PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Unique Characteristics of the Last Days
by Robert D Pace
There is no question that mankind has entered the Last Days. That means we should heed how the Scriptures call us to live in these Last Days. We must take them seriously! As they intensify, (and they surely will!), we must stay close to Christ, pray, read the Word regularly, and exercise discernment. You can be certain that this vengeful world is no ally of Christ or his followers.
Let’s read our text in Hebrews 1:1—2.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”
The “Call to Action” of the Last Days
All my life, I have heard my fellow preachers and godly Christians issue dire warnings regarding the Last Days. Statements like I mentioned a moment ago and statements such as this: “Brothers and sisters, we must stay alert, discern the days, and walk in the fear of God because these are the Last Days!” Have you heard statements like these?
My question is, What makes the Last Days unique? That’s what I want to identify in today’s message. And I’ll begin by asking this: Why has the Bible connected a “Call to Action” with the Last Days? If these weren’t the Last Days, could we live differently? The truthful answer is, Yes, we could live differently! Does that shock you? Let’s open the Scriptures and see how they connect a “Call to Action” from Christians that live during the Last Days:
1 Peter 4:7 says, ”The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
2 Peter 3:3 says, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” Thus, verses 17—18 say, “Since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. (18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Then in 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”So in verse 14 he tells Timothy embrace a godly lifestyle and cling tightly to the Scriptures. Paul continues in chapter four and verse 2 saying, “be prepared in season and out of season. And finally in verse 5 he says, “keep your head in all situations, [and] endure hardship.”
When Jesus and the Apostles spoke of the Last Days they noted that it would be characterized by deception, false prophets, false teachers, and false doctrines.
Moreover, this is why God has connected a “Call to Action” with the Last Days. It’s a “Call” for Christians to measure our steps, stay on our knees, study the Word, and live with discernment. There is a reason for this:
It’s because we are engaged in the epic battle of good against evil.
We live on a planet that’s a littered mine field!
Devils are lurking in unlikely places.
Mingling among the “elect” are “angels of light” that are sowing discord and propagating heresy.
Without the armor of God and discernment from the Holy Spirit, we will succumb to the fiery darts and arrows that Satan launches our way.
This is why the Apostles hastened to script the perils of the Last Days. With that said, I have a mental exercise for you. Let’s all try to picture something. In so doing, this will give you an idea of what we are dealing with today.
Vision of the Unseen Powers of the Last Days
In Revelation 1:10 the Apostle John invoked the phrase, “in the Spirit.” He said, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.”
Well, if John could hear a trumpeting voice “in the Spirit,” then perhaps you and I could see something “in the Spirit.” What if the Lord opened your eyes to perceive the “Arena of Unseen Powers” and its activity that rages day after day? You would see angels battling what Paul called, “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness.” This is where plotting against the righteous occurs. It’s where all the schemes of the enemy are devised.
But now let’s intensify this vision. What if God assigned to you an Archangel. And for 24 hours he shuttled you from one hemisphere to another, giving you a global purview of demonic activity. He took you to North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, especially pointing out the major cities of the world: New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Moscow, Lagos, Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, Mexico City, London, and finally Jerusalem.
You talk about a vision that would rattle your soul! That’s drama impossible to forget! But most importantly, how would this sight—all “born of the Spirit”—affect your living thereafter? I’ll tell you: You would never be the same! It would impact your devotion to Christ unlike anything else you’ve experienced.
Saints of God, the Holy Spirit must have disclosed some eye-shocking scenes to the Apostles as they penned the perils of the Endtime. That’s why they connected a trumpeting “Call-to-Action” to Christians living at this time. Remember, God didn’t require this of people in the OT. They lived under different dispensations.
“Age of Innocence”: Adam walked with God and had but one prohibition—“Don’t eat of the forbidden tree.
Age of Human Conscience: After Adam’s fall, God dealt with humans according to their conscience.
And once God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the Israelites then had a written code of ethics to obey.
But those former dispensations don’t apply to Christians. God has established a unique epoch for this day. It’s called, “The Last Days,” and we are living in them! This is the time when Satan is roaming through the world trying to ”steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).
But the good news is, the Lord didn’t leave us defenseless. He gave us a divine partner, called the Holy Spirit, and he’s always more than enough to help us live victoriously! All this is occurring in the Last Days! And that’s just its starting point.
(Transition) Since this is the case, I have a question: When did the “Last Days” begin? We are quick to invoke this phrase, “The Last Days,” but does the Bible disclose an identifiable starting point for them?
When the Last Days Began
The answer is, Yes the Bible provides a precise date. And more than that, the Last Days also has a specific termination date. And it’s repeatedly disclosed in the Bible. Let me show you both dates:
First, the Last Days began just after Christ’s ascension into Heaven and once he took his seat by the Heavenly Father. This is when Jesus poured forth the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
And when Jesus took his place of preeminence in Heaven, the Holy Spirit took his place of preeminence on Earth. With Jerusalem filled with visitors from across the world, the Holy Spirit arrived, empowered the disciples, and began supernaturally speaking to the visitors. Let’s read Acts 2:5—12.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
This describes the grand appearance of the Holy Spirit to Earth. And this is what is wonderful about the Last Days. Throughout the centuries, God has provided glorious, sovereign moves of his Spirit upon his people. We call them revivals, or outpourings of the Holy Spirit, spiritual movements. Peter called them, “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” This is what God has done throughout the two thousand years since the Day of Pentecost!
We are familiar with the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is the greatest revival of human history! However, did you know that Peter surreptitiously disclosed a second great outpouring in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost?
The Two Great Revivals
The OT Prophets, along with the Apostle James in the NT, predicted that the “former and the latter rain” would fall together. While the “former rain” fell on the Day of Pentecost launching the “Last Days,” we are awaiting the “latter rain,” which will produce a revival of double portions and a move of the Spirit like the world has never known!
Here’s how Peter included an opaque reference to the final world revival that is soon to appear. It’s disclosed it in the way that Peter addresses his audience. Let’s read Acts 2:14—22:
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews [Remember those two words] and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (17) ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
This is what characterized the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the First Century. However, the people of the first century did not experience anything in the subsequent four verses of Peter’s sermon. Let’s continue reading:
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this…” [Stop]
But at this juncture, in verse 22, Peter did not call them “Fellow Jews,” he called them “Fellow Israelites.” Why did he readdress his audience this way? It’s because the Spirit of Prophecy caused Peter to foresee 2000 years ahead and identify the final great outpouring of the Spirit. And the Spirit disclosed that it would occur once the Jews regained their sovereign Statehood! And that happened May 14, 1948 when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion suddenly announced the name of this reborn nation to be “Israel”!
You see, when Peter first said “Fellow Jews,” they were not a nation! They had lost their Statehood in the OT and Rome was occupying their land on the Day of Pentecost in the first century. But the people that will experience the Endtime revival will be those that witness “Wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. (20) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.”
I believe this Endtime revival will arrive in the not-too-distant future. It will be a repetition of all that happened in the book of Acts with one major exception: Everything will reappear in a multiplied manner! It will be “revival on steroids” … steroids of the Holy Spirit!
(Insight) I want to clarify something about this coming revival. For decades Christians have talked about the “Great Last Day Revival” when the “former and latter rain” would fall together. But folks, the Bible never says this revival will start in the United States. It won’t start in Great Britain. It won’t begin in any other Gentile nation. It will start in Jerusalem with the Jewish people! They will suddenly begin converting to Christ at the Endtime and it will then spark revival to the world.
This is something that the Bible makes abundantly clear. Let’s return to Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost. You recall the two phrases that Peter used to identify his audience his sermon: “Fellow Jews” and “Fellow Israelites.” The reason these phrases are additionally important is because the Apostle Paul said that the Gospel of Christ belonged “first to the Jew, then the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
The Jews were the first to be saved on the Day of Pentecost—3000 in fact— and the same will follow at the great Endtime revival. It will start with the Israelites and then spread to the world!
[I could say a lot more about this, but the drama of the “last of the last days” will come at the close of the Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 39:28–29).]
(Transition) So the Last Days began at Pentecost and will culminate during the Tribulation. But now let’s investigate the primary message of the Last Days. (The Holy Spirit works in the Last Days to exalt Jesus!)
The Primary Message of the Last Days
Have you ever wondered what this is? It is one that has been preached for 2000 years. Let’s continue answering that by returning to Peter’s declaration on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:22,
(22)Jesus the Nazarene, a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—(23) this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. (24) But God raised Him from the dead, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (36) “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
That is the chief message of the Last Days that we live in! And since all things must be approved by at least two or three witnesses, here are several other passages that affirm this:
Paul said this in 2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.”
Again, Paul says in Romans 8:34, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
And then in Acts 4:10 the Apostle Peter says this as he preaches to the Jews. “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. (11) Jesus is“ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ (12) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
This is the message of the Kingdom of God and the Last Days. And nothing supersedes it! Here’s what’s amazing about this message: This message is not ineffectual or powerless. I want you to notice the affect that Peter’s sermon had on its hearers in Acts 2:37—38:
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (38) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
And recall what happened in John 7, when “the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest” Jesus (32). As the guards listened to him teach, his words were so profound that they disarmed the mission of the guards, and they returned to the temple empty-handed. The chief priests were stunned! And when they demanded to know why the mission failed the guards responded, (46) “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” [NASB]
You see, the Holy Spirit has placed divine power within the Gospel message to bear witness that Jesus is the Messiah/Christ!
I want to emphasize once more before transitioning to my next point: Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the “Main Message” to this world of these Last Days! Our text in Hebrews 1:2 declares, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Amen!
(Transition) Now it’s time to disclose a monumental mystery about the Last Days. It’s been occurring since the Day of Pentecost, throughout the past 2000 years, and will culminate during the Tribulation. It involves the chief objective that spans the entire period known as “the Last Days.” It tells us our purpose for living in these last days.
The Chief Objective of the Last Days
The Apostle Paul knew God had attached a secretive, mysterious objective to the Last Days. He mentions this mystery in 1 Corinthians 2:7—8 when he writes this:
“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (8) None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
(Insight) When you read these verses, you see that Paul mentions a secretive and mysterious wisdom that God ordained before the beginning of the ages. However, he doesn’t disclose this mystery. But when you follow his ministry, you discover that it’s Paul, more than any other Apostle, that presents the Primary Objective of the Last Days. And it’s this:
God’s Primary Objective of the Last Days is to convince the world that his Son, Jesus Christ, is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The Lord is accomplishing this by means of preaching, teaching, testifying, gifts of the Spirit, signs and wonders, and the working of miracles. Eventually, at the Apocalypse, the Lord himself will intervene to shake the heavens, the Earth, and all upon the earth to convince mankind that he is the rightful ruler of this planet!
And now notice what Paul emphasized in 2 Corinthians 4:5. “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
You see, God wants mankind to willingly recognize this. And for 2000 years he’s extended his grace and goodness to show people that Jesus is Lord. Unfortunately, people have rejected the Lord’s mercy, and that’s why the Tribulation is coming. It’s here that God will settle the matter with force and finality.
Eventually, at his Second Coming, every eye will behold him, as he returns in the air to display his lordship over all things. The Antichrist will have totally failed to claim lordship over the Earth.
Remember: all these things are playing out now! And yet 95% of the world leaders do not understand what is happening. Recall again Paul’s words: “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (8) None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
But the day is soon to come when Christ will take his rightful authority over this planet. Turn to Revelation 11:15 and I want to show you how God will “Install his king on his holy hill.”
“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (16) And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying, “We give You thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.” [NASB]
And remember what Paul announced to people of every tongue and tribe in Philippians 2:9. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior I ask you to acknowledge his lordship over life and your heart. Do this today! Don’t wait until it’s too late.
(Transition) Now I want to point out the termination of the Last Days.
The Termination of the Last Days
Did you know there are not only numerous references to the last days, the Bible even makes it clear that there is a termination date to the last days? And this will be decisive and glorious.
Jesus said this in John 6. I’ll quote Christ in verses 39, 40, 44, and 54.
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (40) For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” … (44) “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” … (54) “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
In John 11:24 Martha said to Jesus, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
In John 12:48 Jesus said, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”
The Last Day is when Jesus Christ returns to Earth in power and majesty to set up his Thousand-year Millennial Reign. At that point humans will live without Satan and the least demonic interference. Christ will rule with a rod of iron to stamp out all evil.
And then the Last Days will give way to the Millennial Reign of Christ. And Isaiah 65 discloses this time period.
The Millennial Reign of Christ
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a a hundred will be considered accursed. 21They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; or they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain.” [NIV]
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