As I read through the Book of Acts my eyes stopped at Acts 2:17. Peter is speaking, and he informed his listeners that what they were witnessing in the activity of Jesus’ disciples was what Joel foretold would occur in the “last days!” We Christians seem to be so taken with preaching about the last days that any author who wrote of such would be virtually guaranteed a best seller. Nevertheless, usually the Scriptures used in such teaching are really speaking of the 1st century C.E. and not about the Second Coming at all.
We forget or perhaps don’t realize that one age ended and another began in the 1st century C.E. The age of God dealing with mankind through law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, while the Age of Grace began with the teaching of Jesus. There was an overlap of about 40 years, one generation, but the apostles preached in the final days of the Age of Law. Most of the Olivet Prophecy concerned the generation living prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and when Jesus announced that this generation would not pass away, until those things he predicted would occur, he was speaking of that evil generation that heard him and witnessed his miracles but refused to repent. He was not speaking of any other period of time but that one.
When it came time to speak of his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36-51), Jesus had very little to tell the apostles. He told them (and us) to watch, that is, to be aware of what is going on around us and be faithful to what he has told us to do. He said if any of his servants begin to hurt their brethren, because they believe Jesus has delayed his return, he would judge that servant harshly, but reward the faithful. Nevertheless, concerning the day and hour of his return, Jesus claimed even he didn’t know when it would occur, only that our Father in heaven had appointed a day but veiled that day in mystery. We cannot know when Jesus will return. He could come this evening, or tomorrow or not for another hundred or another thousand years. The only hint of which I am aware that speaks of something occurring just prior to Jesus return is found in Zechariah 12. There God claims he would bring all nations against the Jews and this would bring Jesus back. Well, the Jews are in their ancient homeland again, but though they were already in several wars, Jesus didn’t return. Will it be the next war? Perhaps it will be the one after the next? Who knows? The only certainty is that Jesus’ disciples need to be about our Father’s business and treat one another with kindness and be gentle toward all men. If we take care of these things, it won’t really matter if Jesus returns in our days or in the days of our grandchildren or even later! Would it?
What does this have to do with Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples? Actually, very little! I merely paused at Acts 2:17 and wondered about all the preaching that is done today concerning the last days just prior to Jesus return. Some teachers even claim we’ve been living in the last days for nearly 2000 years. I think that is stretching the truth quite a bit. Don’t you? I am astonished at what men will claim to be true in order to keep from admitting error on their part. So much is said today about a subject concerning which Jesus claimed we actually know very little. It think about all those books modern authors have written; the ones about being left behind and believers being scooped away, driverless cars crashing and killing who knows who or how many innocent children. Does anyone ever stop and wonder if any of this is inspired by the Spirit that fell upon Jesus’ disciples nearly 2000 years ago?