Living in the Last Days?

With a pandemic spreading across the globe, a teetering worldwide economy, the ongoing fear of global warming, and gigantic locust swarms in Africa and the Middle East, it is enough to make you wonder if our world is coming to an end.

Are we living in the last days?

Biblically-speaking, the answer is “yes.”

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the New Testament writers consistently looked for the imminent return of Christ and referred to their time, and thus our time, as the “last days.”

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12)

But the end of all things is at hand(1 Peter 4:7a)

Of course, many people may scoff at the notion that Christ is returning. After all, Christians have been waiting for close to 2000 years and nothing has happened. But God’s timetable is different than ours. To an eternal God, a day is like a thousand years and thousand years like a day so Christians are encouraged to live both as if Christ could come back today and as if He may not come back for another thousand years.

It is expectancy tied to constancy.

Being hopeful for the future…being faithful in the present.

As Christians, we believe that we are part of a bigger story…that history is moving toward a climax…that what was lost in the Garden of Eden will be restored in the end…that Christ will one day reign on this earth…and that each day has meaning and purpose because God is the author of this grand redemptive story.

Have you ever wondered why there is a universal love for stories…stories that generally have the same plot line? Could it be because we live in such a story and it is planted deep in our hearts to stir us to know its Author?

If there is no Author…if there is no story…then there is no escaping the reality that you are a random, meaningless collection of molecules living in a random, meaningless world lurching toward a random, meaningless conclusion…whether by the universe contracting, a meteor strike, global warming, nuclear war, a virus pandemic, or your own individual death…and you have no real hope.

But back to the question, Are we living in the last days? Or more specifically, are we living in the last days of the last days?

It is certainly possible.

The Bible describes the days before Christ’s return as a time of…worldwide crises such as famines, earthquakes, and pestilences…a proliferation of information with an ignorance of the truth…an increasing breakdown of love in the family and in society…and a selfish love of pleasure rather than a humble love of God. The Bible also seems to suggest that near the end…Israel would be miraculously regathered and preserved as a nation…the economies of the world would be interconnected…and there would be an establishment of a one world government under the control of one leader.

But despite the claims of end times teachers who have it all figured out…many of these signs are hard to nail down and many of them have also described past times in history. If I would have lived under the persecution of Diocletian or during the time of the black plague or even right before World War II, I would have certainly considered it as the “last days.” But, unfortunately, every prediction made in the past about the exact date of Christ’s return has been wrong…along with being distracting and detrimental to the credibility of our Christian witness.

Here is what Jesus said to His disciples who were also extremely eager and curious to know when He would come back:

It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority (Acts 1:7).

Modern translation…it is none of your business.

It is not our job to try to figure out when Christ is returning.

End-time speculation is not to be our focus.

The apostle Peter, writing to believers undergoing intense suffering in the Roman Empire and longing for Christ’s return, wrote these words (mentioned above):

The end of all things is at hand…

But Peter didn’t stop there…he continued with a “therefore”…in other words, he told us exactly the way that we are supposed to live in light of the difficulties of this world and the imminence of Christ’s return.

Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:7-10)

Peter gives us our “last days checklist”:

  1. Think clearly. Don’t panic. Don’t react. Rest in the sovereignty and security of God.
  2. Pray fervently. Take note of the world around you and pray for the people and the needs around you.
  3. Love deeply. Don’t get irritated or isolated from others. Resolve conflicts. Forgive. Make your relationships a priority.
  4. Share freely. Don’t build a bunker and hunker down…or hoard toilet paper for that matter. Instead find ways to love your neighbor, open up your life to them, and be a witness to them.
  5. Serve faithfully. Whatever gift you have been given, from the overflowing abundance of God’s grace, use it to serve, help, and bless others.

It is a hard list to follow. It is much easier being a news-watching, date-setting, fear-feeling, stuff-hoarding, blame-casting, self-justifying person.

But Christ calls us to a different kind of thinking..a different kind of speaking…a different kind of living.

Because we have a hope…and we don’t have to fear.

The times are uncertain…but the future is not.

And even though we don’t know the date of Christ’s return…we know its certainty.

And that is enough.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

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