Summary: A review of the characteristics of life in the last days and how the people of God must respond to those conditions.
IN THESE LAST DAYS
"Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men."
"If God does not judge America, He must apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah." The speaker was a young evangelist named Billy Graham. The occasion for speaking these words was a West Coast evangelistic crusade which he conducted in the mid-1950s. Though the noted evangelist muted his criticism of western culture in later years, the truth spoken almost sixty years ago has not changed. I confess that I am concerned for the western world. I love my natal land, and I grieve for the wickedness that characterises that nation. Nevertheless, I am bold to say that Canada must anticipate judgement for rampant wickedness which characterises us as a nation.
The spiritual state of Canada yields mute evidence that we may well be living in the final days. Religious conditions will be drastically changed in the final days of plant earth. That the transformation Paul foresaw is already well under way should be evident to reasonable people. Even was I unconcerned about the spiritual state of the entire world, I would need but look to our own community to register my insistence that we are now in the last days.
WHAT ARE THE LAST DAYS? The Apostle is looking forward to a time that he identifies as "the last days." Jesus spoke on at two occasions of the "last day." In John's Gospel, Jesus spoke of the "last day." Jesus said, "This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day... Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day... Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" [JOHN 6:39, 40, 44, 54]. Clearly, Jesus referred to the resurrection of the just and the judgement of the wicked. The two events are conflated and referred to as the last day. Likewise, in JOHN 12:48, the Master speaks of the judgement occurring on the last day.
There are several instances in Scripture when the writer refers to the last days. A review of each of these instances will prove beneficial to our understanding. On the Day of Pentecost, as Peter began his message, he spoke these words which provide a point of initiation for the last days. Peter said, "In the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" [ACTS 2:17]. The last days appear to have begun with the outpouring of the Spirit of God at Pentecost.
Though it is by no means certain that the writer of the Hebrew letter meant to say that the Son of God came in the last days, it is at least a possibility and deserves consideration as one meaning of his words. "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, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" [HEBREWS 1:1, 2].
James has written, "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. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you" [JAMES 5:1-6]. Clearly, James is addressing those who now hoard treasure even as they abuse the labourers as those living in the last days.