For most Christians this is a no brainier. Surely with the events happening on the globe we must surely be at the cusp of the end of the world. With tensions boiling in the middle-east connecting President Trump and Iran there are suggestions of an Armageddon about to happen.
The recent fire outbreak in Australia has led some to even believe that God is venting our judgment on nations for turning their back on him.
Does the scriptures actually give us the pointers that we are living in the last days? On second thought, you will discover that there are strong evidences that we are not living in the last days and neither is that term meant for our time and generation.
Let’s see what the Bible says about the “last days” and see if we can come to an understanding of the meaning. Firstly it would be common to see that most Christians would agree that the last days had begun by the time Christ came into the world:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB
The writer of Hebrews says that they (first century Christians) were in the last days. The big debate is however when do the last days end? How is it supposed to last? Hopefully, our article will help us answer that question.
In order to understand the term “last days,” let’s look at how the phrase was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bible’s first use of the phrase “last days” is found in Genesis:
Then Ya`akov called for his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the acharit-hayamim. Genesis 49:1 CJB
The “acharit- hayamim” is the Hebrew for the “last days.” Consider carefully to whom the phrase “last days” is primarily addressed. Jacob is talking to his sons (the twelve tribes of Israel), and he pronounces the general evil that would come upon them. So, clearly, Israel is the subject of the last days, and the last days concern Israel:
‘Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the LORD speaks, that I will speak’? 14 “And now behold, I am going to my people; come, and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the days to come.” Numbers 24:13-14 NASB
The CJB has here “acharit -hayamim.” The KJV says, “in the latter days.” And YLT says, “in the latter end of the days.” Here again the vision is concerning the Jews. It was concerning what would happen to Israel in the last days. It was something far ahead in their future. We must respect the fact that the entire scripture was penned over the course of two thousand years.
Isaiah wrote about these “last days” as well:
The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. Isaiah 2:1-2 NASB
The vision was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. This is speaking of the New Covenant that was inaugurated in the “last days.” Nowhere is the phrase “last days” used to refer to the physical planet, but, rather, it is referring to the “last days” of the nation Israel.
Moses confirms that the “last days” of national Israel would be evidenced by devastation and their ultimate scattering:
“And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you shall be left few in number among the nations, where the LORD shall drive you. Deuteronomy 4:27 NASB
“When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. Deuteronomy 4:30 NASB
He continues this idea toward the end of the book:
“For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the LATTER DAYS, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 31:29 NASB (Emphasis Mine)
Moses says, “…evil will befall you in the latter days…” Moses was leading the company of Israel. There is no reference to Gentiles being the subject of these latter days:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace”‘; And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ “But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? “Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, Even a whirling tempest; It will swirl down on the head of the wicked. “The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; In the last days you will clearly understand it. Jeremiah 23:16-20 NASB
Throughout the book of Jeremiah God condemns the Jewish false prophets. Here Jeremiah predicts that when these last days come, the people of Yahweh will understand what He will do to the nation in destroying it and punishing it for its wickedness.
God, through Ezekiel, warns Israel (My people) of their destruction by the hand of foreign nations:
and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the LAST DAYS that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.” Ezekiel 38:16 NASB
Michael, the archangel, spoke to Daniel associating the latter days with Daniel’s people:
“Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the LATTER DAYS, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” Daniel 10:14 NASB
The phrase “your people” is referring to Israel. Israel is Daniel’s people. The time of this writing is about 536 B.C. He says that the vision of what will happen to Israel in the latter days is a long way off, “…the vision pertains to the days yet future.” So, in Daniel’s time, the “last days” were a long way off.
Hosea talks about how the elect remnant will turn to Yahweh in the “last days”:
Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days. Hosea 3:5 NASB
This is talking about Israel trusting their Messiah Jesus. Also we see that in Micah, the Prophet states that the last days involves the destruction of physical Israel, and the establishment of the true Israel:
Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest. Micah 3:12 NASB
If you then move into the New Testament, you will see this truth can verified. In the book of Acts we find a profound statement made by Peter (a Jew) to a multitude of Jews out of every nation:
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 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 ON ALL MANKIND; 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 BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. Acts 2:14-18 NASB
Who is Peter talking to? The answer is: men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem. “When did Peter say this?” He said this in the first century.
Peter explicitly says, “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.” He then explains that what this multitude of Jews was experiencing was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel. Peter is telling this multitude that they (first century Jews) were in the last days. Beyond this, he goes on to describe what would take place during these last days:
‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. Acts 2:19-20 NASB
Notice how this corresponds to what Jesus said in the Olivet discourse:
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29 NASB
Jesus spoke these words in answer to the disciples’ question as to when the end of the age would come:
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:1-3 NASB
Their question was two-fold. First they ask, “When will these things be?” The “these things” refers to the temple’s destruction in verse 2. In verse 1, the disciples point out the temple buildings to Jesus.
In verse 2, Jesus says, “All’ ‘these things’ shall be destroyed.” It should be clear that they are asking, “WHEN will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?” After all Jesus had just said about judgment on Jerusalem (Matthew 23), and then about not one stone being left upon another, the disciples’ response is, “When?” It would be odd to think they were asking about the end of the physical planet as at that time. Don’t you think so?
The second part of their question is, “What will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age.” If you compare all three synoptic Gospel accounts, you will see that the disciples considered His “coming” and “the end of the age” to be identical events with the destruction of the temple:
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” Mark 13:4 NASB
Notice in the first part of the verse, he says, “When will these things be?” –referring to the temples’ destruction. Then in the second half, he asks, “What will be the sign when all ‘these things’ will be fulfilled?”
The sign of His coming and the end of the age was the same as the “these things,” which referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year AD 70. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their mind, and that was the destruction of the temple. With the destruction of the temple, they connected the coming of Messiah and the end of the age. Their question was, “When will the end be?” Jesus told them quite clearly that the end would come in “This generation”:
“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB
The word “generation” means: “those who are contemporaries, or live at the same time.”
So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish temple and the city Jerusalem. It was not the “last days” of planet earth or the “end” of the world; he is talking about the “last days” or “end” of the age of Judaism, the Old Covenant Age. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of a New Age.
All the predictions for the end of the physical planets by many public-figure prophets will only give them popularity that they seek and possibly lead people into deception. It is good to test all things by the written word especially based on diligence required to study it. We are in the age of the ever-increasing splendor of the kingdom of God and not the last days. The last days are far behind us.