There have been a lot of jokes made about 2020 being a bad year. But “the year 2020” is the worst joke
With all that’s been going on, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people like this: “Pastor, is this the end of the world? Do you think Jesus is coming back soon?”
It’s on everybody’s mind—especially
Jesus said he would come back one day and create a new heaven and a new earth and the world we live in now will be destroyed and replaced (see Revelation 21).
So I want talk about the last days and get to this question: Are we living in the Last Days?
Paul wrote Timothy: in the last days there will be very difficult times. These are some of the most difficult times we have faced in a long time. And we definitely see a lot of selfishness and greed all around. So much of the public discourse, business practices, and even personal behavior of people today is saturated with selfishness and greed. And Paul told Timothy in the last days, people will be puffed up with pride and scoff at God. That's a very accurate description of the way people act these days. Scoffing means to make fun of or ridicule someone so as to discredit them. People don't even listen to each other anymore and they certainly don't listen to God. Instead, they write God and others off as stupid and not even worthy of giving the time of day.
And I pray that everyone reading this will repent of any of these attitudes and actions, immediately, because we do not know how much time we have left. Jesus promised he would return. And he will return in your lifetime. Either he will will return for the whole world or he will return for you. One thing is certain, you will come before Jesus at the end of your life. The question is: will that be a very good thing or a very bad thing?
Are we living in the Last Days? Yes! But so was Paul when he wrote these words to Timothy nearly 2,000 years ago. God has been working for a long, long time to save the world from the devastation and death humanity’s sin brought on Creation. The plan God details in Scripture goes all the way back to Genesis—some four or five thousand years ago. The most important aspect of God salvation plan was for His Son, Jesus, to come preach the Good News of God’s salvation, to give His life on the cross for our sins, and to rise from the grave. Jesus did all these things. We are in the last stage of God’s plan. But God is being patient. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
We are living in the last days, but no one knows when the end will come. Jesus is full of wisdom and power. If people knew the day and hour Jesus was coming back, they would procrastinate. Probably, mo people would get worse before they thought about getting better. If they knew they had two years left, they would think, 'Why worry about that now? Let's have some fun before we need to get serious." They would be even more selfish and greedy and prideful. They would live sinful lives for as long as they could—turning their backs on God—and then, at the last minute, they would turn to God and beg for forgiveness. That’s why Jesus said, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.” (Matthew 24:36). And he warned, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:44)
At the same time, let's compare the difficulties in our times to those of other eras. 50 Million people died worldwide from Spanish flu in 1918. And near the same time 40 Million people--soldiers and civilians--died around the worldwide during WWI. And between 1941-1945, six million Jews died in the holocaust (nearly six times as many as have died so far from COVID-19.) These are staggering figures. I'm sure many people living through those tragedies looked around and thought, "These must be the last days." Maybe they were even praying for it so God would come and get them out of that mess.
And of course, right now, things are for people financially in our country. The economy is suffering from months of shutdown and disruption. Many people have lost jobs. And I know it's a struggle. At the same time, again, let's keep it in perspective. Do you realize that Americans--even in financial difficulties--have it way better than most of the rest of the world? I googled this and found out that the average annual income for Sierra Leon (where our church sponsors Nick and Heidi Griffiths as missionaries) is only $504. (That's not a typo. That $504 per year, not per month). And this is not just the case for Sierra Leone. Similar poverty for the average person exists in Kenya, Guatemala, El Salvador... and the list goes on and on and on. And People in third world countries have been living that way for decades. Don't you know someone living in those conditions would look at us in our country and think, 'So you think the end of the world is coming because you lost your job and you're on unemployment?" Meanwhile, they're digging through trash at the city dump trying to figure out how they can get they next meal.
We don’t know if the signs of the times mean that Jesus is coming back today, tomorrow, or even this year. What we do know is: His return is closer today than it was yesterday. And we don't know how much time we have left.
If you feel nervous because of all the bad stuff happening, good! You need realize how vulnerable you are and how important it is that you repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ. This is the whole point of the Bible’s warnings about the last days. You need to get your heart right with God.
If you are not a Christian, you need to recognize that Jesus is Lord. Turn to Him. Follow Him. Live the way He said we should live. Trust Him. You will find salvation. You will also find peace—even in the midst of bad times. And if you are already a Christian, times like these ought to remind you and motivate you to get busy doing the things Jesus told us to do—loving God, loving our neighbors, making disciples, praying and working for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.
What do you need to do today? What commitment are you going to make?