Space, the Final Frontier.
You probably know the rest of the above quote by heart. The idea behind the Star Trek monologue was taken from the idea that the surface of earth had been discovered and now there remained nowhere to go but into outer space. The space exploration program was just beginning and Star Trek capitalized on the excitement of this new beginning. Different quotes about endeavors were rephrased to come up with the now famous monologue.
What if I told you that there is something eerily similar in the scriptures? There is a final frontier spoken of in the book of Acts. Follow me on a little eschatological journey to undiscovered territory.
My blog has focused on eschatology for some time. This is the study of the last things, or final things. The Greek word eschatos is used throughout scripture to denote the last (final) days, the last (final) time, and the final frontier. Hebrews 1:1-2 basically says, “This God who spoke to us in so many ways in times past has, in these last (eschatos) days, spoken unto us by His Son.” Some people have this misunderstanding about the last days, thinking they will happen any time now. The writer of this book stated that the last days began when God started speaking through His Son, Jesus. The Messiah (the Christ) had stepped out of the pages of scripture into real time and space. The final days had arrived! I Peter 1:20 confirms that Christ was revealed in these last (eschatos) times for YOU.
A similar phrase is found in II Timothy 3:1. Paul warns that “In the last (eschatos) days, difficult times will come”. He then goes on to describe what you can read in the news every day. People will be in love with themselves, disobey their parents, gossip, pursue money, have no self-control, and be reckless, careless, unloving, and conceited. Sometimes when I see how much wrong is being accomplished by mankind, I’m glad that there is an end to all of this. These are the last days. II Peter 3:3-5 agrees that the last (eschatos) days will be characterized by people ignorantly questioning whether Christ will ever return. They insist that the world has simply been continuing day by day with no changes since the beginning. From the majority of the world’s point of view, God isn’t going to change things. This can lead to either “It’s up to us to change things” or “We can get away with whatever we want.” Both are mistaken. Christ is going to come back and put a period at the end of the sentence for all this evil.
Here in these final days, God has spoken by His Son, and continues to work through those that belong to His Son. However, these last days are characterized by evil. Just look at the news. Here in my town people are killing each other, hating each other, cursing each other out, thinking they are better than others, gossiping about others, well, you get the idea. And it’s not just my town. These things are going on in your town. All the while we say things to avoid a need for God like, “He’s such a nice person.” We should be kind, but the truth is that we are all sinful and in need of a Savior.
But what about the very last day? What about the eschatos day, the final day? John 6:39-40, 44, 11:24, 12:48 all speak of a day when those who believe in Jesus will be raised up (see also John 5:28-29) to come out of their graves. Those who have been born again will receive everlasting life from Jesus Himself. We are living in the last days, but we are awaiting the last of the last. We await that final (eschatos) day.
In the book of Acts, these disciples who walked and talked with the resurrected Jesus Christ went forward preaching the gospel. They had a view of this earth that you may not have considered. They esteemed the places on earth that needed to hear the gospel as The Final Frontier. With the use of the word eschatos being linked to days and times to form our eschatology, we should also look at two key passages in the book of Acts. These two verses are pivotal to understanding the last things, and the unique thing about this whole situation is that both verses are pivotal to understanding the preaching of the gospel in our present time.
Acts 1:6-8 KJV. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 1:6-8 ESV. 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Look at the progression of the dialogue. The disciples ask about when Israel will be restored. Jesus points them away from eschatos events, to eschatos preaching. You don’t need to know when the kingdom will be restored to Israel. But you will receive power to preach to the end of the earth. That phrase “end of the earth” is literally eschatos ghay, which means final land, or final frontier. You will preach the gospel and start out here in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then ultimately to the eschatos, the final limits. That should excite you if you are a disciple Jesus. You get to boldly go where no man has gone before.
The next instance of the word eschatos in the book of Acts is found in Acts 2:17. Peter is preaching at Pentecost just after the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon them, just like Jesus foretold in Acts 1:8. Peter quotes Joel, but it doesn’t quite look like the quotation as I have read it. Instead of “It shall come to pass after this” or “It shall come to pass afterward”, Peter states, “It shall come to pass in the last (eschatos) days.” Interesting. Instead of the context of Joel, which is after the repentance of Israel, see Joel 2 in its entirety, the context in Acts 2 is “in the last days”, or in the final (eschatos) days. This pouring out of the Holy Spirit as foreseen by Joel when the nation of Israel repents is the same Holy Spirit being poured out to give the disciples power to preach to the eschatos earth, or final frontier. Let’s not discount the repentance of Israel just yet. Peter will say more in Acts 3:12-26 about the repentance of Israel in relationship to the coming of Christ, the restoration of all things, and the blessings yet to be poured out upon his kinsmen. But let’s not miss the point. The Holy Spirit is being poured out in the last days, but to what end? (Pun intended.)
Acts 13:46-47 KJV. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Acts 13:46-47 ESV. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”
The third and final (ahem) use of the word eschatos in Acts is found in Acts 13:47. The entire context of Acts 13 should be understood. This is the first missionary journey to evangelize (good message) the world. After preaching in the synagogue to the Israelites, they meet with resistance; but the message is welcomed by the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas quote Isaiah 49:6 which prophesied that “I have set You (understood to be Christ) as a light to the Gentiles to be salvation unto the ends of the earth.” That phrase “ends of the earth” is literally eschatos ghay, the exact same Greek phrase as found in Acts 1:8. The commission was given to the disciples by Christ in Acts 1:8, and we see it being fulfilled in Acts 13:47 by Paul and Barnabas. They are going to the eschatos earth, or final frontier, to preach the gospel. To them, anywhere anyone needed to hear the good news was the final frontier.
It seems that the apostles and disciples were not as concerned with eschatology in the same way that we seem to be concerned. They did not sit around and come up with fancy charts and positions, but rather busied themselves with preaching to the eschatos ghay, the final frontier. For them, the last things were happening all around them as they preached the gospel. Once we understand this, we can go back to those scriptures and see them in a new light. In these last days, difficult times will come. This is all the more reason to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Anywhere that the message of Christ crucified needs to be proclaimed is the final frontier. If you really believe we are in the eschatos kairos (last season, I Peter 1:5), or eschatos chronos (last time, Jude 18) or eschatos hemera (last days, Hebrews 1:2), or the eschatos hora (last hour, I John 2:18), where is your eschatos preaching? If you really believe it, then your actions should show it, like in the Acts of the Apostles. For them, they really were preaching to the final frontier.
Earth, the final frontier. These are the acts of the apostles. Their continuing mission: To make disciples of all nations. To seek out opportunities to give the good message to all mankind. To boldly go where no one has gone before with the preaching of the gospel.
What are you waiting for? Find a group of people who need to hear about Jesus. Then go.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman