Purpose of this Session
There are numerous indications that we are living in the last days. Jesus and the Bible speak clearly of definite signs to look for that we, as children of God, can be prepared and not be caught unaware.
The Broad Sweep of History
Many interpret the Biblical record to suggest that the world we live in is not millions of years old as some secularists contend, but rather less than 10,000 years old.
This period is divided as follows:
|From Adam to Abraham||From Abraham to Christ||From Christ to the end of the age||The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth|
|2000 years||2000 years||2000 years||1000 years|
This 7000-year span is pre-figured in the creation week of Genesis chapter 1.
The Bible indicates in a number of places an interpretive tool to help us understand the prophetic ‘week’ of history:
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2Pet 3:8 NKJV)
“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4 NKJV)
This “Millennial Sabbath” theory was first mentioned in the New Testament Apocryphal work, ‘The Epistle of Barnabas’, possibly written sometime between AD70-100. Each day represents one thousand years. The six-day workweek comes to an end and we enter into a day (1000 years) of rest.
The idea is not without support from other Biblical types. The dimensions of Moses’ Tabernacle also present us with a seven-fold picture. Paul describes the outer court as depicting the Old Testament age:
“Seeing that that first [outer portion of the] tabernacle was a parable (a visible symbol or type or picture of the present age)....” (Heb 9:9 AMP)
This size of this outer portion was 4000 square cubits. The inner court, lit by the light of the candlestick, which represented the Holy Spirit, pictures this present age of grace (the church age or age of the Holy Spirit). This portion of the Tabernacle was 2000 square cubits. Finally, the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt, was 1000 square cubits, representing the 1000-year age to come under Christ’s reign.
The declaration given to Noah in respect of the term of man’s lifespan (or the time of man’s dominion on the earth) also points to this 6000-year and 1000 year breakdown of the ages.
“And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”
(Gen 6:3 NKJV)
If these “years” are taken as Jubilee years (every 50th year was a jubilee in God’s calendar (Leviticus 25) we find that man’s days add up to 6000 years. (120 x 50 = 6000 years).
The Third Day
Within this composite picture of history we then see that there are three days after the coming of Christ. This is split into three: 2 days church age, 1 day millennial reign of Christ. The Old Testament was given as our schoolteacher and within its pages the third day is often presented as a special day of visitation:
“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.”
(1Cor 10:11 NKJV)
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” (Ex 19:10-11 NKJV)
“Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2 NKJV)
The Church age from Christ until His second coming
|Millennial reign of Christ|
|2000 years (2 days)||1000 years (1 day Sabbath)|
|6000 years of man’s dominion over the earth||1000 year reign of Christ|
|Adam – Abraham 2000yrs||Abraham – Christ 2000yrs||First to second advent of Christ 2000yrs|
|4000 years Old Testament History||2000 years New Testament History|
|First Day||Second Day||Third Day||Fourth Day||Fifth Day||Sixth Day||Seventh Day|
If these pictures are indeed presented as examples to us upon whom has come the end of the ages, we must take heed for the time is less than short before the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We must prepare ourselves and sanctify ourselves for His coming.
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1John 3:2-3 NKJV)
Daniel’s Broad Sweep of History
The book of Daniel Chapters 2, 7 and 8 contain graphic symbolic visions of the future world kingdoms, right through to the second coming of Christ.
He describes a succession of kingdoms leading up to the present day. These kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and finally a divided kingdom, partly strong, partly weak, growing out of and in the territory of the Roman Empire.
These prophetic foresights have been fulfilled in detail. Rome split into two main ‘legs’, the Eastern and Western, but eventually its political power and influence crumbled. The Scriptures however do not speak of a final end to this iron kingdom as with those prior to it. Rather the Bible describes how this same kingdom continues until it enters a final phase, pictured as feet and toes made of a mixture of iron and clay. The ten toes represent 10 kings. These kings are also referred to in Revelation 17:12-13. As in Daniel’s visions we see ten rulers (horns) described, representing the rulers of ten nations in the area of the former Roman Empire (Europe). Most likely in these end days, a united Europe will arise as a strong political power, comprising of ten nations. The anti-Christ himself, who will win the admiration of the world, will eventually dominate these ten nations.
The European Union
It does not take much imagination to see how the stage is now set for this revived and rebellious ‘Roman’ empire in the former territory of the old empire (largely Europe) to come to prominence.
The EU is definitely becoming a world power of clay (diversity) and iron (power) with striking similarities to the fourth kingdom or fourth beast of Daniel’s prophecies. Comprising so many different nationalities, Europe’s potential rise would provide the perfect vehicle for the emergence of a global political, economic and religious system. Plans are already prepared for a EU presidency, creating a powerful international leader with great influence on the global stage.
It is also interesting that some of the symbols of this new European super state are strikingly reminiscent of Biblical pictures of rebellion.
The Woman Riding The Beast
Revelation 17 reveals a woman riding a beast, the great harlot persecuting the saints of God. A similar symbol is being used to represent the EU. The European imagery derives its inspiration from the Greek myth where the beautiful Europa is seduced and ravished by the lustful Zeus, but its likeness to the image John saw is still striking in its implications.
The Tower of Babel
Nimrod’s rebellion against God, and the tower he inspired described in Genesis 11 has also provided inspiration for the new Europe. The European Parliament in Strasburg was modelled on a painting done in 1563 of the Tower of Babel, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, a Flemish Northern Renaissance Painter. The rebuilding of this tower in the name of a unified European super state, a Biblical symbol of desire for independence from God and of man’s pride, is deeply concerning.
We are closer now than ever before
Almost every generation of Christians has eagerly anticipated the return of Christ in their own lifetime. Certainly we have reason to believe that ours could be the one that truly does see His return.
Already we have looked at the prophetic stage as described by Daniel and John, and the broad prophetic brushstrokes of Biblical typology.
Add to this the increasing frequency of the signs our Lord Himself spoke of in Matthew 24: wars, rumours of wars, famines, pestilences and sicknesses, earthquakes and ecological and cosmic disturbances.
All of these indicators point to the soon return of the Lord Jesus.
A further sign is also present in our generation that was not in place before now, and one that gives credence to an expectation of the imminency of the second coming. That sign is the nation of Israel.
“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isaiah 11:12
Although some disagree and would want to resign Israel to no more than a political entity, no different to any other nation on the earth, the Bible itself refuses to do so.
God’s covenant with the Jewish people remains, as real today as ever, and there is nothing in Scripture that suggests that He is finished with them yet.
The Scriptures speak of three global prophetic destinies; the Church, the Nations (Gentiles), and the Jews (Israel) (1 Corinthians 10:32). Each of these have a particular part to play in God’s overall plan, and He deals with each according to His mercy and His specific Covenants made with them. The nations, the Gentiles, have no covenant with God outside of Christ (Eph 2:12), but once they accept the Jewish Messiah as their Saviour, they are brought into the New Covenant. This amazing offer of salvation is open to all, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile, that all may be made into one in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:15).
Many Jews have not accepted Jesus Christ as the authentic ‘Messiah’. These are excluded from spiritual Israel, which can only be entered into by faith (Rom 2:28-29; Gal 6:16; Rom 9:6-8). Nevertheless, God has not cast them off, as some contend (Rom 11:2), nor has natural Israel and its covenants been superseded by the church. Both are running on parallel tracks as we move toward God’s end time plans.
The Scriptures in Romans 9-11 address this issue, and tell us that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, meaning God will not turn away from that which He has already promised (Rom 11:29). This verse, and the chapters that surround it are directly in reference to God’s plans for natural Israel, the Jewish people.
Blindness has happened in part to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in (Romans 11:25), and until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).
We are told that the falling away and blindness of Israel has meant salvation to the Gentiles (Rom 11:11,15), but that even more so their regathering and fullness will release spiritual riches hitherto unimagined (v12,15).
It is this regathering prior to a prophesied national awakening that we are witnessing today. Certainly, the prophetic scriptures declaring that the Jewish people would be scattered among the nations and persecuted terribly if they turned from the covenant have been abundantly fulfilled throughout their distressing history (Lev 26:33; Deut 4:27; 28:64; 29:28; Neh 1:8). Similarly, and against all natural odds, the Word of regathering and restoration is being fulfilled before our eyes (Ezek 20:33-38; 36:22-24; 39:25-29). This regathering is spoken of as a sign for the nations (Isa 11:12).
Accompanying this gathering will be an awakening among the Jewish people, bringing to fulfilment all that has been spoken of them (Deut 4:29-31; 30:1-10; Isa 27:12-13; 43:5-7; Jer 16:14-15; 31:7-10; Ezek 11:14-18; Amos 9:14-15; Zech 10:14-15; Matt 24:31). So sweeping will be this event that Paul foresees a day in which “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom 11:26).
The fact that the last 50 years has witnessed the regathering and reestablishment of Israel as a sovereign nation is a clear indicator that the end times are upon us. Jesus spoke of the generation that would see the fig tree bud being the generation that would also see His coming (Matt 24:32-33). Many commentators believe that here, as elsewhere in the Old Testament and in the parables of Christ (Hos 9:10; Luke 13), it is Israel that is referred to as ‘the fig tree’.
This fig tree, seemingly dead, budded again in 1948 when once again Israel became a recognised nation again, in the very territory given by the word of the Lord to their natural descendent Abraham. Following this, in 1967, Jerusalem once again became their capital.
If indeed, the generation that witnesses this event is the generation that will see the return of the Lord, we are teetering on the very edge of the age to come.
How then shall we live?
Martin Luther, the hero of the reformation, is recorded as saying that if he knew Christ were returning tomorrow he would still plant a tree today.
This is the positive tension we live with; Christ could come at any moment and we live with the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised to us, but we must live, plan and labour today with a passionate attitude that seeks to build for generations to come.