THE LAST DAYS
J. N. Manokaran
The future is a mystery for all of us. However, the Bible gives us generic information that can help us identify the ‘last days’ before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:1-9 Paul gives us a word picture that summarises the newspaper reports and the ‘culture’ we are witnessing today:
“But understand this, in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”
Here’s a sampling of how the apostle’s prophecy about the ‘last days’, recorded 2000 years ago, is being fulfilled today:
1. Lovers Of Self. The ‘selfie’ craze has caught up with the young and old alike. A couple fell to their death attempting to click a selfie standing on the edge of a cliff in Poland. In USA, a woman posted her selfie on Facebook and died in an accident a few seconds later. This is the new generation that worships its own body, and to pander to the obsession of this me only generation there are cosmetic products for men and women, cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, tattoo parlours, beauty parlours... and what not!
2. Lovers Of Money. Money is the priority, the purpose and the end product in life; all values are subservient to it. Satan has cleverly positioned money as the lucrative alternative, personifying mammon. Without realising it, people worship Satan in the form of money. They prefer money, love money and see life’s purpose in money. God is Love personified, but very few give Him the place He deserves in their lives.
3. Proud, Arrogant And Selfconceited. Pride of possessions, position, prestige, power, caste, clan, class, and pride based on parochialism, drive most people. The humble are teased, tormented and harassed. Pride begets hatred and violence, upsets relationships, seeks to control and dominate others, resulting in strife and struggle. VIPs and VVIPs take pride travelling in cars with red beacons, surrounded by commandos for their security and servants to attend to them. Recently a teenager’s hand was chopped off for ‘disrespecting’ the husband of a panchayat President in Tamil Nadu.
4. Abusive. Children are abused verbally, physically and sexually even in their homes; schools and public places like parks and playgrounds are not safe anymore. Rail, road and even air travel have become a nightmare for women. Managers abuse their staff. Students abuse their teachers. Social media posts are blatantly abusive.
5. Disobedient. Obedience is considered a sign of weakness. Rebellion against authority is evident everywhere. Grown-up children neglect their parents and do not respect them, compelling the government to enact laws to make children care for their parents. Teachers are ridiculed, humiliated and attacked. Police are looked upon as pawns on the chessboard. Politicians and law makers are called clowns and monkeys.
6. Ungrateful. Many do not feel the need to express gratitude for the help and kindness they receive, particularly due to the entitlement mentality rooted in the caste system.
7. Unholy, Corrupt. Unnatural and illegitimate things are considered ‘modern’ and ‘alternative lifestyle’. A movie depicts a woman who believes that her dead husband has re-incarnated as a boy in the neighbourhood and has sex with him! Such unholy ideas, being promoted by the media, are corrupting the minds of the young and old alike.
8. Heartless, Brutal, Without Self-control. Millions of heartless mothers and fathers throughout the world have innocent blood on their hands, having aborted their unborn children; and this brutal murder of innocent children is no longer considered a crime! Hatred between husband and wife scores over their love for their own children as they do not think about the ill effects on the innocent children that separation and divorce causes. The organised, thriving beggar mafia maims children and sends them out on the streets to beg on their behalf. Ragging in schools and colleges is on the rise, and honour killing is another horror story.
9. Unappeasable. People are never satisfied – the more they have, the more they crave for. The dowry culture is another demon that is impossible to appease, with numerous instances of dowry-related deaths in India.
10. Slanderous. False allegations, gossip and slander have become more sophisticated with the emergence of the digitalised social media. Millions enjoy reading the gossip stories of celebrities in the newspapers and magazines. Even the churches and Christian institutions are not spared by this evil called ‘slander’.
11. Not Loving Good. Evil people approve and promote evil. Hatred goes in the name of patriotism. Giving and taking of bribe have become a way of life. Exaggeration and false propaganda are accepted as normal. People cannot distinguish between good and evil (Isa.5:20).
12. Treacherous. ‘Treacherous’ has to do with betrayal of trust. There is a serious trust deficit in our society; those who betray trust are being dishonest. Contracts are violated at will. Adulteration of edible oil and food for profit are common phenomena. Antibiotics are supplied to poultry farms for a higher yield and bigger profits. Treachery within marriage, between siblings, relatives and in public service is common. Fake spirituality in the form of rituals and man-made traditions dominate every community. One of the innumerable faces of dishonesty is the tax evader and black money hoarder who gives generous donations anonymously to escape the tax man’s net.
13. Reckless, Lovers Of Pleasure. Many reckless young people have become drug addicts. The young generation demands freedom sans responsibility, which often leads to a reckless lifestyle. IPL matches, reality shows, Bollywood movies and a wide variety of computer games have dominated the lives of young and old to such an extent that the pleasure they derive from these sources has become their god.
14. Always Learning. People are not interested in knowing the truth and practising godly values. Even the highly learned people fail to acknowledge the truth that would lead them to God’s kingdom, for they have allowed the god of this world to blind their minds – just as the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses.
In order to escape the deadly influence of the ‘last days’, Paul prescribes to Timothy, and to all of us living in the 21st century, two remedies:
First, Paul cites his own testimony – his teaching, lifestyle, purpose, endurance and patience for us to emulate. He reminds Timothy that persecution is part and parcel of a disciple of Christ. (2Tim.3:10- 12).
Second, the apostle points to the word of God as the strong foundation to build our lives on. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Tim.3:16,17).
The Bible provides teaching, correction and training to make a person complete and equipped for good works. Christians who allow God and His word to direct their steps will never be intimidated or overwhelmed by the deceptions and dangers of the last days.