Are We Living in the Last Days?
THE phrase “critical times hard to deal with” is translated from the Greek kai·roiʹ kha·le·poiʹ. (2 Timothy 3:1) The word kha·le·poiʹ is the plural of a word that literally means “fierce” and carries the thought of menace and danger. One Bible commentator says the word refers to a “tremendous assault of evil.” Therefore, while previous eras experienced turmoil, “the last days” would be extraordinarily savage. As 2 Timothy 3:13 puts it, “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.”
Does this describe our day? Let us analyze some specific evidences recorded at 2 Timothy 3:2-5 to see if these indicate that we are living in the last days.
“Men will be . . . lovers of money.”—2 Timothy 3:2.
Fraud has become, as U.S.News & World Report calls it, “an orgy of economic crime.” In the United States, the toll of health-care fraud alone hovers between $50 billion and $80 billion annually. Sadly, such dishonesty is typical. As Gary Edwards, president of the Ethics Resource Center observes, we have “a culture that sometimes celebrates dishonesty.” He explains: “We make heroes of villains, people who are politicians, business people who rip the system off and get away with it.”
“Haughty.”—2 Timothy 3:2.
The haughty person looks upon others with contempt. How evident this is in racial and national prejudice today! “All minorities are targets,” says The Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. “Racial violence is on the rise in Germany, the Ku Klux Klan is active in the United States and swastikas deface Toronto sidewalks and synagogues.” Irving Abella, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, says: “We’re seeing it everywhere: in Sweden, Italy, Holland and Belgium as well as Germany.”
“Disobedient to parents.”—2 Timothy 3:2.
“The baby boomers are being credited by many with raising a generation of mouthy, confrontational, disrespectful brats,” notes The Toronto Star. Rebelliousness that starts at home often spills over into school. One teacher observes that children as young as age four talk back. “Teachers spend more time dealing with behavior than they do teaching,” she says. Of course, not all youths are rebellious. However, “as a trend,” notes veteran high-school teacher Bruce MacGregor, “they seem to have very little respect for anything.”
“Having no natural affection.”—2 Timothy 3:3.
The last days would see a marked deterioration in the family—where, more than anywhere else, natural affection should prevail. The New York Times reports that “domestic violence is the leading cause of injury and death to American women, causing more harm than vehicular accidents, rapes and muggings combined.” Most child molestation is perpetrated by trusted family members. The high divorce rate, the abuse of the elderly, and abortion also give evidence that many are “utterly lacking in . . . normal human affections.”—Phillips.
“Fierce, without love of goodness.”—2 Timothy 3:3.
“Young killers don’t need much in the way of motives,” writes newspaper columnist Bob Herbert. “Large numbers of kids have enthusiastically embraced the concept of blowing away another human being ‘just for whatever.’” Even some parents seem to lack moral sensitivity. When a group of teenage boys were accused of competitively racking up points for having sex with as many girls as possible, one father commented: “Nothing my boy did was anything any red-blooded American boy wouldn’t do at his age.”
“Lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—2 Timothy 3:4.
According to one estimate, teenagers spend 15 hours with electronic media for every hour spent with a religious group. “Today,” reports the Altoona Mirror, “the media-driven culture that thrives in shopping malls and school hallways dominates teen life. Then comes the family. At the end of the list [is] the church.” The Mirror also observes, “if parents are absent, and churches silent, then the media are the loudest voices in the lives of young people.”
“Having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.”—2 Timothy 3:5.
Bible truth has the power to change lives. (Ephesians 4:22-24) But some of the most ungodly acts take place under the veil of religion. A tragic example is the sexual abuse of children by the clergy. According to The New York Times, a lawyer in the United States “says he has 200 cases pending in 27 states on behalf of clients who say they were molested by priests.” Truly, any form or pretense of godly devotion these clergymen display is exposed as mere hypocrisy by their wicked works.
FURTHER EVIDENCES OF THE LAST DAYS
2 TIMOTHY 3:2-4 STATES ALSO THAT MEN WILL BE . . .
□ Not open to any agreement
□ Without self-control
□ Puffed up with pride
“THE SIGN OF YOUR PRESENCE”
Shortly before his death, Jesus was asked: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus specified conditions and events that would characterize the last days. Let us examine some of them.
“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”—Matthew 24:7.
“The twentieth century—although generally one of social improvement and heightened governmental concern for the lives of the poor—has been dominated by the machine gun, the tank, the B-52, the nuclear bomb and, finally, the missile. It has been marked by wars more bloody and destructive than those of any other age.”—Milestones of History.
“Earthquakes in one place after another.”—Matthew 24:7.
During this century, earthquakes measuring from 7.5 to 8.3 on the Richter scale have been experienced in Chile, China, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, and Turkey.
“There will be fearful sights.”—Luke 21:11.
Because of frightening developments in recent years, fear is perhaps the biggest single emotion in people’s lives. People fear war, crime, pollution, disease, inflation, and many other things that threaten their security and their very lives.
“Food shortages.”—Matthew 24:7.
“Starvation Looms While Aid Groups Bicker,” announces a headline in New Scientist magazine. According to a former U.S. president, famine threatens to ravage the planet within two decades. “Despite such frightening forecasts,” the article notes, “the amount of aid rich countries are giving for agricultural development in developing countries is shrinking dramatically.”
“In one place after another pestilences.”—Luke 21:11.
According to a panel of experts, the U.S. government’s fight against AIDS—costing more than $500 million annually—has been called a dismal failure. “We’re losing a whole generation of productivity because of AIDS,” warns Dr. Donna Sweet, who works with some 200 to 300 patients. In the United States, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among men ages 25 to 44.
“Increasing of lawlessness.”—Matthew 24:12.
A U.S. survey of 2,500 youths revealed that 15 percent had carried a gun at some point during the previous 30 days, 11 percent had been shot at during the past year, and 9 percent had at some time fired a gun at another person.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
As we have seen, mankind is far off course, far from a peaceful world. In terms of sheer magnitude, the above conditions are unprecedented. Indeed, the human family finds itself in unfamiliar territory. It is passing through an era called the last days.
What will come after this period?
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Michael Lewis/Sipa Press