We do not live in the “Last Days”. We are NOT the “End Times” in irrespective of the visions and dreams making the rounds. When the Bible speaks of the “End Times” is is ALWAYS speaking about the “End of the Age” – not the end of the world, but of the “Age”.
In Matthew 24 we see the famous prophecy of Jesus. The Old KJV puts it that the disciples were asking for the end of the world. In Greek, the word for “world” is kosmos, whereas the word for “age” is aion. The disciples asked Jesus about the end of the aion. They did not ask about the end of the kosmos.
The “End of the Age” happened within one generation of Jesus prediction, and the people who lived during that final generation were living in the “Last Days” of that “Age” which came to an “End”. It was the Old Covenant Age. The Mosaic Covenant was to last for an “Age”. The prophets sent to Israel predicted that, when that Covenant came to an End, there would be a “New Covenant”, and there would be a “Kingdom” which would expand and increase, “without end”.
“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Heb 8:13)
“Peter said: What you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” (Acts 2:17)
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“God chose Jesus as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake”. (1 Peter 1:20)
The New Covenant was “ascending” and the Old Covenant was “descending” but for a period of time – a Transition Period. The church of the 1st century passed through the transition, a period both were still “visible” and existed “side by side” – the Old Covenant did not fully pass away at the cross – it was rendered “OBSOLETE AND NULL” at the cross but it continued for “one generation” or for the “Last days of the Old Covenant Age” – with the Temple, sacrifices, and priesthood still in place and “visible” in Jerusalem.
“Now these things were written down for our instruction, on whom the ends of the Ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
So, the New Testament period which includes the life, teaching, ministry of Jesus, Apostles and early Church happened during the TRANSITION PERIOD as the Old Covenant Age was passing away and the New Covenant Age had just been born. Both Covenants/Ages co-existed side-by-side for one generation, and that is why we still see some Law-Grace mix going on in the New Testament itself which took careful study by the Spirit divide the word of truth.
In AD70 the temple in Jerusalem and land was destroyed, which was when the final “passing away” of the entire Old Covenant system took place, within “one generation” as Jesus predicted, and now we live ONLY in grace, with no law, and no Old Covenant left. We are living in the dawn of the new covenant age which is shinning brighter and brighter by the day through the revelation of grace and truth by the Spirit. Hallelujah!
To conclude I want to share with an extract from Martin Trench’s article “The Ancient Biblical Teaching Of The Ages (Part 6 – The Cusp of the Ages):
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son .”
Now, in the story we read something very important, but lost to most of us – God was establishing this “covenant” which included the provision of a “promised land” for the duration of that Age! God didn’t promise the land to Abraham and his descendants as an “everlasting possession” but as an “Age-enduring possession”. Unfortunately, our English translations of the Bible often mistranslate that promise, which causes all sorts of confusion today, as many Christians think that it is their duty to support the present day Israeli state no matter what they do because “God promised them that land as an everlasting possession”. However, once we discover that the word is NOT “everlasting” but rather, “age-enduring”, this completely undermines the apocalyptic preaching that is common about what is happening in the Middle East today as being some kind of fulfillment of Bible prophecy – that prophecy was fulfilled almost 2,000 years ago – that Age came to an end and the promise was them fulfilled and God’s original purpose of embracing all people, all cultures, all ethnic groups became clear.
“God is no respecter of persons, because he accepts people of all nations ..” (Acts 10:34-35). And it was fulfilled not only literally, naturally, physically, by the land being promised for an Age, inhabited for an Age, and then that Age coming to an end, but it was “fulfilled” also in the sense that its true, FULL meaning was established – the physical “promised land” was inherited by the natural descendants of Abraham for the promised Age – but also, the “seed”, the “descendent” that the covenant predicted was Christ – he is “Abraham’s seed” and he is the FULL-fillment of the promise for all who believe, not a “promised land” but a “land of promises” – a new kingdom, a new life, a new relationship with God where we “inherit all things”.
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (the Jews) and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Matthew 21:43)
Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant. The scripture does not use the plural “descendants,” meaning many people, but the singular “descendant,” meaning one person only, namely, Christ…. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised. (Galatians 3:16,29)
For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” ascends to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Here is the confusion:
In Genesis 12:17 it says: Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” Then a bit later this is called an “everlasting covenant” – I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7 – NIV).
. Here it is in Youngs Literal Translation – And I have established My covenant between Me and thee, and thy seed after thee, to their generations, for a covenant age-enduring, to become God to thee, and to thy seed after thee. That promised land was to be in the possession of Abraham’s descendants for the entirety of the Age of Aries. Thats why it started with the Ram which the Lord provided, and ended with the death of Jesus at Passover, (the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”), when the Old Covenant was made “obsolete” and it fully “passed away” within one generation at the “end of the Age” when the Temple and the totality of the sacrificial system was destroyed by the Romans in AD70, in fulfillment of Jesus prophecy – no Temple, no sacrifices, no sacrificial system, no Age of Aries.
When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the end of the Age?”
So, the Old Covenant Age, (the Sacrificial Age, the Age of Aries), promised Israel a covenant with God and a promised land for the entirety of that Age – from Abraham through to Moses through to the Temple of Solomon through to the Exile in Babylon and return to rebuild the Temple (Ezra and Nehemiah) until the time of Jesus and the final destruction of the Temple in AD70 in fulfillment of Jesus prophecy. That Age was then over, gone, disappeared, wiped out, served its purpose, fulfilled. To quote Jesus, “It is finished!”.