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Did you ever hear somebody scoff at the idea that we might be in the last days of human history on earth? “Ah, they’ve been saying that for years, ever since I was a kid,” I heard one man say.
Interestingly enough, that attitude is what Peter warns of as a sign of the Last Days.
He writes in his second letter to the church, “It’s of utmost importance that you understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. ‘Where is the promise of His coming? they will ask. ‘Ever since our ancestors died, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation’.” (2 Peters 3:3-4).
Scripture gives us a number of signposts to look for as we navigate the last days. Throughout the Bible, Jesus said to His disciples and the apostles wrote to the church that they didn’t want them to be ignorant about various subjects, whether it was life after death, or spiritual gifts, or the times that we are in.
Now scripture does not tell us an exact date of Christ’s return. And throughout history there have been individuals who claimed that the Lord was returning on such and such a date, and they inevitably were proved to be liars. So, we are not seeking to pinpoint and predict an exact day or year of our Lord’s return; rather, we are eagerly awaiting it and we are aware of the times that we are in and as a result, we aren’t alarmed or caught off guard by some of the happenings.
1 Chronicles 12:32 describes a trademark of Issachar the tribe of Israel. “These sons of Issachar,” it says, “were men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do. “ So there was a special grace and anointing on these people of Israel to recognize the times that they were in and also to help their brothers make key decisions based on what they were observing.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 says, “Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.” Ephesians 5:17 instructs us, “So don’t be unwise, but be understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
Jesus rebuked the crowds following him for the fact that they could discern what season it was by the direction the wind was blowing or the way the clouds were forming, but yet they were totally blind as to what was going on around them in the present. He says in Luke Chapter 21, “Take a lesson from the fig trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you will know that the kingdom of God is near.”
You often hear the phrase, “Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t get bogged down in what’s going on around you.” If my eye are on Jesus it means I’m daily reading or listening to my Bible, and constantly, moment by moment listening for His voice. I want to hear His thoughts on every aspect of my life, my decisions, schooling for my children, purchases, ministry assignments, and even how to pray. I don’t even know how to pray into the really huge issues facing our nation and I have to rely on the Holy Spirit even to give me the effective and fervent prayers that unlock doors.
I find, however, that the more I keep my eyes on Jesus, the more He alerts me to my surroundings. The more He brings awareness to the events unfolding around us and where they fit on history’s timeline and what I need to do to prepare for the future. So if my eyes are on Jesus, I have a burgeoning awareness of things going on around me and also I’m discerning things that are still off in the distance.
You know, I know some Christians who actually think it’s somehow not spiritual to be prepared for what is coming. They say, “God will take care of us.” Well, if I’m hearing God tell me to move my family or to plant a garden or to sell my vehicle or take my children out of school to homeschool or any other of a myriad of decisions, large or small, I need to do it.
Remember the parable of the two houses, one that was built upon a rock and the other on the sand? What was the distinction between the wise man and the foolish one? This was a parable of two kinds of people we might both call Christians. The difference was, that one of them heard Jesus’ words and obeyed them, and all the torrents of rain came and the winds slammed the house but they couldn’t topple it because it was built on a solid foundation. The other kind of person heard Jesus’ words but did not act on them. And then all the hard, pressing, difficult things came and the house fell to pieces. And Jesus said, “Great was the fall of that house.”
In the news these days, we see some prominent Christians are falling away from their faith. It seems like almost every week we hear of a worship leader or some Bible teacher or writer or even a pastor who is no longer following the Lord, whether they actually are renouncing their faith or they’re saying they still want Jesus but they want to fulfill their own fleshly lusts as well. Which in the end, both will get you to the same destination. And in every instance, I wonder what kind of foundation they built on, what foundation was laid for their faith.
The husband of a dear friend of mine recently built a greenhouse on the side of his home because he sensed the Lord telling Him to do so. I pay close attention when this brother hears from the Lord because years ago, he took off work one day and stayed home to dig a ditch around his property, because the Lord told him to. And later his father-in-law confessed he wasn’t sure how he felt about that decision of his son in law. But within two days, torrential rains flooded the area so badly that the roads were impassable and kids had to stay overnight in their schools. And these friends had a daylight basement and I asked how their house had fared in these awful floods. And they didn’t have even a hint of water in their basement. Because the husband had heard from the Lord and acted upon it.
That’s an instance of someone hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord and literally seeing his house stand firm.
So we are given a heads up by Jesus and by the apostles of indicators of the Last Days. Why? So that we will stay on track and so we will preserve our souls against this present evil age and all its deception and pressure.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are five warning signs of the Last Days:
1. The Apostasy (falling away) takes place
In my previous podcast, I talked about 2 Thessalonians 2, the Great Falling Away. This is one of the indicators of the very last days, and it precedes the rise of the antichrist, or man of lawlessness. The Apostasy happens because people did not love the truth that would have saved them, scripture says.
Now it’s important to realize that in order to fall away from something, it means you had to have at one time held on to it or been part of it. These are professing Christians, people who claim Christ, who did not hold fast to the word of God. And just like the person who is given a lifesaving device but thinks he is strong enough to swim without it, the Christian who does not cling to the truth that would have saved him slips into the waters of deception.
2. False teachers and false prophets abound
In the Bible, nearly every time the end of the age is talked about, there is almost always mention of false teachers and false prophets.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:24 concerning the Last Days, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible.”
Peter warned the church in his second letter, “There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them.”
Paul wrote to Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Paul also warned the Ephesians in his farewell, “I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them. Therefore be alert and remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.…” (Acts 20:29-30).
From Jude, verse 4, “Certain men have crept in among you unnoticed–ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
These are just a few of the scriptures, not an exhaustive list, warning of false teachers and prophets at the end of the age.
3. The Nation of Israel as God’s timepiece is a signpost
“For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.” (Ez. 36:24-29 NKJV)
The word of the Lord also came through the prophet Jeremiah that “He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
So we see from scripture that as this age draws to a close, God purposes to regather His scattered people Israel from all nations of the world and bring them back to their own land.
This physical regathering of the Jewish people to their homeland precedes their spiritual renewal.
Now this restoration began about the turn of the twentieth century, and has been moving forward ever since, with a significant piece being the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.
God also said He would cause Jerusalem to be a cup that causes reeling to all her neighbors and a heavy stone to all the nations. If you study the history of Israel since its statehood, that is precisely what happened. After gaining her independence, Israel was immediately attacked by her Arab neighbors, who declared war on it and laid it to siege. For two months Jewish Jerusalem was under attack and nearly succumbed. But they retained their status and thereby made the Aliyah, or return of Jews to their homeland, possible.
Likewise, different political leaders who tried to interfere with God’s purposes for Israel found Jerusalem to be a heavy stone on which they bruised themselves. The late Bible teacher Derek Prince notes that Great Britain’s interference in 1948 can be traced directly to the disintegration of the British Empire!
Count Bernadotte of Sweden tried to act as a United Nations delegated mediator between the Arabs and Jews and he advocated for Arabs to be permitted to return to what was now Israel. He too experienced the heavy stone of Jerusalem. He was assassinated.
Now Jerusalem continues to be the global epicenter of the UN, representing the nations of the world.
And, as of 2006, for the first time since the rebirth of the nation of Israel in ’48, the United States no longer hosted the largest Jewish population. Aliyah or immigration figures at last tipped the scales, and a slight majority of the Jewish people have now been ‘regathered’ and reside in Israel! As Christians who accept the Bible’s authority, we cannot ignore this clear revelation of God’s purpose being worked out in our day.
4. Lawlessness will run rampant
Jesus warns of an abundance of lawlessness at the end of the age in Matthew 24:12, right after he warns of the proliferation of false teachers. He warns in fact that because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. That’s the love of His people, first for Him, and secondly for one another.
Again, we see this happening everywhere. The lawlessness that is in our society is symptomatic of the lawlessness that is in the church. We have all kinds of false teachers preaching not heaven and hell and sin and the cross of Christ, but they’re using a smattering of Bible verses to perpetuate a humanist, and often activist and globalist agenda. And their congregations are blindly following their lead, not testing the words against the Bible.
We have no excuse in America in 2020 to be led astray by false teaching. We have more access to the word of God than any previous generation. We have access to Hebrew and Greek lexicons directly translating words and their etymology and original meanings. If we run across a difficult passage in scripture, we meditate on it and ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand it, and He will. There is no excuse for Christians going along with the twisting and manipulation of scriptures to make the word of God support all kinds of fleshly and even blasphemous ideologies that support their own self-centeredness.
5. Great Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
The last phenomenon I want to bring your attention to as a Biblical road marker of the Last Days is an uplifting, joyful one.
In Acts 2:18 Peter quotes the prophet Joel and says, “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (vv. 17-18).
Peter witnesses a kind of first fruits of this happening at Pentecost. If you study church history, you’ll see documented instances of other such outpourings, particularly evident from the 1700s onward to the present. In fact, isn’t it interesting that America was birthed on the heels of the First Great Awakening!
Our church is connected with dozens of Christians who live in other parts of the world and/or who travel the world. There is a report coming forth from among them that the next Great Awakening is already underway. In fact, we are witnessing this as we’ve seen several young people in our community come off of drugs and out of crime to get baptized and give their testimonies.
I just finished reading the autobiography of a young man who was central in the Jesus People Movement of the 1970s, as it was called. And I’m blown away by what the Lord did through him and others whose lives were yielded to Him. And the well-known names today that came out of that whole outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I was talking to an old boss of mine, a Christian man, about this, and he said to me, “I’m a bit older than you and I remember living through that. It was a precious, precious time in my life. I have never since felt the manifest presence of God in such a way as I did during that season.”
He went on to say what I believe with all my heart, and that is that we are on the cusp of seeing such another great outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
There are times lately, when I feel such a groaning in my spirit for the Father to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. I want to see drug addicts and schizophrenics and those with arthritis and migraines HEALED and walking about in freedom. And I want most of all to see a deep repentance in people that would cause them to forsake besetting sins once and for all and to cling to Christ’s precepts and to surrender to Him and to worship Him truly above all else.
I want to leave you with Jesus’s words to us in Luke 11:13. He is talking to the parents of children, and He says, “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father give His Spirit to those who ask!”
Let’s ask Him for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!