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. 19 ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20 ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. 21 ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ 22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
When we think of the end of times and the last days, we have some sort of fixed yet undefined period of time thought out in the future, don’t we? Some of us hope to see the last days before we die and others prefer to think they will occur once our current generations have passed. The truth is that we are in the last days now! The last days started when Jesus ascended and He poured out His spirit upon mankind almost 2,000 years ago. Look around you and see the signs; observe the things that are still happening in accordance with this prophecy.
In Mark 13, we read Jesus’ conversation with His disciples about the end of days. He gives us a little more inclination as to what will happen including the persecution of the church:
5 And Jesus began to say to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. 6 "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many. 7 "When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 "For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 9 "But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 "The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 "When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
The reason that these elements are mixed together in this message: the crucifixion of Christ, the last days, and how we can be saved from it all is because they fit together as pieces of the eternal puzzle. The end of the world, started by the crucifixion of Christ, God predestined Jesus’ death not just as a way to save us from our sinfulness of the past, but to preserve us for what is to come. This beginning of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost lays the groundwork for the rest of time. He declares the purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth and subsequent death as a fulfillment of the prophecy of the beginning of the end. When will the end actually occur? As Jesus said in Mark 13:10, “The gospel must first be preached to all nations.”