Aren’t we living in the last days?

by K.W. Leslie, 07 March 2022


But you may not realize what that answer means. Usually because most people don’t realize what the question means.

In the scriptures, “the last days” does not mean the End Times, the world right before Jesus returns, the reign of Jesus which follows, and the end of the world which comes right after that. But that’s what most people think it means; pagans and Christians alike. So when they ask, “Aren’t we living in the last days?” what they really mean is “Aren’t we living in the End Times?” Do the current events we see on the news, correspond with John’s end-time visions in Revelation?

The answer to that question is no. We’re not living in the End Times. Because the End Times actually don’t start till Jesus returns. It doesn’t consist of any pretrib rapture and one-world government and great tribulation. It starts and ends with Christ Jesus.

When we’re living in the End Times, you’ll know it. Everybody’s gonna see that second coming. Whether they believe it, or insist it’s fake news ’cause they have an entirely different-looking second coming in mind—one which better aligns with their terrifying, vengeful views—is another thing.

So if the last days aren’t the End Times, what are they?

Well y’know how the western calendar divides human history into BCE and CE? (Or the older terms, BC and AD?) The Common Era, or Christian Era, is the division we live in; the Before-Christian Era is the division which came before. In the BCE humanity looked forward to Messiah’s first coming; in the CE we look forward to his second. And before these eras were formally made part of the calendar, Christians thought of these periods as the “first days” and the “last days”—and in these last days, God sent us his son. He 1.2

The guys who put the western calendar together got the year of Messiah’s birth wrong; it’s six years off. The last days actually began 2,028 years ago.

And yeah, when you tell people this, they freak out a little. Because they thought the last days are the End Times. And the longer people believe something that’s not true—especially when we’ve made it a core belief!—the bigger the upheaval when someone finally corrects us. In fact, as you might’ve seen, some people refuse the correction, and insist they were right all along. You’re the one who’s wrong. You’ve been misled by evildoers. Maybe you’re an evildoer. And so on, right down the paranoid rabbit hole.

Usually when someone asks me “Are we living in the last days?” they want or expect me to answer “Oh obviously we are,” and confirm all their fearful beliefs about how all the current events have perfectly lined up with their End Times Timeline. In fact they’re kinda hoping I know some other connections between current events and the Timeline. Anything which supports their views.

They don’t want me to correct ’em with, “Actually the last days began when Jesus was born.” In fact I’ve found some of them already know this—“Yeah, yeah, I know the ‘last days’ began when Jesus was born; I mean End Times.” They don’t care that they’re using the wrong term; they’re just using the same term everyone else does. It doesn’t even matter to them. The only thing which matters is there’s evil out there. The Beast is putting together his evil, evil schemes. But they’re on the righteous side—and ready and eager to fight everyone who’s not.

Yeah, they wanna fight. Are we fighting alongside them? Or are they gonna fight us too? ’Cause honestly, they could go either way. We’re either a source of ammunition, or conflict.

Why they already “know” the answer.

Sometimes I’ll get the question “Aren’t we living in the last days?” from someone who’s not entirely sure. But such people usually suspect we are. ’Cause it’s so bad out there!

  • Wars and terrorists, and rumors of wars and terrorists.
  • Cops shooting innocent citizens; citizens shooting innocent cops.
  • People who could shoot up a room with no advance warning.
  • Drones which could smite you from the heavens above like Zeus himself.
  • Scary new diseases, and scary new treatments.
  • Unfamiliar “social norms” which were neither “normal” nor “moral” just a decade ago; who expected gay marriage and marijuana to become legal?
  • Unfamiliar technology which, given its power, may very well be dangerous.
  • Racism coming out of the closet. Or, if you’re racist, other races now weilding power that you fear might be used to do unto you just as you’ve been doing unto them.
  • Immoral people running for president—and so-called Christians not just holding their noses and voting for the lesser evil, but endorsing them, and praying for their victory instead of their salvation.

When things get bad like this, people understandably want the end to come. We don’t want things to get any worse. We really want Jesus to intervene and stop the madness. In this, I don’t blame ’em whatsoever. The sooner Jesus invades, the better. Maranatha.

But does a sinful world indicate Jesus is returning soon? Nah. A sinful world is the status quo. The world’s always been sinful.

“Yes it’s always been sinful, but things today are worse than they’ve ever been!” Again: Nah. I’m an historian. I’ve taught history; I still read history books for fun. Without a doubt, there’ve been many, many, many times throughout human history where things were unimaginably worse. It’s why the atrocities in TV shows like Game of Thrones shocks people—but author George R.R. Martin borrowed those atrocities from actual western history. If you’ve read your bible, you’ve even read some of them. If you haven’t, check out the early chapters of Exodus, or most of Judges, or the decline and fall of Israel after the kingdom split in two. Jesus lived under the Roman occupation of Israel; that was worse. It got even worse than that, as you’ll see when you read Flavius Josephus’s Jewish War.

Why do Americans insist things are worse than they’ve ever been? Mostly because they don’t know history. Our high school history classes, especially in districts with conservative school boards, don’t teach history; they teach patriotism. They gloss over all the bad things Americans have done, and either claim things weren’t that bad, or that the victims of past evildoers had it coming. That Americans were right to conquer Indians and Mexicans and expand our land; right to “civilize” the Africans and force them to act like white people. That people actually used to be better—more noble, more Christian, better educated, kept their word, followed the Law, respected their elders. And even though atrocities, genocide, racism, sexism, exploitation, and imperialism happened, they somehow divorce these effects from the causes, and forget we Americans were the causes. Total depravity, y’know.

If things used to be better—and they surely aren’t now—it must follow we’re getting worse. And doesn’t worse mean Jesus should be returning soon? Is God gonna permit things to get worse? Shouldn’t Jesus return and put a stop to things?

You’ll notice this worry moves right into the area of theodicy, an part of Christian apologetics which asks how an almighty good God, who created a good earth, can permit evil to run amok in it. To a degree that’s sorta what people are really asking: How long is God gonna put up with evil before he finally opens up a can of whup-ass (or as the bible prefers to call ’em, “bowls of wrath”) upon humanity?

Plus there’s the worry we Christians might be collateral damage when God pours out that wrath. Which is why so many American Christians are huge fans of the pretrib rapture idea… even though everyone else in biblial history had to suffer. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel had to ride out the Babylonian captivity when God judged Israel. Eleven of the Twelve, plus Paul, were executed for their faith in Jesus. But we’ve somehow got an escape hatch, right? Please tell us the Left Behind novels got that part right, and we won’t suffer.

And don’t dodge the answer by talking about how we’ve been in the “last days” since the Roman Empire. They’re not talking about the calendar. They’re talking about the evil in the world. It troubles them.

Your end is near.

Whenever I tell people the evil in the world is the status quo, that things are no more evil today than they’ve ever been, of course a number of ’em simply don’t believe me. They firmly believe in one of the pessimistic End Times scenarios. Their minds are made up about that. Makes no difference my pointing out how neither scripture nor history will support their beliefs. They don’t value history enough to see it as more real than their fears.

So let’s set it aside for now and deal with an area where we can all agree: We’re all gonna die.

No, not because the Beast’s one-world government is coming after us. It’s because humans die. I’m gonna die; you’re gonna die. Unless Jesus first returns, everyone we know is gonna die. (Yeah, everyone points to the two exceptions mentioned in the bible, but remind ’em it’s unlikely God is gonna make us one of those exceptions.) Death is so common to humanity, even Jesus died.

And none of us know when we’re gonna die. A man might be in perfect health, but a driver who won’t stop texting plows into him at a traffic circle. A woman might be in miserable health, yet God keeps her ticking for another 40 years. Unless God’s told us he has specific future plans which involve us, we could always die at any time. Same as Jesus could always return at any time. The End may not come soon, but your end will come. As will mine. As will everyone’s.

Anxious people wanna be prepared lest the End Times creep up on ’em. I say if we’re prepared to die, to meet our Master that way, we’ll be just as prepared to meet him in the clouds when he returns. You wanna be prepared for the End, you get prepared for death. So get yourself right with God, right now. Don’t put it off because you assume you have time. You don’t know. None of us do.

As for those "signs of the times”…

Jesus’s students wanted to know when the End would come, and Jesus was quite clear about it: We’re looking for the sky to go black and the Son of Man to appear in it. Mk 13.24-27

Everything else—seriously, everything else—is what typically happens when there’s evil in the world. Don’t confuse those things for the End. Because when we do, people will realize we’re believing falsehoods, and take advantage of us for fun and profit. Jesus wasn’t only warning us of crazy TV preachers trying to sell you freeze-dried food for your End Times bunker; there are plenty of politicians who will use our fears to turn terrified people into devoted, unthinking followers.

Mark 13.5-8 KJV
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

"But what,” fearful Christians will insist, “about my End Times timelines? The prophecies in Revelation and Daniel about future history? The warnings Paul made in 2 Thessalonians about the ‘man of lawlessness’? You’re skipping those!”

No, not really. I believe those events already happened in the past. The very few still to come, happen once Jesus returns. Which can happen at any time; and the sign it’ll happen is when the sky goes black.

Society’s evil behavior? Corrupt governments and candidates? Conflicts and hearsay? Par for the course. If you were expecting better, you were putting faith in the wrong kingdom. This one’s passing away.

So get ready for the one to come!