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end-time bedtime stories: the last days

Doomsday scenarios are as old as first red moon. Are we really living in the “end times”?

One day Henny Penny got hit on the head by something. Convinced that the sky was falling, Henny Penny ran off to tell the king. Along the way, she picked up several followers who also became convinced that the sky is falling. Was Henny Penny a conspiracy nut? Well, at least Henny was trying to read “the signs of the times” (Matt 16:3)!

According to a 2022 Pew Research Survey, 47% of Christians say we are living in the end times (76% of the historically Black and 63% of evangelical Protestant churches). The other 49% of Christians say we are not living in the end times (70% of Catholics and 65% of mainline Protestants). Who’s right? And how do we know for sure?

Scripture uses four terms to describe human history: “the ages,” “this present age (the last days/last hour),” “the (last) Day,” and “the age to come.” Let’s break down the first two.

“The ages” refer to the Old Testament era. In Christ, God brings to light “for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God” (Eph 3:9; cf. Col 1:26; Rom 16:25-26). The things that happened in the OT “were written for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11). Christ “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:26). Amazingly, the hope of eternal life was promised “before the ages began” (Titus 1:2; 2 Tim 1:9). “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim 1:17)!

“The present age” began with Jesus’ birth. Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal 1:4; cf. Eph 1:21). People can get married and acquire wealth “in this age” (Luke 20:34; 1 Tim 6:17). Thus, forgiveness is a way of life “in this age” (Matt 12:32). We need wisdom to live “in this age” because the “rulers of this age” try to thwart God’s purposes (1 Cor 1:20; 2:6, 8; 3:18). By God’s grace, we can “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).

“The last days” is another way to describe “the present age” between Christ’s ascension and his appearing. Peter was crystal clear about this: “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Pet 1:20). On the day of Pentecost, Peter emphatically declared, “this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel ‘in the last days … I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh’” (Acts 2:17-21; cf. Joel 2:28-32). “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:1). John was convinced, too. “We know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18-19).

So, we’ve been living in “the last days” for 2000 years! We know for certain that “the present age” is the last age—not from any doomsday falling-sky scenarios—but from the pages of Scripture.

Don’t get so shook by the negative end-time signs that you completely ignore the good end-time signs! What? There are good end-time signs? Yup! I like to call them End-time Bedtime Stories