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Monday, April 30, 2018

Hebrews, Day 1: Hebrews 1:1-4 (Pt. 1 of 3) - What is God's Last-Days Word to the World?

What is God's Last-Days Word to the World?
Hebrews 1:1-4 (Pt. 1 of 3)
Hebrews, Day 1

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Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. - Hebrews 1:1-4, ESV

Are we living in the last days? How do we know? What does God want us to do in the last days? Does He have a special word for the world in the last days?

Millions of books have been sold and tens of millions of dollars have been made providing answers to these questions. Most people know the Bible teaches us this world will end one day, when Jesus returns in glory to judge the nations. Beyond the circles of the church, the world has made blockbuster movies touching on the themes of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, life in a post-Apocalyptic world, the Antichrist, etc. 

Sadly, very few of the books or movies made by Christians or by non-Christians has much truly biblical wisdom. As we begin walking with Jesus through Hebrews today, we see right away a reference to the last days, which the author of Hebrews calls "these last days." Hebrews was written almost 2,000 years ago in the 1st Century, and already God's people were referring to the times in which they lived as "the last days." 

So, are we living in the last days? Absolutely! But that may not mean what you think it means. The beginning of the last days was foretold by the Lord through prophet Joel, saying, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28). The prophet Joel doesn't use the term last days, but when Peter preaches his sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, he indicates that the "afterward" in Joel 2:28 is "the last days" which came with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people of God at Pentecost (see Acts 2:14-17). 

So, ever since God poured out His Spirit on His people, we have been living in the last days. What makes these the last days? It's the last days because God has kept and fulfilled every promise He has made in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." God has kept every promise in His Son, Jesus Christ. The fact that we're living in the last days means that Jesus' return is imminent, meaning He can return at any time. 

The fulfillment of God's promises in Jesus ushered in the last days. So, what is God's special word to the world for these last days, as Jesus' return is always very near and could happen at any time? Is God telling us to sell all of our possessions and stockpile gold and canned food? Is God telling us to buy land in Israel, near the Mount of Olives? Is He telling us it is time to eat a vegetarian diet? No. All of these ideas have been suggested as the "last-days word" from God for the world. But they're all unbiblical and dangerously mistaken.

Instead God gives us clearly His word: Jesus. He who spoke through prophets at various times in the past has spoken to us in the last days in His Son, Jesus. Jesus the Word Incarnate is the word for the world living in the last days. God is calling all people everywhere to repent and believe in Jesus, finding in Him the full forgiveness, redemption, and hope we all need.

Some people seem almost disappointed that God's word for the world in the last days is so simple and clear. They want a hidden Bible code or some secret prayer formula or some hidden strategy to unlock riches or power. In reality, all of these desires are rival idols to the true greatness found only in Jesus. Nothing else could ever take away our sins, cleanse our consciences, give us peace with God, give us absolutely security, fill us with an inextinguishable hope or give our lives real meaning and purpose. Jesus alone is the One we need.

Knowing this truth should set us free from a desperate struggle to want to figure things out for ourselves. Knowing this truth should set us free to worship Jesus and proclaim His Gospel with joy and confidence. We have God's final word for the world in these last days: Jesus is Lord! Let us worship Him and share this good news with others!