Bibliano and Amigo: Discussions on Eschatology (Lesson #2, Last Days)

AMIGO: We are in the Last Days! The end is near!

BIBLIANO: My friend, why do you think that?

AMIGO: I watch the Trinity Broadcasting Network. You know—Hamas and Israel, Iran getting nukes, riots in the streets. Just read the newspaper!

BIBLIANO: Have you ever seriously studied what the Bible says about the so-called Last Days?

AMIGO: Don’t have to. All I need is TBN. Those preachers can’t be wrong about this. They sell a lot of books.

BIBLIANO: Well, I hate to break your bubble, Amigo. But there are nineteen primary mentions of the Last Days or End Times in the New Testament. The setting (and culmination) of none of them can be placed outside of the first century.

AMIGO: You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

BILIANO: Here are the passages: Matthew 13:38-42; 24:2-3, 13-16 (cf. Matthew 24:34; Daniel 12:4-11); Acts 2:14-20 (cf. 3:24); 1 Corinthians 1:8; 7:31; 10:11; 15:24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Hebrews 1:2; 3:14; 9:26; James 5:1-9; 1 Peter 1:5-7, 13; 20; 4:7; 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 17-23. Please take the time to look each of these up and think about them.

But let’s just consider a few of these: Acts 2:14-20—Peter declared that they themselves (in the first century) were witnessing the last days’ events foretold by Joel. 1 and 2 Timothy—Paul told Timothy to avoid certain things in the last days. Timothy would have to still be alive today if the last days were in the 21st century. Hebrews 1:2—The writer said that they were in the last days when he was writing. 1 Peter 4:7—Peter declared that the “end of all things was at hand” thus the culmination of the last days for those living in the first century.

AMIGO: Well, if Peter said THAT, he must have been wrong.

BIBLIANO: Peter wasn’t wrong. You are just misunderstanding what he meant. The “end” of which Peter and the others spoke was not the end of the physical universe, but something else very, very important in the history of Judaism. It was the END OF THE AGE, that is, the Old Covenant Age. Jesus tied the end of the age with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). It would happen in their generation, and it happened just as Jesus predicted—in AD 70. This is significant for several reasons, but for one, it ended the age-old system of sacrifices for sin. This was important theologically because it was the exclamation point that sacrifices for sin were no longer possible in the temple, but rather only through the sacrifice of the One True Lamb, Jesus Christ.

AMIGO: OK, but maybe the Last Days started in the first century, and we are still in them today.

BIBLIANO: The evidence can’t support that, and it makes no sense, Amigo. That would make the “last days” longer than the period to which they were an end, that is, the Mosaic Age. And there are over 100 passages in the New Testament that affirm that the all the events associated with the last days/end times would be fulfilled in the first century, while some of them were still alive. The writers of the New Testament spoke with one unambiguous voice on this. (Examples: Luke 21:22, 32; 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31; 10:11; Hebrews 8:13; 10:25, 37; James 5:8-9; 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-20; etc.) The Old Testament says the same thing. For example, Daniel chapters 9 and 12 teach that the “time of the end” would be when the temple sacrifices for sin ended. It all fits a first-century fulfillment: AD 70. And certain last days passages are about the imminent conclusion of the end times (Matthew 24:14; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Hebrews 3:14; 1 Peter 1:5; 4:7; 1 John 2:17-18).

AMIGO: What about the “last day” (singular)? Don’t some people think that this refers to the last day of the Christian age?

BIBLIANO: The “last day” is the end of the “last days.” The Bible teaches that the Christian age has no end (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 1:32-33; Ephesians 3:20-21). Therefore, the Christian age has no last days, nor does it have a last day! However, the Mosaic age had an end,
last days, last day, and last hour.

AMIGO: Well, I guess I better rely more on my Bible than what I hear people say.

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