Peace in Perilous Times

Peace in Perilous Times
By: J. B. Hixson, Ph.D.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. (2 Timothy 3:1)

There is a stark warning given to believers in 2 Timothy 3:1.  It reads, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” A verse like this raises a couple of immediate questions. First, when are the last days? And second, how perilous will these last days become? In order for this warning to be taken seriously, we must answer these two questions.

The last days in Scripture is a phrase that refers to the time period commonly called the Church Age. It is the present age in which we find ourselves.  For centuries, and even millennia, God’s salvation plan of history was leading up to one great climactic event: Calvary. Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection ushered in a new era.  It started the ticking of the prophetic clock. The only age remaining in God’s plan of the ages is the Kingdom age.

At some point in the future the alarm on God’s prophetic clock will sound, and Christ will return triumphant to reclaim this world from Satan and usher in His long-awaited Kingdom of peace on earth. We don’t know how long these last days will continue. Indeed, Scripture makes it clear that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Until then we wait, recognizing the reality that we are living in the last days.

The term perilous comes from a Greek word that literally means “hard to bear, troublesome, dangerous, harsh, fierce, or savage.” One English version translates the word perilous as “times of stress.” Certainly, there could be no better description of the age in which we live. We have a lot to be stressed about, don’t we? People are facing more anxiety today than at any other time in history. This should come as no surprise.  After all, in that same chapter of 2 Timothy, the Bible reminds us that during these last days, things are going to get worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13)

Since the early days of the church in the first century, Satan has launched an all-out attack on God’s people. Each year that goes by, this attack gets more and more fierce. It is evident in every area of life: family, marriage, government, school, media/TV, crime, and even within the church at large.  We long for Christ’s return to make all things new.

Yet, before we get too depressed about the “perilous times of these last days,” as Paul calls them, let us not overlook one other significant phrase in this verse. This short verse begins with the statement, “but know this.” There is a lot of comfort in those words. Just three words in English and in the original Greek: “But know this.”  The clear implication is that the presence of perilous times is in complete accord with God’s plan. What we are facing today should call to mind God’s sovereignty.

Think of it this way. Life is like one giant movie and God is the writer of the screenplay. The fact that we have entered the last days just means that the movie is about over. The Hero, Jesus, is about to save the day. When the writer of a screenplay watches his final product on the big screen, he is neither scared nor surprised because he knows how the movie is going to end.
We are all living out this great movie on the world stage in real time, without the benefit of omniscience. But know this, God is in complete control. The next time you feel overwhelmed by all of the troubling signs around you, remember Jesus’ promise: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

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