Heavenly Bodies, Covenantal Symbols

Sun and Moon Darkened

Other things to transpire in the last days were the sun going dark and the moon turning to blood (Joel 2:31). These were symbols signifying the end of the Old Covenant world. Since the sun and moon are the governing bodies of the heavens (Genesis 1), they came to symbolize governments within a system. Their darkening and turning into blood denoted the fall of such a system. Isaiah uses this language in reference to the Babylonian kingdom,

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he will destroy its sinners from it.

For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light: The sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine (Isaiah 13:9-10).

Jesus applied these same symbols to the destruction of the Old Covenant system:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

John, of course, pictures the tragedy of the Jewish defeat in the siege of Jerusalem in the same manner:

I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood (Revelation 6:12).

Things were to happen in the last days, and since Jesus and John both apply this language to the fall of Jerusalem, the case for the last days being the end of the Old Covenant age seems pretty strong. Again, we fall into a trap if we assume these images refer literally to the heavenly bodies. Christ did not apply Joel’s prophecy concerning the “sun and moon” to this material world, nor should others.

The Last Days of Isaiah

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.

Many people shall come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3).

It usually is affirmed that this prophecy had its fulfillment on Pentecost, but just as Joel 2, it must be understood as having its beginning on Pentecost. The time period in these two prophecies is the “last days,” which extend from Pentecost to the close of the Old Covenant age. During this time period the mountain or government of the Lord’s house was going to be established in the top of the mountains. This prophecy blends with Daniel 2:44:

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44).

The eternal kingdom was not established in one day, but its emergence demanded the labor, suffering, and sacrifice of the gospel saints throughout the entire time of the last days. According to Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 14, the saints did not “take the kingdom and possess it forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18) until after the battle with the beast (Daniel 7:19-21), which was at the end of the Old Covenant age. Although the kingdom had its inception on Pentecost, it did not have its victory until the fall of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem was the time of Christ’s coming in his kingdom with power and victory (Matthew 16:27-28; Luke 21:31). We have already seen that the seventieth week of Daniel is equated with the last half of Revelation, and deals with the end time or the final battle of the saints with the beast before the fall of Jerusalem. The saints did not possess the kingdom before this battle, but afterwards:

I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:21-22).

The coming of the Ancient of Days resulted in the victory of the saints and their possessing the kingdom. This was not the coming of Christ on Pentecost, but his coming in the destruction of the Old Covenant system (Matthew 24). Revelation is a picture and description of this coming. Chapter 1 pictures the son of man (Ancient of Days) and declares his coming (verse 7). It was the time of receiving the eternal kingdom (Revelation 11:15-17; 12:10), as affirmed by the writer of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

The everlasting kingdom of Christ was established in the last days. Putting the time of the everlasting kingdom at the end of the space-time universe is a denial of Daniel 2:44, and Daniel 7:13-14. It is equally absurd to have the eternal kingdom of Daniel 2:44 fulfilled on Pentecost and still look for the eternal kingdom of 2 Peter 1:11. There are not two eternal kingdoms – Daniel and Peter were speaking of the same kingdom and the same time of its coming in fullness. Daniel 2:44; 1 Peter 1:11; Hebrews 12:28; Matthew 16:27-28; Luke 21:31; and Revelation 11:15-17 all converge at the end time of the Jewish age. Everything came to pass in the “last days” as prophesied by Isaiah, Joel and Daniel, as taught by Christ and envisioned by John.

Many are still waiting for the external kingdom because they believe it follows the end of the universe. But the sun has been darkened and the moon has been turned into blood. The world (the Old Covenant world) has ended, and the Ancient of Days has come, giving victory to the saints over the forces of darkness. The kingdom was delivered to the saints, and eternal life is the right and power of every citizen.

Max KingJoin us each week as we continue exploring fulfilled covenant eschatology by blogging through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, you can always read the full book inspiring inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.

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