PEOPLE OFTEN ASK ME: “Are we living in the Endtimes?” So, at this point in the chapter, a few words need to be said about some important terminology regarding timescales during this age. When people speak about the ‘Endtimes’, they are usually referring to the final approach to the end of this age and the very end of the world itself. It first has to be said that this world in its current material format has, in a sense, been ‘ending’ ever since its creation, and most certainly since the Fall of humanity, for it is a finite world and was created that way deliberately. The Creator was not taken by surprise by the fall of angels or the subsequent fall of humanity. For God sees the end from the beginning and knew all that would happen and had already ‘arranged’ for the solution from the very beginning — namely, the Christ, who is foreshadowed in the Book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15 — for which the world had to wait until exactly the right moment a couple of thousand years ago. We need to remember that God is always many steps ahead of anything that narcissistic angels or humans can do — something which so many humans never seem to realise! By the way, I say “so many humans” and not angels because there is no salvation for fallen angels and their the doom is fixed. In fact, as the Christ Himself said, “eternal fire” was originally prepared for Satan and his fellow-fallen angels (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 41). Thus, one can say that the end of this world is a process which deepens in intensity with the passing of time and then climaxes as the very end draws near, and that drawing near of the very end is what we can call the Endtimes. One of the key trigger-points in this overall process was the ascension of the Christ nearly two-thousand years ago. Once that had happened, the world entered what is known as ‘the last hour’ or ‘the last days’ (the terms are interchangeable). It is important to realise this because there are many who think that the phrases ‘the last days’ and ‘the last hour’ are identical to what is known as the ‘Endtimes’. Here I must emphasise that this is not the case at all, and it is an important distinction to make. So let us go into this more deeply to improve our understanding.
Towards the end of the very first century AD, John could write in his first letter:
“Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour”.First Letter of John, chapter 2, verse 18
So, in John’s day, the Antichrist was a future figure to come, though many ‘mini-antichrists’ had already appeared by then and would continue to appear until the ultimate manifestation of the spirit of the Antichrist, the actual Antichrist, comes on the scene near the end of the age. The ‘mini-antichrists’ are standout forerunners in history, each in their own ways and in their own times representing ‘the spirit of the Antichrist’, which the apostle John mentions in the fourth chapter of his first letter, about which I shall have much more to say in chapter 6 of this little book. You will see that John mentions in the verse I quoted above what he calls “the last hour”, which he says is shown by the appearance of all these ‘mini-antichrists’. Even though it might seem to be otherwise, ‘the last hour’ is a symbolic expression which refers to the whole time period from the ascension of Christ until the end of the age. That is why it was already ‘the last hour’ when John wrote his first letter. It is most important to grasp this, because within that phrase is the implicit recognition that we are now in the build-up to the end of the age and have been for almost two-thousand years (though we are still not yet in the Endtimes). In heavenly terms, the two-thousand-year period of time between Christ’s ascension and His second coming is but a symbolic hour. The very last hour, in fact. But that is very different to the Endtimes).
Just to confuse matters (and we’ve only just started with these synonyms for ‘the last hour’!), the time period known as ‘the last hour’ is also known as ‘the last days’. All of it. We know this because the Letter to the Hebrews clearly states: “in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the aeons” (chapter 1, verse 2). James, who was likely the same James as the brother of Jesus, also uses the same term when he accuses the brethren of being materialistic and of having “hoarded up treasure in the last days” (Letter of James, chapter 5, verse 3). So, they were ‘the last days’ when those letters were written in AD 64 and AD 65-85 respectively, and these are also ‘the last days’ in which we are now living. The apostle Peter also used the term ‘the last days’ when he quoted the prophet Joel regarding the post-ascension of Christ’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verse 17).
This same period of time known as ‘the last hour’ or ‘the last days’ was also known as “the last time” (Letter of Jude, verse 18) and “these last times” (First Letter of Peter, chapter 1, verse 20). We live in the same ‘last hour’ in which John said he was living. The ‘last hour’ or ‘last days’ or ‘these last times’ are what we are living in right now and have been doing so for almost the past two thousand years! Therefore, all these expressions involving ‘lastness’ are not reserved for the ‘Endtimes’, which is what many seem to assume. They cover the entire span of time since the ascension of the Christ and will continue until He cataclysmically comes again. These ‘last days’ (of which, since Christ’s ascension, there have so far been around three-quarters of a million days!) will come to a climax in the revealing of the satanically inspired Antichrist heading up a global government, which I will go into in much more detail in chapter 6 below, when we look at chapters 12-14 of the Book of Revelation.
As we will come to see when I open it up in the appropriate places, ‘the last days’ — the whole period of time from the ascension of Christ until His cataclysmic return at the end of this age — also goes under four specific symbolic terms in various places in the Book of Revelation: “a time and times and half a time”, “forty-two months”, “1,260 days”, and “three and a half years”. It can easily be shown (and I will do) that these all refer symbolically to the same period of time as the the ‘last hour’/the ‘last days’ which is the period of time between Christ’s ascension and His second coming, which is what the Book of Revelation is busying itself to reveal. That these terms have been taken literally has created a huge stumbling-block in interpreting the Book of Revelation. I will be going into this in much more detail in chapters 5 and 6 below when looking at chapters 11-14 of the Book of Revelation, where these terms are mentioned.
This period of ‘the last hour’ or ‘last days’ — from the ascension of Christ until His cataclysmic return at the end of this age — is what the Book of Revelation is revealing the truth about in seven vignettes which occur between chapters 4 and 20 in the Book. Each vignette (they are not given chronologically) is revealing some different aspects of that time period. Thus, those last two thousand years or so, and however much longer this age has yet to run, involve what can only be described as a lengthy ‘mopping-up operation’ on the battlefield of this world in which the faithful ones are called into the kingdom of Light of the Christ, and there is not a thing that Satan can do about it. In fact, that concept of being “called” is what lies behind the full meaning of the Greek word ekklesia, which is commonly translated as ‘church’. Ekklesia is a compound of two words which literally mean ‘the called-out ones’. Called by Christ out of the empire of Satan into the kingdom of God. Souls are being plundered from out of Satan’s grasp as the effects of Christ’s ascension victory reverberate across the globe and down the centuries. Because those ‘plundered’ souls might wonder why there is still a maelstrom of satanic evil on earth, despite Christ’s victorious ascension, the Book of Revelation has been gifted to us because it pulls back a curtain giving us glimpses into the workings of heaven and the assurance that Christ and His angels never cease acting on behalf of the ekklesia, not to mention that it also shows how the story will end in no uncertain terms! That, my friends, is what apocalypse is all about. Revelation: The curtain being pulled back to reveal the truth about Christ’s ceaseless work during ‘the last days’, which is the countdown to the end of this evil age, which will be the ‘Endtimes’. So, just to be clear, we are not yet living in the Endtimes, but we are certainly in ‘the last days’ and the end of those ‘last days’ is always drawing nearer.
Thus, when one sees it like this, with each of these seven vignettes representing a different facet of the exercise of the Christ’s kingship over the earth in the time-period since His ascension, which are the ‘last days’, and how He is waging the battle against the forces of darkness, which will culminate in the Endtimes battle of Armageddon (which is not a physical battle but the symbol of the climax of a global spiritual war against the true ekklesia of disciples of Christ which will trigger the sudden return of Christ, as will see in chapter 7 below), one is simply letting the Book of Revelation speak for itself in the most natural way possible. Each vignette increasingly sheds light on the events of this age — from the ascension to the end — right through until we reach the unnecessarily controversial chapter 20 of the Book, after which there is a two-chapter epilogue depicting the new heaven and new earth in the new aeon. In the following nine chapters, we will open up the nine portions of the Book to discern what they are revealing to us and what they should mean for us in our own time.
[The above mini-article is excerpted from a chapter entitled “The Structure & Interpretation of the Book of Revelation” in my upcoming free eBook, “The Meaning of Apocalypse — A Primer on the Book of Revelation”, which will appear on my blog when completed]
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