People love talking about the end of time. When will it be? What will happen? Will there be nuclear wars, zombies, mutants, etc.? There are countless movies, books, shows, etc., around this topic. People are even preparing for this time and spending a lot of money and resources. Although we are fascinated by the topic, most of these things are just speculative at best. So what does the Bible teach us about the end times? Let’s explore and find out.
The end times or last days is a theme that moves throughout the Bible. To fully see it, you must start at the beginning. Genesis 1-3 sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. God created humans to be in relationship with Him in paradise, but humans fell and were exiled. The relationship was broken, and this Heaven/Earth paradise was lost. The Bible is the story about how God worked to restore this relationship, and, in the end, there will be a renewed Heaven and Earth where believers will dwell with God forever.
The Old Testament is about the Messiah. The one who would come to restore mankind’s broken relationship with God and bring peace. Discussion of the last days focuses on the Messiah, who He is, and what He will do. The New Testament concepts then flow out of what we learn from the OT, and that the last days are tied to the Messiah’s coming and restoration of relationship with God.
The exact phrase “in the last days” is used to open large poetic sections (Gen. 49, Num. 23-24, and Deut. 31-32) in the first five books of the Bible. Each of these builds on the picture of the coming king, the coming Messiah. He will be a lion from the tribe of Judah, a star from Jacob, and one who atones for sin and brings joy to the nations. In the rest of the OT, the end times speak of the future Kingdom of the Messiah. It says that God’s Spirit will be poured out into the world (Joel 2). And it will also be a time of judgment and restoration; a time of seeking the Lord (Isaiah 2, Deut. 4, 31; Jer. 23, 30, 49; Ezekiel 38:16; Hosea 4) and the establishment of His Kingdom.
In the NT, we see that Jesus, the Messiah, initiates His Kingdom and a new covenant through His ministry, death, and resurrection. In one sense, He defeats evil, sin, and death and sends the Holy Spirit to lead His followers now, to be lights and show His kingdom in our current world. Jesus also taught that He would return, at which point there will be a final defeat of evil, and Heaven and Earth will be reestablished.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus’ teaching about the end times, specifically in His Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. When asked about the end, Jesus says a lot about deception, wars, famine, and even earthquakes. It can all be a bit confusing. He is pretty much describing a snapshot of time at any time. These events happen throughout history, and it’s impossible to know or predict the end.
"But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” - Mark 13:32-33
Jesus also describes people doing normal activities, stating,
“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”- Matthew 24:40-42
Jesus’ point is to not worry about these times but to be ready for them. “Ready” isn’t in the form of prepping and spending frivolously. Instead, we should have faith in Him, His care and provision, and His Kingdom.
In Acts, after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit is sent, and Peter sees this as a fulfillment of Joel 2 and what will happen in the last days.
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” - Acts 2:17
Again, for Peter, in Acts 2:17, we are in the end times, the inauguration of the Kingdom of the Messiah.
The rest of the NT letters challenge their readers to live life knowing that we are living in the last days, experiencing the Kingdom of God now, while we wait for the return of Christ and the realization of His Kingdom, Heaven, and Earth together once more. In Thessalonians, Paul must correct an early mistake that Jesus had already come back. He tells them to keep living, working, and acting normal in life. It isn’t about escaping from the world, it’s about being a light in it. Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Many people get stuck deciphering “apocalyptic” literature like parts of Daniel and Revelation. It’s a genre of writing that is highly symbolic and can be confusing. There are multiple different views of how the end times will play out, including views on a time or tribulation or a millennial reign. However, there isn’t enough space here to cover these options, but to show that biblically “the last days” refers to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, who would defeat sin, evil, and death and bring a new covenant. He will come again, defeat evil once and for all, and reunite Heaven and Earth in a new creation (Revelation 21-22).
In one sense, yes, we are already living “in the last days,” a time of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Jesus and actualized by His followers. However, this world is not perfect. And so, there will be an end when Jesus returns, defeats sin, and renews creation. Once again, Heaven and Earth will be united. When will this happen? No one knows. What exactly will it look like? Well, that is debated. The Bible isn’t about speculating on what we can’t know but understanding clearly what we can know and how to prepare.
We can know and predict well that we are all going to die, and chances are, before the end of the world comes. So be ready. You can have confidence in the future and hope, no matter how long you live or when the return of Jesus is. Don’t wait; be ready now. Accept the gift of salvation and embrace hope in Jesus. As C.S. Lewis stated,“Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.”
Husband and father. “The Professor” and teacher of Sun Valley University, and in my DMIN program. Love to read, listen to podcasts, and watch movies. I am also an associate at Rayhons Financial Solutions.