Jesus Christ is the Focal Point.

From He Shall Have Dominion, by Kenneth L.Gentry, page 325-327

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Properly understood, the idea of the last days is focused on the most important episode of history: the life of Jesus Christ lived out in fulfillment of divine prophecy and of redemptive history. Christ is the focal point of all Scripture. He is anticipated in the Old Testament revelation and realized in the New: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).[1] As such, He stands as history’s dividing line – hence the historical appropriateness and theological significance of dividing history between B.C. and A.D.[2]

There are many prophetic references looking forward to the “Messianic age of consummation” introduced by Christ.[3] This era is frequently deemed “the last days” or “the latter days.”[4] “The expression then properly denoted the future times in general; but, as the coming of the Messiah was to the eye of a Jew the most important event in the coming ages, the great, glorious, and crowning scene in all that vast futurity, the phrase came to be regarded as properly expressive of that…. It was a phrase in contrast with the days of the patriarchs, the kings, the prophets, etc. The last days, or the closing period of the world, were the days of the Messiah.”[5] His corning was “nothing less than the beginning of the great eschaton of history.”[6]

It is when Christ came that “the fullness of times” was realized: “The phrase pleroma tou chronou, Gal. iv. 4, implies an orderly unrolling of the preceding stages of world-history towards a fixed end.”[7] Hence, the preparatory preaching at the beginning of His ministry: “[T]he time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17). Prior to this, the Old Testament era was typological and anticipatory. The Old Testament era served as the “former days” (Mal. 3:4)[8] that gave way to the “last days,” the times initiated by Christ’s coming: “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Thus, we find frequent references to the presence of the last days during the New Testament time. The last days are initiated by the appearance of the Son (Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20) to effect redemption (Heb. 9:26) and by His pouring out of the Spirit (Acts 2:16,17,24; cf. Isa. 32:15; Zech. 12:10). The “ends of the ages” came during the apostolic era (1 Cor. 10:11). These will run until “the last day,” when the resurrection; judgment occurs to end history (John 6:39; 11:24; 12:48). But before the final end point is reached, perilous times will punctuate the era of the end (2 Tim. 3:1) and mockers will arise (2 Pet. 3:3).

The last days of Old Testament prophecy anticipated the establishment of Mount Zion/Jerusalem as the enduring spiritual and cultural influence through the era.[9] This came in the first century, with the establishment of the New Covenant phase of the Church, the focal point of the kingdom of Christ (cf. Joel 2 with Acts 2:16ff; Heb. 12:18-27).

Because the last days have been with us since the first century-coming of Christ,[10] there is no days to follow. There is no millennium that will introduce another grand redemptive era in man’s history (see discussion of “Millennium” below). With the coming of Christ, earth history reached “epochal finality.”[11] The idea of the appearance of Christ as the “Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) is indicative that there is no different historical age to follow. The finality has come, though it has undergone continuous development since its arrival in the ministry of Christ.[12]

[1] Luke 24:25-27; John 1:45; 5:39, 46; Acts 3:24; 10:43; 2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 19:10.

[2] Oscar Cullmann, Christ and Time: The Primitive Christian Conception of Time and History, trans. by Floyd V. Filson (3rd ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964), pp. 18-19.

[3] C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, in Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [n.d.] 1975), 1:387.

[4] Gen. 49:1, 10; Num. 24:14; Deut. 4:30; 31:29; Isa. 2:2; Jer. 23:20; 30:24; 48:47; 49:39; Dan. 2:28; Hos. 3:4; Mic. 4:1.

[5] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1 vol. edition (Grand Rapids: Kregal, [n.d.] 1962), p. 381.

[6] Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1962), p. 36.

[7] Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, [1930] 1991), p. 83.

[8] See: Jer. 46:26; Lam. 1:7; Amos 9:11; Mic. 7:14, 20.

[9] Isa. 2:2; 24:23; 37:32; Joel 2:32; Oba. 1:17,21; Mic. 4:7.

[10] The last day resurrection has yet to occur (Matt. 13:39-40,49). The Great Commission is still in effect (Matt. 28:20).

[11] Vos, Pauline Eschatology, p. 28.

[12] Contrary to Richard B. Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology: Reflections of Postmillennialism,” Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey, eds. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), ch. 9. See my response to Gaffin: “Whose Victory in History?” Theonomy: An Informed Response, Gary North, ed. (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), ch. 8.

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The “Last Days” that the Old Testament prophets wrote of were the last days of the Jews as a uniquely convenanted people.

Now, they are at the same level in God’s eyes as the Gentiles. The Old Order is dead; the New Order rose with Jesus Christ, and was verified when the Temple was destroyed by Rome.

Things changed with Jesus Christ. Spiritually, then physically. Forever.

From page 476:

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Certainly the gate is narrow: only He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). But His statement in Matthew 7:13-14 does not imply that it will always and forever be the case that few will be saved in every era of history. In fact, there are numerous indications, as we have seen, that a great multitude of men will be saved, that the world as an organic system will experience the redeeming work of Christ.

The Fall of Adam has taken an enormous toll upon the race of man, to be sure, but the resurrection and ascension of Christ will surely outstrip the effects of the Fall as history unfolds. This is why He delays His coming, so that He may gather the elect in. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).[1]

[1] The longsuffering is toward “us” (3:9), who are the “beloved” (3:1, 8, 14, 17), the brethren, the elect (1:10-11). He is not willing that any – i.e., of us – should perish. Indeed, we should “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Pet. 3:15). John Owen, The Works of John Owen, William H. Goold, ed., 16 vols. (London: Banner of Truth, [1642] 1967), 10:348-349. Election comes to historical fruition “when it pleases God” (Gal. 1:15).

—<Quote ends>—

Recall that bit:

the resurrection and ascension of Christ will surely outstrip the effects of the Fall as history unfolds.

The good guys are going to win. Big.

And the bad guys are going to lose. Big.

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