Scripture speaks often of the last day or days and of the last time (Gen. 49:1; Is. 2:2; Mic. 4:1, Jn. 6:39; Acts 2:17; II Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; Jas. 5:3; I Pet. 1:5; I Jn. 2:18; Jude 18). It also speaks of the end of the world or the end of the age (Matt. 13:39, 40; I Cor. 15:24; I Pet. 4:7; Rev. 2:26).
When are these last days - this last time? Are they near or far in the future? Do they have any relevance for us today? What is the end of the world? These are questions that must be answered.
Scripture is clear that the whole NT age is the last time, the end. We see this in I Corinthians 10:11, where Paul enforces his teaching by telling the Corinthians believers and us that the ends of the world are come upon us. Likewise, Hebrews 9:26 says that it was at the end of the world that Christ came "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (cf. also Heb. 1:2; I Pet. 1:5; 20; 4:7; I Jn. 2:18).
While it is not unbiblical to refer to the second coming of Christ and the great judgement as the end of the world (Mk. 13:7) and to the days immediately preceding as the last days (II Tim. 3:1), it is clear that this is not a special and separate age, but part of the NT age. This age in which we live, this "day," this time, is the last. There is nothing to follow but the new creation, the new heavens and earth.
It is difficult for us to believe that if this is already the end of the age, the last time, that then the world can still last many thousands of years before the Lord returns, as some suggest. Will the end be longer than the beginning, longer than all the history that has preceded it? That would be a strange end indeed.
Scripture views this whole age as the last time and as the end, in light first of all of the promise that Christ shall come quickly, but also because it is the time in which God finishes His work "and cuts it short in righteousness" (Rom. 9:28). The two are related. That Christ comes quickly is not to be measured so much in number of years, as that God is finishing His work and will send Christ as soon as that work is fully accomplished.
This truth that the whole of the present age is the end is also of enormous practical significance. It means (1) that we are all living in the end and will experience to some degree the events of the end (Matt. 24:34); (2) that we must all live in expectation of the end and not as though it is far in the future, without any immediate relevance for us (I Cor. 10:11); and (3) that our hope must be in that which is to come and not in this world and the things of this world. They have come to their end!
What a frightening, yet wonderful thing it is to know that we live in the last days. We stand always, as it were, within sight both of the final judgment and of the coming of our Saviour. We preach knowing the terror of the Lord. We live as pilgrims and strangers, knowing that our journey must soon be finished and we have our first sight of the eternal city. We acknowledge that we live in perilous time, yet we are not afraid, for we see our redemption drawing nigh. We know the end has come.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 11
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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