2 Timothy 3:1 says, “But know this, in the last days, you will have hard times.”
The question concerning me for this verse is, “Okay Paul, I get you; but when are the last days?” Have you ever wondered that? After studying through this, I have come to the conclusion that we are in the last days now, presently. This means that I do not agree with the “Left Behind” view that we are waiting for a rapture to come and usher in the last days of the world. Why do I think this? Three big and clear reasons:
a) Genesis 49:1-10. Israel (Jacob) says in 49:1 that he is going to tell his sons what will take place in the “last days”. What does he tell them? In 49:8-10 he has some interesting things to say about Judah. He says that Judah will be praised by his brothers and have ultimate victory over his enemies. Then in 49:10 Jacob says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet. Until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Follow me here: a scepter is a ruling instrument that a king would hold in his hand. Jacob is saying that Judah will always have this scepter, so Judah will always reign as king. The ruler’s staff is another term for scepter and Jacob says it will never depart from between Judah’s feet. ”Feet” in the OT sometimes refers to the penis, the male reproductive organ. So this means that the “seed” of Judah, or the offspring of Judah, which comes from his penis, will always reign with the scepter. Then the strange part comes “…until Shiloh comes…” Who is Shiloh? The NIV does a great job here and leaves the Hebrew exactly as it is found, “until it (the scepter) comes to whom it belongs.” This means that in the last days (49:1) the ruling scepter of Judah shall come to whom it belongs. Who has come from Judah to rule? JESUS! Jesus is the One “to whom the obedience of the people shall be.” This will happen in the last days Jacob says, so therefore, we are now in the last days, because Jesus has come and He holds all authority (Matt 28:18-20), He holds the scepter.
b) Hebrews 1:1-2. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us through His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also, He made the world.” Do you see it? God did speak to the fathers, the OT Israel, in many ways, but now, in these last days, speaks to us through His Son. God speaks to us through Jesus now, therefore we are in the last days.
c) Hebrews 9:26. “Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the end of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Who was sacrificed for sin? Jesus. When did this happen? On the cross. Notice how the author of Hebrews says this happened at the end of the ages? Therefore, we are in the last days now.
Why does this matter? Because we are in the last days now, we should expect things to be hard, difficult, violent, and dangerous for believers. These things should be a normal part of our everyday lives. Jesus promised we would have it trouble in John 16:33. If I am not feeling the tension and danger in my life because I’m a believer, I have to ask one question: Do I fit in too well with this present world? The world loves it own, and if it loves me, than I am not being a witness for Christ! If I am a witness for Christ, the world would hate me, as it hated Jesus. Have I not lived by the gospel clear enough to show the world what I am?
Listen to Jim Elliot:
The world cannot hate you”, so Jesus said to those who were of the world spirit. O’ that it could! The Lord is not enough ‘with me’ that the world can recognize and hate me for what I am – “not of the world.” The world loves its own, and for me it shelters not hatred. Lord, have I wandered so far?”