The End of The World and The Duration of Time
When we speak of the end of the world, the end of the age, the latter days, latter years, last days, etc. what can we learn from scripture in regard to the duration of this period? Many Christians speak of this time era as if it is a period of time at the very end of the age. This is partially correct in a sense, since the age will come to a conclusion in this time frame. However, there appears a distinction between these periods and the “time of the end,” which we will address at the end of this study.
The End of the World
In the following two verses the term “end of the world” is defined as throughout all of the world:
Psalms 19:4 – Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Isaiah 62:11 – Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
As we move into the book of Matthew, Christ is speaking of the events of the end of the world:
Matthew 13:39 – The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Christ tells us that the harvest is the end of the world. Yet we read the following in Luke 10:2:
“Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Before the Church was even established Christ was stating that there were many souls to be saved and yet few labourers in the field. Pray ye therefore, Christ says, that the Lord of the harvest would send forth labourers into His harvest. Thus we see that the harvest appears to be the duration of the New Testament age and yet Matthew 13:39 tells us “…the harvest is the end of the world.” Could the end of the world have begun at the commencing of the New Testament?
Let us look at other references that use the term “end of the world.”
Matthew 13:49 – So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Matthew 24:3 – And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Matthew 28:20 – Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The above three verses indicate that there is a climax or culmination of this present world. It appears that the phrase “end of the world” can be understood as the events that close out this present world and yet Hebrews 9:26 confirms to us that the early assembly had indeed entered into this period known as the “end of the world.”
Hebrews 9:26 – For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Christ appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Thus the end of the world and the harvest has been in existence since that time. We may not fully understand how the harvest can occur at the end of this age and also during this age.
John 4:35 – Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
In the above verse of John 4:35 Christ told His disciples that the world was white and ready for harvest. Yet we read of the harvest time in a difference sense in the following verse:
Revelation 14:15 – And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Many Christians believe that the Book of Revelation deals mainly with the events at the very end of time. However, we have seen that the period of time known as the “end of the world” spans the entire duration of the New Testament period. Perhaps much or all of the Book of Revelation encompasses this time span? Do not forget that the author of the book of Hebrews states “but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Again many Christians wrongly believe that the latter days are to be fulfilled during a short span of time at the very end of this present age. When God gave the prophet Daniel the interpretation of his dream, it was clearly set for fulfillment during the latter days.
Daniel 2:28 – But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
God proceeds to explain the vision to His servant Daniel, who in turn reveals it to King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 2:44-45 –
44 – And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 – Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Indeed this vision has taken many centuries to fulfill and was set to be fulfilled during the New Testament period, which is the latter days.
Scripture mentions the term “latter times” only once:
1 Timothy 4:1 – ¶Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
The latter times encompasses the entire New Testament period including the final years and days of this present age. We know from scripture that the final years will witness the great falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3) from the true faith of Jesus Christ. Indeed in the early assembly the apostle Paul warns us of the spiritual evil to come. Keep in mind that the following references are set for the latter times:
Romans 1:22-32 –
22 – Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 – And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 – Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 – Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 – For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 – And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 – And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 – Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 – Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 – Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 – Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These verses are clearly speaking to all who live within this time span of the New Testament era, and not merely those alive at the final years of this age. The latter times is indeed the entire New Testament age.
Thus far we have discussed the biblical terms “end of the world,” “latter days,” and “latter times.” We see the New Testament age fully in view during all of these time frames. When people speak of the “last time” we again might wonder if they are not referring to the very last few days, months, or years of this present age? What does scripture really tell us about this duration of time?
1 John 2:18 – ¶Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
When 1 John was penned in the early church, by the inspiration of God, we are told “even now” there are many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. This tells us in no uncertain terms that the last time is the complete duration of the New Testament period of time.
1 Peter 1:3-6 –
3 – ¶Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 – To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 – Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
There is a host of spiritual information to be gathered from 1 Peter 1:3-6. We understand from verse three that God has begotten us unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Verse four tells us that this hope is an eternal inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled! No man can possibly take it from us, for it is safe in the hands of our heavenly Father and reserved for us in heaven. Finally verse five tells us that we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation … and ready to be revealed in the last time! Yes indeed! Christ held our inheritance from eternity past, ready to be revealed in the last time. Certainly Christ did just that – He revealed the Father’s plan of redemption at that appointed time which was now two thousand years ago, yet it was revealed at the last time. We indeed have been experiencing the era of the last time for two thousand years now.
Jude 17-21 –
17 – But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 – How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 – These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
20 – But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 – Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
We learn here in the book of Jude of the characteristics of unsaved man after the revealing of Christ and His eternal Kingdom; they continue to mock and walk after their own ungodly lusts, having not the spirit. These are the unbelievers of the last time – not the final years of this present age but the entire New Testament period.
1 Peter 1:20 – Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
The above is the only reference in scripture that mentions “last times.” It is clear that God is speaking of Christ, who was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was (was now at that particular time) manifested in these last times for us. Again we have total confirmation that the term “last times” is not strictly in reference to the final years of this present age, but is altogether in reference to the entire New Testament period.
Just as we saw from the book of Jude that there would come mockers in the last time, so too scripture tells us that there shall come scoffers in the last days. Let us ask the question; Is God telling us that scoffers shall come in the final days or months of this present age? Perhaps during the Great tribulation? No, not at all. Rather God is once more using a term, in this case “last days,” in reference to the duration of the New Testament period and the gathering in of His elect.
2 Peter 3:2-3 –
2 – That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3 – ¶Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 – And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 – For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 – Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 – But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Antichrists, Scoffers, and mockers are the trademarks of the last days, last time, latter days, and latter times. These shall and have increased until the falling away and the world plunges into Great Tribulation, marking finally the end of this present age.
Acts 2:17 – And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
It is the effect of the Cross of Christ whereby God’s Spirit is poured out upon the flesh of men. God is seeking out His elect; the lost sheep of the spiritual house of Israel. Peoples from all nations are being called into the Kingdom, and this is taking place in the last days, that is to say this is being accomplished during the New Testament Age, beginning at Pentecost.
2 Timothy 3:1 – ¶This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
God is reiterating what we have seen concerning the state of man’s spiritual condition during the New Testament period.
Hebrews 1:1-2 –
1 – ¶God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 – Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
The writer of Hebrews confirms to us that Christ – the long awaited Messiah – has come into the world during the last days.
Isaiah 2:2 – And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Micah 4:1 – ¶But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
We have confirmation here in the Old Testament that Christ would bring salvation to the earth. Here we have allegorical language (tops of mountains) depicting believers on the earth. During this time God’s house (the mountain: kingdom) would be established in the top of the mountains. This is certainly not a literal place; it is a highly spiritual place that represents fellowships, congregations, etc., any and all places of which God’s true Gospel of salvation is heard. These areas are the very tops (utter highest) of spiritual truth found on the earth. All true believers are occupants in these tops of mountains. It is little wonder why these mountain tops are targeted for attack by Satan and his fallen hosts during the last days and especially at the end of time.
End of All Things
1 Peter 7:7 – ¶But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
We find the phrase “end of all things” only once in scripture; and of course it is found in the New Testament. Peter lays out the Christian walk in a nutshell: “And above all things have fervent charity <love> among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Peter is teaching the love of Christ as the end of all things is at hand, he explains. Peter lived in the early first century and yet the end of all things were at hand in his lifetime. Such is the nature of the New Testament age and the Revelation of Jesus Christ was to finally be revealed. We had entered the age of the end of all things but yet the final end of days was centuries away.
Ends of the World
1 Corinthians 10:11 – Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Paul summarizes events of the Old Testament such as how God led the children of Israel through the Red Sea; how they were all baptized unto Moses; how they all ate the same spiritual meat and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. Paul goes on to say that with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. In verse six Paul explains “¶Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” Paul continues in verses seven through ten of 1 Corinthians 10:
7 – Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 – Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 – Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 – Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Yes, Paul was teaching that these Old Testament events were taught as our examples and written for our admonition – upon whom the ends of the world are come, verse 11.
This is yet another confirmation that the end of the world encompasses the entire New Testament era.
The Time of the End
The phrase “time of the end” is found only in the book of Daniel. This phrase appears to focus in on the very end of the New Testament age; the events of the Great Tribulation in the final years of this present age.
Daniel 8:17 – So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
The Prophecy of Daniel Chapter Eight
Daniel 8:23-26 –
23 -And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 – And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 – And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
26 – And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
These are all literal events along with sections of Revelation that must transpire in these final days of which we are seeing come to fruition. Time does not allow us to explore these verses in-depth, but please study them on your own for you will find many parallels to them in today’s emergence of the world super-power.
Daniel 11:40 – And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
The Prophecy of Daniel Chapter Eleven
Daniel 11:35-45 –
35 – And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
36 – And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
37 – Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38 – But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39 – Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
40 – And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
41 – He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
42 – He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
43 – But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
44 – But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
45 – And he shall PLANT the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
The spiritual and the physical will dovetail at the very end of time. We are beginning to witness these long-awaited events at this very hour. The spiritual age-old goal of Satan is to capture the hearts and minds of man, including the church. The physical goal of the end-time beast empire (Revelation chapter thirteen) is to capture the hearts and minds of man – “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power… “ Daniel 8:24. This beast empire’s goal will be to rule the world from the city of Jerusalem.
Daniel 11:45 – And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
End of Study
Daniel 12:10 – Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.