~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I'd like to examine a last days prophecy Paul delivered to Timothy. It is in 2 Timothy 3, 1-9, and it concerns "perilous times", or "Godlessness in the last days." Paul warned Timothy that in the last days perilous times would come, and Paul went on to describe the characteristics of people's behavior in those last days.
There is a common misconception regarding the passage though, and I'll be addressing the verses and the misconception in part 2.
The Day of the Lord is mentioned 4 times in the New Testament. (Acts 2:20; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2; and 2 Pet 3:10). The Old Testament prophets mentioned it much more often, 19 times in fact. The prominent theme of every Day of the LORD prophecy is God’s judgment of sin. (source)
"Now what is the day of the Lord? Well, the day of the Lord as a term, mark it in your mind, refers to not one day but a period of time. We use the word "day" in the same way. We say this is the day of...this is the day of space travel, or this is the day of existentialism, or this is the day of alcoholism, or this is the day of marital breakup, or this is the day of whatever. We use it in that sense and that's the way it's used in this reference. This is the day of the Lord. In other words, man has had his day, man has had his fling and now it's God's time. And the Lord is going to begin to do some things. And so the day of the Lord is a period of time beginning with the rapture of the church and extending through the millennial kingdom. It covers all kinds of events. It covers the Tribulation time when the Lord takes back the earth. It covers the conquering of the nations at Armageddon. It covers the judgment of the nations. It covers the establishment of the Kingdom. It covers the reign of Jesus Christ on earth for a thousand years. It covers the vanquishing of Satan. It covers this whole great eschatological time block from the Rapture to the end of the Kingdom. That whole era of the end of history is the day of the Lord. " (source)
Of 1 Thessalonians 5:2, "Paul here reminds us of this significant important climactic cataclysmic day to come in human history. Frankly, it is not at all popular to talk about God's fury. It is not popular to talk about God's anger, God's vengeance. In fact, seldom do you hear a sermon on the day of the Lord, on the time when Jesus comes back to judge those who have rejected Him. Everything today needs to be positive and affirming and comforting. And very few preachers really want to deal with this particular topic. Rarely does someone preach on the vengeance of God." (source)
Last year, Paul Lopez in Crosswalk.com, wrote an essay titled, "Seven 'Last Days' Passages You'll Rarely Hear Pastors Preach On". He said, "When was the last time you heard a "last days" sermon from the Old Testament? When most pastors preach a sermon on the end times they usually start with the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) or the Book of Revelation. For years the focus on end times discussions has remained in the New Testament. Unfortunately that results in our teachers only giving us the end of the story."
Mr Lopez's assessment includes a dearth of preaching on the following topics (verses and summary included in the link)
1. Jacob's Prediction of the Last Days
2. Moses' Warning to the Israelites
3. Jeremiah's Prediction of the Last Days.
4. Prediction of the New Covenant That Would Come
5. Jesus Was Born in the 'Last Days'
6. Isaiah's Prediction of judgment on Old Covenant Israel in the Last Days
7. Joel's Prediction that the Holy Spirit Would be Poured Out in the Last Days
Is the Day of the Lord one day, or more than one day? BiblicalTraining.org defines it this way,
DAY OF THE LORD. An eschatological term referring to the consummation of God’s kingdom and triumph over his foes and deliverance of his people. It begins at the Second Coming and will include the final judgment. It will remove class distinction (Isa. 2:12-Isa. 2:21), abolish sins (2 Pet. 3:11-2 Pet. 3:13), and will be accompanied by social calamities and physical cataclysms (Matt. 24:1-Matt. 24:51; Luke 21:7-Luke 21:33). It will include the millennial judgment (Rev 4:1-Rev 19:6) and culminate in the new heaven and the new earth (Isa. 65:17; Isa. 66:22; Rev. 21:1)."Some scholars include the actual Millennial Reign in the Day of the Lord, such as John Walvoord and John MacArthur, others such as Professor Richard Mayhue of The Master's Seminary, for example, simply include the judgment at the outset of it and the end of it (Sheep & Goats judgment and Great White Throne Judgment) and not the reign.
My position is the last days began at the birth of Jesus, and will end when the rapture occurs. The Day of the Lord will then begin.
Now the verse about Godlessness in the Last Days
Godlessness in the Last Days 1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
Can you really live casually knowing that there comes a day of wrath and vengeance? The LORD never, ever, EVER lets sin go unaddressed. He will address it- He is angry at the sin in the world and the sin in you. Jesus is your ark, your shelter, your safety. He is the refuge for your very soul. He died on the cross for the LORD, as the sacrifice upon which God exhausted His wrath. If you are in Jesus, He will not pour out His wrath on you, because He already poured it out on Jesus. If you are not in Jesus, you will be in the middle of the world's largest storm of heavenly wrath ever seen by man, and shall ever be. (Matthew 24:21). Pray to Jesus now for Him to forgive your sins. If you are sincere, claiming Him as risen Lord and Savior able to forgive, then you are saved. Confess and believe. (Romans 10:9). The Day of the LORD is at hand! (Isaiah 13:6).
Part 2 will take a closer look at Godlessness in the last days, and whether Paul was referring in those verses to the world or the church.