One would think that this would be a pretty basic talk to give. When we think of the last days we think of Christ returning, the wicked being destroyed and the Kingdom of God set in place. And if the whole world were the people in this room, then perhaps it would be that simple.
But this subject forces us to think beyond this small group. The Last Days touches on every aspect of our faith, every aspect of our lives, and on every aspect of us as a human being. And we wrestle with some of the implications.
Through out the world, among many groups, there is currently a feeling of expectation that we are living in the Last Days. Some predict that Jesus will return in a couple of weeks from now. Some look to the heavens for signs and they see the moon turning turn to blood and sun being darkened by dust storms as sure signs of the end. Some see the dramatic swings in the weather, the level of ice in the artic and the drought flamed fires burning in the west as indications of the end. Some see the clashes in the Middle East, riots at the holy site, hatred towards Israel, conflict in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, in Yemen, in Afghanistan, in Iraq as signs of the end.
Even among less religious people there is a feeling that something is about to happen. Men are stocking weapons and food. They are digging bunkers and filling them with supplies. They play survival games in order to prepare for a time when every man will need to kill just to survive.
And there is even rumor that the US government has been spending millions preparing for large scale civil unrest. They are concerned about race issues, they are concerned about the economy; they are concerned about the food supply, they are concerned about water. And we have seen just how easy things can escalate out of control leading to riots and destruction.
And then there are extremist that are rising, feeling that this is the time to take action. They are unhappy with any government; and they look to destroy everything that man has built. They are driven to wipe out anyone that disagrees with their teachings, they are driven to cast fear and terror into people, and they have followers coming out of the wood work. There are thousands and thousands of people who like the message and sign up to kill and destroy. And nothing, nothing in this world can stop their hunger.
And there are movies are being made about these times. Many believe that one day people will just disappear. Those left behind will only find the clothes they were wearing, but the people will be gone. Those left behind will face severe tribulation and judgment, never before seen on earth.
My generation grew up in the seventies. We are the generation that practiced hiding under our desks in middle school in preparation for air attacks. We were worried about the Soviet Union and all the bombs that were pointed at us. Our teachers warned us of coming dome, the growing world’s population would lead to food shortages, energy shortage, and water shortages. There was an impending threat of world war three, a nuclear war, one that would wipe out much of the population of the earth. We were taught about coming earthquakes that would wipe California off the map. There was fear of super diseases that would come and could not be cured and would rapidly cause global pain and death.
And so for much of our life, there has been this growing anticipation that we are living in the Last Days.
Still, here we are over 40 years later and the world goes on. There are 7.3 billion people in the world and there are now less people living in poverty than there was 20 years ago. We seem to have enough food and have engineered ways to grow more food. We have learned how to covert sea water to drinking water. We seem to keep finding more oil. It’s not a problem free world, but life continues. Society continues. So why do we think these are the Last Days?
Is it because there are hurricanes and earthquakes? There have always been hurricanes and earthquakes. Is it because there is famine and drought? Is it because there is war and rumors of war? Is it because there are false teachers and antichrists? Is it because the earth is burning with fires and volcanoes are erupting? All these signs have happened through out the history of man. Is there any sign that is unique to the Last Days?
This is what the scriptures tell us to expect about the coming of the Lord: It will be as a thief in the night. It will be in an hour when you least expect. It will be at a time when they say peace and safety. There will be calm before the storm. There is calm now.
But during this time of calm some incredible things are now happening. Under the current leadership in the United States we have seen some bible prophecies dramatically being fulfilled right before our eyes:
First we see Israel is being isolated.
The current US administration has really given the cold shoulder to Israel and they act more irritated with the concerns of the people of Israel than anything else. The US still claims to be a friend of the Israel, one of the last remaining friends. But that friendship is ending right before our eyes.
Second we see Russia getting weaker.
Why is this significant? Well several years ago, Russia was strong and a power to be feared. But today a weak Russia is more to be feared. We are seeing the leaders of the world punishing Russia with crimpling sanctions, which are weakening that country and just making it easier for it to be consumed by radical Islamic elements. One Russian language expert recently wrote: “Russia could become an Islamic state in ten to fifteen years”. So the transformation of this Northern host, which has intrigued many bible students for years, is now happening right before our eyes.
Third, we see the rising up of Islamic extremists.
These are Kings without kingdoms. We saw how they attacked this country and destroyed the tower that man had built. And this appears to be a symbolic sign of the coming destruction on Babylon. We have seen these terrorists attacked ships and solders. They have beheaded citizens, burned people alive, raped and tortured people, and then displayed the gruesome videos online for the world to see. They are fighting now for land and power, and they are gaining strength. Regardless on how many bombs are dropped on them from the sky, they aren’t defeated. Instead they have inspired followers all over the globe. They are busy destroying history, temples, works of arts, carrying out suicide bombings. They are currently making and using poisonous chemicals on their enemies. We see masses of people are fleeing for their lives. This is only the beginning and the Leaders of this world underestimate the threat. We are seeing the growth of the power that will destroy the mighty image spoken of in the book of Daniel.
But before that happens, the angels will gather the people of God. For it is written: “Come forth, my people, out of her” and again “his angels shall gather together his elect”. Once the angels have gathered the people, in the same way they took Lot from Sodom, something very horrible will happen AND the entire world’s economy will fail as a result. Companies will be bankrupt over night, there will be massive layoffs, banks will close, prices of food and gas will sky rocket, and there will be riots and chaos. People with die and nations will fall. The world has never been more vulnerable then it is now to economic disaster. Everything is connected now and hanging on a thread.
And so we are currently at the end of the times of the Gentiles (a time when the iniquity of the gentiles would be at its fullest) and as a result we are seeing a very rapid decline in the morals taught in the bible. In fact, the bible today is under very serious attack. There is a wide discrepancy between what the educated man of the world teaches and what the bible teaches. The educated man tells us that man has been on earth for over 50,000 years and our ancestors (who they claim we descended from) lived on earth 3.3 million years ago. 3.3 million Years is a big difference from the 6,000 years that the bible claims. And if you travel to any national park, any science museum, and any library you will see that the world holds to what the educated man teaches. What the bible teaches is not even allowed to be taught. The Atheist is so offended by the bible that they won’t allow anything bible related in a public area.
In fact, those who choose to trust what the educated man teaches can not truly believe in the bible. You can not believe that God created man and also believe that man just evolved into existence. Those that reject the Creator are amazed that people still even believe in the bible. They accuse us of having our heads stuck in the sand, and not getting with the program. They say that evolution is a proven theory. Their arguments are so convincing that as a result some Christians have even reinterpreted the book of Genesis to allow for it.
“For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”
Make no mistake; the delusion is all around us today. It is built on assumption after assumption and supported by piles of books, lectures, programs, college courses.
Regardless, we don’t need to worry about defending the bible. God doesn’t need us to defend Him. Instead He laughs at the foolishness of man.
The Educated man in their quest to be free of God ignores just how complex living systems really are. They claim that complex living systems sort of just happened by accident. But random accidents can not even produce a simple living system. All the theories that man have come up to explain the origin of life require that there is some sort of elements already in place to create something from. But how did that material get there in the first place? Men can use all the science they want, but they can’t create anything (even a rock) out of nothing.
Much of the power of the theory of evolution has come about because men think they have figured out a way to accurately date bones and fossils that they find. Just this year they claim to have found 75 million year old red blood cells belonging to a dinosaur. 75 million years old. So to explain how the cells could be so old, they fit it into a theory that removes a creator and allows for evolutionary stages of life on earth.
But what would happen if one day man woke up and discovered that they were wrong about the dates. That all the bones they have found were really less than 6,000 years old. If the dates of the bones are wrong, then every other theory that they have built around those dates would completely fall apart.
God created Man in His own image and after His likeness. There is no other creature that is like man. Man is fundamentally different from any of the plants and animals that are in the world. Look at what man has done. We have made houses, roads, cars, airplanes, space ships, factories, clothing, refrigerators, hot showers, toilets. What animal even comes close to being able to do the things we do? Men are the greatest PROOF of how true the bible is, but men themselves have opposed and exalted themselves above every god and object of worship.
In these Last Days those who believe in the bible are the bad guys. We are the ones that are not tolerant; we are the ones that don’t love. We are accused of holding onto outdated traditions and beliefs. They say our beliefs are harmful to others. They say the bible divides. Of course it divides. Jesus himself taught “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? Not at all, I tell you, but rather division.”
You know, when the sun is shinning and we are enjoying our freshly mowed lawns and listening to birds singing and feeling the cool air – life is good. And Sodom can be a very wonderful place to live. Those the bible might call wicked don’t seem so bad once you get to know them. It would be nice if everyone was on the same page, and worshiped the same God. But among those who worship differently or not at all, we can find some pretty good friends. Among those whose actions might be spoken against by the bible, we find that those people are not really all that bad. We all have family and friends who don’t share our beliefs. But that doesn’t make them any less a family or a friend.
If it was up to me, at this point in my life I would simply raise everyone from the dead. I don’t feel any more worthy than the fellow next to me. Why should I be raised and not others?
True, we heard the call, we believed and we were baptized. And as such we are now sons of Abraham, the seed of Christ, heirs to the promise. But we are reminded that God saved the sons from Egypt, God baptized them in the Sea. But afterward the sons lost their faith, and at the first challenge they ran. With them God was not pleased and even though they were sons, NONE of the doubters entered the promise land.
There was a time when I could easily just discount the wicked. Just with a swipe of my hand wipe them off the face off the earth.
But it isn’t that black and white anymore. And those who turn from God, those who lose their faith, can be our own friends and family.
We liken these days to the day of Noah. What the scriptures don’t tell us is how difficult it was for Noah and his family to board the ark and to close the door. (pause) In fact Noah just could not do it. The LORD had to close the door. In our imagination we only see violent angry men filled with sins outside the ark. But in reality, outside the ark were other family members, grand parents, children, young babies, school teachers, hard working men and woman.
So heart wrenching and devastating was this judgment that afterwards God said that He “will never again smite every thing living”
God doesn’t expect us to be able to shut the door. That is not our burden to bear. The last thing any of us want is for people to die.
From the beginning there has been over 50 billion people born on this earth. Nevertheless, the bible is clear that all will not be raised. “Narrow is the way that leads to life and FEW there be that find it.” The fact that it is prophesied that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, indicates that another heart wrenching and traumatic time is coming. Those who are raised from the dead and end up rejected will have time to let their judgment sink in. After they hear their judgment, how and when they breathe their last breath is not known.
Sure we all know the verses, and when Christ is taking vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the Gospel, it easy for us to digest…..Until we can see faces of people in those flames. And even if we don’t know the people, it is so agonizing to me that not everyone is created equal in regards to salvation. Every day throughout the world thousands of children die without ever hearing the gospel. Billions of people grow up in foreign cultures where something different is taught to them from birth. All these people die without hope. But for some reason, the gospel was taught to each of us in this room.
So for those of us who have heard, the message is clear: “we ought to give the more earnest heed…” “How shall we escape, the coming judgment if we neglect...”
What I don’t understand is that there is nothing in the “good news” that is bad for us. Why people reject it is puzzling. We aren’t asked to do much. Simple things in fact, the simplest thing we need to do is Trust. And for just doing some simple things, we have a promise of something far greater than we have ever experienced.
So you can have your home and riches that you have gathered. You can be with your family and friends that you have made. You can enjoy each day as it comes and watch grand children being born. And then you can die in a good old age never to rise again. Some are fine with that. That is appealing.
Well the same God that made that so appealing is offering us something that we have never seen something that our minds can not even grasp. We really have no concept of what eternal is. Everything we know in this world has a beginning and an end. But if we only look at the heavens that God formed around us, we see heavens without an end. It is beyond our capacity to understand how something that was created could go on forever and ever with no end and yet it’s right there above our heads.
And it is eternal that God is promising to us. And in the age to come, when we can understand what eternal is, only then will we actually know the only true God. It’s our choice, we can settle for what we can see and touch now, or we can trust our life to the love of the Creator.
The last time I spoke was back in April of 2010. A brother was in the audience during that talk. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the last time I would see that brother alive. He fell asleep unexpectedly a few days later. But neither of us knew at the time that would be the last Sunday meeting that he would attend. Neither of us knew that that was the last Sunday exhortation that he would hear. Sometimes we get in our minds that this life will go on forever, and this becomes just another Sunday. But one way or another, these are OUR Last Days.
It is so easy to live as if we are lost in a dream. We are busy doing the things we need to do to live. We work, we eat, we sleep, we fix our houses, we fix our cars, and we spend time with family and friends. It is hard sometimes to find the passion and strength to change, to gather more oil, to prepare for the coming of the Lord. We can’t seem to settle down long enough to take more time to read the bible, to help our neighbor or to pray.
But in the back of our minds, the teaching of the Kingdom of God is always there. In the back of our minds we want to do what is right.
In these Last Days, if you feel all alone, if you feel you are losing your way. If you feel that nobody really cares. If you feel that there is nothing left in this world to believe in. Then as we partake of the bread and wine, look around at all the signs we have been given and somehow find the strength to walk that narrow way and to give everything we can give one more time to the One who gave us life