A lot is happening these days that brings to mind the Last Days, the Final Judgement, Armageddon. It isn’t just movies like 2012, or TV shows like Nostradamus, and worldwide news events like wars, famines and earthquakes. But those things certainly help foster the images of the Book of Revelation.
But people have been looking forward to an immanent appearing of our Lord since the day He was taken up into the clouds while His disciples looked on. Paul wrote frequently about being ready for His appearing.
Interestingly God has often announced when some major things were to happen. As early as in Genesis (15:13) “God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.'” One might have thought that while the Israelites were being oppressed by the Egyptians for those 400 years that they would have recalled this declaration to mind and would have rejoiced in hope when their deliverer in the person of Moses stood before them. But that was hardly the reaction he received. He had to virtually fight for a hearing and struggled to convince them God sent him to deliver them. I’d have thought it would have been easier for them all if they paid closer attention to their family history.
God also told His chosen people for how long their exile would be when after they were brought into the promised land and given the promises of blessing and curses (Gen. 25). They were warned that if they got into the land and then rejected God and His teachings that they would be spewed out of the land. Leviticus 20:22 – 24 “You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out.” Well, that’s exactly what happened. But God told them for how long they would be removed from their land. 2Ch 36:21 “. . . to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.” They had 70 years of exile to put up with once they were removed by the Babylonians and the Chaldeans. But at least this time they were counting. They knew something would happen after the 70 years were up, and indeed, they were then allowed to return to the land of Canaan.
But what about these end times. The summing up of all things, the restoration of His creation, the New Heaven and New Earth, the final judgement of sin and death? Well that is a bit more problematic. God does suggest a timetable for that in the Book of Daniel. The problem is that it is a bit too cryptic to really know when it may occur. I refer to the prophecy of the 70 weeks.
Dan 9:24-27 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
Legions of books have been written about how that was all to be played out. To be sure, the last couple chapters of Daniel have occurred just as historians have stated, with Alexander the great leading off the big dance. But that last week. That’s the puzzle. Those legions of books have about as many interpretations of what will happen in that week. But it is just to cryptic to really know until those days are upon us. All we can do is to repeat the plea in the last verses of Scripture, Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]