“in these last days…”
It seems like every time there is a natural disaster or some sort of terrible event, that religious groups begin crawling out of the woodwork proclaiming that the end times are here. Over the years, people have also tried to read the events that are listed in the book of Revelation in such a way as to discern when Jesus will return—and have always been wrong. We may chuckle at some of these folks, thinking of them as radicals, but there is a sense in which they are correct. We are in the last days—yet, according to scripture, we have been in the last days since the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Notice how the writer of Hebrews writes, “in these last days.” The great problem with the popular way of interpreting the book of Revelation as things that will take place in the future “last days” is that we are in the last days right now and we have been in those days for nearly 2000 years. Thus, when scripture speaks of the end times, know that we are in them and what we are waiting for is not the inauguration of the end times but the consummation of the end times, which will take place at the return of Christ and in his final judgment upon the sinful world and redemption of the elect.
This helps to explain the language of anticipation that is found within the book of Revelation. Jesus says, “indeed, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20). There is no question as to the fact that many in the early church expected to see Christ’s return within their own lifetimes, but they were counting soon-ness as man counts soon-ness, not as God counts soon-ness. Does this mean that God is slow to act? Certainly not! Peter reminds us that God’s patience means redemption for all of the elect (2 Peter 3:9). At the same time, our lives need to be characterized by a hopeful anticipation of the nearness of Christ’s return.
So how then should we live out our lives in anticipation of Christ’s return? First, we must live in repentance, not holding on to sins, but asking forgiveness in Christ so that we might come into God’s presence with a clear conscience. Second, we should live modeling the Gospel for those around us. How many people do we know that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Have you shared the Gospel with them or are you still looking for “that right moment?” The problem is, if you are living as if Christ may return any moment, every moment is the right moment to share the Gospel. Thirdly, take risks for the Gospel with your time and with your money. God will provide for your needs, use your resources to help spread the Gospel beyond your sphere of influence—or even better, go on the mission field yourself! It does not need to be a 5 year commitment in the jungles of the Amazon, but it could simply be a two week trip to serve alongside a missionary that is working somewhere other than where you could normally reach. I promise that it will be a wonderfully rewarding time. Friends, in these last days God is calling us to be workers in the field; some fields are close to home and some are far away—but regardless of the distance, there is a harvest that needs to be brought in and the time is coming soon when the day of harvesting will be over. The storms are coming, dear friends, and there is still a harvest that needs bringing into the barn; let us work with a renewed sense of determination to bring in the harvest, no matter how far the fields are from our homes.