One question I've been asked a number of times these last couple of weeks is, "Are we in the last days?" That question has been posed to me in response to the new conflict that has arisen between the terrorist organization Hamas and the nation of Israel. That conflict has already brought lots of tragedy and grief to the Israeli people, to some American families, and to innocent Palestinians in Gaza. For many years I've followed the One Year Daily Bible Reading Plan, and one of yesterday's Scriptures that I read referenced the last days. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
"In the last days, there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religiously, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!"
When you read those verses you probably are thinking, "We've been in the last days for a long, long time."
Jesus also referenced the "last days." Just a day prior to His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus' disciples came to Him asking what signs would accompany His return to earth and the beginning of the "last days." He responded to their question with these words.
"Don't let anyone mislead you, for many will come in My name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah.' They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.' Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are My followers. And many will turn away from Me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. . . . And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:3-14)
Jesus also referenced the "end times in Luke 17:26-30. In that Scripture passage He basically said that "In the last days it will be like the days of Noah and Lot when people were drinking, eating and focusing on having fun with no real thought that that day would be their last day." Those actions described by Jesus seem to be the preoccupation of many people in our world today.
So, are we in the "last days?" I'm actually planning on teaching about the last days in a midweek series in the near future. I'm not sure if we are in the "last of the last days." But I'm sure we're closer than we've ever been. And I'm sure we had better be ready. We'd better be in a right relationship with the Lord, because Jesus' return and the "end of the world" could happen at any moment.