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Latter Last days, End Times

24th July 2016, mgh

 

1) Prophecy

The Old Testament contains many passages that we describe as prophecies. Some of these relate to Israel's more immediate future at the time they were given, such as the invasion that would come from Assyria, and later Babylon. The prediction of the scattering of the Jews was given many times by the prophets of Israel. The scatting of the Jews came to pass as predicted. These prophecies were fulfilled and are now history.

However there are prophecies that go way beyond those prophecies into our time today. They are signified by terminology that clarifies them as far distant into the future, from the time in which they were given. The earlier prophecies which related to Israel, came to pass. We can identify today that prophecies for our time period are clearly beginning to come to pass.

We look at our world today and surely we must wonder at how the complicated political, religious and social issues developing today can be solved. The Bible's prophecies have the answer to all the woes that face mankind today.

There are key terms that identify prophecies for today. They are “last days”, “latter days” and “time of the end”. We will take a look at the use of each of those terms.

2) Last days

Isaiah in his second chapter outlines the final destiny of the nation of Israel. Not only that, he gives a vision of the submission that will be required of the nations when Yahweh's law will go forth from the city of Jerusalem. In our war torn world today, surely we can understand the need for weapons to be turned into ploughs and agricultural tools, rather than the destruction caused by weapons of war! The following predictions depict a world that we have never yet seen on the earth.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Yahweh from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.(Isaiah 2:1-5)

Micah also confirms this same destiny for Israel and the judgement of the nations in the Last Days. It is to the mountain of Yahweh, Zion, from which the Law will go forth and to which the people will go to worship the God of Israel. Micah also speaks of the destruction of weapons of war. A time of peace is predicted when men will no longer fear the evil that pervades our world today, whether in the wars that rage or the violence on the streets of cities.

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.
And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.(Micah 4:1-4)

The New Testament also depicts what will happen in the Last Days. Paul writing to Timothy in strong terms describes a world where people are obsessed with their own selves, their rights their pleasures and their freedoms. It is a world that we can recognise as the twenty first century.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (II Timothy 3:1-5)

Peter also depicts what will prevail in the last days. In just a few words we have the description of a world that denies the return of the Messiah and rejects the power of the Creator or his existence.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2Peter 3:3-4)

3) Latter days

Balaam prophesied of Moab and Edom in the latter days and their relationship to Israel. Moab and Edom is today known as Jordan. Moses, Jeremiah and Ezekiel also gave Israel warnings about these latter days. These records are there for us also, that we may heed the messages which are so relevant for today.

And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remains of the city. (Num 24:14, 17-19)

The Lord Yeshua (also known as Jesus) was born King of the Jews. He will be that King, the Star out of Jacob.

There is another prophecy related to the latter days of Israel given by Moses and it gives the modern nation of Israel hope. It is a reaffirmation of the Covenant made with the Patriarchs of Israel.

When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shall be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he swore unto them. (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)

Moses was aware of the fate of Israel because of their disobedience throughout their long history even up to the latter days.

For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.(Deuteronomy 31:29)

Jeremiah gives the same warning about a period of time long in the future when Yahweh's anger would be poured out. It is a message for Israel in the latter days and is there for us also.

The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days you shall consider it perfectly. (Jeremiah 23:20)
The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days you shall consider it. (Jeremiah 30:24)

Jeremiah also makes mention of a future judgement on Moab (Jordan) and Elam (Iran)

Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, said the LORD. Thus far is the judgement of Moab. (Jeremiah 48:47)
But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, said the LORD. (Jeremiah 49:39)

Ezekiel Chapter 38 gives a very detailed account of the invaders of Israel in the latter days. These invaders are clearly named in the opening verses of Ezekiel 38. When the people of Israel have been gathered out of the nations, following a long period of persecution and are dwelling in safety on the mountains of Israel, they will be faced with an invasion.

After many days you shall be visited: in the latter years you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. You shall ascend and come like a storm, you shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:8-9)

Yahweh's power will be displayed to all the nations. This Gogian host is addressed as having a destiny prophesied of them long ago by the prophets of Israel.

“I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them.” And you shall come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And you shall come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
Thus said the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them? And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, said the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. (Ezekiel 38: 15-18)

Daniel also is given a vision and prophecy of the future of the nations and of Israel in the latter days. In response to a dream that greatly troubled Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the meaning of the dream is revealed to Daniel

But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; (Daniel 2:28)

Nebuchadnezzar is told that he has been given an extensive and powerful kingdom, that we might describe as an ancient Empire. He is told that there would be an end to his kingdom, but other kingdoms would arise after that of Babylon. There were to be three more Empires that would follow. We can clearly identify them as the Persian, Greek/Macedonian and Roman Empires. The metals that described the image in chapter 2 of Daniel perfectly fit the metals that were predominant in the era of those Empires. For instance we can all recognise the bronze as representative of Greece and iron as the tool and weapon of the Romans. What followed the Romans was the rise of numerous nations, that arose after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Today there are many nations as we see by the composition of the United Nations, which we could not describe as a united body in reality.

This prophecy describes powerful and mighty kingdoms of men that all fail. Archaeology and history are proof of this. Daniel chapter 2 describes these powerful empires that arose after Babylon.

Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wherever the children of men dwell... has he given into thine hand, and has made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces ...
And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. ..
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:37-42, 44)

However there is the promise of a Kingdom that will be different to all others that mankind has had dominion over. It will be set up by the Creator and it will not be destroyed. This is the time of the end of the kingdoms of men.

This prophecy, which is a promise of the everlastign Kingdom of Messiah, is repeated in Daniel Chapter 7.

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7: 17-18)

Daniel, who had fervently prayed for his people in captivity in Babylon, is given the purpose as to why he is given this prophecy concerning his people, Israel. It is a prophecy that extends down the ages to our lifetime and is about the latter days..

Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.( Daniel 10:14)

Daniel chapter 11 is a prophecy of the history of the nations and Jews with a gap, after Jews are driven from the land by the Romans till when Jews returned from the late 1800s, and the land ceased to be desolate. Hosea speaks of the desolation of Israel that would last for many years and of the return of the people of Israel to their homeland after many years.

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:4-5)

4) Time of the End

The prophecy of Daniel began with the destiny of Babylon and the Kingdoms that would follow. These events spanned about a thousand years. The final chapters of Daniel deal with another nation that would also arise. It has a strong link to the prophecy of Ezekiel 38.

Revelation 16 which speaks of the battle of Armageddon refers to the river Euphrates and to its waters that would be “dried up”.

The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. (Revelation 16:12)

If we seek the kingdom that has been drying up from the river Euphrates, the answer would have to be the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Empire / Ottoman Empire is of great interest in relation to these prophecies. It gives a time frame for these events. The Turks from 1062 had emerged from the region of ancient Babylon and the Euphrates River. The Turks swarmed across southern Europe and northern Africa. From 1821- 1882 the “empire” began drying up. Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Rumania and Serbia broke from the empire. In 1912 Bulgaria and Albania became independent. The Ottoman Empire was progressively being driven out, or dried up, from Europe and Africa.

From 1882 to 1956 Britain, maintaining military bases in Egypt and subduing Egyptian uprisings, played a key role as a powerful force in Egypt, particularly in safe-guarding the right of access through the Suez Canal.

During WW1 the allies Britain and the ANZACS pushed the Turks out of Palestine from the south and in symbol furthered the drying up of the Ottoman Empire. Today Istanbul stands as the last foothold of the Turks in Europe.

Why should this be of interest? It helps to give a time setting for the what Daniel describes as the “time of the end” (see also Here)

As mentioned before, Daniel spoke of the time of the end. In the following passage Daniel explains what will happen to the kingdoms that are in power in the last/latter days of the power of men. Daniel describes the Northern power that will invade the Middle East.

And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. (Daniel 11:40-41)

Daniel chapter 12 states that a Kingdom, unlike any that has ruled on earth in the past, will be established. It will be ruled in righteousness and with justice. We also note in the following verses aspects of the “time of the end”. There will be a time of “trouble such as never was” since there were nations, knowledge would be increased and there would be people running “to and fro”. Doesn't this in a few statements depict the world we live in today?

At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people (the Jews): and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:1-4)

We are living in momentous times and we do need to pause and consider the Bible and its messages in the context of the world we live in today.

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