"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. " 2 Tim. 3:1
We live in an unparalleled time in the history of our nation and the history of the world. We see prophecy being fulfilled like never before. Famines, Israel a nation, weather changes, sicknesses--all these are signs of the times. Many are frightened by what they see. Others preach that things are going to get better and better, that Christians are going to rise and take over so that the Lord can return. Others prophecy of a vast end times harvest of souls, which would, in itself spark revival and turn the nation.
Timothy tells us that things are not going to get better as we near the end, it will "grow worse and worse." We are living in "perilous" times. To think that things are going to get better requires that we live in a utopia of deception. As Christians we are not guaranteed easy times, but we are promised joy and peace, no matter what time we are living in. We may not be able to stop the decline of America, depending on where we are in end time events. No amount of prayer can stop the unfolding of prophecy. Positive attitudes do not keep prophecy from coming true. Faith is not believing God to do what WE want Him to do, if what we want is not according to His times and epochs.
One of the ways in which this is clearly seen is in the feasts of Israel. All the feasts of Israel are symbolic of the ministry of Christ.
Among the feasts of Israel, there are the spring feasts:
Passover--symbolic of salvation through the atonement of Christ
Unleavened Bread-- symbolic of sanctification
First Fruits--symbolic of the ressurection
Pentecost--symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and the beginning of the church age which will produce a great harvest of souls.
Then there are the fall feasts:
Feasts of Trumpets-- to celebrate the end of the harvest, and symbolic of the rapture of the church
Day of atonement--symbolic of Daniel's 70th week when the whole nation of Israel will turn to Christ in a day.
Feast of Tabernacles--symbolic of the new beginnings when David will rule Jerusalem and God will dwell among us.
Now we all know that in between spring and fall is summer, a time of harvest. That is where we are right now. And all farmers will tell you that the harvest is greater in the beginning of the summer and then tails off as fall approaches. So if we are close to the rapture, it makes sense that the harvest will be less and less. 2 Tim. tells us that in the last days, men will no longer endure sound doctrine and sound doctrine is essential for salvation, so if sound doctrine will no longer be endured by all those that call themselves "Christian", then the number of salvations will tail off, not increase.
Worser times will not destroy our faith, because we have a greater hope than anything that can be found in this world. But we must, "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;..." We must continue in sound doctrine, even as it grows less and less popular in "the church."
So, how do we live in these times? In 2 Tim 4:4 we see that:
1) People will be distraced by their desires.
2) People will turn from truth to fables of false doctrine. They will create inventions of their minds, "god's of their own making."
We, in response, must do the following things:
1) We must let doctrine dictate our desires.
2) We must be watchful, taking heed of what is around us, pusuing with a calm and steady Biblical manner.
3) We must endure afflictions. We cannot have a need to be liked and accepted. If we have a need to be liked, we must pray and ask God to sanctify that thing in us.
We must look ahead to the "better things" that will come after this age is over. We must let those better things dictate our thoughts, our desires, and our actions now. We must live IN the now, but we cannot live FOR the now. Living in the now means that we continue....continue to pray, continue to witness, continue to grow and mature in the things of God. The harvest is not over, but it could be becoming less as hearts are hard and the love for God grows cold as the Bible says it will in some. We must not quit because the Bible does say the "some" will be saved and it is our calling and command to find those "some." We will not be judged by our success, but by our diligence to the cause of Christ. The results are up to God.
But in that continuing we must keep an eternal perspective. There is something coming that is so much better, we will not even remember now as good in comparison. We must press on with more determination than ever before to preserve the doctrines of the church, especially as we see "doctrines of demons" penetrating even the professing Christian church of our nation. Without it, we cannot see God. We must prepare as if we have forever, but live as it it is our last day.
Lately many people that I know have asked me if I think we are living in the end times, close to the return of Christ. I just smile and say "we're closer than we've ever been." And I would add, we're probably closer than we think.
I'm looking for His soon return!