The Last Days
One of our findings when translating the Bible is the amazing harmony of its symbolic words when found in its 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 interpretations 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?' Because, although the Last Days that are spoken of in the Bible do 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, there also appears to be a final and greater destruction yet to come upon a people called IsraEl, who aren't necessarily fleshly IsraElites. 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 in this Bible. And one of the beauties of translating the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT) from the Greek Septuagint, is that the words (since they are all in the same language) remain the same throughout, which isn't true when the OT is translated from Hebrew and the NT is translated from Greek. But when we translate from the Greek Septuagint, which was the Bible of First Century Christians, we can see the same words that Jesus and his Apostles read and quoted from in 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 use 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 many believe that this prophecy will have a greater fulfillment at some future 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; each part of this image represented a king (or empire) that would come into existence before 'the Last Days,' and Babylon was the first part, 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. So, these 'last days' seem to be something greater than the last days of the ancient city of JeruSalem.
Now, many people have their own interpretations of what this prophecy was foretelling; however, 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, it does tell us of another dream that the Babylonian king had 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 things that led up to those 'Last Days.' And in this case, we see that there was to be a final empire (which was left 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 before 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 heavens
Will be given to the Holy One of the Most High,
Whose Kingdom will last through the ages.
And these kings (or powers gr. exousiai) will 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, DaniEl himself had a vision that is very similar to the last vision that NebuChadnezzar saw, because it was of wild animals that also pictured kings or empiresÉ but this time he only saw two, a ram and a billy goat. There (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 (gr. Hellenes) under their first leader, Alexander the Great. And after his death, his kingdom was to be split into four parts (among his generals), and from one of these four 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 Last Days that would come during the time of the Roman Empire.
Verses 11 and 12 tell us this: 'Then, when the commander-in-chief was captured and [his] blood was poured out, the rage of the ages came upon
his place, the sacrifices ended, and the Holy Place was destroyed. [And I was told]:
'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) would be destroyed. So as you can see, this was a prophecy of the Last Days of JeruSalemÉ the rejection of a form of worship of The God.
Then (in Daniel 9:24) he was told:
'Seventy periods of seven
Have been set for your people
And upon the Holy City on Zion,
To bring an end to its sins,
To set a seal on its sins,
To wipe away all their lawless deeds,
So as to atone for their errors;
To restore righteous ways through the ages,
To put a seal on the prophecies and visions,
And to anoint the holiest of the holy.'
And if you go on to read the latter portion of Chapter Nine and click on the links, 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, when the first gentiles would be converted, and when the Last Days of JeruSalem would begin.
We then find the term 'Last Days' used once again at Daniel 10:14, where 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 primarily be speaking of the end of the empire of Rome.
But you might ask: What about the 'resurrections' and the granting of '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 his Apostles before the fall of JeruSalem in 70-CE. For they did perform resurrections and Jesus did offer 'age-long life' to his disciples. So it appears as though the complete series of events described there may have already been fulfilledÉ at least initially.
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 around three-and-a-half years. And these verses seem to be speaking of the brief period between 66 and 70-CE when the armies of Rome attacked JeruSalem, then leftÉ and then returned to finish their destruction of the city, perhaps going on to describe the period of the final conquest at Masada.
We also find Jesus speaking about such a destruction of JeruSalem at Matthew 24:21, where it's written that he said: 'For a difficult time will then arrive, which is unlike anything that has happened since the beginning of this arrangement until now, nor should ever happen again!' And notice that 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.'
Yet, there's still an indication that there might be some greater, future 'last days' implied in the Bible; because, Revelation 7:14 (which appears to have been written well after JeruSalem's destruction) once again speaks of a group of people who will come out of a great time of difficulty that is similar to what has already come upon JeruSalem.
So, the fact that Revelation still 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 if this should prove to be so, then we might ask: 'Should modern Christians once again follow Jesus' instruction to flee to the mountains?'
Hundreds of years after the time of Daniel, on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost in 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. Therefore, 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. For people will just love themselves and money, and theyŐll be braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, and disloyal; they wonŐt love their families, nor will they agree on anything; theyŐll be slanderers who donŐt have any self-control; theyŐll be wild and they wonŐt love anything thatŐs good; theyŐll be betrayers who are headstrong and proud; they'll care more for pleasures than for God; and though they'll practice some form of godliness, they'll deny its power.'
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 upon the unrighteous.
As the result, we must assume that these 'fierce times' that were to come surely had to have happened 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 the 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; recognize that the 'New Testament' Bible writers spoke of these places propheticallyÉ not 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.'
Thus when Jesus said to 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 surely (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' the Bible speaks of in so many places has two fulfillments. The first 'Last Days' came upon Judah and JeruSalem between 33 and 70-CE, before the armies of Rome came and 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.
In like manner, it appears as though the second and greater fulfillment of the Last Days isn't coming upon all the wicked people of this world (as most teach). Rather, it will come upon those who claim to be God's servants todayÉ Christianity and Christendom (spiritual IsraEl). This series of events also seems to be the same as the destruction of the Great Babylon that is described in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Chapters of Revelation. 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.
On the 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 preceded the Last Days of JeruSalem.
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