The Last Days Identified
A Look At Ronnie Wade’s Rejection of Covenant Eschatology
by Don K. Preston D. Div.
I am offering a series of articles in response to Ronnie Wade, a church of Christ minister who recently wrote an article condemning Covenant Eschatology as heretical. I contacted him inviting him to debate me on the question of the coming of the Lord. Wade refused, stating that such a debate would be “unprofitable.”
In his article Wade set forth some objections to Covenant Eschatology. One of his objections, see just below, is about the term “the last days.” Wade and his amillennial brethren are adamant that this term refers to the entirety of the Christian age, and not to the last days of the Mosaic Covenant age.
Let me say this: the identification of the last days is fundamental to a proper understanding of eschatology. If you wrongly identify the last days, then of necessity, your eschatology is skewed and false, for the Day of the Lord occurs at the end of the last days. Wade believes that eschatology is historical eschatology. That is, it is about the end of history. If however, the term “the last days” is not about the Christian age, but the last days of the Mosaic Covenant age, then all futurist eschatologies fall to the ground.
Here is Wade’s Objection:
<<There are a number or problems that arise as a result of the interpretation placed on New Testament scriptures dealing with the resurrection. King defines the “last days” as the closing period of the Jewish age, 30-70 A.D., with the “eternal days” continuing from that point. He says “We are now in that world, which is to come…instead of being in the last days we are in the eternal days, world without end Eph. 3:21” From this reasoning, it would follow that those in the New Testament who lived between 30-70 A.D. lived in the last days, while we live in the “eternal days.>>
As the reader can seem, Wade’s definition of “the last days” is fundamental to his eschatology. That term must refer to the entirety of the Christian age, and cannot refer to the last days of Israel’s Old Covenant age. If therefore, it is proven that the term the last days did refer to“the closing period of the Jewish age” then Mr. Wade’s objection against Covenant Eschatology is falsified, and all of his claims fall to the ground. With this in mind, consider a few indisputable facts:
1.) Jesus appeared in the last days (Hebrews 1:1). Did Jesus appear in the Christian age? Clearly not, for according to Wade and his brethren, the last days, i.e the Christian age, did not begin until Pentecost. That leads to this:
Jesus appeared in the last days (Hebrews 1:1).
Jesus appeared before Pentecost.
Therefore the last days were present before Pentecost (they did not begin on Pentecost).
Okay, so Jesus appeared in the last days, and he appeared before Pentecost. But there is more. Jesus appeared in the last days. Paul also says that Jesus “was born of a woman, made under the Law” (Galatians 4:4). So:
Jesus appeared in the last days.
But, Jesus appeared under “the Law” i.e. under Torah. Jesus appeared in what must be, irrefutably, admitted to be the Mosaic Age.
So, since Jesus appeared in the Mosaic Age, and he appeared in the last days, this is prima facie demonstration that the last days is referent to the last days of the Mosaic age. It is not a definition of the Christian age.
Consider also the following:
Jesus appeared at the end of the age (Hebrews 9:26) to put away sin by his sacrifice.
At the end of what age did Jesus appear?
It was not the end of the Christian age!
Notice also the following that Wade and his brethren simply cannot, and do not deal with.
Keep in mind that per Wade’s amillennialism, the second coming, judgment and the resurrection occur at the end of the last days, and in their paradigm, that is at the end of the Christian age. With this in mind, take note of the following.
As noted just above, the NT writers affirmed in the clearest manner that they were living in the last days (Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20, etc)
The NT writers said that the coming of the Lord was at hand, coming quickly.
1.) Paul told the Corinthians that they would possess the charismata until the end, the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:4-8).
2.) Paul said that the Day of the Lord was near: the true light of that day was at hand (Romans 13:12ff).
3.) The writer of Hebrews said: “And now, in a very, very little while (Greek, hosan, hosan micron), the one who is coming will come and will not tarry” (10:37).
4.) James affirmed: “The coming (parousia) of the Lord has drawn near” (5:8).
5.) Peter said, “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:5).
1.) Jesus said that his coming with the angels in judgment was to be in the first century (Matthew 16:27-28). See my YouTube videos for a vindication of this, and a total refutation of the attempts to divide v. 27 from v. 28. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Don+K+Preston&aq=f
Likewise, the NT– and the Old – are emphatic that the time of the resurrection was near and was to occur at the end of the Old Covenant age.
1.) Daniel 12:2-7 cannot be refuted: The resurrection to eternal life (v. 2) would occur when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (v. 7). This would likewise be at the time of the end (v. 4).
2.) Matthew 8:11– Jesus said that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would sit down in the kingdom, when the sons of the kingdom would be cast out. This is nothing other than the resurrection, for it is the time of Abraham and the OT worthies receiving the end (goal) of their faith. This is of course, the “better resurrection” of Hebrews 11:36.
3.) Matthew 24:31 – Jesus said that his coming – which incidentally, Ronnie Wade applies this verse to Christ’s AD 70 parousia – with the angels and the sounding of the Great Trumpet, would be in his generation. This prophecy is taken directly from Isaiah 27:13, where Isaiah foretold the gathering of the “dead” at the sound of the Great Trumpet. So,
Isaiah 27:13 predicted the resurrection / gathering at the sounding of the Great Trumpet. (Virtually all critical commentators, and the Rabbis, recognized that Isaiah 27 was a promise of the resurrection at the time of the end).
Jesus said that his coming and the gathering of the elect at the sounding of the Great Trumpet, would be in his generation.
Therefore, the resurrection was to be in Jesus’ generation.
Given these indisputable fact, it is simply specious to say that the “last days” is referent to the entirety of the Christian age.
Sine the coming of the Lord, the judgment and the resurrection are all inextricably tied to the consummation of the last days, and since each of these eschatological elements was near in the first century, it therefore follows, inexorably, that the last days cannot be referent to the Christian age.
Were the NT writers wrong or mistaken to affirm that these things were near? They were not wrong if they were inspired– which of course, they were inspired! And this means that the last days cannot be the Christian age. The last days were the “the closing period of the Mosaic Age.”
In our next installment, we will examine Wade’s objection even closer, nad examine Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24 as it relates to the identity of the last days.