Paul warned Timothy that in the last days it would be perilous times. (2 Tim 3:1-5). That warning was aimed at first century Christians's edification, about first century Christians, and it is even more so for us now. The cultural decline within the Christian community is rapidly increasing, and as one might expect, the cultural decline among the non-Christians is increasing even more. Take this statistic. It is astounding:
"Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million." (Source)
That's my lifetime. I was born in 1960. I grew up in a culture where the standard for cohabitation as man and wife, legally married in a covenant marriage observed by God, has been thrown away and any manner of dyads and triads of any or all genders for any period of time that is convenient for all parties is looked upon as the societal norm. This will have consequences.
The last days are typically understood to be from when Christ ascended to when He returns. The last 7 years of that end time is the Tribulation. That is when Jesus punishes Israel and judges the world.
In advance of the Tribulation the rapture will occur. I know that many say that we don't or can't know that for sure, but that is not true. The bible is clear on the timing, and any doctrine contrary to the pre-tribulation rapture in my opinion is a satanic device to steal confidence and assurance in God's promises to His Bride. However it is true that the rapture will be a signless event.
That is for two reasons. First, it always has been an imminent event. Nothing "has to happen" before He calls His Bride up to Himself. Secondly, the rapture is an event that is not tied to a date, but a number. Paul said in Romans 11:25 that "do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." (NIV) Other translations say 'fulness of the Gentiles'. In the Greek, fulness means a filling up, a full complement, complete, to consummate, as in a number.
God has a number in mind for His church, and when that number is reached, it is full. We will be called up to Him, the dead in Christ will rise and those who are alive and remain will be caught up with them to be with Jesus forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Note that Paul said that the Israelites' hearts had been partially hardened. That hardening will be released at the rapture (Acts 15:14-16) and during the Tribulation many Jews will be saved. He always preserves a remnant!
Though we do not know days nor hour, we can suspect the season. If you read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 you will see that those who are not in darkness can understand the season drawing to a close, and in Matthew 24 we are told that when the fig tree buds, we will know the time is near.
However, even though the rapture is a signless, always, imminent event, the Tribulation is not. As we see what the Lord has forecast for the people left on earth during that terrible time, we see the prophetic pieces coming together and even now the pieces are almost touching. If we can see signs that the Tribulation is nearing, how much closer would the rapture be? Close. So that is the rationale for believing His coming for His bride is near. Looking to His coming is something we are rewarded with doing, as well. (2 Timothy 4:8, 1 Corinthians 9:25).
At the time of the Tribulation, He will lift the Holy Spirit from the earth as well as He did prior to the Flood (Gen 6:3). He will not disappear completely, of course, because the Spirit draws men to God (John 12:32). But the ministry of His hand holding back lawlessness (sinful rebellion against God) through Christians on earth will cease. Sin will be allowed to run rampant. Sin will have dominion.
Prior to that terrible time, perhaps even now we can see the effect of a rising rebelliousness and sin's hold on a Godless society having its tipping point. We know that in the time of the end the churches will have less and less power, become weaker and weaker, and by definition, sin will increase.
Revelation 2-3 shows us letters to actual churches in the first generation of Christians but also the letters are included in Holy Writ so that we may be instructed today. We see that Ephesus is a church that had forsaken its first love; Pergamum is a church that needs to repent Thyatira is a church that has a false prophetess, Sardis is a church that had fallen asleep, Laodicea is a church with the lukewarm faith. Only the letters to the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia did not contain a rebuke. So we see that 5 of the 7 churches had grown weak and ineffective in one or more ways, and so shall it be as the Church Age progresses. Far from there being a prophetic indication of a great revival prior to the Tribulation, the church will become weaker and more ineffective.
As the church grows weaker, sin becomes stronger, stranger, more rampant and obvious. Here is one small example. With that in mind, here are some crime stories this week, people are not only acting in increasingly weird ways, but really are off their rockers. That is what sin will do to a person. Sin makes you crazy.
Lawrence Deptola Of Utica Attempts To Rob Three Banks With A Toilet Plunger
"Lawrence Deptola is flush out of luck.Deptola, 49, of Utica, New York, allegedly tried to rob three banks -- unsuccessfully -- using a toilet plunger, WKTV News reports.At about 1:30 on Thursday afternoon, Utica Police responded to a report of an armed robbery at a Key Bank location. Deptola, plunger in hand, entered the branch and started screaming obscenities, demanding that bank employees put money in a bag. He threatened tellers with the suction-stick, police said. Cops arrived on the scene after receiving calls from two other banks, which Deptola also allegedly demanded money from."
Woman strips naked at DIA
"A female passenger at Denver International Airport caused a stir Tuesday morning when she stripped naked in the middle of Concourse B, airport officials said. The incident happened at about 8:45 a.m. when, according to DIA spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone, the woman was caught smoking a cigarette at gate B81, in a non-smoking area. At some point after airport workers told her to extinguish the cigarette, the woman took off her clothes. It wasn’t immediately clear why. However, Denver Police say it was unrelated to the smoking issue. Authorities eventually transported the woman to a hospital, Schiavone said. She was not arrested and does not face charges."
Exorcist wanted in Saskatoon
"A case of what is being called possible demonic possession in Saskatoon has prompted local church officials to consider the need for an exorcist.CBC News spoke with a Catholic priest involved in the case, which arose in March, and agreed not to identify participants in order to protect their privacy. According to church officials, a priest was called to a Saskatoon home by a woman who said her uncle showed signs of being possessed by the devil. The woman believed a priest's blessing could help the distraught man. At the home, the priest encountered a shirtless middle-aged man, slouched on a couch and holding his head in his hands. The man had used a sharp instrument to carve the word Hell on his chest. When the priest entered the room, the man spoke in the third person, saying "He belongs to me. Get out of here," using a strange voice. The priest told CBC News that he had never seen anything like this and was concerned enough to call police, for safety reasons. He said he then blessed the man, saying he belonged to the good side, to Jesus. With that, the man's voice returned to normal for a short time. The unusual voice returned when police arrived, and the priest continued to bless the man until he resumed a more normal composure."
Secret Service agents busted because they refused to pay hooker: source
"The dozen Secret Service agents sent home after a prostitution scandal in Colombia were busted after at least one of them refused to pay a hooker, sources said. The scandal — a black eye for the United States’ reputation abroad — was revealed Friday before President Obama arrived in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas.The 12 agents were part of an advance team meant to secure a local hotel before the summit began — yet their attention apparently turned to taking advantage of Colombia’s policy of legal prostitution.“They had arranged to have a bunch of prostitutes come by and one of the agents refused to pay a prostitute,” said author Ronald Kessler, one of the leading experts on the Secret Service. “Yes, doubly good judgement there.” Kessler, who was briefed on the investigation by his sources within the agency, told the Daily News Saturday that the spurned hooker went to the police to report the lack of payment. The local authorities then notified the U.S. officials, who immediately recalled the 12 agents back to Washington. “Their careers are over,” said Kessler. “Number one, it is against basic ethics to go to a prostitute,” he continued. “Number two, it is incredibly embarrassing to the White House.”“And number three,” he continued. “It could leave them open to blackmail and a possible assassination attempt." "