Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Last Days


The last words of my father …

Our Key Scripture for this morning comes from Genesis, the Book of Beginnings. The verse we are going to read records the Jewish Patriarch Jacob gathering his sons together so that they might hear his parting words. By this time Jacob is 147 years old and has been living in Egypt with his whole family for 17 years. Jacob has witnessed his share of trouble in life and now he looked forward to death with a calm assurance that God would continue to work in his family. There is something powerful about last words.

The last words of one generation are the first words for another.

Genesis 49:1  And Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:

Note here what was on the mind of this Patriarch who had lived his life and was ready to pass the mantle of family leadership on to the next generation - Jacob wanted his sons to know what was going to happen “in the last days."

The last days is a subject which has been on the minds of men in every generation. All religions have their take on how it will all end and what takes place afterwards. Thankfully, God has not left us without knowledge concerning the truth about the last days. In fact, both Old and New Testament writers took up the pen under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give us a glimpse of what will take place in the last days, each one adding another facet to the unfolding drama.

Jacob felt responsible to leave his sons and the next generation with knowledge of what would happen to them in the future. The Apostle Paul felt that same responsibility when addressing his spiritual son Timothy. Paul knew he was about to depart this world for the next and wanted Timothy to know something. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 3
1  But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Peter also wrote:

2 Peter 3
3  Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4  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."
8 ¶  But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 ¶  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 ¶  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

James, the half brother of Jesus and Pastor of the Jerusalem Church said:

James 5:3  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.

These are true pictures of the times faced by many generations past and by the times we live in today. God wants us to know that the last days will be perilous times but He also wants us to understand that He has not left us without witness, power, hope or help. The Holy Spirit has also given report through the prophet Joel and repeated by Peter on the day of Pentecost and recorded by Luke in:

Acts 2
17  ’And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
18  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
19  I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21  And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’

The Prophet Isaiah and the Prophet Micah were contemporaries during the mid 8th century BC. The both prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem and they both had the exact words to say about the last days. This parallel prophecy says:

Micah 4
1 ¶  Now 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 peoples shall flow to it.
2  Many nations 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 the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3  He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; 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 any more.
4  But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5  For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the LORD our God Forever and ever.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that God:

Hebrews 1:2  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Peter, James, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, Luke, Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Zechariah, Daniel, Jacob and Jesus Himself all took account of the last days and gave instruction so that we would not be ignorant as to the things going on around us and what we should do in our generation.

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilence and trouble on every side. And 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; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

He firmly instructed us:

"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." (Luke 21:28)

Whatever calamity may come to the earth in any generation, including ours, is the truth of the last days scripture which says:

And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Without regard as to the trouble any generation has faced, is facing or will face in the future rest assured that all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be delivered and kept safe throughout eternity in the arms of Almighty God. In your day of trouble, perhaps even the last days, you can confidently call upon that Name … Why not call on Him to save you now!