Are we in the last 3 1/2 years?
Just a couple of thoughts on the general question:
(1) Even after his resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples:
"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own
authority" (Acts 1:7). This statement echoes earlier ones he made, ie, Mat
24:36, to the same effect. The fact that even after his resurrection and
glorification he was still uttering the same warnings should be a warning to us
NOT to try to set dates... because (and the context of Acts 1 supports this, I
think) there is the danger that too much concern for exact times may cause us to
stop doing things we should be doing, ONLY to concentrate on observing the
"signs of the times".
So there is always THAT warning to all of us: "it is not for
us to know"... the exact dates.
(2) "If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would
survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened
them" (Mar 13:20; cp Mat 24:22). I think Jesus is saying here that -- for the
sake of the believers -- those last days, just prior to his return, may be
"shortened"! So they may not be 3 1/2 years after all, even if some Scriptures
seem to plainly say they will be! Once started, they may -- by God's grace --
run their course much more quickly... and bring us right to the return of Christ
Conclusion: If we can't ever be absolutely sure when we have
entered the final phase (which may be 3 1/2 years, or 7 years... we can't be
sure), and (2) if we can't be absolutely sure that those times won't be
shortened by Christ anyway... for our own sakes...
Then... it follows: we can't be absolutely sure about either
the starting point, or (even if we knew the starting point, perhaps after it
occurred), we couldn't be absolutely sure about the ending point
This leaves us, I would suggest, right where we started:
"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come
at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise
servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to
give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose
master finds him doing so when he returns" (Mat 24:44-46).
- with a strong sense, based on world affairs (especially regarding Israel),
that we are in the Last Days... and that Christ could come very soon,
- with a healthy recognition that we can't know exactly when it will all
- anyway... there are things which we ought to be doing in the
Having said the above, I will go further and offer my opinion
on one thing:
The fact that we see Israel being pushed and shoved and
threatened, even -- it would seem -- by the United States, to give up more land,
and more security, to appease Palestinians and others... is, in my opinion, a
VERY STRONG indicator that we are rapidly approaching the very last days.
What is the nation, or group of nations, that will threaten
(and perhaps even overrun and defeat) Israel in the very last days? That always
seems to be the "$64,000 question". Russia? An Arab coalition? Led by Putin?
Saddam Hussein? Yasser Arafat? The Pope? Not to forget Libya, Ethiopia, Persia
(Iran)? Or... how about the whole of the United Nations, as we are seeing RIGHT
NOW, supporting the cause of those peoples that will further divide and weaken
Israel? (That last scenario may not leave out anyone: "all nations" may be
gathered against Jerusalem, as Zec 14 and Joel 3 implies! And that may even
include the United States.)
No matter what scenario we subscribe to, as regards the nation
or nations that will threaten Israel in the last days, we know (as much as we
can know almost anything about future fulfillments of Bible prophecy) that
Israel will be left alone among the nations, until... finally... she realizes
that her only help can come from Almighty God, and His Son.
So, anything that leaves Israel more isolated, and more
vulnerable -- while frightening in one sense -- is, I would suggest, just what
we should expect. And it is happening right before our eyes!
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will
know that its desolation is near... Jerusalem will be trampled on by the
Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There will be signs in
the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity
at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive
of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be
-- Should we be afraid when we see such things? That is the
natural tendency... but what does the Bible say? ---
"At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and
great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your
heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luk
PS: I would add this little "editorial" comment to this sort
of discussion: Let us hope, and pray, that we never have a 'falling out' amongst
ourselves about different scenarios for the Last Days, but rather... humbly and
prayerfully consider all possible viewpoints, treat one another (even if we
disagree on details) with brotherly affection, and wait -- as they say on
election nights -- for "the final results to come in"!
All the jockeying of the nations, around and about Israel, are
like the vain poundings and crashing waves of the "seas", casting up mire and
dirt. And... they don't really make any difference anyway. They will soon be
silenced forever with the words, "Peace, be still!" The Prince of Peace will
come, and whichever nations have done whatever to and about Israel will be like
a dream that is gone with the morning: HE will "speak peace to the nations", HE
will "still the raging seas", HE will bring in a "new world order" of peace and
Where we stand on the "Russia" question will be forgotten...
Where we stand on the "Arab" question will be forgotten...
Where we stand on the "Judgment" question will be the only
thing that matters.
Think about it.