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THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)

Christians of today believe they are living in the “Last Days.” Christians in the first century believed they were living in the “Last Days.” Both cannot be correct.

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In Part 2 I listed every passage of Scripture in the New Testament that referred to “This Generation.” Each passage referred to the same generation. That generation was obviously the generation that existed in the first century AD. That generation began with the birth of the Lord Jesus. It ended in 70AD with the complete destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and what was left of the nation of Israel. Israel was thus no more, exactly as the Lord Jesus had prophesied forty years before.

The Lord Jesus said that last generation of Israel would see the fulfillment of all the prophecies made about that time, which was referred to by New Testament writers as the “Last Days.” Why were they the “Last Days?” –Because they were the last days of Israel. “This Generation” was the final generation.

THE NATION OF ISRAEL

The nation of Israel had begun with the call of Abraham. This took place in approximately 1876 BC when Abraham was 70 years old. It was birthed with the miraculous birth of Abraham’s son Isaac in 1846 BC, which represented the first generation. The nation was birthed in great joy, as Isaac’s name means at root, “to laugh,” or “laughter,” or “he laughs.” Isaac was a very happy child! One pictures little Isaac as a happy, smiling, joyous, laughing baby and little boy.

Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” [Genesis 21:6]

Isaac grew up and was blessed with a loving wife. Rebekah gave birth to the first-born twins Esau and Jacob in 1786 BC. Though Esau was born first he had no heart for God. God thus chose Jacob as the new heir. Later, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

Jacob/Israel had twelve sons. His sons married and began having children. Some of these children grew up and had children. Ten years after the great Patriarch Isaac died, when the young four-generational family group of Jacob consisted of seventy-plus persons, they left the land of Canaan in approximately 1656 BC and went to live in the Goshen area of Egypt. This was made possible by Jacob’s son Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers when he was seventeen years old and ended up in Egypt, preparing the way for his family’s future salvation. Joseph rose to become the second-most powerful man in Egypt by the time he was thirty. This family group of seventy-plus persons consisting of generations two, three, four, and five was the original nation of Israel.

All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all, and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy. Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. [Genesis 46:26-28]

Untold multiple generations later we arrive at the time of the last generation of the nation, initially characterized by great joy and laughter once again with the miraculous birth of the long hoped-for promised Redeemer and Messiah. A Great Light had come into a land of darkness. When the Lord Jesus was thirty years old His forerunner, John the Immerser, prophesied about Him and the nation of Israel in the following:

Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:15-17]

This verse has been misinterpreted often yet is actually quite clear. John is speaking in terms anyone there could understand: The wheat will undergo a harvest. The Messiah, winnowing fork in hand on His threshing floor, will do the work of separating the edible grains from the useless chaff. He will gather the wheat (the saved and redeemed of Israel, the sheep, the righteous) into His barn. But He will burn up the chaff (the unsaved and unredeemed of the nation, the goats, the unrighteous) with unquenchable fire.

He will thus baptize (immerse) the redeemed of Israel with His Holy Spirit, but will baptize the unredeemed with fire.

We see these two fates of the nation again in the following illustration of John:

“Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Luke 3:9]

In both of these prophetic pronouncements of John we see that the final generation (“this generation”) of the nation of Israel is under pressure to get right with God and produce good fruit. We see that the axe of judgment is already poised against the nation. The axe is about to drop. But before the end comes, as the nation will be divided by those who will either become wheat or chaff, so will the nation be divided by those who will be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit of God to produce good fruit and those who will do the opposite. Again, the nation of Israel will be divided into two distinct parts during the final generation.

On that great Day of Pentecost at the beginning of the final thirty-eight years of the nation and continuing until the end, the Holy Spirit will be given to all those who properly repent and are cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb. This large group of the redeemed within the overall nation of several million, most likely the smaller of the two groups by percentage, will honor their Messiah and prove themselves with consistent discipleship and as trees bearing good fruit. At the conclusion of the final thirty-eight years the end will come when the besieged city of Jerusalem and the great Temple will be burned by unrelenting fire in a great conflagration just as both John the Immerser and the Lord Jesus had prophesied roughly forty years before. The end of Israel arrived in 70 AD.

THE “LAST DAYS”

Thus we see that what was referred to as the “Last Days” were actually the last days of Israel which took place almost two thousand years ago in the first century AD. Though referred to with other terminology, the following are the five Scriptural occurrences when the exact term “Last Days” is referred to in the New Testament by at least three if not four different writers, which greatly adds to its credibility (dates approximate):

ONE / 32 AD   

15 “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.’” [Acts 2:15-18]

TWO / 64 AD

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. [2Timothy 3:1-5]

THREE / 63 AD

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. [Hebrews 1:1-2]

FOUR / 50-60 AD

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! [James 5:1-3]

FIVE / 65 AD

3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. [2Peter 3:3-7] [1]

We can see that four of the above five works were written just as the nation of Israel was coming to a close, in the twilight hour so to speak. They served collectively as a latter bookend to the former bookend at Pentecost. Each is filled with dire language describing very well the final times. Since Pauline authorship of the Book of Hebrews has never reached a consensus it could very well be that these were four different men using the exact “Last Days” terminology at a time when the end was extremely close and they could feel it in their spirit. The great Jewish Revolt against Rome began in mid-summer of 66 AD. Vespasian’s siege barricades began being constructed around Jerusalem in the spring of 67 AD. This was one of the signs of warning the Lord gave to His people dwelling there concerning when they should depart.

Only those who honored Him, who had treasure in heaven, would heed His words.

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

 

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

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The Lord Jesus is recorded using the exact term “This Generation” a total of 17 times. To what generation was He referring? How does it relate to the “Last Days?”

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“THIS GENERATION” IN THE GOSPELS

I stated the following in Part 1 of this Series:

The Lord Jesus frequently and consistently referred to a single generation throughout His ministry. Throughout the Gospel accounts He refers to it specifically as “this generation.” There are a total of seventeen such references, five in Matthew, three in Mark, and nine in Luke. He also described it. He referred to “this generation” as “evil, adulterous, unbelieving, perverted, sinful, and wicked.” In Acts 2:40, Peter also refers to it as “perverse.” In Philippians 2:15, Paul agrees with Peter and adds another fitting adjective—“crooked.” So here we have seven quite descriptive adjectives describing the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation.”

THE LIST

To make sure we are all on the same page and become familiar with the seventeen occurrences of the exact term “this generation” in the Gospels, here is the list (NASB95):

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (5):

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” [Matthew 11:16-17]

41 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Matthew 12:41]

42 “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42]

34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and 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, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” [Matthew 23:34-36]

32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” [Matthew 24:32-34]

GOSPEL OF MARK (3):

11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He *said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” [Mark 8:11-12]

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Mark 13:28-30]

GOSPEL OF LUKE (9):

31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’” [Luke 7:31-32]

29 As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.” [Luke 11:29]

30 “For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” [Luke 11:30]

31 “The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Luke 11:31]

32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Luke 11:32]

49 “For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” [Luke 11:49-51]

24 “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” [Luke 17:24-25]

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.” [Luke 21:29-32]

ADDITIONAL OCCURRENCES

The following are nine additional occurrences that do not contain the exact term “this generation” but relate directly to it and contain the word “generation.” Notice the descriptive adjectives:

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (4):

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;” [Matthew 12:39]

43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” [Matthew 12:43-45]

4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. [Matthew 16:4]

17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” [Matthew 17:17]

GOSPEL OF MARK (2):

38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:38]

19 And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” [Mark 9:19]

GOSPEL OF LUKE (1):

41 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” [Luke 9:41]

APOSTLE PETER:

40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” [Acts 2:40]

APOSTLE PAUL:

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. [Philippians 2:14-16] [1]

Remember, every one of these 26 occurrences refer to the same generation. They each refer to “this generation.”

Is it the generation of the “Last Days?”

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

 

We have been convinced we are living in the “Last Days,” that there is no remedy for the growing evil of these times, and that we must surrender apathetically without a fight.

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“THIS GENERATION”

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Matthew 24:34]

The Lord Jesus frequently and consistently referred to a single generation throughout His ministry. Throughout the Gospel accounts He refers to it specifically as “this generation.” There are a total of seventeen such references, five in Matthew, three in Mark, and nine in Luke. He also described it. He referred to “this generation” as “evil, adulterous, unbelieving, perverted, sinful, and wicked.” In Acts 2:40, Peter also refers to it as “perverse.” In Philippians 2:15, Paul agrees with Peter and adds another fitting adjective—“crooked.” So here we have seven quite descriptive adjectives describing the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation.”

GROSS ERROR

There is a very strange occurrence that takes place when Christians refer to prophetic content within the Gospel accounts. They almost always have a tendency to refer to the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation” as their own generation. This phenomenon became more common after the advent of the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago. It happened before then as well though the instances are far less due to a lack of access to the Word of God, attributed to general illiteracy, and also because the Roman Catholic Church had purposely hidden the written Word behind a wall of Latin.

Thus, in the 1500s, as more Christians began reading the few emerging Gospel accounts in their own languages, and apparently due to their limited understanding of the phrase “this generation,” they had the decided tendency to think it meant their generation. The same thing happened in successive generations since, from the 1500s to the present. This became especially true beginning in the early to mid 1800s in America with the advent of Dispensational Theology, a spurious construct invented out of thin air. By the time the 20th century dawned in the year 1900, the phenomenon became much more pronounced. It gained great steam by mid century, especially by the 1960s when America began being inundated with so-called Christian “prophecy teachers.”

Strangely enough, though these “prophecy teachers” had relatively slight differences which got blown out of proportion (such as the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib nonsense), they generally agreed very closely on what they termed Biblical prophecies coming true in our time. This does not mean that they were right but that their interpretations were coming from the same original source.

Then, in the mode of Space-based science fiction popular at that time, the phenomenon broke out into the secular culture with the publication of a seminal Christian prophecy work entitled The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. According to the New York Times, this was the “bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970s.” [1] All of the sudden, Biblical prophecy not only became a popular topic in America, it was also said to be coming to pass in real time. According to the author, the prophesied future was now upon that generation of fifty-two years ago. Due to its nature and claims, the book was also publicized through high circulation mainstream newspapers and magazines. Many more prophecy books were published by various authors. The top prophecy teachers were touring the states speaking at churches, colleges, and conferences. With the advent of Christian television in the early 1970s they were suddenly selling their wares through that medium. It truly was a burgeoning phenomenon. And the one astounding constant those guys all had in common was that our time (the 1970s) was the specific time referred to in the New Testament when the “Last Days” prophecies of the Lord Jesus were actually coming to pass.

In essence, the prophecy teachers made the declarative persistent claim that the American generation of the 1970s was the New Testament “this generation” referred to by the Lord Jesus.

THE DECEPTION PERSISTS

Remember, pretty much every generation over the last five hundred years has, to varying degrees, believed their generation to be the one that would see the culmination of prophetic events and the second coming of the Lord Jesus. This was more pronounced on scattered occasions here and there especially during times of revival. But as I stated previously, the phenomenon became a flowing stream with no discernible interruptions beginning about 120 years ago. This had never happened before. That generation was convinced we were at the end of time. When WWI broke out it appeared all the more believable. The same thing happened during WWII. The belief that we were in the “Last Days” gained force and notoriety for seventy years until it burst onto the scene in the 1970s reaching an apogee that carried on into the 1980s and 90s.

Of course, the year 1900 or thereabouts was not the end of the world, nor did the prophesied end come in the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s though many in those two generations were convinced otherwise. A third generation then came upon the scene and gained age in the 1950s and 60s. This generation was also fully convinced it must be the last one on earth due in part to the advent of nuclear weapons which were said to have the firepower to effectively destroy the planet. The 1960s saw great social change not only in the secular but also within Christianity which for the first time was visited throughout with the Holy Spirit outpouring within all major denominations. This occurrence definitely had an effect on the “Last Days” theme.

Then, with the initial emergence of the fourth generation beginning in roughly 1970 the phenomenon blasted into outer space. One could not escape such news if one tried. The Christians of that time knew the “Last Days” had certainly arrived. Regardless of what any previous generation had thought prior to the 1970s, those people were simply wrong, it was said, and they were only seeing the earliest glimpses of the future in their time. The previous generations had made the mistake of attributing the future to their time, it was said, while the emerging generation of the 1970s, having been shown so clearly by the prophecy teachers “that one can see prophecy coming to pass simply by reading the newspapers,” were convinced their days were truly the “Last Days,” the time when Jesus would definitely return. Well, He didn’t return fifty years ago in the early 1970s. Maybe He was “tarrying.”

When nothing changed in the 1970s the new mantra was based on the state of Israel. The prophecy teachers insisted the Lord must return within a generation of the founding of the state of Israel, which took place in the spring of 1948, as wrongheaded as that contention was. Their reasoning was thus: Since a Biblical generation was thought to be forty years the Lord will return by 1988. And of course, because there must be a seven year “Tribulation” period within this construct, this great time of turmoil and suffering which the world has never before seen would have to begin by 1981. That was forty-one years ago. Of course, the “The Great Tribulation” never happened. The Lord did not return in the 1980s.

The prophecy teachers made more adjustments. They were absolutely right all along you see and never admitted to being off, so they simply added more to the mix. They continued to make the rounds and make money. They continued writing best sellers. They continued pontificating on Christian television. Everyone, it seems, kept believing them. As time went on, however, they started sounding that much more incorrect. They could no longer come up with adequate explanations. But giving credit where credit is certainly due, these guys were masters at their craft. And Christians in general remained Biblically uninformed regarding New Testament Scripture as usual and thus extremely gullible. As time continued to pass the entire prophecy timelines and constructs of the prophecy teachers simply started to fade away. There was no sense pushing them anymore. They could no longer be made to fit.

Then a new generation began to rise in roughly the mid-1990s. Christians were still aware of these so-called prophecies somewhat but no longer emphasized them. Nevertheless, from then until now the deception has remained. Christians still insist we are in the “Last Days” referred to in the New Covenant literature. Christians still believe we are in the days directly preceding the Second Coming.

As it turns out, the “Last Days” last a long time, much longer than prophecy says they should. They have now lasted over 120 years. The state of Israel is almost 74 years old. That’s almost two Biblical generations. Every generation from roughly 1900 until now believed they would see the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Each generation was obviously wrong.

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

We are now at the beginning of the sixth generation. The entire construct of the prophecy teachers of the recent past has been proven absolutely wrong though a probable majority of Christians and even great millions of non-Christians still believe it. Though it has no rhyme or reason from a New Testament perspective, it has become accepted religious theology. We have seen this play out once again over the last few weeks in the Russian war with Ukraine in which prophecy is once again being applied to the actions of Russia as it always is when Russia makes a perceived major move of one kind or another.

The major problem which arises from this prophecy heresy is the idea that evil will continue to grow worse and worse in the world and that there is absolutely nothing Christians can do about it. Though the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth there is nothing He can do about it either. If Christians have been convinced that prophecy says the world is lost then the current Kingdom of the Lord Jesus existing in this world lacks the power to overcome evil which indicates evil is the greater power.

I submit that this idea is pure unadulterated garbage and that the reason evil is overcoming good is because many potential proponents of spiritual good have been erroneously taught to stand down and go about their Christianity in such a way that they represent no threat to the devil. This absurd attitude based on the “Last Days” deception may best be described by the Lord Himself in the following:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” [Matthew 5:13][2]

Sound familiar?   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)