Countdown to the end of the world: the Probation of Earth's Inhabitants is about to be Closed
by Steve Sterling 11/13/2011 / Prophecy
The Bible has provided ample proof in its prediction of end-of-the-world events that a day is coming when grace will no longer be available; that the chance of repentance will be gone forever. In this assertion, I am not talking about the Second Coming but a period prior to that event.
In my worldian (non-christian) days reading the Bible, I have always wondered about what will finally become of planet earth. In my quest for knowledge, one of the questions that I always ask is, "will the chance to repent of your sins remain until Christ returns?" Back then I can't remember getting a satisfactory answer (or at least the answer I was looking for). Of course, I was asking this question hoping to get a 'yes' answer so that I can feel a little more comfortable in the life that I was then living knowing that I can repent at the last minute and be saved! Poor me.
Prominent among the things I heard that waked me out of my world-loving stupor is the idea that before Christ returns the eternal destiny of every man will have been decided. When I was confronted with this truth, I decided to seek further clarification. I was then reminded of the words of Jesus in his famous countdown of end-time events in Matthew 24 saying,
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. 24:37-39 (KJV)
There are two things about this particular statement that I want you to notice:
1. It is making a comparison between two periods: the days of Noah and that of the coming of the Son of Man. Christ would not have chosen Noah's day unless there was a good reason for doing this.
The perverseness of that period leading up to a coming flood has earned it the reputation of being the most fitting illustration of what life on earth will be like in the period leading up to Christ return. When you read the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis you will see where the Bible describes the condition of the people in the following words:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Gen. 6:5 (KJV)
2. The people were going about their worldly pursuits while they were unaware of the fact that something of eternal consequence has happened; they did not know that Noah had entered the ark and that the door of the ark was forever closed. For this to be the case, there must have been a period between the closing of the ark door and the impending flood. That there was a seven-day period between these two events is clearly stated in the following verses:
"And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it t rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth." Gen. 7:1-4.
According to the narrative development of the passage in Genesis 7, after Noah obeyed the command to take the animals into the ark with him along with his family, the Lord shut them in (vs 16). It was after the completion of the process of fulfilling this commandment of the Lord that this seven-day time span began. During this period the case of all those who were left outside the ark was hopeless; there eternal destiny was already decided. And here is it that Jesus is now telling us that this is what it will be like in the last days!
In consistency with what we read about the days of Noah, there is ample evidence in the scriptures that human probation will be closed and the days of salvation ended before the world comes to an end. The most significant sign that God is still working to salvage fallen humanity from the pit of sin is the preaching of the gospel. The proclamation of the word of God is the only means by which the world can be reconciled to God. Therefore, where the gospel ceased, the days of reconciliation will be at an end.
In the book of Amos, we are told of this very period in the following passage:
"Behold, the days come, saith the lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11, 12 (KJV)
Are we to believe that God will arbitrarily close the probation of earth's inhabitants regardless who is left out? Far from it! Consistent with His stance in Ezekiel 33, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; it has always been His desire that the sinner turn from his wicked ways and live. If God knew that there is one man, woman or child who can be saved but has not yet repented, He will wait patiently until that one comes home before he brings an end to His saving grace! That's just the way our Father is.
The fact is, before the end of the world, mankind will one day reach the point where they are so set in their ways that they are rendered irredeemable. This condition will be the only basis on which God will call it quits, and don't you ever think that God is too nice to do such a thing! What he did to the people in Noah's day and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah should be enough reason to not be under any such illusion.
If you are a fairly seasoned prophecy student you will recall the prophecy of seven last plagues in Revelation 16. As an indication of man's irredeemable condition, the Bible gives the following description of their responses to the pounding of the wrath of God:
a) They blasphemed the name of God (vs 9)
b) They repented not to give Him glory (vs 9, 11)
c) They were gathered for battle against God (vs 14)
Men who are capable of repentance don't respond in this kind of way in the face of adversity. They are like this because their destiny is now fixed! Now we can see the significance of the following words:
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Rev. 22:11