The Last Days
One of our findings when translating the Bible, is the amazing harmony of its symbolic words when found in prophecies. For, where you find a certain word in one place that indicates a particular event or meaning, the same event or meaning is usually implied wherever you find that word throughout the Bible. So, although many may try to interpret prophecies through human reasoning, the Bible really provides its own interpretation, if you'll just search for the constant words. Yet, the Bible was written by dozens of individuals over a period of almost four-thousand years, most of whom never knew each other. And this remarkable fact seems strong proof to us that the Bible has a single author, God.
Just a few of these words that seem to carry a harmonious meaning whenever they are used in prophecy are: mountain, seed, sea, earth, sky or heavens, IsraEl, JeruSalem, Egypt, Babylon, wild animal, time of difficulty, resurrection, time (when referring to a specific period), etc. And we are finding that two words, Last Days, when used in prophetic settings, usually appear to apply to just two situations, and both have to do with the Last Days of something called IsraEl and/or JeruSalem.
Why did we say 'something called IsraEl?' Because, the Last Days that are spoken of in the Bible refer to the actual Last Days of the capital city of IsraEl, JeruSalem, before it was destroyed first by Babylon in the Sixth or Seventh Century BCE, then by Rome in 70-CE. But there also appears to be a final and greater destruction yet to come upon a people called IsraEl, who aren't necessarily fleshly IsraElites, but rather, they appear to be those who became the equivalent to fleshly IsraEl, modern-day Christianity.
The Greek words tas hemera eschata (the days very/last) are what we have translated as the Last Days. And this is the beauty of translating the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT) from the Greek Septuagint, because other words are often used when people are translating the Hebrew text into English. But when we translate from the Greek Septuagint, we can see the same words that Jesus' Apostles and Disciples read and quoted from in the Bible of their day.
It is particularly in the book of Daniel that we read of the Last Days, and this is significant, because these prophecies of Daniel were the ones that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, when he was telling his Apostles about the then-coming destruction of JeruSalem. And although Jesus didn't actually speak the words, 'the Last Days' in that prophecy, he covered the things that were about to happen as part of the last days leading up to the destruction of JeruSalem (in 70-CE); and this prophecy is believed to have a greater fulfillment in our time.
The first use of the words 'Last Days' in Daniel are found (only in the Septuagint) in Chapter Two, verse twenty-eight, where we read: 'However, there is a God in heaven who uncovers mysteries, and He has made known to King NebuChadnezzar what is going to happen in the Last Days.'
This prophecy, which was given to Babylonian King NebuChadnezzar in a dream, was of a huge image with a head of gold, arms and shoulders of silver, belly and thighs of brass or bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with baked clay. It was thereafter destroyed by a rock that was cut out of a mountain without the aid of hands, which hit the image on its feet and destroyed it. Then this rock became a mountain (God's Kingdom) that filled the whole earth.
As Daniel interpreted the dream to the king, he explained that each part of this image represented a king (or empire) that would come into existence before 'the Last Days,' and Babylon was the head of gold. This would then be followed by the empires of Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and a final, unnamed empire. And it is 'during the days of those kings,' that the Last Days would come and usher in God's Kingdom.
Now, many people have their own interpretations of what this prophecy was foretelling; but, let's consider the rest of the prophecies about the Last Days before we jump to any conclusions.
Although there is no reference to the Last Days in Daniel Chapter Seven, we read here that the Babylonian king had another dream in which he saw four unusual wild animals that conquered each other in succession. And (according to Daniel's interpretation) these would prove to be the first four of the kings or empires mentioned in Chapter Two: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. So, this prophecy is clearly a vision of the same things that lead up to 'the Last Days.' And in this case, we see that there is again to be a final empire (which is still unnamed) that is pictured by a horn that arises from the last animal (Rome). And this great horn is described as having 'the eyes of a man,' and as speaking great thingsÉ which could well picture a democratic form of government. Then, according to the prophecy, God judges this last empire; and thereafter, He destroys it.
So to this point, we've learned that a final king will arise after Rome, then all the empires will be judged and destroyed, and God's Kingdom will rule the whole earth. And thereafter, verse 27 goes on to say: 'Then the Kingdom, the authority, and the greatness of all the kings under the sky will be given to the Holy Ones of the Most High. His kingdom will last through the ages, and all these emperors or powers (gr. exousiai) will then serve and obey Him.'
That's the meaning of the Last Days that were spoken of in Daniel, and as you can see, it just hasn't happened yet.
In the Eighth Chapter of Daniel, he himself has a vision that is very similar to the last vision that NebuChadnezzar saw, in that it was of wild animals that also picture kings or empires; but this time he only saw two; a ram and a billy goat. Then, as God's messenger Gabriel told him, the ram pictured the Medes and the Persians, and the billy goat that conquered them would be the Greeks under their first leader (Alexander the Great). And after his death, the kingdom would be split into four parts (among his generals), and from one of these parts would grow a great and terrible horn or king, which proved to be Rome, particularly under Julius Caesar. And this is where the Last Days get interesting, because, first of all, this prophecy seems to be speaking of another Last Days that would happen earlier, during the time of the Roman Empire.
Verses 11 and 12 tell us this: 'Then, when the commander-in-chief is captured and [his] blood is poured out, the rage of the ages will come upon his place, the sacrifices will end, and the Holy Place will be destroyed. His sacrifice will be offered for sins, and justice will be thrown to the ground. But, the righteous things that he does will be blest.'
In other words, Jesus (the commander-in-chief) would be unjustly captured and killed by Rome, he would die for our sins, the 'the rage of the ages' would come upon his place (JeruSalem), and the Temple in JeruSalem (the Holy Place) will be destroyed. So, this was a prophecy of the Last Days of JeruSalem, a rejected form of worship of God.
Then (in Daniel 9:24) he was told: 'Exactly seventy weeks will come upon your people and the holy city to finish off sin, to set a seal upon sins, to end Law breaking, to pay for sins, to bring justice through the ages, to put a seal upon the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies.'
If you read the latter portion of this Chapter and the Notes, you'll see that this appears to be a description of the actual date when Jesus would appear, when the Christian Congregation would be formed, and when the first gentiles would be convertedÉ but it was also a description of when the Last Days of JeruSalem would begin.
We then find the term 'Last Days' used once again at Daniel 10:14, when Daniel was given a detailed account of all that would happen to the great world empires up to the time of Rome and the destruction of JeruSalem and its Temple. Here, although many have tried to give modern interpretations to Chapters 10, 11, and 12, and they say that 'the Last Days' referred to there are the Last Days of our time, the series of events seems to end primarily with the empire of Rome.
But, what about the 'resurrections,' the 'great time of difficulty,' and being granted 'age-long life' that is spoken of in Chapter Twelve? Well, all of these things did in fact happen at the hand of Jesus and before the fall of JeruSalem. So, the series of events described there seems to have been mostly fulfilled.
Notice, for example, the periods mentioned in Chapter Twelve, verses seven, twelve, and thirteen, all three of which speak of prophetic periods that are to last somewhere between three-and-a-half and four years. These seem to be speaking of the brief period of 66-CE to 70-CE when the armies of Rome attacked JeruSalem, then left, and then returned and destroyed the city.
Yet, there's still an indication that there might be a greater fulfillment in our day; because, Revelation 7:14 (which was written well after JeruSalem's destruction) speaks of a future group of people who come out of a great time of difficulty, which was similar to what had already been prophesied to come upon (and had already happened to) JeruSalem. How does that tie into Daniel's prophecy?
Well, in Jesus' prophecy about the destruction of JeruSalem, he mentioned the same event at Matthew 24:21, when he said: 'Because, then there will come a difficult time such as hasn't happened from the beginning until now, nor should ever happen again.' And he said this shortly after he had just said (in verses 15 and 16): 'So, when you see the disgusting destroyer (which was spoken of through Daniel the Prophet) standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), those in Judea should flee to the mountains.'
These words coincide with what was prophesied in Daniel 12:12, where we read: 'From the time when the disgusting destroyer will come and the [daily] sacrifices will end, is one-thousand, two-hundred and ninety days.'
So, the fact that Revelation speaks of the great time of difficulty as future, when Jesus used the same words to indicate a difficult time for JeruSalem in 70-CE, indicates that Jesus' prophecy will likely also have a more modern fulfillment. And if that proves to be so; we will see 'the disgusting destroyer' standing in the Holy Place (as both Daniel and Jesus said) for a period of about three-and-a-half years, before that which is pictured by ancient JeruSalem will be destroyed. And then (following Jesus' instructions), should modern Christians also 'run to the mountains?'
Hundreds of years after the time of Daniel, on the day of Pentecost 33-CE, when the Holy Breath was poured out on Jesus' Disciples
who were gathered in an upper room in JeruSalem, Peter explained what was happening by quoting the prophecy of Joel 2:28, where he said:
'In the Last Days I will pour out My Breath,
And Your sons and daughters will all prophecy,
Your aged men will dream dreams,
And young men in your midst, will see visions.'
As you can see; in this instance, Peter (at Acts 2:14) was applying the fulfillment of the above prophesy of Joel to his time, calling it 'the Last Days'É that is, the Last Days of JeruSalem and its Temple. However, many believe that although Peter was right, and Pentecost of 33-CE did see a partial fulfillment of the words to Joel; from the description, it is evident that not all the features mentioned in that writing actually happened back then. So, they expect Joel's prophecy to see a greater fulfillment in our day. For more information, see the linked document, 'The Powers of God's Holy Spirit.'
Paul (the Apostle) also wrote of the Last Days in his second letter to his young protg Timothy at 2 Timothy 3:1-5, where he said: 'Recognize that the Last Days will bring fierce times. People will love themselves and money. They'll be braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and disloyal. They won't love their families or be willing to agree on anything; they'll be slanderers who don't have any self-control; they will be wild and they won't love anything that is good; they'll be betrayers who are headstrong and proud; they'll prefer pleasures to caring about God; and they'll have a form of religion, but they won't follow it.'
What 'Last Days' was Paul speaking of here? Well, Paul was surely aware of the fact that Daniel's prophecy spoke of the Last Days of JeruSalem. And whether he believed that there would be a greater fulfillment thousands of years later on a spiritual JeruSalem, we don't know; because, the Bible doesn't tell us. But the situation he was describing was the type of moral decay that has always brought God's wrath.
As the result, the 'fierce times' that were to come, surely had to be seen in JeruSalem at the time of her destruction. And since the prophecies about 'the Last Days' also appear to apply to some future time, the situation of falling into moral decay that Paul prophesied must picture what is happening among the vast throngs of those calling themselves Christians todayÉ so it is also their 'Last Days.'
While many believe that all the prophecies concerning IsraEl and JeruSalem center around their physical location in Palestine today; when 'New Testament' Bible writers spoke of these places in prophecy, they didn't do so in literal terms, but symbolically. For example; where we read prophecies about 'the twelve tribes of IsraEl,' the reference appears to be to the twelve symbolic tribes that make up Christian Congregations or Churches. For more information, see the linked document, 'JeruSalem and the IsraEl of God.'
So, when Jesus told his eleven faithful Apostles (at Luke 22:28-30), 'However, you are the ones who stuck with me during my trials; so, I'm making a Sacred Agreement with you, just as my Father made a Sacred Agreement with me, for a KingdomÉ that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl;' it appears as though he was saying that they would judge all who claim to be Christians.
That this conclusion is likely correct is verified by the words of Peter at 1 Peter 4:17, where he wrote: 'Why, the time of judgment has arrivedÉ and it's starting with the House of God. So if it's starting with us first; how will those who don't obey the good news of God end up?'
As you can see; those who are first to be judged (before Armageddon and the destruction of the wicked) are the ones who say that they are in a Sacred Agreement with God. And we can soon expect a judgment on all Christendom and Christianity, because that was what Jesus told his Apostles they were going to doÉ judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl. This destruction will (as happened in ancient JeruSalem) be brought by a world empire; for, that is how God did it in the past, and that is what was foretold in the book of Daniel.
From the above, we are therefore suggesting that 'the Last Days,' which the Bible speaks of in many places, will have two fulfillments. The first came upon Judah and JeruSalem, starting from the time that Jesus began his earthly ministry, and it ran until 70-CE, when the armies of Rome destroyed an entire form of worship that was based on a Sacred Agreement with God and which was centered around worship at the Temple in JeruSalem. Also during that ancient time, judgment on the Christian Congregation (those in the New Sacred Agreement) began in the form of intense persecution.
So, it appears as though the second and greater fulfillment of the Last Days isn't primarily upon the wicked of this world; it comes upon those who claim to be God's servants today, Christianity and Christendom (spiritual IsraEl). This seems to be the meaning of the destruction of the Great Babylon, as described in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Chapters of Revelation. And (as in the ancient type) it will start with the intense persecution of those who are serving Him faithfully. Thereafter, the beastly governments and those who have their mark will be judged and destroyed. So in a sense, it is also their Last Days.
Then, can we say that we are now living in the Last Days, as many religions are teaching? Well, many of the signs seem to have been happening in our time. For, Jesus did foretell of world wars, famines, natural disasters, plagues, a cooling of the love of manyÉ and many people are truly lovers of money, braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, and disloyal. Also, many prove that they don't love their families; they are unwilling to agree on anything; they are slanderers, without any self-control; they are wild, and they don't love anything that is good. They are in fact headstrong, proud, and betrayers who prefer pleasures more than caring about God. And they have a form of religion, but they don't follow its teachings.
Other hand (although many may choose to disagree); we have yet to see the type of outpouring of God's Holy Breath that was seen
on Pentecost of 33-CE, which was near the start of the Last Days of JeruSalem. If we look to the type; Jesus appeared first, and then the 40-year Last Days began.
And although some claim that Jesus has already come (as a heavenly presence in 1914), Jesus himself described his coming as a time when
(according to Matthew 24:29-31):
'Then the sun will grow dark,
And the moon will not give out its light;
The stars will fall from the sky,
And the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
The Son of Man's sign will appear in the skies,
And all the tribes of the earth
Will beat themselves in great grief,
When they see the Son of Man coming,
On the clouds of the sky, with glory and might.'
And such things simply haven't happened yet.
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