By Elizabeth Prata
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
We are in the last days. We have been since Jesus ascended. The last days will end when Jesus returns. The last days have lasted so far over 2000 years. They may go another 2000 years, or they may end tomorrow with the rapture of the church and the last 7 years of fulfilling the decree. (Daniel 9:24).
The verse in 2 Timothy next speaks of “difficult times.” It’s always helpful to go the Greek and read the original language the New Testament was penned in. The word for ‘times’ is kairos. It doesn’t mean chronological time, that word is chronos. It means a suitable time, or an opportunity. When Satan finished tempting Jesus, he left Him until a more opportune time, (Luke 4:13). The word there is the same, kairos. GotQuestions explains more:
“Answer: The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative.”
Doesn’t it seem exactly like this is a ‘suitable time’ for satan to advance his agenda (God using satan to advance HIS plan)? Wow, 2020 was a rapid formation of different threads coming together. Now we see the curtain drawn back even more as each day passes. It sure seems like an appointed time for America to receive her due penalties for her sins. Which always means times of difficulties in the church.
Paul is telling Timothy that in the church there will be waves of difficulty over time. There are seasons of strife within the church, followed by seasons of apparent calm, followed by another wave of difficulty. Given that sin only descends, and things will wax worse (2 Timothy 3:13), as each wave of difficulty appears it’s worse than the last one. Here is John MacArthur in 1987 speaking of his experience over time back then:
“As we get closer and closer to the coming of Christ – and that happens every second, obviously – we cannot expect that the things in the church are going to get better and better; they’re going to get more violent and more difficult all the time. And I’m telling you, I’m seeing that. I’m seeing that in my own personal life, and in the life of this church. There was a time, I look back 20 years ago, when it seemed like everything was sort of a honeymoon, and hearts and flowers, and all of that.”
“And we were carrying on, and God was blessing, and we were growing, and nobody seemed to care, and as the years have gone on, the battles just accumulate; they just keep accumulating. And every new wave seems more difficult and more devastating than the one before. And not just in our local church, but at the level of the church worldwide. There seems to be today a greater apostasy than ever before; a greater tolerance for things that displease God; greater confusion, more religious phonies and charlatans, more false Christians, more apostasy of every sort.” (Source: Danger in the Church part 1)
And that was 34 years ago. I’d say with sufficient confidence that we are entering another wave, a deepening of the apostasy, confusion, and chaos than the ones experienced by previous generations. With the rising hatred globally against Christians, and with the current situation in the United States about to occur, I think we are in for some of those difficult times Paul warned Timothy about. How to react?
Christians are Salt & Light. (Matthew 5:13-16) Salt presumes there is something worth preserving. There is! The GOSPEL.
Light presumes there is something worth seeing. There is! Christ’s likeness in us.
Let us be salt and light during these times.
How do we do this? We keep on doing exactly the same as we have done before. We live our lives in submission to a Holy God, we serve others in love, we answer those who ask as to the reason the confidence is in us, and we gather for worship and pray ceaselessly. The Christians living in Paul’s time just before the Temple Destruction and dispersion did the same. The persecuted believers of the 1st century did the same. The Christians in the Dark Ages did the same. Christians battling the secular scientists in the ‘Age of Reason’ did the same. And now we have an opportunity to add our mark to the wall of hated/persecuted/martyred/ believers. It’s an opportunity.
In this week’s Founder’s Ministries podcast, Tom Ascol said that as people on Twitter were talking about the word for 2021, he added his own: opportunity.
No, I’m not casual about it. I am not looking forward to supply shortages, disdain, marginalization, potential church closure, mask mandate, virtual school, and so on. No, of course not. I’m not looking forward to adjusting to a new way of life (which 2020 brought on so quickly and isn’t going away). I’m not looking forward to weird times or even times of difficulty. But it’s our turn. Jesus said in this world you WILL have difficulty. (John 16:33). So, take it as an opportunity…to rejoice in these things:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be overjoyed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
The best future is ahead for us believers. A dark future is ahead for non-believers. Let’s not leave them in the dark. Be salt and light.