heb. 1:2 (God) has in these last days spoken to us..

  4. James 5:3 You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

  5. 1 Pet. 1:5 Salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

  6. 1 Pet. 1:20 (Who) was manifest in these last times for you.

  7. 2 Pet. 3:3 Scoffers will come in the last days.

  8. 1 John 2:18 It is the last hour.

  9. Jude 18 That there would be mockers in the last time.

The Day

  1. Matt. 25:13 You know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man is coming.

  2. Luke 17:30 The day when the Son of Man is revealed.

  3. Rom. 2:16 In the day when God will judge the secrets of men.

  4. 1 Cor. 3:13 The day will declare it.

  5. Heb. 10:25 You see the Day approaching.

That Day

  1. Matt. 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord."

  2. Matt. 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows.

  3. Luke 10:12 It will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom.

  4. Luke 21:34 That day comes on you unexpectedly.

  5. 1 Thess. 5:4 That this Day should overtake you as a thief.

  6. 2 Thess. 2:3 That Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.

  7. 2 Tim. 1:12 He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.

  8. 2 Tim. 1:18 That he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day.

  9. 2 Tim. 4:8 The crown...which the Lord...will give to me on that Day.

The Day of the Lord

  1. 1 Cor. 1:8 That you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. 1 Cor. 5:5 That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

  3. 2 Cor. 1:14 You also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

  4. Phil. 2:16 That I may rejoice in the day of Christ.

  5. 1 Thess. 5:2 The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

The Day of God

  1. 2 Pet. 3:12 Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.

The Great Day

  1. Acts 2:20 The great and notable day of the Lord.

  2. Jude 6 The judgment of the great day.

  3. Rev. 6:17 The great day of His wrath has come.

  4. Rev. 16:14 The battle of that great day of G-d Almighty.

The Day of Wrath

  1. Rom. 2:5 Treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath.

  2. Rev. 6:17 The great day of His wrath has come.

The Day of Judgment

  1. Matt. 10:15 It will be more tolerable... in the day of judgment.

  2. Matt. 11:22 It will be more tolerable... in the day of judgment.

  3. Matt. 11:24 It shall be more tolerable... in the day of judgment.

  4. Matt. 12:36 They will give account of it in the day of judgment.

  5. 2 Pet. 2:9 To reserve the unjust... for the day of judgment.

  6. 2 Pet. 3:7 The day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

  7. 1 John 4:17 That we may have boldness in the day of judgment.

The Day of Redemption

  1. Eph. 4:30 You were sealed for the day of redemption.

The Last Day

  1. John 6:39 I should raise it up at the last day.

  2. John 6:40 I will raise him up at the last day.

  3. John 6:44 I will raise him up at the last day.

  4. John 6:54 I will raise him up at the last day.

  5. John 11:24 He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Closely connected with the texts that refer to the last days are those that refer to the apostasy, false prophets, false Christs, false teachers false apostles, deceivers.  The conclusion is:

  1. These texts refer to the same great defection from the faith, designated by Paul as "the apostasy."

  2. This apostasy was to be very general and widespread.

  3. This apostasy was to be marked by an extreme break down of morals, particularly by sins of the flesh.

  4. This apostasy was to be accompanied by pretensions to miraculous Pentecostal power.

  5. This apostasy was largely Jewish in character.

  6. This apostasy was the rejection of the incarnation and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ -- i.e. was the predicted Antichrist.

  7. This apostasy was to reach its full development in the "last times" and was to be one of the forerunners of the Parousia.

All these evils that the apostle Paul warns his listeners about were represented by both John and Peter as being actually present, in that generation.

"Back to normal?" someone said.  I think that the best place to return is upon our knees, asking God to have His way in our lives.  This "evil" has brought God and Country back together again.  This is our chance to trust Him and began living under His direction.  Class rooms of children are praying for our Firemen and Policemen in New York.  People who have never been encouraged to help the unfortunate have given of their means to aid others.  Today, we are closer to our God than we were yesterday.  Out of "evil" has come "good."  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord...." (Romans 8:28)

We are at war against an enemy within.  It has entered our sanctuary and freedom, only to kill and destroy.  It lives next door to all of us.  We must now watch in the shadows for it to raise it's ugly head.  We must now take off the "rose colored glasses."  The beauty of our freedom will crumble and fade from within, if we do not stand together as one nation under one God.  We must awaken from our sluggish indifference and state of satisfaction.  We must now rise to the occasion.  Remember to pray for our leadership in Washington.

As the morning sun sends it's rays of light across the land of the free, let us, just as quickly, declare our faith in the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  We pledge ourselves to do no less than give our all in honoring God and serving our fellow citizens.  This is the beginning of a new day.  Join us as we pray.