This phrase refers to the future horizon of the particular biblical writer (see G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, chapter 14, "The Language of Eschatology," pp. 243-271). It denoted a time of fulfillment of God's promises and purposes.

1. the Messianic kingdom, Gen. 49:1-27 (esp. 49:10); Num. 24:14-25 (esp. 24:17); Isa. 2:2; Jer. 48:47; 49:39; Ezek. 38:8,16

2. Israel's rebellion, Deut. 31:29

3. Israel's return to YHWH in repentance and faith, Deut. 4:30; Hos. 3:5; Jer. 23:19-22 (esp. 23:20)

4. an end-time attack on the covenant people, Ezek. 38:16; Dan. 2:28; 10:14 (possibly Psalm 2)

5. exile, Amos 4:2

Only context can clarify which period. Be careful of allowing your systematic theology to fill in all the details!

This period of time goes by several names.

1. end of the days, Num. 24:14; Deut. 8:16; Dan. 2:28; 10:14

2. in the last days, Jer. 23:20; 30:24; 49:39; Ezek. 38:8,16; Hos. 3:5; Joel 2:28 (Acts 2:17); John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24; 12:48; 2 Tim. 3:1; James 5:3

3. in the Last Time, 1 Pet. 1:5

4. at the end of the times, 1 Pet. 1:20

5. during the last of the days, 2 Pet. 3:3

6. the last hour, 1 John 2:18

At the end of the last days is the "day of the Lord" (i.e., "the consummation," Matt. 13:39,40; 24:3; 28:20; Heb. 9:26).

The Jews of the interbiblical period saw two ages: the current evil age of rebellion and sin (starting at Genesis 3) and the coming age of righteousness inaugurated by the coming of the Messiah (see Special Topic: Messiah) in the power of the Spirit. The OT emphasizes the coming of the Messiah in judgment and power to establish the new age. However, it failed to see clearly the first coming of Jesus as

1. the "Suffering Servant" in Isaiah 53

2. the humble One riding the colt of a donkey in Zech. 9:9

3. the pierced One of Zech. 12:10

From NT progressive revelation we know that God planned two comings of the Messiah. The period between the Incarnation (the first coming) and the second coming involves the overlapping of the two Jewish ages. This is designated in the NT by the phrase "last days." We have been in this period for over 2000 years (See Special Topic: This Age and the Age to Come). The last days are now (cf. Acts 2:16-17; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20; 4:7; 1 John 2:18).

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