We Are Not Living in the “last days”
Revised: 2012 Apr 05
Numerous books have been published with titles like Are We Living in the Last Days? Of course, they all claim that we are. But how can this be? The Bible says Christ’s earthly ministry began in the last days (Heb. 1:1-2, ESV throughout). Peter said miracles taking place on Pentecost were signs his generation was living in the last days (Acts 2:16-17). That was almost 2,000 years ago. Are we still in the last days? Is that believable? Amazingly, many Christian prophecy teachers actually do claim the last days have continued since the first century until our time.
A growing number of thinking people are questioning this teaching. A term like the last days seems to imply a relatively short period at the tail end of something. Students in the northern hemisphere looking forward to their summer vacation might consider themselves to be in the last days of the school year about the second or third week of June. If one were to suggest they were in the last days of the school year in January, it’s doubtful anyone would be getting very excited about summer fun. Obviously, no one would ever say such a thing.
Nevertheless, most Christians cannot tolerate such sound logic because they believe Jesus did not return in the first century as he promised. To them, we must still be living in the last days. Regardless of how ludicrous it might sound — considering the passage of almost two millennia — those presupposing a future Second Coming of Christ simply have no option.
Although your author can’t believe a period described as “days” can be 2,000 years, evidently, some think this is perfectly reasonable. However, there is something such people have clearly failed to consider. John eventually claimed, “we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). So, to be consistent, if we believe we are still in the last days, we would also need to believe the world has been living in the last hour of the last days since the first century. Now, this is completely unbelievable. If it was the last hour in the first century, then surely, that hour must be up by now. But if we are not living in the last hour of the last days anymore, then clearly, the last days must be over too.
Perhaps, we should ask this question: The last days of what? What was ending in the first century? It should be obvious. The Old Covenant and temple sacrifices were coming to a dramatic close. Although Jesus established the New Covenant on the night before his crucifixion (Luke 22:20), Old Covenant worship customs were still being practiced in the Temple at Jerusalem. This would soon be terminated forever. During the mid-sixties C.E., the author of Hebrews declared, “what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). Within the decade, it did vanish when, in 70 C.E., the Temple was razed with not one stone left upon another just as Jesus had predicted in Matt. 24:1-2. Old Covenant sacrifices have never been restored. That was it: the end. The Old Covenant era ended, and so did the last days of that era.
We are not living in the last days because that period expired in the first century. Jesus returned to judge the unrighteous in the “Great Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Luke 21:22), the Temple was destroyed, and the disciples saw their Savior coming to take them to heaven exactly as he had promised in the following passages:
“For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:27-28);
“…I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2b–3).
All this occurred within the lifetime of Christ’s contemporaries.
Most Christians seem to believe Jesus is coming back to set up a kingdom on Earth. But here, we see Christ plainly promising to take his disciples back to heaven. Jesus reigns from heaven, not Earth.
Sadly, Christians awaiting the return of Christ are living in a fantasy world almost 2,000 years behind the times. If Jesus failed to return in the first century when he predicted he would, why would any sane person expect him to return now?
So, how many hours has it been since John declared, “it is the last hour?” John likely wrote before 70 C.E. No commentary places his letter past the mid-nineties. If we start from 95 and count forward to 2012, we arrive at 1,917 years.
24 hours x 365 days x 1,917 years = 16,792,920 hours
According to the common belief, Jesus is late by almost 17 million hours! Certainly, Christians are the most forgiving people in the world. Presumably, this could go on for another 17 million hours, and most Christians would still be claiming they were living in the last days.
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