The “ends” the prophets spoke of in the Old Testament serve as patterns for our understanding of “the end” in the New Testament. Like the “ends” experienced by the Old Testament prophets and their audiences, the end of the old covenant age was a time of great distress and upheaval. The Church was persecuted, first, by the apostate Jews (the texts for this are too numerous to list: read Acts and Paul’s epistles), later by the Roman government under Nero1 – a persecution that according to the Bible was not limited geographically to the city of Rome. However, this persecution shifted as God “came to the rescue” of His people. The anger and might of the Roman Empire was turned from the Church and brought to bear on the apostate Jews instead. The result was the death or enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.2
It was in the work of Christ during the first Advent that the redemptive plan of God found its completion. The effects of that completed work will be progressively manifest in the history of the world until the end of time. Accordingly, the commanding event in time-space history was Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and return in judgment against apostate Israel.
In summary, Jesus declared the generation in existence at the close of His earthly ministry would see the fulfillment of His prophecy as recorded in Matthew chapter twenty-four (Matt. 24:34). Therefore we should not be surprised to find the events that took place from AD 66 to AD 70 perfectly correspond to Christ’s prophecy and the majority of The Revelation. Moreover, the writer of the book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus accomplished His work during the last days of the old covenant age (Heb 1:1, 9:26) and Paul indicates he and his contemporaries where living in the last days of the old covenant (Rom. 13:12, 1 Cor. 10:11). In addition, we see from the Old Testament examples (Ps. 18:7-15, Is. 13:1-ff, Jer. 4:23-26, Ezek. 32, Joel 2:10, and etc.), that the predictions of cosmic phenomena coinciding with the last days are prophetic language describing the dissolution of the strictly Jewish “church” and the in-grafting of the Gentiles, resulting in a new order of things in the universe (Matt. 24:29, Rev. Chapter 6 and so on). In short I agree with R. C. Sproul when he says;
I am convinced that the substance of the Olivet discourse was fulfilled in A.D. 70 and that the bulk of Revelation was likewise fulfilled in that time frame …the coming of Christ in AD 70 was a coming in judgment on the Jewish nation, indicating the end of the Jewish age and the fulfillment of a day of the Lord. Jesus really did come in judgment at that time, fulfilling His prophecy in the Olivet Discourse.3
There is however a day in the future when Christ will physically return and bring an end to this present age. He will defeat Satan once and for all (Rev. 20:7-10), and those who have placed faith in Jesus for salvation will live forever together with Him in the new heaven and the new earth.
1. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, trans., Robert Graves, (1957; New York: Penguin Books, 1989), 221.
2. Josephus, Wars, V:I:1 and etc.
3. R. C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 158.