|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Eschatological Topics|
When, exactly, is the End of Time?
Eschatological hysteria is a characteristic mark of many Protestant groups, but chiefly of Pentecostals and Adventists. Their limited familiarization with the history of mankind makes them especially careless during their irresponsible predictions regarding the End of Time, thus constantly disproving themselves and subsequently exposing themselves to ridicule.
The two most familiar groups of this kind in Greece are the followers of the multi-national company known as “The Watchtower”, and the self-characterized “Free Pentecostals”. These organizations seem to have found it very expedient, to incessantly predict short-term dates for the end of time, thus attracting naïve followers who eagerly anticipate reaping the benefits of their religion in the immediate future.
What is frequently claimed by the “Watchtower Witnesses” is that during the last decades (that is, after 1914) we are supposedly living in the “Last Days”, or in other words, the end of this world. So, they strive to prove that all the eschatological prophecies are being fulfilled in the present time; however, the only thing they succeed in doing is to defeat the true meaning of those prophecies. This explains why their entire dogmatic infrastructure is pure eschatology and subsequently why they have lost the true meaning of the Gospel.
It is because of their own, failed pseudo-prophecies, that they are frequently forced to change the dates of the supposed “End”. From the end of the previous century when they first appeared and up to this day, they constantly speak of the “last days”, and they continue to teach that the end of the world is…. “near”.
According to the Church of the Lord however, the “Last Days” do not refer to a limited period of just a few decades. It is a lengthy period of many centuries, which began from the first Coming of the Lord and will end with His Second Coming.
It may sound strange, that it is such a long period of time, even though it is called ‘the last days”. If it is compared to the millennia of humanity’s history however, this period is actually very small. It is the final period of the overall duration of the “old world”.
Let’s take a look now at several excerpts from the Holy Bible, as delivered to us by the Church of the first century, which indicate the positions of the Church on the matter of the “Last Days”.
Hebrews 1.1: “God...in these last days spoke to us, in the Son…..” According to the Apostle Paul, his time was the ‘last days”, which began with the first Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say “those days”, but “these days”!
The same thing is noticed in the words of the same apostle, in his epistle to Timothy:
Timothy II, 3:1-5: “During the last days, men will be selfish, avaricious…blasphemous…these (men) you must avoid.” Well, obviously, in order for Timothy to be able to avoid such men of “the last days”, they must have existed in his time. Consequently, the Apostle Paul must have had their present time in mind!
The Apostle Peter is also of the same mind as the Apostle Paul, when he says of Jesus Christ in:
Peter I, 1:20, “who (Jesus Christ) although predestined (to do so) before the creation of the world, revealed Himself at the end of the ages…” We can therefore infer from this statement that the period of the Lord Jesus Christ’s first Coming was within “the end of the ages”.
Even Judas, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his epistle:
Judas 17:19 says: “But you, my beloved ones, must remember the words that the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ had foretold, when they had told you that ‘during the end of time, there will be impostors….’. Well, they are (notice he says ‘are’, and not ‘will be’) the deviants, the carnal ones, who do not have the Spirit.”
The Apostles therefore acknowledged their times as being the “last”, since Judas reveals to us that the people the Apostles were referring to, are (=WERE) of his own time.
We also find a similar reference, regarding the ‘last days’ being during the time of the apostles, in:
Cornthians I, 10:11: “...have been written to counsel you, for whom the end of the ages has arrived.”
To all the above, we could add even more examples.
One first observation is that these verses speak of “last days” as well as “last years”. Could they be referring to the same thing?
We are helped at this point by Ezekiel, who speaks of the future, multi-nation war against Israel, under the orders of Gog. Let us see what he says to Gog, in the following verses:
Ezekiel 38: 8,16:
8 “...It will have been prepared many days before, and will draw near during the last ages, and will go to the land that was protected from the sword, gathering together from many nations, on the land of Israel, which will become altogether desolate….”
16 “And it shall come upon my people Israel, and like a cloud it will cover the land; it will be in the last days, and I shall take you to my land so that all the nations shall know Me, by My being sanctified in you, before all of them.”
We note here, that the expressions “last days” and “last ages” are related. Consequently, both the preceding verses are referring to the same events.
In their attempt to escape from the constricting vise of these verses, the “eschatological” groups claim that the verses are referring to the last days of the Judaic system. But this kind of claim is unfounded, for the following reasons:
1. We have no proof to support such a claim, therefore we are obliged to accept the text as it is.
2. If these verses are referring to the last days of the Judaic system, we need to make a certain clarification: Are they speaking of a Judaic system, a. as just another religious system, b. as a nation, or c. as the true religion?
The first instance is rejected, since Judaism as just another religion continues to this day, which did not cease to exist at the time of the Apostles.
Neither can the “last days” be referring to the Judean nation according to the second instance, because this term would not apply to the non-Israelite Christians that inhabited all the territories of the Roman dominion, to whom the above Apostolic epistles were addressed.
We are therefore left with the third instance, of Judaism being the true religion. The preceding verses that we set forth were written by the Apostles, after the Judaic system as the true religion had collapsed, long before them. We do observe however, that they spoke of the “last days” as though they were still under way.
3. In the verses of Ezekiel 38: 8,16 that we saw above, we noted that in those “last days” he has also placed the multi-national war to be waged against Israel. Yet a war such as this has not taken place to this day, therefore it is definitely referring to something in the future. And of course it stands to reason that it cannot be referring to the end of the Judaic system, foreseen as something to be realized in the 1st century AD!!
Let us however also take a look at the following verse:
Acts 2:16-20. Here we shall examine the words the Apostle Peter had said on the day of the Pentecost, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, regarding a prophecy by the prophet Joel:
16. “…but that is what was said through the prophet Joel: 17. And it shall be in the last days –says God- that I will pour forth from my Spirit over every flesh….. 20. the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood…”
It is very interesting here, that the Apostle places the “pouring forth of the Holy Spirit” -which had taken place on the day of the Pentecost- in the “last days”. In fact, it is noteworthy that he also places the blackening of the sun in the “last days” – an event that is obviously still to come. Thus, from yet another source, it appears that the duration of the “last days” extends from the First and finishes with the Second Coming of the Lord.
The fact that there exists only one period known as “the last days” becomes apparent from the use of the specific article “the” by the Apostle Peter. He doesn’t say “in later days”, but “in the last days”, which clearly signifies that this is a single, unique period, and that there are not numerous other periods with that name, that could pertain to different instances.
But, let us also examine a few points from the prophecy of Joel, which the Apostle Peter claims will occur in the “last days”:
“28. And after this, I shall pour forth my spirit over every flesh and they shall prophesy, your sons and your daughters. Your elders shall dream dreams, and your youths shall see visions. 29. And furthermore, on my man servants and woman servants in those days I shall pour forth my spirit. 30. And I shall show signs in the heavens... 31. The sun shall turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord, the great and the illustrious, comes….
3: 1: “1. Because, behold, in those days and during that time, when I return the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 2. I shall gather together all the nations and I shall descend them into the valley of Jehosaphat, and I shall be judged together with them in that place, in favor of my people and my heritage of Israel, whom they scattered throughout the nations and distributed my land. 11...Gather together, and come and encircle, all you nations, and group together. That is where the Lord shall destroy all of your potentates. 12. Let them rise up, and let the nations go up to the valley of Jehosaphat. Because there shall I sit and judge all of the nations that are gathered around.”
In verse 3: 1, we read the following: “for behold, in those days and during that time….”. What time is he speaking of?
According to the Apostle Peter, in Acts 2: 16,17, “this is what was said, through the prophet Joel: ‘and it shall be, in the last days…’.”
Consequently, the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit during the Pentecost, the war between Israel and the multi-national powers, the return of Israel to Christ, the darkening of the Sun and the Moon, and the great and illustrious Second Coming of our Lord, are all situated in that one, same period: “the last days”.
So, “see that you are not deceived” by all the miscellaneous “eschatologists”, who so irresponsibly reassure us that “the time is near”! “Do not follow behind them”. (Luke 21: 8).
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 21-8-2006.
Last update: 21-8-2006.