Are These the LAST DAYS ?(Part I)
THE PROPHET DANIEL SPOKE OF " THE TIME OF THE END. " THE APOSTLE PETER SAID, " THERE SHALL COME IN THE LAST DAYS SCOFFERS. " PAUL SAID, " IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME." CHRIST'S DISCIPLES ASKED HIM ABOUT " THE END OF THE WORLD." HAS THIS TIME COME ? CAN YOU BE SURE ?
How long until Christ returns? Before this greatest of all events occurs, the Bible speaks of a period called “the last days”—“the time of the end”—" "“the end of the world [age]”—“the end of these things”—“the end of the days”—and of a time when the course of human history, as we know it, “shall be finished.”" "Of course, many professing Christians do not believe in a literal Return to earth by Jesus Christ. Of those who do, most believe that it could be hundreds of years away. Some believe it could be “a thousand years in the future.” Others are somewhat concerned about “Armageddon.” They feel that time may be short but have no sense of how to KNOW." "What do you believe?"
The Original Apostles Misunderstood
The original apostles thought that Christ would return in their lifetimes. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:51 and I Thessalonians 4:15, when speaking of the resurrection of the dead to occur at Christ’s Second Coming, using the word “we,” expected to be among those who were “alive and remain[ing] unto the coming of the Lord.” In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul had come to realize that he had previously misunderstood the timing of specific events that must precede Christ’s Return. He even warned of those who would deceive others about the issue of when this would occur. He wrote about the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and that the brethren should be careful to “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (II Thes. 2:1, 3). Could you be deceived?
Christ’s Second Coming
Are we in the last days? If so, can you know for sure that this is true? Jesus said to His disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:3). Further, forty days after His Resurrection, two men (angels) told His disciples as He was rising to heaven, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Matthew records the words of Christ: “For as the lightning comes…so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 42, 44, 46). Will the world soon arrive at this climactic event? Again, can we know? Make no mistake! The Bible is plain about the Return of Jesus Christ. Many more verses could be quoted that speak of His Second Coming to earth. It will happen—and it does not hinge on the opinions of men. However, before this climactic event occurs, many other things are foretold to happen in the period leading to the final terrible events that precede it! The idea of the end of the world has been a subject of speculation, ridicule, general discussion, fascination and fancy for 2,000 years. Yet, few realize how much the Bible shows can be understood about this time.
“The Day and the Hour”
In the famous Olivet prophecy of Matthew 24, the disciples asked Christ, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?” (vs. 3). After answering this question in detail, Christ, thirty-three verses later, added, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven but My Father only (vs. 36).
Does this mean we cannot know the general time of Christ’s Second Coming? Some believe this—and these same people shrug off any need to even be concerned with the timing of Christ’s Return." "What does Matthew 24:50-51 mean when it says, “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites”? It is clear that almost everyone is not looking for Christ’s Second Coming at the right time. In fact, He will come when most are not looking for Him at all. What will cause so many to not recognize the onset of such an enormous event?
Why are so many unable to recognize the arrival of the last days? In verses 32-33, Christ spoke a parable: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it [margin: He] is near, even at the doors.” Christ states that we can know the “season” of His Second Coming.
Do not be willing to settle for anything less than what the Bible tells you! Years ago, a catchy tune called “A Sign of the Times” became popular. I enjoyed it and you may remember it. The title was actually derived from another verse in Matthew. In chapter 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees con- fronted Christ, desiring a “sign” from Him. He called them hypocrites, saying, “You can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?
While the intent of their question was that they wanted a sign that Jesus was the MESSIAH (see Matthew 12:38-40), Christ’s point was that they were unable to properly discern events they were witnessing—the signs of the times.
Can YOU discern the signs of OUR times?
Christ told His disciples, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). The “things” He referred to include a whole series of events prophesied to occur for the first time in history! These things are happening—and intensifying—now! A quick study of them will not do. Only a more thorough examination reveals the clear picture. We must look carefully to properly discern the signs of the times.
God has allotted man 6,000 years to try his own governments, philoso- phies, value systems, religions and forms of education. Humanly-devised ideas of men do not and cannot work in solving the world’s truly big problems. The 6,000 years is almost up. And, in the last 200 years or so, the world has changed dramatically—and rapidly. Events are speeding up in a way that has never been seen before!
"The Twenty-First Century World"
Everyone is familiar with the kooks and oddballs who stand on street corners shouting, “Repent! The end is near!” Hollywood has depicted many of them. Of course, no one takes such people seriously. But times have changed, and many are the voices of reason who now tell us that something is wrong—even terribly wrong!
The idea of one world government, designed to save the planet and man- kind from itself, is heard more often. However, no one seems to know how to create such a government and then acquire the cooperation of everyone neces- sary to make it succeed!
Look at the world around you. What do you see?
As a whole, the world was a much more stable place until the early part of the nineteenth century. At that time, the Industrial Revolution gave birth to the Modern Age. It was not until about a century ago that men began to drive cars and fly, and, since then, civilization has gone from the “Nuclear Age” to the “Space Age” and to the “Information Age” in a little more than a half century.
The arrival of new inventions, at the fastest rate in history, is changing life daily. Just think of the impact of the printing press and you can appreciate how dramatically a single invention can change the world. Modern computers have done the same—and there is no turning back from the huge impact of just this one invention. Jet travel has only arrived in the last half century. Although esti- mates vary, it is now believed that mankind’s total fund of knowledge is dou- bling every few years. Some think this could soon accelerate to every six months!
In the early 1970s, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called Future Shock. This large book described a certain “psychological stunning,” or shock effect, due to the high speed of changes in society. Toffler demonstrated that these changes began occurring in the 1970s at such a rate that people could no longer properly process them. Society as a whole began to go into what Toffler described as overload—or “shock.” He explained that the “future” was becoming the “present” so fast that people were beginning to “short-circuit” in a way that civilization had never seen before. Some years later, he wrote a sequel called The Third Wave. This second book described the advancing of this condition.
The picture he described was not good, and it has only gotten worse!" "While all this “advancement” is occurring, mankind’s problems have never seemed greater or more insoluble!
The scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic projections are being constantly revised to reflect an outlook that is far more alarming than previously thought. Entire sections of Africa’s population are projected to be virtually wiped out in a few years by the presence of this single terrible disease.
Earth’s population of about 6.9 billion people (early 2009) is rising consis- tently at 1.2% each year. This means that it will reach almost 11.1 billion by 2050! This projection comes despite the fact that disease and starvation are expected to be worse in the fastest growing parts of the world! High fertility rates in the less-developed parts of the world have already brought these expected population increases right on schedule.
Let’s consider some Bible passages that describe certain crucial, end-time prophecies!
We explained that Paul came to realize that he did not live in the age when Christ would return. However, God did use him to record what conditions would be like when that time would finally come. Consider his prophecy of the widespread degeneration of attitudes and character, just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. He wrote, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, Are These the Last Days? 9 proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-6).
This is a powerful prophecy describing the complete breakdown of character in “the last days.” This time has come!—and these widespread conditions grow worse daily! Look around. People’s conduct is rapidly changing—seemingly always for the worse. More educators and others in authority are sounding the alarm that conditions have exploded out of control!
Who can doubt this trend?
Recognize that this booklet is not intended to be written in an in-depth fashion. Otherwise, many pages would be required just to describe the conditions that Paul refers to in this single prophecy!
But the degeneration of people’s attitudes and behavior is stark when compared to a generation ago. There have always been acts of terrible violence but now they occur more often. There have always been liars but now the problem of deceit is more pervasive. There has always been adultery but the percentage of people who commit it is now epidemic. There has always been divorce but today it is much more common. There have always been disrespectful young people. Soon an entire generation will have forgotten the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” While there has always been thievery, statistics show that it has never been worse—even in the most affluent countries, where people already have many more physical possessions simply because of where they were born!
So much more could be said of each term or phrase used in Paul’s prophecy. And we have not talked about pornography, child abuse, crime and trends in perverted sex, drug abuse, hatred and war! All of these conditions have combined to create an age correctly described as “perilous”—or very dangerous! Collectively, this becomes an indicator that these are the last days!