“THE LAST DAYS

The term or phrase last days is important to preachers and the church alike, in every generation. The term can be found in both the old and new Testaments.

The problem we get oursleves into when trying to explain the last days is one of putting a specific date to last days. Determing the last days is like saying “how long is a piece of string”

In Genesis 49, Jacob nearing the end of his pilgrimage, calls his sons to him to tell them the things that shall befall them in the last days. Their last days is different from the last days referred to by Prophet Joel or Prophet Micah (Isaiah 2 & Micah 4) when speaking of the House of God.

The last days of the 12 sons of Jacob referred to what would become of the tribes in years to come. To take Judah as an example, the tribe from which Messiah came.

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk”.

Judah, which means praise, yet he is first described as a warrior a military person. Then Jacob says because of Judah’s military prowess his brethren would bow down before him.

Then Jacob said, Judah is a lion’s whelp, (whelp – puppy, offspring) or a baby lion.

Then the sceptre would not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes and unto him shall the people be gathered. 

Jacob saw ahead of time the rise of Judah to become the dominant tribe, that would become the tribe of kings. That Shiloh (the Sent one) would gather the people unto himself and this would include the nations but only when Messiah came. Jacob also saw the bloody death of of the Sent one. The author of Hebrews ascribed to our Lord the office of Apostle, which mean, the Sent One. (Hebrews 3:1).

The 12 disciples were later called apostles, as were Paul, Barnabas and others. Paul wrote about the office of apostle in his letters in particular Ephesians 4. So, the office of apostle is legitimate and necessary in the church. However, there are different levels of apostles.

Jesus Christ is at a level all by himself. Then we have the apostles of the Lamb, the 12 called by our Lord. Then the foundational apostles comprising the 12 plus New Testament apostles like Paul, Barnabas, Silas et al. Finally, we have ministry apostles.

As long as the church have need for pastors, teachers etc it has need for apostles. With the falling away (2 Thess. 2), the office of apostle was hijacked by the Papacy and it became his own by decree.

Following the Reformation the office was restored to the church but church ministers were ignorant of the office or reluctant to use it lest it be said they were presumptious.

The truth of the matter is a 13 year old girl may have no idea about being a mother but if she gives birth to a child she is a mother.

The substantial difference between our Lord as apostle and the other levels of apostle is this. Other apostles are sent ones whereas our Lord is the Sent One. Furthermore, earthly apostles are chosen by God. Jesus on the other hand came from heaven.               

The first principle to follow when looking at “the last days” is the starting point; that’s when the clock starts ticking.

Looking through the history of Judah and Israel one can see the fulfilment of the inspired words of Jacob. 

The first major warrior in Israel was Joshua but he was of the tribe of Ephraim. Then we have warriors like Samson (Dan), Gideon (Manasseh) and Jephthah (also from Manasseh), none were from Judah. Furthermore, these warriors or judges never became King. 

King Saul was the first King of Israel and was a warrior but was not from the tribe of Judah, he was from Benjamin. Neither did his brethren praise him. He became jealous because David was more lauded than he.

David, was a warrior from Judah and was praised by the people. He also became King and was loved more as a king than even after he defeated Goliath.

David then is the start of the last days for Judah. The importance of Judah in Israel would continue apace, even when some of the Kings were not righteous. Judah kept on providing kings right to the birth of the one that was born King (Jesus). 

Jesus’ kingship would end with his garments washed in wine and his garments in the blood of grapes (red wine), a reference to his bloody crucifixion.

With the death of Jesus the role of Judah would cease in Israel. Christ who is King of kings and Lord of Lords would extend his reign to the church.

In Isaiah 2, the same prophecy given to the prophet Micah: “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it”.

This prophecy could not be fulfilled before Christ and within Judaism, because of the reference to the nations flowing into the house of God. This only became possible through the church. 

Let’s now return the last days Jesus spoke about.

The last days began with Jesus as made clear in Hebrews 1: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”.

The universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost happened as a further sign of the commencement of the last days. The last days clock started ticking at the death and resurrection of Messiah.  

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. (Acts 2: 17-18, 21). The last days is the day of grace and truth.

What God told prophet Joel, began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and will continue to the very end. Prophet Joel doesn’t use the words “the last days” but he was speaking of the future when there would be universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Joel 2: 27-28). Peter, on the other hand took the same prophecy and show the beginning of its fulfilment.

To know where we are in the last days we need to look at the prophecies of our Lord and the apostles and even the prophets.

Our Lord in Matthew 24 and its parallel scriptures in Mark 13 and Luke 21, give pointers to the last days. Paul and Peter also in their epistles give pointers to the last days.  

Paul for example is adamant about what the last days will look like.

The prophets of old preface their message with “thus saith the Lord”. The apostles didn’t do this but would make it very clear that God was speaking through them. For the Spirit of Christ was in them.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”, wrote Apostle Paul. He then goes on to list some of the things to look out for. (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

(I know each generation from the start of the church make claim to the scriptures being fulfilled in their time. We then must observe the second principle when determining the last days. This is the principle of “probability”. The many and diverse happenings at the same time.

We know that Jesus was the Messiah or Christ because he fulfilled many prophecies ranging from Genesis right up to Malachi.

What Paul lists in his second letter to Timothy, together with what our Lord spoke about in the gospels I mentioned above, and what James and Peter wrote, can only be fulfilled in the modern world.  

Are we close to the ending of the last days? It began with Jesus Christ and will end when the gospel has been preached into all the world for a witness. The Lord will call time. Until then let us continue preaching the gospel even though the number of souls that will be saved may be small. Only eight souls were saved when the flood came. Only three souls ultimately made it to safety out of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded for the twin cities and God said yes but he stopped pleading at ten souls.

Our platform is the world and congregation the people.

The Lord’s servant

Lloyd Denny

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