According to the Bible, Jesus will return at a period of time known as “the last days” also known as “the latter days.” Notice some of these features that comprise this period:
- It will be in the last days that the Messiah, Jesus, will appear to reign upon the throne of his father, David and judge the nations: Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-5; Luke 1:31-33. They are designated “the last days” because they will bring us to the end of this present evil age ruled by humanity (See Daniel 12:9, “the end time” and v. 13, “the end of the age.”) just prior to the glorious return of Christ who will commence to establish the everlasting Kingdom age (Revelation 11:15).
- It will be in the last or latter days that “the stone,” Jesus Christ, will come and destroy the statue King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream: Daniel 2:31-45. The last section of the statue is the ten toes mixed with iron and clay that will be in existence at the time of his coming. (“in the days of those kings,” vss. 43-44). This leads Bible experts to believe that these ten toes or ten “kings” will be in existence at the time of his coming, and so they are yet future.
- It will be in the last days that the Holy Spirit will be poured forth on all of mankind according to the prophet Joel as referred to by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:14-21). Peter was not actually claiming this prophesy was fulfilled that morning but that the miracle which had taken place (Acts 2:1-4) was only a sign of what is to come in the last days. The apostle listed other future signs (vss. 19-21) that led him to emphasize the need to call upon the name of the Lord (through the name of very One they crucified) if they wanted to be saved (vss. 21; 38-39).
- It will be in the last days that “difficult times” will come according to the Apostle Paul: 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (New American Standard Bible, NASB). The Apostle Peter’s reference to mockers who “will come, their mockings following after their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’” (NASB) coincide with Paul’s description of difficult times (2 Peter 3:3-9).
Since the last days are essentially during the church age period, the phrase can apply in a broader sense than just prior to Jesus’ second coming. For example, there have always been waves of difficult times since the persecution of the early church. For this reason, John remarked, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrist’s have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour,” (1 John 2:18). False messiah’s were already in existence in the days of the apostle (2 John 7). Yet, this was only a sign of what is to take place in greater proportions and intensity when the last days are fulfilled at the end of this present age (Matthew 24:3, 24).
Jesus compares the last days to a woman in labor (Matt. 24:8). Like birth pangs that get closer and more intense before birth takes place, so also are the signs pointing to the closeness of Jesus’ return. This description includes “the abomination of desolation” spoken of in Daniel (Cp. Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 with Matt. 24:15 and Mark 13:14). It will be in this last time of tribulation “that anti-Christ” is coming (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). John is pointing to the one person who will play center stage as the one who will oppose Christ as alluded to in both Old and New Testaments: Compare 2 Thess. 2:4 with Daniel 11:36ff, and Revelation 13:1-8 with Daniel 7:8, 20f, 8:24; 11:28, 30.
Thus, there are many names for the anti-Christ who will usurp world power in the last days. In Second Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul provides a detailed description of the anti-Christ as “the man of sin” in context with Old Testament imagery. Although he says, “the mystery of iniquity is already at work,” Paul is quick to state that he is being restrained (held back) until the mystery (secret) is revealed to the world (vss. 7-8; Daniel 9:27).
So, this restraining will be removed when the anti-Christ, a.k.a., “the man of lawlessness” or “son of destruction” is revealed (2 Thess. 2:3). At the same time, the apostasy or falling away of believers will also take place, and then “the day of the Lord” or coming of Christ will occur (v. 2).
Furthermore, in the last days, this “son of destruction” will be taking his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (v. 4) until Christ comes to defeat him (v. 8). Many believers will be deceived by this anti-Christ or man of lawlessness (v. 11). Revelation 13 says this “beast” (vss. 1-10) will be aided and abetted by another “beast” known as “the false prophet” who will “perform great signs”. There will be a time of unprecedented persecution of Christians all around the world including “the mark of the beast,” (vss. 16-18). As Jesus says, great tribulation “such as has not yet occurred since the beginning of time nor ever shall be” will come (Matt. 24:21). All of these things will take place as signs in the last days alerting the church to the nearness of the return of Christ.
As each day goes by, we move closer and faster to the return of our Lord. We might wonder if we’re already in those final last days before he comes. This is a legitimate concern. There are a lot of things going on in the world that give us reasons to wonder about it: Events in the Middle East, namely threats against Israel (Zechariah 14:1-11; Luke 21:20-28); persecution of Christians worldwide; instability among the nations that will erupt into World War III (Revelation 16:13-16); lawlessness and corruption amongst world leaders; rise of ungodliness that resembles the days of Noah and Lot, just to name a few examples (Matt. 24:37-41; Luke 17:26-37); changes in nature leading to all kinds of cataclysm in the last day (Matthew 24:29-30; Rev. 6:12-17).
Earlier, I referred to the nearness of Christ as birth pangs. Talk to any woman who has gone through natural child birth and she will testify what those pains are like. But when that baby finally comes, tears give way to smiles as the pain is replaced with the pleasure of a new life entering the world. So, it is in the last days when the pains of grief, torment, and death will give way to joy, healing, and life forevermore when Christ breaks through those clouds with power and great glory. Let us be ready for that Great Day (Matt. 24:32-51).
Good News to you!