From Heaven or From Men
Clinton D. Hamilton
The expression "last days" is used frequently by denominational writers with some reference, most often, to a dispensational event or happening. Likewise, among the brethren, this term is debated as to its specific meaning. Some argue that it is basically used to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Others point out that it refers to the final age in which Christ's kingdom is established and continuing.
The question addressed in this article concerns the last days.
Question: Is the term "the last days" ever used in reference solely to the days prior to A.D. 70? Does the term always, or does it ever, refer also to the day in which we live? Another question in this vein which I have also is as follows: Does Hebrews 8:13 relate to A.D. 70?
Response: The expressions occur multiplied times in the Bible. Attention to the passages where it occurs and the context with the corroborating passages will bring to light its meaning. It would not be possible, within the restraints in space for this column, to deal with every passage. However, it is possible to look at the uses of the expression in order to come to a conclusive answer to the questions posed.
An examination of all the scriptures in which the expression "the last days" occurs will convince one that the expression in no instance refers solely to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The period including the days prior to A.D. 70 are included in the expression. Isaiah 2:2 states that "in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." This began to be fulfilled on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ in Acts 2 with the establishment of the church, the kingdom of Christ. Of necessity, the days prior to A.D. 70.
Paul used the expressions to include the days near the close from that point are included in the expression "in the latter days." Micah 4:2 foretells what Isaiah 2:2 does and similar comments can be made in connection with it as are made for Isaiah 2:2.
Peter referred to Joel's prophecy as beginning to be fulfilled in the event of Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21 (Joel 2:28-32). The first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ and the immediately succeeding years are prior to A.D. 70. The expression "in the last days," however, includes more than the days prior to A.D. 70.of the current age during which Christ is on David's throne and his kingdom is in the world (2 Tim. 3:1). Characteristics of those who love themselves and not God are set forth indicating that these days would be "grievous times." A similar use of the expression "in the last days" occurs in 2 Peter 3:3 with reference to the mockers who doubt the second coming of Christ.
The Hebrew writer referred to God's manner of speaking to the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners. Then he said, "at the end of these days" he has "spoken unto us in his Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). This period is the New Testament age; the message was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by them that heard (Heb. 2:1-4), the last revelation being the book of Revelation in about A.D. 96.
The expression "in the last days" James 5:3 has reference to one's eternal condition following the conclusion of this age with the judgment. These individuals under consideration have no treasure in heaven but will receive the wrath of the Lord in the last day.
Another expression used is "the last day" to refer to the resurrection and judgment day. Jesus spoke of this day in John 6:39-40,44,54 to refer to the day when men would be raised from the dead. He also used the expression to refer to the judgment day (Jn. 12:48).
Space constraints preclude an examination of every pas-sage where the expression "in the last days" occurs. However, the generalizations made above from a review of all these passages demonstrate what the answers to these questions should be. No, the expression does not always refer to the day in which we live. But it does refer in some instances to the day in which we live.
The Hebrews 8:13 passage will now be addressed. This comment by the writer comes after a quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Two covenants are under view: the old or the Mosaic one and the new one under Christ. When Jeremiah spoke his prophecy, the old one was waxing aged and was nigh unto vanishing away. The comment refers to the situation in Jeremiah's day and not in the days of the writer of Hebrews. When Jeremiah spoke of the new covenant to be made, the old one was waxing aged. Accordingly, it was nigh unto vanishing away and did with the death of Christ on the cross (Col. 2;14). No, Hebrews 8:13 does not relate to A.D. 70.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 1, p. 5