Throughout scripture, we take note of the different statements from Christ, the prophets, and the apostles regarding time in the last days. One could easily note that the prophets and apostles viewed themselves as being in the last days even in their day. This nearness (as we would call it) has been the cannon fodder for the skeptic, Preterist and Amillennialist alike and have used it for centuries to try and beef up their eschatological positions. But seeing as how they (apostles and prophets) viewed themselves as being at the end of all things, how much closer to the Lord’s return are we now than they were then?
Well for a minimum, 2,000 years closer. This then begs the question of how long the last daysactually are in terms of bible prophecy. Here is a sampling of how the end-times are viewed in regards to time itself.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Matt. 24:32-34
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:24-28
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and theEnd, the First and the Last.” Revelation 22:12-13
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:19-21
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8
There should be several takeaways we see in reading this assortment of passages regarding time and our Lord’s return.
- God does not view time as we do (i.e., linearly) but rather, in an all-encompassing manner. He sees past, present, and future simultaneously (ex. Isaiah 46:9-10). Since humans cannot do this, and God uses men to dictate His revelations (i.e., thoughts and intentions) via Scripture which they conveyed as impending or imminent.
- God exists outside of time, but created time for man. Time then is measured by the sun, moon, stars, and seasons (Gen. 1:14). While we have rough estimate of how long man has existed on earth (genealogical and historical calculations), we do not know how long Adam and Eve existed in the Garden of Eden prior to their fall from innocence. We assume 6,000 years, but man’s time on earth could be much longer.
- If we regard the totality of man’s existence on the earth being six thousand years (from Adam until now), we, those of us who have lived after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (circa 1st century A.D.) have inhabited the last third of that 6,000 years.
- Scripture records that God has had His plan for man’s redemption, Israel, and the Church at, from, and before (respectively) the foundation of the world (Genesis 3:15,Matt. 25:34, Ephesians 1:4). This speaks to the longsuffering nature God and His desire to save as many as would be saved (2 Peter 3:8-9).
- Christ’s first coming was timed perfectly to arrive at critical juncture in time which would allow for the maximum exposure and opportunity for the Gospel to spread abroad (Gal. 4:4-5). His second coming return has been imminent, impending, and has only been held back by this same longsuffering God has toward mankind. According to Paul, there is a ‘fullness’ of the Gentiles that will one day be reached (Rom. 11:25), and will mark the final turning point of God from the Church back to the nation of Israel.
So if we have been in the last hour since John’s day, and Christ’s coming was at hand in James’ day, how close is the Lord’s return actually? We all know that of that day and hour, no man knows (Matt. 24:34), but we also know that both Jesus (Rev. 3:3) and Paul (Hebrews 10:25) told us to be watching as we see that day approaching. There are several points I would like to address in terms of knowing definitively when we are on God’s time table. The first definitive marker that we can take note of, is something my good friend Matt Ward pointed out in his terrific article regarding technology and Revelation. There is a coming point in which man’s ambitions exceed God’s intentions;
The Bible talks of a time soon to come when there will be a one world economic and political system under one single ruler, as well as a time when each and every person on earth will be required to take a “mark” so that they can buy or sell; those without this “mark” will be excluded from all forms of commerce, even from the most basic survival food stuffs.
Mankind stands on the brink of a series of technological breakthroughs that will change this world dramatically and forever. These breakthroughs will begin to occur within the next decade, even the next few years. The problem, though, is that these future technologies predicted for just the end of the next decade seem to exceed the technology predicted in the book of Revelation. This can therefore only lead us to one logical conclusion; that the Tribulation period the Bible speaks so much of, the Time of Jacobs Trouble, lays just ahead, in the near future.
We are already making huge gains in technological breakthroughs in many areas: Artificial intelligence (which some hope [or fear] leads to the singularity), RFID chips and genetic storage for implantable tech, and gene-editing programs such as CRISPR technologies. This author believes that these breakthroughs are necessary for the mark of the beast program to be effectively implemented globally. But other things such as time travel, teleportation, space colonization, and super-soldiers seem to be beyond what the bible states is available at the end. However, there will be a resurgence of supernatural phenomenon as the dark spiritual forces descend upon a world without Restraint.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2 Thess. 2:7-10
The second point is with what John noted in his passage (1 Jn. 2:18) pertaining to the coming of the Antichrist. He states that little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. Furthermore, he continues they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. Think of how fractured Christianity has become over the past four centuries. How many have strayed from the simplicity of the Gospel? How many sects, cults, and denominations have broken away to follow unorthodox and unbiblical teachings and traditions? How many have remained behind in Roman Catholicism which follows the teachings of men rather than sola scriptura? The one issue that Jesus reiterated repeatedly in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:3-5, 24-25) was of false teachers and false messiahs.
…Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many…
…then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
There are numerous signs converging in our day that point to this coming fullness of times. Just as there was a fullness of time for Christ’s first advent (Gal. 4:4-5), so too will there be another fullness of times for Christ’s second.
Just as Christ’s first coming took the Jewish people by surprise, so too will His second appearing catch the world off-guard. Even many from within the Church will be caught off guard as they are not looking for His return (Rev. 3:3).
We are currently inhabiting a small window of time in which Christendom has become exactly as the Bible predicted it; weak, watered down, lukewarm, and ruled by everyone’s opinions (Rev. 3:14-22). Christendom is ripe for the coming apostasy that will sweep all the world’s religions into one giant melting pot whose nauseating fragrance reaches the heavens triggering increased judgment.
For the first time in human history, man now has the ability to destroy all life on the planet. But not to outdo ourselves, we have also developed the systems that will eventually allow one man (the coming Antichrist) to have complete power to rule over the world. No other leader has ever had that type of control at his disposal before. At the height of their power, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and Hitler were never able to wield true global power and authority because they all lacked the same things: the technology to control all buying and selling, and the people’s dependency on the same system to survive.
All the aforementioned leaders also lacked the key ingredient as it pertains to biblical eschatology, which is a revived and reborn nation of Israel back in her historic homeland. Psalm 83; Isaiah 17; Ezekiel 38-48; Zechariah 12, 14, Isaiah 2, 11, 66; Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 2; and Revelation 6-19 all require a national Israel back in her land. Most of these passages also require a newly rebuilt third Jewish temple which is only possible if Israel is in control of Jerusalem, which is why the world has been so fervently trying to divide her capital for the past 40 years. All of these issues point to one inescapable fact, that if John was (according to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration) in the last hour, we are in the last seconds of the last minute of that hour. So…
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch! Mark 13:33-37