More on the Last Days
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.>>
Response: We have noted how critical it is for Wade’s definition of the last days as the Christian age. In truth, all futurist eschatologies are reliant on this identification of the last days. In one sense, the proper identification of the last days is the foundation for a proper understanding of eschatology. If you improperly identify the last days, then you have the entire framework and time for the coming of the Lord, judgment and resurrection all wrong. It is that critical of an issue. With this in mind, consider again Deuteronomy 32.
Twice this great chapter, called the Song of Moses, says it is a prophecy of the “last end” or “the latter end” of Israel (32:19f; 29). Pretty clearly, this is not about the end of time. It is not about the end of the Christian age. It is not about the end of human history. It is about the last end of Israel, her last days.
Remember that according to Wade and his amillennial brethren, Israel’s last days ended at the cross. She ceased to be a covenant people; Torah ended at the cross. Now, it is often claimed that in Hebrews 8:13 where Paul said the Old Covenant was “nigh unto passing” that what he really meant was that the last visible vestiges of the already dead covenant were about to pass. In reality of course, the text says no such thing. It says that the covenant itself had now grown old and was ready to vanish. There is not a word about the impending destruction of Jerusalem being a sign that Torah had already passed. It is eisegesis of the worst sort to read that into the text.
Notice then that in Deuteronomy 32:43 YHVH said that in Israel’s last days He would avenge the blood of the martyrs: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.” There is much here that we cannot take time to discuss, including the law of Blood Atonement. See my book Like Father Like Son On Clouds of Glory book. Simply stated, for those who committed purposeful murder, the only “atonement” they could pay was destruction. (Those committing murder in ignorance or passion could be forgiven, but not those guilty of first degree murder).
Now, take note of Isaiah 2-4.
Isaiah 2:2 foretold the establishment of the Messianic Temple and Kingdom “in the last days.” Note then the use of the term “in that day” as it is used throughout chapters 2-4. There are several uses of this term, which ties chapters 2-4 into a united prophecy of the last days.
In chapter 2:11, 17, 20 we find a discussion of the events of the Day of the Lord. It would be when men would run to the hills and seek escape from that Day. The fact that it describes men running from the Day of the Lord precludes a reference to the “end of time” does it not? Escape from an event that is ostensibly over in “the twinkling of an eye” hardly allows time to run to the hills!
In chapter 3:1-7 we find reference to the fact that there would be famine “in that day.” Once again, this cannot have reference to an end of time event. And yet, it is in the last days, consummating in the Day of the Lord.
Note that in v. 13ff the Lord describes the “in that Day” time as when “the Lord stands up to judge His people” and this is no one other than Old Covenant Israel. Thus, “the last days” is irrefutably posited as the time of the judgment of Israel– just like Deuteronomy 32.
Isaiah 3:25 then says, “Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty men in the war.” This verse is cited by Jesus in his prediction of Jerusalem’s destruction (Luke 21:24).
Then, in chapter 4:2f we discover that “in that Day” is the time of the appearance of “the Branch” of the Lord, who will arise for the salvation of the remnant. This is clearly Messianic. Of course, the point is that all of this is tied to the last days of Israel, consummating in the Day of the Lord, when Israel’s men would fall by the edge of the sword. This is not the end of the Christian age, or the end of time.
Now, note that in 4:4 the Lord promised that “in that Day” He would purge the blood guilt of Jerusalem. This is the Day of the Lord against Israel in the last days, when Jehovah would judge her for shedding innocent blood.
Just as Deuteronomy 32 foretold that in Israel’s last days God would avenge the blood of His saints, Isaiah – who is essentially reiterating the Song of Moses – says that in Israel’s last days, during the time of “the war” (3:25, cf. Daniel 9:27) God would avenge the blood guilt of Jerusalem.
Keep in mind that Jesus appeared in the last days– the time foretold by Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 2-4. In several texts (Matthew 21; 22) he foretold the judgment of Israel, for shedding innocent blood, and said it would occur in his generation. He described that event as the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:29f; 26:64)..
Take particular note of Matthew 23:31-37– 34:
“Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
Jesus leaves us no room to quibble or quarrel. He said that all of the blood of all the righteous, all the way back to creation, would be avenged and judged in his generation. This rather falsifies the notion that the AD 70 event was a strictly localized event, does it not? How much more comprehensive could that judgment be?
So, in summation, here is the argument:
In Israel’s last days and at the Day of the Lord, God would avenge all of the blood of His martyrs (Isaiah 2-4).
But, Jesus said that all of the blood of all the martyrs was to be judged and avenged in his generation, in the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem (Matthew 23:31-37).
Therefore, Israel’s last days and the Day of the Lord were in the first century, with the last days extending to, and consummating in the Day of the Lord in the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem.
All of this means that it cannot be argued that the last days of Israel did not exist beyond the cross. It falsifies the idea that the last days began at Pentecost. It falsifies the idea that God was through with Israel at the cross. It negates the idea that that last days is to be defined as the Christian age. It completely nullifies Ronnie Wade’s objection to Covenant Eschatology.
(As an important note: Dispensationalists claim that Israel’s last days were suspended due to the cross, and that they will not resume until the supposed Rapture, at the end of the Christian age. The fact that Deuteronomy and Isaiah posited the avenging of the blood of the martyrs in Israel’s last days, and that Jesus said this would be at the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem totally negates the dispensational view of the last days. If Israel’s last days were on-going in AD 70 the entire dispensational theorem is falsified).
More to come.