Do you believe that we are living in what the Bible describes as the last epochal period of earth’s history, the last days, or do you think time will continue in its present condition?
The Jewish leaders once came to Jesus asking that He show them a sign, something they continually asked for that they might know whether they could believe Him.
“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red”; and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.’ ” Matthew 16:1–3.
Jesus reproved the religious leaders of His day, because they knew a lot about predicting weather for the next day, but they didn’t know how to tell the signs of the times. They missed the signs that told of certain prophecies in the Old Testament that were being fulfilled right before their eyes. There are approximately 60 different prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, His mission, and what He would do when He came. For centuries they had all of that information, but they did not recognize that prophecy was being fulfilled right in front of them.
In the same way now, there are many prophecies in both the Old and the New Testaments concerning the events leading up to the second coming of the Messiah, which have been and are being fulfilled. Yet they go by unnoticed by the majority. Do you believe we are living in the last days? How can we know?
In the books of Daniel and Revelation we are told that after the coming of the Messiah, there was to be a great time of persecution that would last for 1,260 years. At the end of that period of time, the world would enter the last epochal period of earth’s history, called the time of the end or the last days.
We are told in Daniel 7:25: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, and times, and half a time.”
A close look at the context of Daniel 11:30–35 clearly reveals that this period occurs after the coming of the Messiah. It says, “He shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame [they shall be burned at the stake], by captivity [put in dungeons] and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.”
Notice, this prophecy says, very distinctly, that there would be a long period of persecution against God’s children, and when that time ends, the world would enter “the time of the end.” Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 24. And John corroborated it in the book of Revelation when he recorded, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city [God’s church] underfoot for forty-two months.” Revelation 11:2.
God’s true and faithful people were to endure terrible persecution for 42 months, or for 1,260 days, or 3½ years, as we read in Daniel 7:25. Then in Revelation 11:3, it says, “And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
We find the same persecuting period mentioned in Revelation 12:6: “Then the woman [the church] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
And again, in Revelation 13:5–8, talking about the anti-christ persecuting the true church, it says, “He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.”
These prophecies have been fulfilled. It has been estimated that during the Dark Ages over 50,000,000 Bible believing Christians were martyred because of their faith in Christ. But Jesus said that toward the close of this period of the tribulation or persecution of Bible Christians that certain signs would appear in the heavens. He said, “In those days [the days of the tribulation or the persecution], after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.” Mark 13:24.
In Matthew 24:29, 30 we read another record of the same prediction by Jesus. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Those events have happened. On May 19, 1780, there was an unexplained dark day and in November 1833, the greatest meteor shower that has ever been recorded occurred. These events can be verified by an encyclopedia or Internet search.
When we look at history and follow it right up to the present time, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have been living in that period of earth’s history that the Bible calls “the time of the end” or “the last days” for approximately 200 years. We are living in that period of time during which Daniel predicted the Lord of heaven is going to come back to this world and set up His kingdom. (See Daniel 2 and 7.) There are certain events that are to happen before Christ returns.
Daniel 12:4: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Two things are going to happen in the time of the end, according to this verse. Many will go to and fro. There will be much traveling in the time of the end. Today, there is more travel than in any previous time in earth’s history. A few hundred years ago, even just 250 years ago, the only people who traveled much were explorers, soldiers, sailors, or people who emigrated to some new part of the world. The average person then lived and died within a few miles of his or her birthplace. But today, at any international airport you will see people from all over the world, coming and going by the thousands. It was not that way even 150 years ago.
In the time of the end, “knowledge would increase.” Today, we live in the time of an information explosion. History reveals that this information explosion in technology and science got started about 200 years ago, in direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Not all the things the Bible predicted for the last days are so wonderful. Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37–39.
Noah preached for 120 years that a flood was coming but the world did not believe it. Jesus said that the same condition that existed prior to the Flood will prevail just before His return, but most will not believe. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14. Most people will not know what is coming. They will not know the signs.
There are millions of people today who boast that they do not believe in the Bible or in Bible prophecy. Nevertheless, Bible prophecy has an infallible way of being fulfilled right to the letter.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. Every thought was evil continually; it was a time of great wickedness. One needs only to pick up a newspaper to see that today we are also living in a time of great wickedness. Jesus said this would be the condition right before He would come again. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Verse 11. Does that sound familiar?
Referring to the same subject in Luke 17:28–30: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Jesus said it will be just as it was in the days of Lot. They did not know that that was their last night on earth. The end came suddenly. So it will be when the Son of man is revealed. Life will go on day after day after day, and then suddenly, the Lord will return and people will not be ready.
In Ezekiel 16:48, 49 the prophet tells why Sodom was destroyed. “ ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.’ ”
According to the apostle Paul, there will be great social problems in the world in the last days. He wrote to Timothy, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people, turn away!” II Timothy 3:1–5.
There will be lots of religion in the last days. There will be a form of godliness, but people will deny its power. The power of godliness is the power that is given to the Christian to follow Jesus in obedience, to live a righteous and holy life. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Romans 6:17–22.
There will be many professed Christians in the last days with a form of godliness, but denying its power and manifesting all the social problems that the apostle Paul listed.
In the last days, there will be great natural disasters. In Luke 21:11 it says, “There will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines, and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” And in verse 25, Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.”
At the same time in the last days there will be a great international religious peace movement. This is very fascinating to study because there is no record in history of such a thing occurring, unless perhaps it happened in the days of Noah. But the prophets do predict clearly that there will be an international religious peace movement in the last days.
Isaiah tells about it in Isaiah 2:2–4. He says, “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” There is a similar prophecy in Micah 4:1–6. For a little over a 100 years, we have said that we are going to outlaw war. We have established an international court to rule on matters so that we will not have war anymore.
The Bible predicts that at the very time that there is this great international religious peace movement, there will be the greatest wars of all time. In Joel 3:9–14 it says just the opposite of what the people say. The Lord says, “Proclaim this among the nations: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am strong.” Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. “Let the nations be wakened and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.’ ”
These texts describe exactly the way the world is today. There are multitudes trying to figure out on which side of the great controversy they want to be. They are in the valley of decision, but there is not a lot of time for them to decide because the Day of the Lord is near.
We see in Joel 3 that Bible prophecy has a way of turning out to be accurate every time. In II Peter 3, the apostle predicted that in the last days there would be a time of great unbelief. People would not believe that the world was created by a divine Intelligence. In II Peter 3:3–5 we are told: “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water.” They willfully forget, not wanting to remember that this world was created by the word of God. That is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
We are living in a time when there is the accumulation of great wealth in the world and at the same time the most abject worldwide poverty. This is also a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. James predicted that there would be oppression of the poor by the rich. He said, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.” James 5:1–6.
When people are not ready and are not looking for it, the end will come. Jesus said, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:44. It is going to happen friends. Most of the world won’t be ready, but what about you? Are you ready?
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.