Are We Living in the Last Days? Part 2 of an interview with Scotty Smith, Author of Revelation: Hope in the Darkness
When the difficulties of life suggest that evil and chaos reign, we need to see that God occupies the throne in heaven and rules this world. In Revelation: Hope in the Darkness, Scotty Smith reminds us that in troubled times our hope is in our champion Savior who is with us and will one day make all things right. In this study guide, Smith offers a unique perspective on the end times that maps onto modern-day issues and problems. There is a battle raging against Jesus and his people, but be assured: Jesus wins. Though the world’s kingdoms entice and persecute us, the gospel still advances. The Lamb is on the throne, and he alone is worthy of our worship. Christians can anticipate with great joy the final victory of Jesus and the wedding of the Lamb. Our destiny is renewal and new life, rejoicing with our Savior in the New Jerusalem.
Part 2 of an interview with Scotty Smith, Author of Revelation: Hope in the Darkness
Q: Every generation believes they are approaching the last days—and living through 2020, many are even more sure of it. Are we living in the last days?
Indeed, we are, but as Revelation and the rest of the New Testament teaches us, the “last days” began with the first coming of Jesus. The entire period between the resurrection and return of Jesus is the “last days.” When I became a Christian in 1968, it was assumed that we were living I the last days and that they only began rather recently, as in the beginning of the ‘60s. According to Scripture, however, the last days have been going on for quite a while. The apostle Peter stood up on Pentecost and announced that the coming of the Spirit signaled that the last days had begun: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Acts 2:17). And Hebrews says, “In the last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2).
Revelation is a last-days manual for the whole people of God. The several scenes presented in chapters 6 through 22 are a series of repeating episodes—gracious gifts of God informing, warning, and encouraging us about things that have been, things that are, and things that are to come. The same events and timeline are viewed, and then viewed again, from different perspectives. Here we see the Christian life as it will be until Jesus returns. It has been and it will be full of rapture and rupture. And Jesus is fully in control of all things.
Are we living in the last of the last days? God only knows!
Q: What does it mean to be a bomb-shelter believer?
To be a bomb-shelter believer is to disengage from the very world our God is committed to redeem and restore. It’s to live more by fear than faith.
Revelation describes the power of the Gospel to move the young vulnerable church into the very Roman world that loathed its existence and tried to destroy her. The vision of the church in Revelation is a community of believers giving off the light and life of the perfect world that will arrive with the return of Jesus. The church is to offer a redemptive presence in every place and generation until our true reigning King returns.
Q: One of the most sensational and hotly debated symbols in the book of Revelation is mark of the beast. Why are Christians so scared of the actual number 666, and should they be? What should we understand about the mark of the beast?
We are scared because many of us were fed fanciful and unbiblical notions of what the numbers in Revelation actually mean. Seven is the number of fullness and perfection. Six is the number of man, so 666 is the “manish-ness” of man on steroids! Man putting himself in the place of God and at the center of all things.
The mark of the beast is always superseded by the mark of our God, in the book of Revelation. All of God’s children are “marked,” that is sealed with the Holy Spirit, and one day, will have God’s name written on our foreheads—a symbol of the face-to-face intimacy of God we are given in the Gospel, and will fully enjoy when Jesus returns to finish making all things new.
Q: What are the most important takeaways from the chapters about God’s wrath?
That believers are to be moved to deep worship for Jesus exhausting God’s judgment for us on the cross, and moved to deep hope and mission because evil has an expiration date. Justice is coming. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God’s glory, and evil defeated at the cross, will be completely eradicated.
As we ponder the wrath of God poured out on Jesus for us, we will live in the world with humility and hope. Since Judgment Day has moved from the future to the past for us at Calvary, we will leave vengeance to God and enter more fully into our calling to love others as Jesus loves us. God’s wrath is the opposite of the rage of a despot; it’s the perfect love and response of our holy God to everything that contradicts his goodness, truth, and beauty. Personally, I think we will only understand the wrath of God when Jesus returns, and we behold the full perfection, beauty, and love of God. It will undo us.
Q: The popular view of heaven is that it is a reward for a life well lived, yet the Bible’s view is that it is a wedding Jesus eagerly awaits. How should that view prepare us for what is to come?
To understand the Gospel is to realize we are already dressed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus, as his Bride. Preparation has to do with living as Jesus’ betrothed Bride, with all joy and faithfulness to him. We serve with him in the world, as we wait for his return to finish making all things new. Believers who pass though death before Jesus’ return are now consciously with the Lord. But no believer in heaven is experiencing the fullness of heaven which the Bible calls the new heaven and new earth.
Q: What do we most often misunderstand about the Bible’s teaching on the new heaven and new earth?
WAY too many Christians have zero clue about our coming life in the new heaven and new earth. As surely as our bodies will be resurrected and glorified (not replaced), so the destiny of God’s creation, and our earth, will be purified, resurrected and renewed. Therefore, we want to live as faithful stewards of creation, long and look forward to heaven and earth being joined once again in the perfect society of “all things new.” Indeed, Jesus is making all things new, not all new things.
Revelation: Hope in the Darkness Study Guide with Leader’s Notes The Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible Series by Scotty Smith August 24, 2020 / Retail Price: $15.99 Print ISBN 978-1-645070-72-6 Religion/Christian Living/Spiritual Growth
About the author
Scotty Smith, DMin, planted and pastored Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, for twenty-six years. He worked on the pastoral staff of West End Community Church as teacher-in-residence and also served as adjunct faculty for Covenant Seminary, Westminster (Philadelphia), Reformed (Orlando), and Western Seminary (Portland).
He is the author of Unveiled Hope, Objects of His Affection, Restoring Broken Things, Everyday Prayers, Every Season Prayers, Ephesians:The Love We Long For, and Revelation: Hope in the Darkness. He also writes a daily blog, Heavenward on The Gospel Coalition.
Smith and his wife of more than forty-five years, Darlene, live in Franklin, TN.