Are We in the Last Days?
Are we living in the last days? Is the end of the world coming? How close is Jesus’ return? If we were honest with ourselves, most, if not all, of us have had these questions popping into our minds over the last several years. In 2018, I did a teaching series on Sunday evenings through the Book of Revelation. This series taught me a lot about what those final days were going to be like before Jesus returns as that conquering King in Revelation 19. One thing I challenged the group repeatedly was that we need to build our thinking upon what God’s Word says about those last days as opposed to man’s opinions, including my own. I encouraged them to read the Book of Revelation, to compare it to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 and 25; to leave our preconceived ideas of what the end times are going to look like and take a hard look at God’s Word for themselves. I have come to realize that many people, myself included, have been influenced more by “Hollywood,” fictional book series and man’s opinion about the last days, then by God’s Word. Everybody has an opinion about the Book of Revelation and the last days but are we allowing God’s Word to be that final authority?
When we think about the Book of Revelation, why did God reveal all these things to John? What’s the purpose? Was it to freak him out? To cause worry or panic in him. No, it was to explain to John and all the believers that these events must take place (Revelation 1:1). The culmination of these events is that Jesus will come again. This is for certain (Revelation 1:7). Yes, there are some crazy things that happen throughout the Book of Revelation; people experience great pain, hardships, and worldwide death like never before. Wickedness abounds and God’s people, the saints, are persecuted. But in the end, when all the seals, trumpets, and bowls have been completed, Jesus comes. Eventually this fallen world will pass away, and a new physical world is created that is perfect; no more death, sickness, sorrow, and affliction. God will dwell with His servants, and they will see His face (Revelation 22:3-4). Who gets to experience this perfect place? According to Revelation 22:14, those who do His commandments. Those who walk in obedience to Jesus. Those who keep following Jesus until the end.
Think about John and the early church for a moment. They were facing persecution from the Roman Empire. All the disciples of Jesus, except for John had been killed because of the Gospel of Jesus. John had faced death many times himself, but God allowed him to survive, so the Roman Emperor exiled him to the isolated island of Patmos. God gave John these visions as an encouragement to the believers to keep standing firm because this is their hope, this is what they get to look forward to despite of the pain and difficulty they are experiencing now. At the very end of the Book of Revelation, Jesus says “Surely I am coming soon.” What an emotional roller coaster John has experienced through all these visions, but John responds to Jesus’ words by saying, “So be it, come, Lord Jesus!” Why can John respond this way to everything he has experienced and seen? Because of the hope of the new heavens and new earth. Because John realizes that the wickedness and the evil that he sees will come to an end. That one day, God will make everything right.
As we see wickedness and evil abound in our world, as we see more and more chaos take place, may we have the boldness to respond like John. May we, standing firm as followers of Jesus, fix our eyes on the prize, the new heavens and earth, where we will dwell with God and see His face. We know that things will get worse as we get closer to Jesus’ return, nevertheless we need to stay true to Jesus through it all because in the end, it will be worth it.