Are we living in “The Last Days?” Just how long are “The Last Days?” How important is it to understand when and what The Last Days are? What should we do to be prepared?
- 1. Yes we are living in the last days. Two things mark out “the last days” in the Bible: 1) the dissemination of the Holy Spirit to any person who desires Him (Acts 2:17-21) and 2) the reestablishment of the nation of Israel (Mark 13:24-28).
This means “the last days” began about 2000 years ago! But that should not be surprising with a God who is amazingly patient and does not want anyone to be lost. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
- 2. By Biblical chronology, the earth is about 6000-7000 years old, so this would qualify the time since Jesus was physically on earth as less than one third of the existence of the universe. If one accepts the evolutionist/creationist theory that God created this universe billions of years ago, this makes the terminology of “the last days” even more understandable. But even if one accepts the Young Earth Theory, that our universe was created around 6000 years ago, it is still reasonable that the last third of the time for this earth could be called “the last days.”
Many have speculated at different times about when the end of this age would come, what it would be like when Jesus returns (as was promised by angels in Acts 1:10-11). This promise was reaffirmed by the apostles in their teaching and confirmed by Peter’s and Paul’s letters in 2 Peter 3 and 2 Thessalonians 2.
- 3. The key focus of these passages, as well as the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, is to not be deceived. False messiahs will come, some will claim the “day of the Lord” already occurred, there will be miracle-workers who will lead people away from God; some will set dates and times. They are all false!
Some equated Hitler with “the man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians. In ancient times, many thought Nero would fill the bill. Others in history have included Napoleon, various presidents, popes and world leaders, each suggesting that the end of the age would occur on his watch, i.e., while this man was still alive.
As we approach the elections of the next year in the United States, some have remarked that Barack Obama would fill this place, using natural and man-made cataclysms to retain and extend his presidential authority, and become the Antichrist who will bring apparent peace to the Middle-east, but then attack Israel. Others suggest this role is Vladmir Putin’s. Maybe, but who cares??
The problem with all of these speculations is that they are focused on the wrong figure, the Antichrist, instead of focusing on who is the real Christ, or messiah, from the Creator. Various “prophets” such as Nathan Shepard and Diane Palmer all concentrate on identifying details of the last days, including how to tell who the Antichrist will be and how “we” can survive and prosper even under his attacks.
It particularly disturbs me when a video on a link will not allow fast-forwarding, and usually promises to reveal the most important feature at the end. Most often, as in Nathan Shepard’s videos, there is an offer for you to buy a “must-have” book or deal that will save your life. Most frustrating is the focus on how you can save your family and survive while neighbors and others suffer and die because they did not buy his books.
Look, the instructions for living at the end of times is clear enough, no one has to waste money or time reading “special revelations” or participating in selfish salvation techniques that say, “God bless us and no one else.” Furthermore, there is no educational, financial or psychological requirement for receiving the grace of God. It is free and very clear for anyone who will trust and obey.
- 4. “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) Start by loving the truth. “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Peter 3:11-12) Live according to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back.” (Mark 13:35) Be aware of what is happening in the world but do not be overly concerned with preserving your life above others. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. . . Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25,27) Your life is protected by God, if you are His. Nothing will happen to you that He does not allow, if you are obedient to Him. “It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:12-14) Live in that hope, that assurance, that you belong to Him, and you will see Him when He comes again. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.“ Most of all, always stay ready and awake, watching for that day, living as though Jesus may return today, but prepared in case He does not come until we have left the world’s stage. (Matthew 25:1-13)
Thus there is no point in stockpiling water and food to provide for the next year or two (or seven) for you and your family. You who trust in God have no need for hiding in a cave or hideout in the mountains. Nothing good is accomplished by storing up weapons and ammo as though you will have to kill those who would steal from you. After all, if, like Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, you are ready to go to Heaven when you die, would it not be better to allow yourself to be killed than to kill one who is not ready?
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48) . . . and you will not be deceived.