TEXT: 1 John 2:18-23
As we have looked at the times of the Gentile nations, our next step is to look at the ultimate ruler of the Gentile nations in the end times — the antichrist. We know from Scripture that the antichrist will be a world ruler empowered by Satan during the seven-year Tribulation. From the Bible, the idea of an antichrist — an utterly evil but powerful person — has even entered popular culture. Numerous books such as the Left Behind series, movies such as The Omen, and TV shows such as Supernatural and The Messengers have tried to depict such a person.
The interest regarding this person has been long-running. Since the time that Jesus returned to Heaven, many have wondered about who the antichrist will be and when he will arrive on the scene. Many have thought that the antichrist was alive in their day. The Apostle John tells us that they may not be far off from the truth.
John begins this part of his epistle by saying, “Little children, it is the last time…” The Greek word translated “time” in our text is actually the word for “hour.” The phrase, “last hour”, is only used by John. Other parts of Scripture use “last days” or a different phrase which is translated in the King James Version as “last times.” However, John impresses upon his readers the urgency of his message by stating that they are living in the “last hour.”
Some would try to point to the Bible as erroneous because John wrote that he was living in the ‘last hour’, yet the world has gone on for hundreds more years. There is no contradiction, however, because John was simply looking at what was happening around him, and what he saw caused him to believe that he and his fellow Christians were indeed living in times close to the end. He was looking for Jesus to come back, and as he looked at the world, he said to himself and to others, ‘It won’t be long now.’
There have been numerous times throughout history when people have looked at what was happening around them and stated their belief that earth was entering its final days. I’m sure that those who saw the flood in Noah’s day thought they were living in the last hours of history. This past week, Japan marked 70 years since atomic bombs were dropped on its cities. I’m sure that as the mushroom clouds rose over those cities, many people in the surrounding area looked up and thought the world was coming to an end. Many who witnessed the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2005 thought the world was coming to an end; some even said so. During the Cold War, many lived with the fear that the United States and Russia would declare nuclear war against each other. Albert Einstein said that such a war would wipe out humanity. When we saw the towers fall on 9/11, I’m sure that many thought then that it was the beginning of the end. So we cannot fault John for believing that he was living in the ‘last hour.’