12 September 2021

Upon These Last Days

The era of fulfillment began with the death, resurrection, and exaltation of the Son of God, Jesus - Hebrews 1:1-3

Beach Sunset - Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
When we hear the term “
last days,” quite naturally, we assume it refers to the final years of history just prior to the return of Jesus. Yet the New Testament presents it as the age of fulfillment that began with his death and resurrection. And in Hebrews, the “word of the Son” marked the end of one era and the dawning of another and vastly superior age - [Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash].

The epistle begins by declaring that God, “in these last days, spoke to us in a Son.” Elsewhere, it describes how Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by his sacrifice.” that is, the end of the old covenant and the commencement of the promised New Covenant. In him, the old order became obsolete.
  • (Hebrews 1:1-3) – “In many parts and in many ways of old, God spoke to the fathers in the prophets upon the end of these days, He spoke to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the ages, who, being an eradiated brightness of his glory, and an exact representation of his being, also bearing up all things by the utterance of his power, purification of sins having achieved, sat down on the right hand of the majesty in high places.”
That is why the “word in his Son” is the final and complete revelatory word of God. The words spoken “in the prophets” were partial, promissory, and preparatory. But in Jesus, that era ended and the new one began, namely, the “last days.”

Similarly, Paul wrote that the “appointed time has been shortened… For the forms of this world are passing away.” The last verb is in the Greek present tense (“passing away”), which signifies continuous action. Thus, the forms and institutions of the present age have been in the process of passing away ever since the victory of Jesus over sin and death - (1 Corinthians 7:29).

Paul also described how the Hebrew scriptures were written for the instruction of Christians, the ones “upon whom the end of the ages has come.” He made a similar point to the churches of Galatia - “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” - (1 Corinthians 10:11, Galatians 4:4).

In the Hebrew Bible, history is divided into two ages: The present evil age, and the “age to come.” The coming age would be ushered in when the Messiah arrived. Thus, in Jesus, the messianic promises are coming to fruition. In the interim, his followers live in the period of transition between the two ages. One is “passing away,” the other is moving inexorably to its culmination when he returns in glory.

His resurrection marked the commencement of the general resurrection of the dead, and that is why Paul called his resurrection the “first-fruits” of our own. Likewise, the gift of the Spirit is the “first-fruits” of the future redemption of our bodies. So, also, the Spirit is the “earnest” (arrab┼Źn) or “down payment” on the future resurrection, the rock-solid “guarantee” that God will complete what He began in the resurrection of His Son - (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:13-14).
  •  (Hebrew 2:3-4) – “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation, which, having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed to us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will? 
Since his resurrection, the “last days” have been underway, and this is demonstrated by the outpouring of the Spirit. Calvary was far more than just the execution of Jesus or the paradigm for selfless service.  On the Cross, God defeated all the “powers and principalities” that are opposed to Him and have enslaved humanity since the sin of Adam.  The final victory has been won, a triumph that is cosmic in scope and effect, which is now being implemented as the gospel is proclaimed throughout the earth.

With his death and resurrection, history has entered its final phase, and the old order is undergoing its death throes. The term “last days” is NOT a chronological marker but a theological concept. It refers to the era that began with Jesus. In him, the “age to come” has irrupted into this fallen age, which is now “passing away,” and will continue to do so until the consummation of all things at his return.

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