The Bible warns, “In the last days, perilous times will come.” Today, we see perils of every sort increasing all around the world. But we also see a lie. To believe the lie is to deny the clear warnings of Scripture and the reality of world events. To accept the lie is to put ourselves and our loved ones in danger.
Scripture foretells that, at the end of this age, these “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1) will be marked not only by traumatic worldwide calamities, but also by increasing immorality and sin (cf. vv. 2–4)! God inspired the prophet Isaiah to describe the attitudes and conditions that would be prevalent at the end of this age. Isaiah records the lie that many believe today: “‘Come,’ one says, ‘I will bring wine, and we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink. Tomorrow will be as today, and much more abundant” (Isaiah 56:12). Isaiah is describing the attitude that says, “Eat, drink and be merry, and life will only get better as we go along.”
In these perilous times, will we “take heed, watch and pray” (Mark 13:33)? Or will we occupy ourselves with the carnal distractions of this world, ignorant of the prophetic signs around us? Will we believe the lie, or will we face the facts? Will we be overcome by the world, or will we overcome the world?
The fact is that the global economy is in peril. The United States is heading toward a fiscal cliff and painful austerity similar to what countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal have experienced. The fact is that Europe has fallen back into recession. “European shares dip as euro zone sinks into recession,” Reuters, November 15, 2012). Over the coming years, painful austerity measures, strikes and riots will intensify and will also spread to other European Union member states.
Bible prophecy has long foretold that, at the end of this age, the American and British-descended nations will move from a time of prosperity to a time of peril. The fact is that we are in that end time. “Today America lacks the financial strength, political courage and social will” to do much to attempt to return to greatness. America is a superpower in economic and moral decline, heading toward a potential “nightmare scenario” in which “all hopes for America’s future could disappear” (“Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation,” Der Spiegel, November 5, 2012).
Beyond the imminent economic crisis, the U.S. and other nations are also being buffeted by increasing weather disasters. Grinding droughts or unseasonably torrential rains continue to afflict the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Last year’s deadly “Superstorm Sandy” will cost the Northeast U.S. at least “$50 billion in damages and lost economic activity” (“New Jersey officials mum on amount of Sandy economic damages,” CNBC.com, November 13, 2012).
The fact is that a massive moral degradation is also underway, as the Apostle Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3. A continuing trend toward more violent, demonic and occult entertainment is accompanied by an equally unbiblical attitude-shift toward sexual immorality and the role of the family. As our Editor in Chief, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, reminded us in the November-December 2012 issue of this magazine, Satan and his demons are very real forces that seem “very fascinating to some people” yet “the Eternal God commands us, ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God’ (Leviticus 19:31)” (“Resist Demons,” p. 4).
In the November 2012 U.S. elections, voters for the first time approved “same-sex marriage” in two states, and elected the first openly homosexual U.S. Senator, and mainstream media took notice: “Rarely do popular votes reflect such dramatic social changes” (“Voters approve same-sex marriage for the first time,” CNN.com, November 11, 2012).
Similar developments are occurring in other Western nations. French legislators in January are expected to vote on a bill that “would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade” and would be a major step toward unprecedented marriage and adoption rights to lesbian and homosexual couples (“French ministers back draft bill on same-sex marriage,” CNN.com, November 7, 2012).
Many want to ignore the fact that, all too often, sexual immorality and selfishness lead not only to emotional pain and physical disease, but also to the abortion of unborn babies. According to a recent global study, about one in five pregnancies end in abortion—more than 40 million abortions worldwide each year! Though there have been an estimated 50 million abortions in the United States since 1973, it is in Europe and Latin America where the abortion rates are the highest (“Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008,” The Lancet, January 19, 2012). The astronomical number of aborted babies is another sign of our living in “perilous times”—when, instead of being faithful within marriage, and showing real love to unborn babies, far too many people are “lovers of themselves” and are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (cf. 2 Timothy 3:2–6).
Consider, too, the fact that the world seems to be losing the war against drugs. In the November 2012 elections, U.S. citizens in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in their states, and although the U.S. has spent at least $25 billion in the past decade to combat illegal drug possession and trafficking, many experts say this has produced nearly no positive effect (“U.S. should honor states’ new pot laws,” CNN.com, November 13, 2012).
Interestingly, Scripture warns that at the end of this age, even after the coming Great Tribulation, human beings will not repent of their murders, sexual immorality—or experiments with drugs (Revelation 9:21). Remarkably, the Greek word pharmakeia—usually translated as “sorceries”—also connotes narcotic drugs! What a sobering indictment of humanity’s stubborn rebellion!
Do not accept the lie that “tomorrow will be as today, and even better.” We live in perilous times. But there is good news; you and your loved ones can prevail! While they may be humanly weak, Christians understand that they can be spiritually strong with Christ living within them (2 Corinthians 12:10, Galatians 2:20). Through the strength of Christ in them, true Christians reject and overcome sin and the lies and the perils of this world. They press forward (Philippians 3:12–14), no longer as “lovers of self” or “proud” or “unholy” or “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:2–4).
Faithful Christians are overcomers—profoundly thankful to have been saved from the penalty of past sins by Jesus’ shed blood (Titus 3:4–7), confident in knowing that as they faithfully run their race (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1), they are being saved now from the perils of this world (2 Corinthians 2:15) by the living Christ (Romans 5:10), and ultimately will be rewarded with an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25) and eternal life in the very Family of God (Revelation 22:5).
We live in perilous times, but Matthew 24:12–13 promises that Christians who endure to the end will be saved. Through Christ living in us, we reject the lie, and we are confident to receive salvation from sin and from peril!