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Is Syria a Sign that We are in the Last Days?
James Tollett – September 6, 2013

Unless you have been in a cave for the past few of weeks, you are well aware that the news media has been all over the Syrian situation.  I know that individuals who read this weekly e-blast will have varied views about what the United States should or should not do because of this situation.  Interestingly enough, this situation has also become a point of conversation in the church.

Last week I had a couple of people in our church ask my opinion about the Syrian situation.  One conversation went something like this: “I know that in the Bible it says that in the last days there will be wars and rumors of wars.  Do you believe that we are in the last days?”  My first impression was to say, “Yes, we are in the last days.”  However, rather than give a quick simplistic answer like that, I pointed out that in my lifetime, there have been a number of wars and, yes, “wars and rumors of wars” is one of the indicators that the Lord is coming back, but it is not the only indicator.

That answer seemed to satisfy this person, so I moved on.  Nevertheless, there is really a whole lot more to this topic of “the last days.”  Just as I indicated above, there are multiple opinions about what should be done about Syria; so also there are multiple opinions concerning the last days.  The purpose of this Believer’s Tip of the Week is not to get deep in to Eschatology (doctrine of last things), but to shed some light on the passage mentioned during my conversation.

First, let me state unequivocally that as believers we are citizens of two worlds: the present world and the Kingdom of God.  Because Jesus has ascended to Heaven, the Kingdom of God has come (present time) and is coming (future time).  Second, there is a tension between this world, which is dominated by the kingdom of Satan, and the Kingdom of God.  This tension has often been characterized as a war between these two kingdoms.  Paul talks about this war in Ephesians 6:11-13.  The believer’s task is to uphold the banner of the Lord.

With that said, let’s now look at the passage alluded to by my friend.  In Matthew 24:6-15 (NIV) we read:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.  Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Taking this verse at face value, I acknowledge that there are areas of concern: wars among the nations, famines, earthquakes, and people unjustly persecuted and put to death.  These are terrible things.  However, if you look at the world from the time of the Fall of mankind, all this has been going on.  These things are proof that the god of this world (Satan) has been active.

As believers, though, we should not just dwell on the bad things, but we should also notice the good things.  (By the way, this is what often happens when people look at the Book of Revelation or study eschatology—they tend to focus on the negative things rather than the positive things).  There are some positive things in this verse: do not be alarmed, stand firm and you will be saved, and the gospel will be preached to the whole earth.  Then, the Lord will come back.  Rather than concentrating on the negative, I prefer to look at the positive: Jesus is coming back!  In the meantime, though, I need to be sharing my faith with everyone with whom I come into contact.

Is the Syrian situation a sign that we are in the last days?  Yes—but there may be more wars and rumors of wars.  Rather than fretting over this one situation, the believer’s response to this should be to use this time to find the assurance that comes from having a strong and growing relationship with the Lord, and being proactive in sharing his or her faith with others.  This week, find someone with whom you can share Jesus!

Until next week, I am James Tollett your missionary to America.

SURVEY TIME:

Over the years, I have had people ask me to teach on the Book of Revelation and, particularly, what the Bible says about the last days.  Although I have not done any detailed teaching on the matter, now might be the time to do this.  If I do such a teaching, by its very nature it would have to be extensive.  I need to know how many would be interested in taking a video course on this topic.  At present I am looking at 8 to 12 video teaching sessions.  To spend the quality time necessary to do this, I would need at least 10 people to sign up for the course.  The course could be delivered in a couple of ways: as a webinar and/or on a disk.  If you would be interested in such a course email me at james@jtmin.org.  In the subject line write “Last Days Course”.