We preface our study of the ‘Last days’ with quotations from the writings of the Rev. Nathaniel West, D.D. Speaking of the vision of Daniel 8, he says:
- ‘These great world movements like those afterwards between the north and the south are mirrors, of like collisions, yet to occur in the last days, marking the ‘Time of the End’ – The East seeking to control the West, the West to control the East. [Dr. West wrote these words about the year 1900].
- ‘The great world movement of history is planetary motion. “It returneth again according to its circuits”. The End-Time will renew the Old-Time, though under new conditions.
- ‘It is with some providential intent the labours of a Curtino and Grote, a Stanley and Rawlinson, a Mueller and Weltzhofer, a Mayer and Brandis, have drawn attention to the “Laws of historical development” and show how the destiny of the Jews affects the destiny of all nations, and that “in the near future, the world may expect to see the operation of the law, more powerfully than ever”‘.
Inasmuch as prophecy deals with ‘things to come’, it must have much to say about ‘The End’, ‘The Time of the End’, ‘The Last Days’ and ‘The Latter Times’ as well as the great periods called ‘The Day of the Lord’ and ‘The Day of God’.
The Hebrew Old Testament employs the word acharith; the Greek New Testament uses the words eschatos and once only the word husteros. The verb achar means ‘to tarry, to remain behind’, and the adjective achar means ‘other’ (properly one coming behind). Other forms of the word are the adverb ‘behind’, the preposition ‘after’. The words acharith and acheron are the two that concern us here, and particularly acharith, the feminine form. It can refer to the end of a year (Deut. 11:12) or the end or ultimate issue of a course of action (Jer. 5:31). ‘In the end of the days’ looks to the closing days of prophetic import, including the outcome, or as Dr. Nathaniel West has put it ‘The Afterness’, whether of Messianic hope, or the calamitous nature of the close of history.
The book of Job sets fort the Enigma of the Ages and its solution ‘Ye have seen the end of the Lord’ (Jas. 5:11).
‘So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning’ (Job 42:12).
The Goal of the Ages foreshadowed
The book of Job contains in dramatized form the problem of the ages, and in the opening and closing chapters, the key to the enigma is supplied. We who read the complete book have the advantage of Job and his friends, for we see that Job’s trouble arose, not so much from his own doings or circumstances, but from the enmity that is inherent between the two seeds. Satan is seen attacking Job, whose name actually means ‘The Attacked’ or ‘One at Enmity’. God’s permission of the evil endured by Job was, as we learn, limited. His life could not be touched. We have also seen that there are two essential features in this great outworking of the Divine purpose. Patience, ‘Ye have heard of the patience of Job’, and End, ‘and have seen the end of the Lord’. The fact that Job received ‘double’ for all his sufferings and loss is stressed at the close of the book. In the first chapter his is said to have had ‘seven sons and three daughters’, he also possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 she asses. In chapter 42 we learn that the Lord turned the captivity of Job, and gave him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning, for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 she asses (42:12). The number of his children was not doubled, but he was given seven sons and three daughters as at the beginning. The names given to the three daughters suggest that Job had been entirely delivered from the loathsome disease that had been inflicted upon him, for Jemima probably means ‘as the day’, betokening Job’s emergence from the shadow of death. Kezia means ‘fragrant as cassia’ (Psa. 45:8) and Keren-happuch ‘horn for paint’, indicating rare beauty. The comment is added:
‘And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job’ (Job 42:15).
The name of Job’s third daughter is prophetic, for the Hebrew word puk, meaning ‘paint’, is found in Isaiah 54:11, where we read ‘I will lay thy stones with fair colours’. The same word is used in 1 Chronicles 29:2, for the ‘glistering’ stones there described, anticipating as it does the splendour of the New Jerusalem, even as the ‘painted’ face of Jezebel anticipates the evil parody described in Revelation 17:1-6.
Moreover Job is said to have lived ‘after this’ another hundred and forty years. If this age was doubled, as the number of his cattle had been, then Job’s total age would have been 280 years. If, on the other hand, his age was repeated as the number of his children had been, then he would have been 70 at the time of his affliction and 70 + 140, namely 210, at the time of his death.
At the time of Job’s experiences, Israel had not come into being, but the God of Job was also the God of Israel and of the ages. It is therefore entirely in harmony with the teaching of Scripture that the experiences of Job should be echoed by those of Israël. Thus we notice in the first chapter of Isaiah that Israël, like Job, is seen covered with incurable sores, and that in Isaiah 61, in the acceptable year of the Lord, we find this promise:
‘For your shame ye shall have double’ … ‘In their land they shall possess the double’ (Isa. 61:7).
In Job 42:10 we read the words ‘the LORD turned the captivity of Job’, and the reader will recognize in this phrase a recurring promise made to Israël through Moses and the later prophets. Over and over again we read the words ‘bring into captivity’, turn again, turn away or turn back captivity’ all of which go back to Job’s experience as their original. If it is true, that Moses is the one into whose hands the story of Job came, it is impossible to believe that he could write of Israël’s future ‘The LORD thy God will turn thy captivity’ (Deut. 30:3) without associating Israël’s age-time experiences with those of Job. This ‘turning again of the captivity’ of Israël is the burden of the Psalmist, ‘Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When the LORD bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israël shall be glad’ (Psa. 14:7; cf. 53:6; 85:1 and 126:4). Jeremiah uses the phrase twelve times over, a number suggestive of Israël. Hosea 6:11, Joel 3:1 and Zephaniah 3:20 also should be read. In the strictly literal sense of the term Job was never in ‘captivity’, and in the prophetic references to the captivity of Israël, much more than physical bondage or exile is intended.
Did Balaam know the story of Job? We cannot tell, but he could easily have been acquainted with the life of this great man of the East, and might even have had him in mind when he said, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his’ (Num. 23:10), for it is the same word that is translated ‘latter end’ in Job 42:12. Prophecy concerning Israel has much to say concerning ‘the last days’, ‘the latter days’ and ‘the latter end’. Deuteronomy 8 opens with a reference to trials and chastenings, but is has in view ‘good at thy latter end’ (8:16). ‘There is hope in thine end’ said Jeremiah to the captivity of his day (Jer. 31:17). In every way the book of job is seen to take its rightful place in the forefront of revealed truth.
By the time that Moses had been raised up to be the deliverer and lawgiver of the chosen people, the testimony of tradition had become distorted and valueless as may be seen in the vain endeavour of Job’s three friends to solve his problem by appeals to that source. The testimony associated with the stars had become corrupted, the day was drawing near when a great prophet should be raised up to give to Israël, and through them to the world, a written revelation of Truth. Moses opens the book of Genesis with the sublime words ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. If his own mind and that of others in Israël to whom he had shown the book of Job upon his return from the land of Midian had been prepared by the lengthy appeal to the wonders of creation that occupy the closing chapters of the book of Job, the epitome of Genesis 1:1 would come with even greater force. To us who read the book of Genesis and have not the knowledge supplied by the book of Job, the entry of the serpent in Genesis 3 is an enigma. Moses and those who had read the book of Job would have been prepared for such initial intrusion and would have seen the attack upon Adam and Eve in the light of the subsequent attack upon one of the woman’s seed.
The lesson for us who are teachers or students, seems to be that where possible, students and teachers should make themselves acquainted with the book of Job as a necessary preparation for the greater study of all Scripture. Let us rejoice that we not only hear of the patience of Job, but also that we have ‘seen the end of the LORD’ wherein we find the solution not only of Job’s problems, but also of the age-long problem concerning all who pass through the wilderness of this world, and the way which leads to the goal of the ages, when all tears shall be wiped away, Satan and his seed destroyed, and God All in all. Job’s experience provides the pattern of all prophecy. Even the name ‘Job’ means ‘enmity’ or one ‘attacked’, and occurs for the first time in Genesis 3:15.
The earliest recorded forecast of the last days is found in Genesis 49, uttered by Jacob on his deathbed. When Jacob gathered his sons together to tell them what should befall them in the last days, those sons concerning whom most is said, and who include in their forecast references to either Christ or Antichrist, are Judah, Dan and Joseph; this will be most readily seen if we present the outline of Jacob’s prophecy as follows:
A 3-7. a Reuben Water. b Simeon Scattered. c Levi Divided.
B 8-12. d Judah The LION. e THE SCEPTRE SHILOH.
A 13-15. a Zebulon Ships. b Issachar Rest.
B 16-18. d Dan The Serpent and Adder. e SALVATION.
A 19-21. a Gad Troop. b Asher Bread. c Naphtali Hind.
B 22-26. d Joseph Fruitful bough. e THE SHEPHERD THE STONE.
A 27. Benjamin Wolf.
Judah is the tribe whose latter day prophecy links it with the prevailing Lion, and with the sceptre, lawgiver and Shiloh. The One who had prevailed to open the scroll was, moreover, ‘The root of David’. This title, taken together with that of Revelation 22:16, ‘I am the root and the offspring of David’ is often explained, by saying that Christ was not only the son of David (the offspring), but also as the root whence David sprang. We rejoice to know that He who was David’s son was also David’s Lord, but in what special way David sprang from Christ we fail to see in Scripture; neither is there any need for such an idea. The ‘root’ of David seems to be an allusion, if not a reference back to Isaiah 11:1, ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’; the stem really means the stump of a tree after it has been cut down, and the figure exactly fits the apparent destruction of the royal line of David in our Lord’s day. Christ is the Branch that grows out of his roots, for, in verse 10, the prophet continues, ‘And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse … to it shall the Gentiles seek’. If the title ‘root of David’ denotes the source from whence David sprang, and not the same as the offspring of David, then ‘the root of Jesse’ indicates the same. All are agreed, however, that ‘the root of Jesse’ is but another way of speaking of Him Who should ‘grow out of his roots’. Malachi 4:1 shows that ‘root’ as well as ‘branch’ is used to indicate posterity. The prophecy of the Apocalypse is far more concerned to show the fulfilment of the promise concerning the Seed of David, than it is to prove the deity of Christ.
The Lord is seen as the great King, prevailing as the Lion of Judah, concerning Whom alone a sceptre is mentioned, and as the root of David, Who, being raised from the dead, sits on David’s throne.
One further and all-important truth is revealed in the vision concerning this kingly overcomer. The Lion of Judah and the root of David is the Lamb of God. When He first came amongst men as the sent One of God, He came not as a Lion, but was pointed out as the ‘Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world’. When John beholds Him in His risen glory, he still sees Him not as a Lion, but as a Lamb; when the day of His wrath comes, and strikes terror in the breast of all, we read of the wrath of the Lamb, not the Lion; when the marriage of heaven’s King is announced, it is the marriage of the Lamb, not of the Lion. More pointedly, perhaps, is Revelation 6:1, where it is the Lamb Who opens the seals, although the elder said it was the Lion that he saw. We are not to understand that He Who once was the Lamb has now become the Lion. No, the Lamb it is that is seen right through the prophecy, the Lion never. Christ as the Lamb fulfills all the prophecies that speak of Him as Lion and King, for the Lamb bears the marks of sacrifice, ‘standing as having been slain’. Without the redemption concerning which the slain Lamb speaks, the throne of David would remain vacant, and the Lion of Judah would never be known. Heaven is about to burst forth in a new song, and it is to the Lamb they sing, and of His redemption, not to the Lion and of His strength.
Throughout the Scriptures there runs the teaching that is summed up in this vision of the enthroned Lamb. Man by nature would give the battle tot the strong. God has throughout glorified humility and meekness, everything in fact that goes with a lamblike character. Those who suffer, overcome; while those who appear before their fellows as the greatest conquerors have suffered the greatest of defeats.
Three features are emphasized in this prophecy:
The sceptre and Shiloh. Salvation. The Shepherd and the Stone.
Up to this prophetic utterance of Jacob there is no hint that Royal dignity was to be associated with Judah. The words ‘until Shilo come’, while being interpreted in a number of ways, must refer to a person. John seized upon the meaning of the word ‘Siloam’ in John 9:7, namely ‘sent’ and ‘The Sent One’ is a dominant title of Christ in that Gospel.
Previous to the coming of Christ, Judah enjoyed the pre-eminence, but after that event, the crown and the natural pre-eminence passed.
We find too that Simeon was indeed ‘divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israël’, the inheritance of Simeon falling within the bounds of Judah. Reuben the firstborn also, instead of enjoying a central position, finds his inheritance on the other side of Jordan.
The value of this initial prophecy of the last days is that we can see that some if not all of the forecasts have had a primary fulfillment, anticipating the fuller realization and the end of the days. Balaam also, even though unwillingly, looked down the ages and said, ‘I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days … there shall come a STAR … and a SCEPTRE’ (Num. 24:14,17).
The Prophetic Song of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy 32, and references to the last days are also found in Deuteronomy 4:30; 8:16 and 31:29.
Coming to the Prophets themselves, Isaiah 2:2-5 opens the record, and Micah 4:1-4 closes that list with almost identical words. The references to the later days and the last end that intervene, are of secondary interest as an examination of the passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel will show, leaving the references in the book of Daniel, and the one reference in Hosea to fill up the story of restoring grace thus:
A Isaiah 2:2-5.
- The last days. The Mountain of the Lord’s house. Many nations will go. The law shall go forth of Zion. Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither learn war any more.
- The house of Jacob is called upon to ‘walk in the light of the Lord’.
B The last end and latter times of Daniel.
B The return of Israel after their long lo-ammi estrangement (Hosea 3:5).
- The words quoted above repeated in Micah, until we come to verse 4. Then it adds the peaceful figure of sitting under vine and fig tree, and instead of the call to Jacob to walk in the light of the Lord, Micah says:
A ‘For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever‘ (Micah 4:5).
This closing portion of Micah 4:1-5 suggest a very great difference between Israël in Jerusalem, a kingdom of Priests, and the rest of the nations at that time still walking in the name of false gods. As this appears to be a prophecy embracing the Millennium, we must allow for this reference to ‘his god’ among other such features as ‘feigned obedience’ and the warlike rebellion at the end.
Let us examine Isaiah 2:2-5 a little closely. This precious glimpse of the days of restoration and blessing is fully expanded in the second part of the prophecy (Isa. 40-66) and therefore, as our space is limited, we will be content with the following outline.
A 2:2. The true exaltation (Heb. nasa) ‘The Lord’s house’.
a Many people.
b Come ye, let us go … to the … God of Jacob.
c We will walk in His paths.
d Out of Zion.
e Shall go forth the law.
e And the word of the Lord.
d From Jerusalem.
A 2:4. False exaltation (Heb. nasa) ‘Not lift up sword’.
a House of Jacob.
b Come ye, let us walk.
c In the light of the Lord.
Here, in these few sentences, we have compressed the glorious future that awaits the nations of the earth when Israël shall at last enter into their inheritance and become a kingdom of priests. Not until the nations cease to ‘learn’ war, will peace be more than an illusion.
Isaiah 2:2 is one of several prophecies that indicate that Jerusalem will be the centre of God’s dealings with the earth, which will anticipate and manifest to the surrounding nations what the New Heavens and New Earth will be like when the time arrives. So we read:
- ‘For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind’.
- ‘Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy’ (Isa. 65:17,18). ‘They shall not hurt nor destroy IN ALL MY HOLY MOUNTAIN:
- ‘The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isa. 11:9). ‘And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek’ (Isa. 11:10).
So far as the oceans of the world are concerned, the waters do not coverthe sea, the sea covers the ocean bed of earth. The explanation of this figure is found in Ezekiel 47. From under the threshold of the house of the Lord, Ezekiel saw waters flowing eastward. When these waters were measured they were first to the ankles, then to the loins, and finally were too deep to be passed over:
- ‘These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed … from En-gedi’ (Ezek. 47:8-10).
This fixes the ‘waters’ and ‘the sea’ of Isaiah’s prophecy, for En-gedi is on the banks of the Dead Sea. The miraculous healing of this symbolic sea of death comes from a restored and blessed Israël while the rest of the world is still in darkness, the prophetic future follows the pattern that is expressed in the words: ‘Among all nations, BEGINNING at Jerusalem‘ (Luke 24:47). At the same time that the Redeemer comes to Zion darkness will cover the earth, and to the glory that will be seen upon Israël, the Gentiles shall come (Isa. 59:20; 60:1-3).
When the Lord reigns in Zion, He will rule in the midst of ENEMIES, and while ISRAËL will offer themselves willingly, the Lord will have to strike through kings in the day of His wrath, judging among the heathen, and filling the places with the dead bodies. These words ‘strike through’, ‘wrath’ and ‘dead bodies’ cannot be construed into terms of universal peace, for that does not come until after Israël are restored and blessed. If at the close of the Millennium (1000 years) THAT kingdom which ends with the rising of Gog and Magog, and during which feigned obedience has been rendered, was all that the Redeemer could deliver up to the Father, then the goal of the ages, ‘that God may be all in all’ will never be reached, and we are indeed of all men ‘most miserable’.
The Prophecy of Daniel contains a series of questions concerning the character of ‘the last days’, there translated ‘the last end’, ‘the latter time’, ‘the latter’ days, and ‘the end of’ these things. Associated with these words are ‘the indignation’ (Dan. 8:19) and ‘kingdom’ (Dan. 8:23) where the subdivision of Alexander’s Empire into four, foreshadows a similar subdivision in the last days, either SYRIA, EGYPT, MACEDONIA or ASIA MINOR, out of one of which the last dictator shall arise (Daniel 8). Hence the rising important of ‘The Middel East’ from 1897 – 2018!
In Daniel 10:14 Gabriel announced to Daniel that he had come to make him understand ‘what shall befall thy people in the latter days’, and this is the theme of Daniel 11 and 12. At the end there shall be ‘a time of trouble such as never was’, and a deliverance and a resurrection of all ‘found written in the book’ (Dan. 12:1-3). Daniel was then told to shut up the words and seal the book ‘even unto the time of the end’, and it is the office of the book of the REVELATION to open up the prophecies of Daniel, and neither book can be understood without the other.
Two strange and unexplained periods of time are found at the close, namely the one thousand two hundred and ninety days and the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. These days date ‘from the time the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination of desolation set up’ and so run on after the close of the three and a half years’ tribulation. Some commentators think that the extra thirty days will cover the period of national repentance (Zech. 12:10-14; 13:1), when a fountain shall be opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness, and that the further forty-five days will be occupied by regathering the dispersed and outcast of Israël, but it must be confessed that this is largely a matter of conjecture.
Out: ‘Prophetic Truth’ / Charles H. Welch
www.israeltoday.nl / Het nieuws vanuit Israel dat anderen niet brengen … … … …
THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON
Doe je graag aan Bijbelstudie?
Bediening van het geheimenis – Efeze 3:9
www.levendwater.org / zie: Audio o.a. dhr. D. van Zuijlekom
Gerard J.C. Plas