We are always happy to introduce new authors to our visitors, and we will introduce here, Dr. Dallas Burdette, of Alabama. Dallas is an excellent student of the Lord’s word, and he has written an article on the Last Days for your consideration. We have broken his article up into two parts, due to length. Here is part 1.
Don K. Preston
Dr. Dallas Burdette March 20, 2008
Thrust Statement: The "last days" in Scripture concerns the final destruction of the nation of Judah in AD 70.
Scripture Reading: Genesis 49:1-10; Daniel 12:4-7; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21.
Have you ever said, "We are living in the last days"? If so, you are not alone. The New Testament speaks of the "last days." The Old Testament speaks of the "last days." What does this phrase mean? Christians frequently speak of the "end of time" as the "last days" of planet earth, even though neither the Old nor New Testament writings ever speak of the "end of time," but rather of the "time of the end" (Daniel 12:4). Some apply this phrase to the Christian age. In other words, Christians are still living in the "last days" in the twenty-first century. Since both the Old and the New Testaments address the "last days," one must seek to understand this terminology in light of the overall view of God’s Word. One of the most popular views of the "last days" centers on the so-called final conflict that is commonly called the Battle of Armageddon1 in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:16). If one is to arrive at a biblical concept, one must approach the subject from its use by both Old and New Testament writers. If one fails to understand the author’s intent, one can attach a meaning that is totally lacking in biblical signification. Too many Christians are so used to reading the Bible from earlier generations of interpreters that they no longer focus on the original intent of the author. As one approaches this subject of the "last days," one must learn to reinterpret the hand-me-down interpretations from his or her own culture.2
Frequently, church leaders become the watchword for the interpretation of a particular text. Presuppositions often stand in the way of listening anew to the passage under scrutiny. Scholars as well as individuals often prune or crop the text in order to justify their interpretation of a specific text or texts, even though this may not be intentional. One may prune the wording of a verse by failing to take into consideration the historical background leading up to the comments of the inspired writer dealing with issues spoken of by various prophets. Unfortunately, uninspired individuals take great liberties with texts in order to give validity to their opinions, which interpretations often border on the fringes of one’s wild imagination.
It is not uncommon for Christians to isolate a passage from its context, which separation supports, so it seems, bizarre interpretations of prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Cropping of a text is similar in nature to the pruning of a text. When one crops a text, one fails to read the text in its narrative setting. One in essence breaks the connection between the verse cited and the verses preceding and following. In order to interpret the Word of God more accurately, one must step outside one’s frame of reference; otherwise, one will experience subjective distortions of the intended text of study. Every commentator must seek to eliminate his or her strong personal subjective biases, that is to say, one should avoid looking through one’s own colored glasses.
The views set forth in this essay are that the "last days" picture the "last days" of the Old Covenant world of Judaism, which days are foretold by Jacob (2006-1859 BC) to Judah (see Genesis 49:1, 10). The "last days" dealt with the first century Jews, not twenty-first century Christian. In other words, the "last days" have come and gone for the church today. The "last days" of Judaism culminated in the downfall of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Romans. The "last days" are not the end of the world, but rather the end of that system set up in types and shadows—the old heaven and earth. This author, Dallas Burdette, taught for many years that the "last days" pertained to the Messianic age, that is to say, the Christian dispensation, or the entirety of the Christian age, not the "last days" of the Old Covenant world of Judaism addressed by Jacob, Daniel, and many other prophets. The traditional interpretation (Christian dispensation) allows for the "last days" continuing for thousands of years. Yet, the Scriptures do not uphold this interpretation, that is to say, that Christians are still living in the "last days."3
BOOK OF HEBREWS
The "last days" are a reference to the "last days" of Judah’s judgment that came to an end in AD 70. A proper understanding of this expression should assist one in the interpretation of many texts that are presently misapplied by many sincere believers. The Book of Hebrews begins its comments about the "last days" of Judah’s demise with the following words: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2).4 "In these last days" identifies the ministry of Jesus to the period of the "last days" of Judah’s existence as a political power.5 "In these last days" is also buttressed with "through whom he made the universe," which translation is misleading. The KJV translates "by whom also he made the worlds." This text speaks of "ages" in the Greek text, not "worlds."6 Just a perusal of the Book of Hebrews reveals that the "ages" represent the old covenant and new covenant ages. Christians today are not living in the "last days," but rather they are living in the age of grace.
The English word world is employed again in 1:6 (KJV). But the Greek word is ï êïõì íç (oikoumenh, "inhabited [earth]), Roman Empire"), not á í (aiwn, "age"). The author of Hebrews does not employ the same Greek word that is translated "world" in 1:6 that is employed in 1:2. The writer pens: "And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world,7 he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’" d Deut
. 32:43 (see Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint). The word that the author writes in 1:2 (aiwnas, "ages") is the same word that Jesus uses in His discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:3: "As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age [ôï á íïò, tou aiwnos]?’" Unfortunately, the KJV translates the word age as world in 24:3. The Greek word for world is ê óìïò (kosmos, "world" or "universe"). The Twelve were not inquiring about the end of the world (literal heavens and earth, but rather, they were asking about the end of the Old Covenant world of Judaism, that is to say, "the time of the end," not the "end of time" (see Daniel 12:4).
Again, Hebrews 1:10-12 sheds light on the earlier verses. Listen once more to the writer of Hebrews as he pens:
In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 11They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. 12You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." g
These words are reminiscent of the words of John in his Revelation book. He graphically depicts the final overthrow of Judah with similar apocalyptic language:
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12-17)
One is confronted with apocalyptic language that is descriptive of the overthrow, or downfall, of governments. Isaiah uses the same type imagery when he writes about the removable from power of Babylon (Isaiah 13:9-13) and Idumea (34:1-5). Isaiah writes with apocalyptic language that is similar to the author of the Book of Hebrews as well as the Book of Revelation by John. One should pay close attention to the following account of Babylon’s downfall by Isaiah:
See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. 10The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13)
This account of Babylon’s demise is referred to as "the day of the LORD is coming." Also, Isaiah speaks of the "rising sun" and the moon being "darkened." This removal of Babylon is referred to as the "heavens" trembling and the "earth" shaking, which comes about as a result of God’s wrath. Isaiah’s account of the fall of Idumea is also filled with apocalyptic language—the same language employed by John in his Revelation (Revelation 6:12-17) as he describes the defeat of apostate Judah. Once more, pay attention to Isaiah’s words:
This account of Babylon’s demise is referred to as "the day of the LORD is coming." Also, Isaiah speaks of the "rising sun" and the moon being "darkened." This removal of Babylon is referred to as the "heavens" trembling and the "earth" shaking, which comes about as a result of God’s wrath. Isaiah’s account of the fall of Idumea is also filled with apocalyptic language—the same language employed by John in his Revelation () as he describes the defeat of apostate Judah. Once more, pay attention to Isaiah’s words:
Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it! 2The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy a them, he will give them over to slaughter. 3Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. 4All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree. 5My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. (Isaiah 34:1-5)
This language is the same language that Jesus employed in His discourse on the "End of the Age" as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Jesus alludes to Joel 2:28 when He says: "Immediately after the distress of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken"’ c Isaiah 13:10; 34:4 (Matthew 24:29). Joel, too, writes in apocalyptic language. The following citation from Joel should assist one in understanding more clearly the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in
those days. 30I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 3The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (Joel 2:28-31)
Isaiah and Joel and Jesus shed light on the Book of Hebrews. Surface reading of Hebrews 1:10-12 seem to imply that the author is writing about the literal heavens and earth. Yet, the Book of Hebrews is not discussing the literal heavens and earth, but rather, the author is speaking of the Old Covenant world of Judaism as "heavens" and "earth." Gene Fadeley is on target, so it seems, when he writes:
Beginning in verse ten, the term "heaven and earth" has been the source of much misunderstanding. Some words used in the Bible are peculiar to our thinking. When we read these words we need to understand them in the way they were used. The term "heaven and earth" was sometimes used to denote the Jewish Old Covenant world. It was that old Jewish system that was about to end. The physical universe was not the topic shown in verse 11 when he says, "They will perish, but you will remain." If the physical earth was to be destroyed, where were the Jewish Christians to remain?8
In order to set forth, or drive home the point, that the concept of the "heaven and earth" refers to the kingdom of Judah, one should, once more, consult the Book of Isaiah to confirm this understanding. Isaiah speaks of Judah and Jerusalem in symbolic terms in the introduction of his book (Isaiah 1:1-2). He employs the words heaven and earth as descriptive terms to convey to the nation of Judah that they should listen to God’s warnings. Pay attention to him as he rebukes a rebellious nation:
Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." 4Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (1:2-4)
From this citation, one is immediately aware that Isaiah calls Judah "heaven and earth." One can hardly reflect upon these words without recalling the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount as He rebukes the religious leaders for tampering with the true intent of Holy Scripture. Jesus calls attention to the fact that Judaism (heaven and earth) would disappear before the "least stroke of a pen" would disappear from the Law, that is to say, until everything the Law and the prophets had foretold would come to past.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)
One is conscious that Jesus is referring to the passing away of the scepter (power) of Judah, which He describes as "heaven and earth." Toward the end of Christ’s ministry, He once more addresses this same issue of the falling away of the Old Covenant world of Judaism. Just a brief reading of the three accounts is given in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, which scenarios reveal the full story of what is in the "kernel" form in Matthew 5:17-20. The following words by Gene Fadeley are on target as he seeks to unravel the true meaning of "heaven and earth":
If the terms "heaven and earth" had reference to the physical heaven and earth, one must conclude that until the physical heaven and earth are destroyed, the old Mosaic law would be in force. However the terms "heaven and earth" had reference to the old and new covenant worlds. The old Jewish covenant could not pass until everything was accomplished. The final promises, prophecies, and judgments were about to be completed. Once these things were completed, the old covenant, having been fulfilled, would pass away. When we view these events in their correct first century setting, Matthew 5:18 and many other passages become easy to understand.9
The covenant world of Judaism would cease to exist, which is called "heaven and earth." God foretold the destruction of Judaism in Deuteronomy 32,10 which is known as the Song of Moses. Fourteen hundred years before Judaism ceased to exist, Moses (1526-1406 BC) writes: "For a fire has been kindled by my wrath, one that burns to the realm of death e Hebrew to Sheol below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains" (32:22). Paul cites the verse above (32:21) to justify his ministry to the Gentiles (Romans10:19), which context reveals that God refers to the destruction of Judah. Moses pens these informative words from God: ‘"I will hide my face from them,’ he said, ‘and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding’" (Deuteronomy 32:21-22; Romans 10:19). This song begins with the following words: "Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth" (32:1).
An understanding of Hebrews 1:1-2 gives clarity to the author’s warning in Hebrews 10:25. In this passage (10:25), the author warns his readers about the impending destruction of Judaism. The author writes: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching".ee ó âë ð
;åôå ãã æïõóáí ô í ì ñáí, Josw blepete eggizousan thn Jhmeran, "as you see the day approaching" The "Day approaching" is not Sunday, but rather it is the complete overthrow of apostate Judaism by the Romans in AD 70. Earlier, this same author of Hebrews alerts his readers to the passing away of this Old Covenant world of Judaism: "By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear" (8:13).eee ãã ò öáíéóìï , eggus afanismou, "(is) near vanishing" This expression ("last days") refers to the time frame of the first century, not the twenty-first century. The author of Hebrews closes his book with a reference to the "heavenly Jerusalem" (12:22). The author deals with the "new heaven" and the "new earth" that represents the New Covenant world, not the physical universe. The author writes with conciseness:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (12:22-24)
This "heavenly Jerusalem" is the one that John describes in the Book of Revelation:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4)
This "new heaven and a new earth" is identical to the "new heaven and new earth" that Isaiah (739 BC), seven hundred years earlier, wrote about. He carved the following words into the minds of his readers about the ultimate glory of God’s initiative in the redemption of humanity: "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17). In 65:1-16, Isaiah describes the utter destruction of the kingdom of Judah and then announces the "new heavens and a new earth." The "new heaven and a new earth" represents the New Covenant world and "the first heaven and the first earth" represents the Old Covenant world of Judaism.eeee
BOOK OF JOEL
Another book that sheds light on the "last days" is the Book of Joel. The Holy Spirit, through Joel, calls attention to events that will transpire during the final days ("last days") of the world of Judaism, which "last days," Jesus explains in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter describes the events transpiring on that day as the beginning of the "last days" spoken of by Joel (835 BC). "In the last days,eeeee "In the last days," ( í ôá ò ó÷ ôáéò ì ñáéò, en tails escatais Jhmerais) God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams" (Acts 2:17). The Holy Spirit being poured out was the beginning of the end of the nation of Judah. The full text of Peter’s citation from Joel 2:28-32 sheds light upon this phrase, "in the last days." One recognizes apocalyptic language concerning the elements of the universe, elements that are metaphorical in meaning, not literal. Listen to Peter’s words as he cites Joel’s prophecy:
In the last days, God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious [ ðéöáí , epifanh, "manifest"] day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."a (Acts 2:17-21)
"Before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord" is employed by Peter of judgment on the nation of Judah for its rejection of Jesus as God’s Messiah. The NIV translates ðéöáí (epifanh) as "glorious." This word is a compound adjective composed of ð (epi, "upon, over") and öáí ò (fanhs, "bright, conspicuous"). This word indicates that the day of the Lord is awesome. The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word of Joel 2 represents something to be feared or awe-inspiring or terrible. Even though the Greek carries the idea of something brilliant or notable, nevertheless, the idea of the Greek word epifanh is ultimately the same—a dreadful day. The "last days" are equivalent to judgment of Judah in the Book of Revelation.
The events referred to by the author of Hebrews and Peter are the fulfillment of the events foretold by Daniel (605 BC) in Daniel 12:4-7. In this section, Daniel speaks of the "time of the end
," not the "end of time" (12:4). Daniel wanted to know "How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled" (12:6)? Michael responds by saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time.b When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed" (12:7). The power of the holy people was finally broken in AD 70. Malachi (433 BC), too, writes about the "last days" of Judah:
"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the Lord Almighty. 4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:1-6)
When John the Baptist arrives on the scene, one sees him in the wilderness announcing the coming kingdom prophesied by the prophet Daniel [605 BC] (Daniel 2, 7, 9) and, at the same time, announcing that great and dreadful day of the Lord as prophesied by the prophet Malachi [433 BC] (Malachi 4:1-6). Matthew reports John’s ministry this way:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with b water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:7-12)
Just a casual reading of Malachi 4 and Matthew 3 reveals parallels between the two accounts—"that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes" by Malachi is parallel to John’s "the coming wrath." When the "coming wrath" begins, it will last for forty-two months, which is equivalent to 1,260 days, which is equivalent to Daniel’s "time, times and half a time" (Daniel 12:7). The Book of Revelation sheds light on the words of Daniel. Just a cursory reading of chapter eleven and twelve of John’s Revelation, one is immediately informed that the "time, times and half a time" are equivalent to three and one-half years, which also corresponds to the forty-two months or 1,260 days (Revelation 11:1-3). According to John, during the final days of Judah, the church fled into the wilderness for the "time, times and half a time," which is the same time frame that Daniel writes about (Daniel 12:7). John also calls attention to the 1,260 days in Revelation 12:6.
When would these forty-two months take place? John identifies the events as taking place when the holy city was overrun by the Gentiles (Rome). Observe John’s remarks as he captures the great day of God’s wrath upon Judah: "But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth" (11:2-3). This is the same event that Daniel writes about, as mentioned above, in the conclusion of his book. The events that John describes are associated with the events that Joel describes as the "last days." Remember the words of John as he elaborates on these forty-two months as "a time, times and half a time":
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. (Revelation 12:13-15)
Jesus addresses this event in His signs of the end of the Jewish age:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:20-28)
Eusebius (AD 260-340) bears testimony that the church in Jerusalem, before the war, by divine testimony, fled to the mountain country of Pella, which is exactly what Jesus foretold as recorded by Matthew. Eusebius reports that
The people of the church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities
of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed on Christ migrated from Jerusalem, that when holy men had altogether deserted the royal capital of the Jews and the whole land of Judaea, the judgment of God might at last overtake them for all their crimes against the Christ and his Apostles, and all that generation of the wicked be utterly blotted out from among men.15
Remember, Joel, too, addresses this "great and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:28-32). When will this event take place? As stated above, another piece of this puzzle is found in Malachi. Malachi (433 BC) associates this "great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Malachi 4:5) with the coming of Elijah.16 Malachi writes: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse" (4:5-6). Again, "that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes" is the same as "time of the end" spoken of by Daniel (Daniel 12:4) and also by John the Baptist to the religious leaders with his penetrating words of rebuke: "Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath" (Matthew 3:7)? According to Malachi, Elijah would come before the power of the people would be finally broken. Jesus Himself cites the prophecy from Malachi about Elijah as having its fulfillment in the coming of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10). Jesus unfolds the intent of the Holy Spirit with the following comments about the role and ministry of John the Baptist:
This is the one about whom it is written: "‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’c 11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear. (11:10-15)