Are These the Last Days?
There's a global pandemic. People are dying, and economies are shutting down. A locust plague is moving across East Africa and South Asia, ruining crops and putting millions of people in danger of starvation. Recently, Australia was on fire. A few days ago, an earthquake shook Utah, sparking fears of that unthinkable doomsday scenario of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting. Locally, heavy rain is causing flooding and washing out roads. Oh, and tornado season is right around the corner! Are these the last days? Yes, they most certainly are.
How can I be so sure that these are the last days? That's a fair question. After all, sickness, suffering, wars, and devastation are not new to human history. That's true. But I'm certain these are the last days, not because of current events, but because of an event that happened nearly 2000 years ago. The last days began when Jesus, the risen King, poured out his Spirit (Acts 2:17). As the writer of Hebrews puts it, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son..." (Hebrews 1:1–2). When Jesus died and rose again, it was "at the end of the ages" (Hebrews 9:26). Indeed, if members of the first-century church were those "on whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10:11), in what age are we? To be sure, this is the end of the ages. These are the last days.
What this means is that the last day could be today. That is to say, Jesus could come at any moment and bring redemption to fruition! Isn't it interesting that this possibility was just as real a month ago as it is now? And yet many of us are more aware now than we were before. One way God has been gracious to me during this time is to awaken me from my comfortable, middle-class American stupor, and to make more aware that Jesus is at the door knocking.
Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Given that we're living in the last days, what should we do? How should we live? Here are four themes from God's Word that I pray will help us endure all the way until we are home with our Savior.
Repent and believe the Gospel. "Now when they heard [that Jesus is alive and he reigns supreme], they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:37–38). Repenting from sin (that is turning from and repudiating sin) and believing in Jesus to be our Righteousness—this is the mark that distinguishes those who are being saved from who are perishing.
Pray. If you're like me, you are tempted to spend the majority of your waking hours focused on people—their thoughts, ideas, needs, complaints, opinions, etc. It's good to stay informed, and to love others. But these last days should propel us to God—to listen to him, and to speak with him. In Luke 18:1–8 Jesus tells "a parable to the effect that [we] out always to pray and not lose heart." At the end of that parable, Jesus makes a stunning statement: "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth." Notice how Jesus equates faith with prayer. Prayer to God in the name of Jesus Christ is the primary expression of saving faith. Today is the day to exercise faith in prayer. What should we pray? The Psalms offer excellent guidance, as does the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9–13). In short, read the Bible (what God says to us) and respond in prayer (what we say to God). Pray for faith, forgiveness, healing, endurance, peace, comfort, and joy, all in the name of Jesus Christ, and all to the glory of God.
Run from sin & pursue holiness. Knowing we are living in the last days is a major motivator for fleeing from sin and for living in obedience to King Jesus. As 2 Peter 3:11–12 puts it, "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God..." We want to be found obeying our Master when he returns (Matthew 24:36–51; Luke 12:35–40).
Invest in heaven. James warns us, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days" (James 5:1–3). As we watch our earthly treasures fade, we should be reminded that to fade is all earthly treasures do! But these things are all "rubbish" that is worth losing in order to gain Christ (Philippians 3:7–11). May God grant us grace to store up treasure in heaven, joyfully letting go of earthly goods in order to gain the treasure that never fades (Matthew 6:19–20; 1 Peter 1:4).
“Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.