THE LAST DAYS
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. April 7, 1985)
The word Kingdom in the scriptures means Nation. So any little country like Moab or Edom was a kingdom. But when Babylon rose up and conquered all the other kingdoms, it is called the Kingdom of Babylon. We call it the Babylonian Empire. We refer to the Medo-Persian Empire, the Grecian Empire, and the Roman Empire. These kingdoms were world-wide or universal.
The last days or latter times are terms frequently used in the scriptures and they have often been misunderstood and have been expanded into all kinds of doctrines. Most cults and denominations get into speculations of a rapture and they will apply these terms to the second coming and studies of eschatology.
The last days seems to be the most interesting subject to the religious world. It is fun to speculate and try to figure out what God is going to do before he does it. Fun, but not productive. Whole religious movements have sprung up through one man's or a group's interpretation of prophetic scripture.
The Time of the End
1917, 1921, 1925, 1975, Jehovah's Witnesses
1972, 1974, Herbert W. Armstrong (The World Tomorrow)
"The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey. (He has to have the Roman Empire set-up again and the Jewish system restored in order to have OT prophecy fulfilled literally as he views it.)
The major texts for interpretation are the book of Daniel, the book of Revelation and Matthew chapter 24. Today I would like to compare Daniel 12 with Matthew 24.
[Briefly review Dan.2 - Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and chapters 3, 4, 5, 6.]
Dan.7-12, he starts receiving visions about "the end". In Dan.7 we find that he is referring to the time of the kingdom being established.
"I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, one like the Son of man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought him near before him.
Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And his kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
"I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
"Thus he said:
"The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
"But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey him.'
Then he refers to all these "ends".
So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end."
Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.
"And the vision of the evenings and mornings
Which was told is true;
Therefore seal up the vision,
For it refers to many days in the future."
Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."
Both these kings' hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.
And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
...and then the culmination in
"But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."
So, what is Daniel talking about when he says, "the end"? The end of the world?
Every cult says that we could not understand it until now - because now is the end-time and they will reveal the secret to us.
But there is a better way of interpreting OT prophecies.
God was setting up a language (prophetic or apocalyptic language) to speak to his people about things to come without letting the whole world know what was going to happen.
One author quotes another. The same language is used over and over again. It should mean the same or nearly the same thing in other contexts. For example:
Four horses of the Apocalypse: Zech.6 and then again in Rev.6
Four Beasts: Eze. and then again in Rev.5
When God spoke of a coming visitation of his wrath, he called it the day of Jehovah and it was accompanied by portents and celestial catastrophes. All that a prophet would have to do was use the same language and the people would know what he meant. It is the same with "the end time" or "the last days". We have a plain verse that even links it up for us in the mouth of an inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God..."
This, the pouring out of the Spirit, is that which Joel had said would happen in the last days. So the "last days" were between the death of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, which is Joel's "great and notable day of the Lord.. My understanding is that Joel was referring to the last days of the house or nation of Israel. Every other writer has the same idea.
...he then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
Not the 21st century, but the 1st century.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the Fathers by the prophets, 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;
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The old economy was still around till AD 70.
In that he says, “A new covenant,” he has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
All of this is basically referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. This was a very important event because it signaled the ending of an age and the change from physical to spiritual - to the returning of the Son of Man to take vengeance on those who would not submit to his rule, to the victory of the faithful remnant in the church and the triumphal entry of the eternal kingdom of God upon the world stage.
Now let us look at a few things from Daniel chapter 12.
"At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
There was going to be a time of trouble. "Thy people" are of course Israel. Jesus speaks of this time of trouble in Matthew 24, and the context is the destruction of the temple in AD 70.
And you will be about to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Dan.12 says "And at that time your people shall be delivered" Jerusalem was going to be destroyed and from a Christian's point of view, that would prove to be a deliverance from their enemies - those who persecuted them.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Those written in the book were the elect, those to which Jesus refers in Mt.24:24. If you obeyed the voice of Jesus in Mt.24:16 to get out of Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction, then you would find deliverance and would be counted among the elect.
This is the fulfillment of "the end" and "the end of the days" in Daniel 12. It is the same "end" to which Jesus refers in...
But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
This "end" is the finishing of all God was going to have to do with Israel. This is the end of Israel's position as the people of God according to the flesh, i.e., as God's chosen nation among the peoples of the earth.
Then compare Dan.12:7 with Lk.21:21-22
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Daniel's finished is Jesus' fulfilled. When he says he will scatter the power of the holy people, this is not something yet to come. God has already scattered them in AD 70. An additional indication of the time when these things would happen, besides the term Last days, is found in Mt.24:34
All the things of which Jesus spoke would come upon that generation of people. A generation is about 40 years, therefore limiting our scope, at the most, to AD 70.
Then we have a reference to the abomination of desolation (or which makes desolate).
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days."
This is the same language found in another vision.
24 "Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 "Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
26 "And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate."
The abomination that made Jerusalem desolate was the Roman army. Jesus makes the same application for us.
“Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
When you see this sign, then get out of town. When?
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”
The main point we can make here is the fact that Daniel is talking about the end of the Jewish nation and the destruction of its capital, Jerusalem, during its "last days".
Another portent of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish economy was this statement of Jesus...
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Then the end will come - when will that be? We can pinpoint the time of the end from Col.1:23.
...if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
This was the last times and all kinds of terrible things were going to happen. Antichrists would be on the rise, deceptions and false prophets - that is why Paul admonishes them to be steadfast and not moved away. Jesus also warned them of how it would be.
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
“Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or “There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.
“Therefore if they say to you, “Look, he is in the desert!’ do not go out; or “Look, he is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”
Because of the mention of these false teachers and antichrists, John pinpoints again the last times or last days for us.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
Another portent was warnings of scoffers in the last times and admonitions to keep the faith.
...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Peter is reminding them that they were already forewarned about the scoffers. It was happening then not in the 21st century.
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior...
The scoffers were at that time, the last times. These saints are seeing the mockers and scoffers in their day and being reminded that they were warned about such things by the apostles of Christ.
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
Paul warns Timothy about this, that he should be wary and strong in the face of this opposition.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
But this means that Timothy was living in the last times in the first century.
These are all portents of the ending of an old age and the beginning of a new age - the age of the spiritual kingdom and the power and glory of Christ. The scriptures no where speak specifically of a "second" coming of Christ. The first century Christians were looking for his "coming" and his "return" within their lifetime.
The destruction of Jerusalem is very important because if signals the ending of an earth age and the ushering in of a new one. It marks the fulfillment of all that the prophets have said about the coming age and kingdom.
So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
It shows to the world who the real people of God are. There has not been a sacrifice to Jehovah on mount Moriah in Jerusalem since its destruction almost 2000 years ago because those things, as far as God is concerned, are forgotten and will not come into mind.
At the close of the book of Revelation God says, "It is finished - behold I make all things new." He can make us new also. You can be a new creation in Jesus Christ.
~ Invitation ~