Joel 2:1. Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
I. Introduction. There are Biblical terms that are often read by Christians about eschatology (the science of last things), but are often misunderstood. It is important for Christians of today to understand such information, so that we can leave that knowledge behind for those who will be in a world of total collapse of law and order during the Tribulation. After the church has been raptured to heaven, those whom will be left behind will need such information to understand the world’s Satanic conditions, and how they can come to saving faith in Christ. We will use this article, and future posts, to make known the things of the Anti-Christ and the Tribulation that await most of the world’s current and projected population.
II. Two terms that are important to understand are “latter days,” and “last days.” Scriptures that are discussed as being “latter days,” relate to the Old Testament. Scriptures that are discussed as being “last days,” relate to the Old and New Testaments. Context is paramount in studying Scripture. The context of the “latter days” Scriptures is that of the words of Jewish Old Testament prophets, as they speak of the Word of God in relation to the seven years of the Tribulation, and the thousand years of the Kingdom Age, which is called the Millennium. The verses that we will examine will come from the New American Standard Bible 2020. Comments will come from the MacArthur Study Bible, unless in noted exception.
III. In my previous “End Times 13” article, I made known the fact that both the Church and the Rapture were unknown to those of the Old Testament era; they were “mysteries” to the Jews of that OT time. Therefore the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament did not write on those two future events.
A. In the Ryrie Study Bible, “mystery” is described in comment to Romans 16:25-26. “the mystery.” A definition of a scriptural mystery: something unknown in times past but revealed in the NT. Here, “the mystery” is the gospel of Christ. OT prophecies of Messiah could be understood, once the mystery was revealed (cf. Luke 24:44-45; 1 Peter 1:10-12).
B. Dr. Ryrie explains, in his comment to Ephesians 3:3, the “mystery.” The mystery that is spoken of here is not that the Gentiles would be blessed (for that was predicted in the OT), but that Jews and Gentiles would be equal heirs in the one body of Christ (v. 6). This was unknown in OT prophecy but was revealed by the NT apostles and prophets (v. 5).
C. In his comment on 1 Corinthians 15:51, Dr. Ryrie discusses “the mystery” of the rapture, as follows: The rapture of the church described in verses 51-58 was a “mystery” unknown in the OT but now revealed.
D. The prophecies of the Old Testament Jewish prophets were those that were given by God to the prophets. Those prophets spoke the same prophecies to the Jews of Israel. Consider the following verses: Isaiah 1:1-2; 2-1 and Jeremiah 2:1-2. None of the prophecies of God to the Jews have any relevance to the church, but have relevance to those of the church age who will be left behind from the rapture of the Church.
IV. We will now discuss the prophetic scriptures of, “latter days.”
A. Jeremiah 30:24, ” the millennial kingdom of the “latter days.” Jeremiah 48:47, “the messianic era , the latter days”). Ezekiel 38:8, “In the context of Israel’s restoration.” Daniel 2:27-35, “It is a reference to the future millennial kingdom of Christ (exception, Ryrie Study Bible note). Micah 4:4, “this phrase looks forward to greater peace and prosperity in the Millennium (cf. Zech. 3:10).”
B. It is clear that the prophetic scriptures of “latter days,” as was spoken by God to the Jews, relate to the time after the Rapture takes place. It is also clear that none of these “latter days” scriptures have any relation to the church.
V. We will now discuss the prophetic scriptures of, “last days,” as they are written in the books of the Old Testament prophets. Notice that the prophesied times are those of the Tribulation and Kingdom Age (Millennium).
A. Isaiah 2:2, ” The “latter (or last) days” is a time designation looking forward to the messianic era (Ezek. 38:16; Hos. 3:5; Mic. 4:1). The NT applied the expression to the period beginning with the first advent of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:3). Old Testament prophets, being without a clear word regarding the time between the Messiah’s two advents, linked the expression to the Messiah’s return to establish His earthly kingdom, i.e., the millennial kingdom spoken about in Rev. 20:1–10.
B. Jeremiah 49:39, “I will bring back. As with certain other peoples in this section of nations, God would allow Elamites to return to their homeland. In Acts 2:9, Elamites were among the group present at the Pentecost event. This has eschatological implications as well.
C. Ezekiel 38:16, “that the nations may know Me. The phrase, frequent in Ezekiel, is part of the theme to glorify God and show His sovereign power (cf. Introduction: Historical and Theological Themes). God is the victor, who will be “hallowed” by fire (cf. v. 19).
D. Hosea 3:5, “David. Cf. 1:11. This must refer to Messiah during the Millennium, as “in the latter days” specifies (cf. Is. 55:3, 4; Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25). The Jews did not seek after Christ at His first advent. This reference has the Davidic Covenant as its background (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12–17; Pss. 39; 132).”
E. Micah 4:1, “In a reversal of 3:12, Micah shifted from impending judgment to prophecies of the future millennial kingdom (“the latter days”) in which Mt. Zion (v. 3), the center of Messiah’s coming earthly kingdom, shall be raised both spiritually and physically (cf. Zech. 14:9, 10). This discussion continues to 5:15.”
VI. We will now discuss the prophetic scriptures of, “last days,” as they are written in the books of the New Testament. Notice that in the Acts and Hebrews scriptures the audience in each situation consisted of those of Jewish ancestry, and would have known of the teachings of the Old Testament Jewish prophets. In the books of the New Testament, whose audience contained those of Jewish and Gentile ancestry, the Gentile members would not have known the Scriptures of the Old Testament Jewish prophets; therefore, such Gentiles would not possess detailed knowledge of the Tribulation or Kingdom. In the New Testament context, “last days” relates to the time which precedes the Rapture, except when the discussion context may be that of teaching New Testament era Jews (saved or unsaved) about the Old Testament Jewish prophetic scriptures. Of course, if a verbal discussion of OT context was made in the presence of Jewish Christians, any Gentiles (saved or unsaved) whom would be present would also hear such information.
A. Acts 2:16-21.
1. last days. Notice that the occasion is that of the Jewish festival of Pentecost. Those who heard Peter’s sermon were Jews; they were aware of the prophecies of the Old Testament Jewish prophets (of which Gentiles were not), and of the OT scriptures that have been discussed up to this point. Therefore, the Pentecost conversation of Acts 2 is Jewish. In the following comments, the old and new covenants are discussed, both of which relate to God and Israel, and both of which Gentile believers will share in the millennium. Unsaved Jews and Gentiles, whom are left behind from the Rapture, will share in God’s judgments of the Tribulation. Spiritual aspects of God’s new covenant with Israel (Jer 31:31-34; Ez 36:25-27) are now being experienced by Gentile Christians and born again Jews (Christian Jews).
2. In the last days (see Isa. 2:2; Hos. 3:5; Mic. 4:1; Heb. 1:2; discussions on 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18). In Joel 2:28, the Hebrew has “after this,” and the Septuagint has “after these things.” Peter interpreted the passage as referring specifically to the latter days of the new covenant (see Jer. 31:33-34; Ezek. 36:26-27; 39:29) in contrast to the former days of the old covenant. The age of messianic fulfillment had arrived ((Exception, Zondervan KJV Commentary).
B. Joel 2:28. NASB. Note comes from Ryrie Study Bible.
“It will come about after this,
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will have dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
1. Joel 2:28 Ryrie Study Bible note. “after this.” I.e., after Israel’s future repentance and restoration (Zech. 12:10; 13:1) in conjunction with the second coming of Christ, as witnessed by the portents of verse 30 (see note on Acts 2:16-21). The Holy Spirit will then be poured out on all classes in Israel who belong to the believing remnant (vs. 32). For Peter’s use of this passage on the Day of Pentecost, see note on Acts 2:16:21.
2. Joel 2:30-31. NASB.
30 I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
3. Joel 2:28-32 Complete text.
4. Acts 2:16-21. NASB. Notes come from Ryrie Study Bible.
5. Acts 2:17. NASB.
And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
And your young men will see visions,
And your old men will have dreams;
6. Acts 2:16-21 Ryrie Study Bible note. See Joel 2:28. The fulfillment of this prophecy will be in the last days, immediately preceding the return of Christ, when all the particulars (e.g., v. 20 and Rev. 6:12) of the prophecy will come to pass. Peter reminded his hearers that knowing Joel’s prophecy, they should have recognized what they were seeing as a work of the Spirit, not a result of drunkenness.
7. Acts 16-21 Complete text. NASB.
3. Jewish attendance at the Day of Pentecost. Under the Mosaic Law, three annual feasts were required for all males of Israel to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem (Ex 23:14-19). These feasts were: Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:15-20); Pentecost (Dt 16:9-12; Ac 2:1); and Tabernacles (Ne 8:13-18; Jn 7:2). Gentiles would have been ignorant of the Law or the Feasts, or of the prophecy of Joel that was quoted by the Apostle Peter; neither would Gentiles have been invited to the Feast of Pentecost by Jews.
A. Acts 2:5 suggests that a large number of Jews were present in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost (Feast of Pentecost). Per Holman NT Commentary, the Feast of Pentecost may well have attracted over 200,000 Jews from all over the area of Israel and the Mediterranean world. The sermon of Peter was of OT prophecy that addressed Jews in relation to Christ and the need for Jews to come to belief in Christ as Messiah. 2:1 speaks of the Feast of Pentecost, a Jewish feast day. 2:5 states that Jews were present, devout men from every nation. 2:7-11 identifies the Jewish groups “hearing the words of the Apostles, in their own languages, ” which was the miracle of Pentecost, in conjunction with the falling of the Holy Spirit. 2:16 addresses OT prophecy of Joel. 2:22 addresses “men of Israel.” 2:29 speaks of King David, of whom the Davidic Covenant relates to the earthly kingdom of Christ. 2:36 speaks of the “house of Israel,” and Christ, “whom they crucified.” 2:38 speaks of the promise of salvation in Christ going to the Jewish families of the Pentecost Jews. 2:43 states that the Pentecost attendants continued attending the Temple, “day by day.” This second chapter of Acts clearly states that the events of the Feast of Pentecost (Day of Pentecost) show a Jewish audience, and not one of Gentiles.
B. Context is key to a proper understanding of Acts 2, as well as to Joel’s prophecy. The Apostle Peter cited Joel’s prophecy in his sermon, which was the first sermon of the Christian dispensation (aka grace; church) (Joel 2:28-32). 2:28-29 relate to the promise of the Holy Spirit. 2:30-32 relate to the end times, of which Jews had been taught about the tribulation and kingdom age (millennium). Joel’s prophecy had been made about Jews and the deliverance of the Jews in the Tribulation, and the blessing of the Jews in the Millennium (2:18-27). The following Ryrie notes show the Jewish context of Peter’s sermon, which was preached to a Jewish audience and not to Gentiles. The scripture context also shows that the “tongues of Pentecost” did not refer to an ecstatic utterance, which was not understood by everyone present, but referred to the words of the Apostles being spoken in the language of the Apostles, and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, being translated into the many languages and dialects of all of the Jews whom were present in Jerusalem on Pentecost. This Acts 2 Holy Spirit languages translation is like that which takes place in the United Nations where a speaker’s words are translated into the languages of all UN delegates who are present.
1. Ryrie Study Bible note. Joel 2:15-17. A call to national repentance in a “solemn assembly” from which no one would be exempt (Deu 24:5). Israel was God’s “inheritance” (Ex 19:5; Deu 4:20).
2. Ryrie Study Bible note. Joel 2:20. “the northern army” will be scattered in the desert, the “eastern sea” (the Dead Sea), and the “western sea” (the Mediterranean). See Ezek 39:2 for the destruction of the army from the N during the tribulation.
3. Ryrie Study Bible note. Joel 2:23. “early and latter rain.” In Sep-Oct. and March-April respectively.
4. Ryrie Study Bible note. Acts 2:4. “filled with the Holy Spirit.” An experience repeated later (4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9, 52). In the context of each of these occasions of filling, people were converted. Though not labeled here, the baptism of the Spirit also occurred (11:15-16), something not repeated, though experienced by every believer at conversion, which joins each to the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). “with other tongues.” Actual languages unknown to the speakers but understood by the hearers (v 8).
5. End Times Terms. Context is key to understanding such terms.9
A. 2 Timothy 3:1; 2 Peter 3:3 “the last days. This phrase refers to this age, the time since the first coming of the Lord Jesus. Matt 24:6-8 discusses horrible things that will happen, but they occur during the tribulation. The conditions of the church age and the conditions of the tribulation can not be interchangeably used for the particular purposes of a reader or writer.
B. Hebrews 1:2: last days. The primary group addressed were Hebrew Christians who suffered rejection and persecution by fellow Jews (10:32–34), although none as yet had been martyred (12:4). The second group addressed were Jewish unbelievers who were convinced of the basic truths of the gospel but who had not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their own Savior and Lord. They were intellectually persuaded but spiritually uncommitted. last days. Jews understood the “last days” to mean the time when Messiah (Christ) would come (cf. Num. 24:14; Jer. 33:14–16; Mic. 5:1, 2; Zech. 9:9, 16). In the past God gave revelation through His prophets, but in these times, beginning with the Messiah’s advent, God spoke the message of redemption through the Son. (My comment. Notice that this is a Jewish audience).
C. James 5:3, “last days. The period between Christ’s first and second comings.”
D. 2 Peter 3:3, ” in the last days. This phrase refers to that entire period of time from the arrival of the Messiah to His return (cf. Acts 2:17; Gal. 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; James 5:3; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 2:18, 19; Jude 18). The entire age will be marked by saboteurs of the Christian truth and especially the hope of Christ’s return.”
E. Context is key to the understanding of the second coming of Christ. The coming of Christ “in the air” occurs at the time of the rapture of the church, which will not be visible to the world (John 14:1-6; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 1 Thes 4:13-18; Titus 2:13). The coming of Christ, “where He stands on the Mount of Olives”, occurs at the end of the Tribulation, when the whole world sees His returning (Zech 12:10, 14:1-5; Mt 24:29-30; Mk 13:24-26; Lk 21:25-27, 31; Rev 19:11-20:4). The subject of the Rapture is one of joy for pre-tribulation believers in Christ. The subject of the coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation is one of mourning for Tribulation unbelievers (Zech 12:9-11; Mt 24:30;
VII. We will now discuss Matthew Chapter 24, which is a scripture passage that has been taken out of context, very often, and by very many writers.
A. The Gospel of Matthew is the Gospel which presents the Lord Jesus as God’s King and Israel’s Messiah. The writer of Matthew was Jewish; his Gospel was written to Jews, about things that relate to Jews, the nation of Israel, and the “yet future” Kingdom that was promised to Israel in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:8-16).
B. The Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom , as opposed to the Gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as was stated in 1 Cor 15:1-8) was preached to the the Jews of first century Israel by John The Baptist (Matt 3:2), Jesus (Matt 4:17), The disciples of Jesus (Matt 10:7), and by “The Seventy” (Luke 10:9). However, Jesus placed a restriction on whom would be told of the Kingdom (Matt 10:5-6, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any of the city of the Samaritans, but rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.) Foreigners intermarried with the Israelite population that was still in and around Samaria. The Samaritans embraced a religion that was a mixture of Judaism and idolatry. Because the Israelite inhabitants of Samaria had intermarried with the foreigners and adopted their idolatrous religion, Samaritans were generally considered “half-breeds” and were universally despised by the Jews.
C. The Kingdom has been promised to the nation of Israel, and not to the other mentioned groups. We will see that Mathew 24 was preached to Jews, about things that related to Jews.
D. Israel In The Tribulation. One of the Divine purposes to be accomplished in the tribulation is the preparation of the nation Israel for the Kingdom to be instituted at the return of Messiah in fulfillment of Israel’s covenants.
VIII. The Olivet Discourse. (Matthew 24-25).
A. A detailed chronology of predicted events in relation to the nation Israel is given to us in the prophecy of the Lord in Matt 24:1-25:46, in the Olivet Discourse. In this passage, context remains a key factor of understanding.
B. The questions of the disciples. In Matthew 23 the Lord has announced judgment on the Pharisees and blindness on the nation. Now, in chapter 24, He announces the overthrow of Jerusalem (Matt 24:1-2). In the minds of the disciples they had eschatological significance, for their fulfillment was associated with Messiah’s coming and the terminus of the age. They asked” “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?” (Matt 24:3). Probably the promise of His return (Matt 23:39) had given the disciples this eschatological association.
The answer to the first question is not recorded by Matthew, but is given in Luke 21:20-24. This portion of the discourse had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 A.D. (Comments from, Things To Come, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D.).
C. Context is especially important in a proper understanding of the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25), and of all end times prophecy. In Matt 21:43, Jesus withdraws the offer of the Kingdom to Israel, but will be offered again during the Tribulation (Matt 24:14; Zech 12:10). In Matt 22, we read of the controversy between Jesus and the Jewish rulers. In Matt 23, Jesus condemns the Scribes and Pharisees. In Matt 23:39, Jesus said: “from now on you will not see me.” I.e., I He will no longer teach publicly. “until you say.” At the second coming of Christ, Israel will recognize and welcome their rejected Messiah (Zech 12:10). In Matt 24:1-2, we read about the destruction of the temple. In Matt 24:3-8, we read the questions of the disciples to Jesus: “when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age?” (notice that the context of the questions relate to Israel, and not to the church). In Matt 24:4-28, we read of the signs of the end of the age, and not of signs of the church age. The books that the apostles will write will relate to the time of the church age, even to the bad times that will exist until the rapture occurs, but not to the times of the tribulation, (Re: 2 Tim 3:1-9), per Ryrie, Pentecost, Koessler, Wemp, Litfin. Lea, Griffin. The apostles did not warn the church about the conditions of the tribulation because their teaching was that the church would be removed from the earth prior to the tribulation. Old Testament prophets knew nothing of the Church, the Church age, or the rapture, which was the reason that their writings related to the tribulation and the kingdom age of the millennium.
D. One of the Divine purposes to be accomplished in the tribulation is the preparation of the nation Israel for the Kingdom to be instituted at the return of Messiah in fulfillment of Israel’s covenants. A detailed chronology of predicted events in relation to the nation Israel is given to us in the prophecy of the Lord in Matt 24:1-25:46, in the Olivet Discourse. (Things To Come, J. Dwight, Pentecost, Th. D.).
E. Nothing of Matthew 24 has anything to do with the Church Age. Consider:
24:9, “they will deliver you to tribulation.” The church will be taken away before the tribulation begins. 24:13, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Believers are saved at the moment of belief in Christ (John 3:16). This verse relates to those in the tribulation who will be physically saved from the anti-christ. 24:14. “The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. The gospel of the Kingdom relates to the Kingdom which will follow the tribulation. The Gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-5) is the focus of teaching that occurs during the church age. The Gospel of the kingdom is not the focus of the church’s teaching, but is that which the Jews rejected when offered by John the Baptist (Matt 3:2), Jesus (Matt 4:17), the disciples (Matt 10:7), and the Seventy (Luke 10:9). 24:15, “the abomination of desolation” relates to the anti-christ who, at mid-point in the Tribulation, breaks the covenant that he made with the Jewish people (Dan 9:27). The church will be raptured before this event happens. 24:16, “those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” This concern does not apply to the Church, who is scattered all around the world. 24:20, “pray that your flight will not be on the Sabbath.” The Sabbath relates to Israel, and not to the Church (Ps 147:19). 24:21, “there will be great tribulation.” The church will be raptured before the Tribulation. 24:22, “unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved.” The church has no such warning. 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation,” 24:30, “Christ will appear in the sky, many will mourn.” The Church looks to the blessed hope and the appearing of Christ, where they do not mourn at His appearance, which occurs at the Rapture (Titus 2:13).
F. Matthew 25 discusses the Kingdom Age Of The Millennium (Matt 25:1).
To pull anything out of the Olivet Discourse, and apply it to anything relative to the church age, is a total infraction of the rules of context, and moves the discussion from Exegesis (the critical interpretation of the Biblical text to discover its intended meaning) to Eisegesis (drawing out a text’s meaning in accordance with the author’s context and discoverable meaning. Eisegesis is when a reader imposes their interpretation of the text).
IX. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.
X. My Websites To Follow.
https://untotheleastofthese.home.blog/ Equipping The Saints Web Site
https://thechurchoftheopendoor.wordpress.com/ Israel Web Site
https://success2693.wordpress.com/ Israel, History And Prophecy