The first paragraph of Hebrews reveals that Paul believed he was living in “the last days.” Scripture employs two expressions about the future that have different meanings. The prophets used the expression “last days” or “latter days” to talk about the future in general (e.g., Deut. 4:30, 31; Jer. 23:20). The prophet Daniel used a second expression, “the time of the end,” to talk more specifically about the last days of earth’s history (Dan. 8:17, Dan. 12:4).
Read Numbers 24:14–19 and Isaiah 2:2, 3. What did God promise He would do for His people in the “latter days”?
Several Old Testament prophets announced that in the “latter days” God would raise up a King who would destroy the enemies of His people (e.g., Num. 24:14–19) and who would attract the nations to Israel (e.g., Isa. 2:2, 3). Paul says that these promises were fulfilled in Jesus. He defeated Satan and, through the proclamation of the Gospel, is attracting all the nations to Himself (Col. 2:15, John 12:32). In this sense, then, “the last days” have begun because Jesus has fulfilled God’s promises.
Our spiritual fathers died in faith. They saw and greeted the promises from “afar,” but did not receive them. We, on the other hand, have seen their fulfillment in Jesus.
Let’s think for a moment about God’s promises and Jesus. The Father promised that He would resurrect His children (1 Thess. 4:15, 16). The wonderful news is that He initiated the resurrection of His children with the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20, Matt. 27:51–53). The Father also promised a new creation (Isa. 65:17). He has begun to fulfill that promise by creating a new spiritual life in us (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15). He promised that He would establish His final kingdom (Dan. 2:44). He inaugurated that kingdom by delivering us from the power of Satan and installing Jesus as our Ruler (Matt. 12:28–30, Luke 10:18–20). This is only the beginning, however. What the Father began to do at Jesus’ first coming, He will bring to completion at His second.
Look at all the promises God fulfilled in the past. How should this help us to trust Him for the promises not yet fulfilled?
Supplemental EGW Notes
Fellow pilgrim, we are still amid the shadows and turmoil of earthly activities; but soon our Saviour is to appear to bring deliverance and rest. Let us by faith behold the blessed hereafter as pictured by the hand of God. He who died for the sins of the world is opening wide the gates of Paradise to all who believe on Him. Soon the battle will have been fought, the victory won. Soon we shall see Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. And in His presence the trials and sufferings of this life will seem as nothingness. The former things “shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” “Israel shall be saved . . . with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” Isaiah 65:17; Hebrews 10:35-37; Isaiah 45:17.—Prophets and Kings, pp. 731, 732.
As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26. And “whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Romans 8:30. Great as is the shame and degradation through sin, even greater will be the honor and exaltation through redeeming love. To human beings striving for conformity to the divine image there is imparted an outlay of heaven’s treasure, an excellency of power, that will place them higher than even the angels who have never fallen.—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 163.
In His promises and warnings, Jesus means me. God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that I by believing in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life. The experiences related in God’s word are to be my experiences. Prayer and promise, precept and warning, are mine. . . . As faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.
By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature.—The Desire of Ages, pp. 390, 391.
The above quotations are taken from Ellen G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons, published by Pacific Press Publishing Association. Used by permission.