Derek begins this message by quoting Jesus’ description of the last days. Jesus said that corruption in the last days will be like in the days of Noah and Lot, and self-love will be rampant. Derek’s aim is not to dwell on these facts, but to point them out and then present the way we are to live in these days.
I’m 78 years old, as you’ve heard. I’ve lived the early part of my life mainly in Britain. I’ve lived also in Kenya, Israel, the United States, I’ve lived in a good many parts of the world. My personal perspective out of Scripture and the life that I’ve lived is that the world is falling apart. Every day you see evidence in the newspapers that the situation is out of control. The politicians cannot control it, the scientists cannot control it, the education specialists cannot control it.
I could spend the entire message just demonstrating that the world is falling apart. I don’t want to do that because I want to give you my answer which is “How To Live In A World Falling Apart.” I will just mention briefly, and passing quickly through them, a few passages of Scripture which all, I believe, focus on the present age in which we’re living. I want to come to my advice. After all, I’ve had a good life. It hasn’t been easy but I can say like the Psalmist, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” I’m deeply concerned for anybody from age 18 upwards who is facing life and has to make choices and doesn’t know exactly which way to go. I want to offer you some advice.
Let me just briefly run through a few of the Scriptures that deal with the present age as I see it. Luke 17:26–30, Jesus gave a picture of what it would be like in the last days. He said in His picture:
“As it was in the days of Noah, and as it was in the days of Lot, so it will be in the days when the Son of Man is about to return...”
I believe those are the days in which we are living. I want to give you, without turning to the Scriptures, six features of the days of Noah and Lot, just listing them. I could give you Scripture references but I’m not going to do that. Here are four features of the days of Noah, and I believe the first one is the most important.
The human race was infiltrated from the kingdom of Satan by evil angels.
Second, every thought of man’s heart was evil.
Thirdly, the earth was filled with violence.
And fourthly, there were sexual perversions rampant.
And then we add one special feature from the days of Lot which was blatant aggressive homosexuality.
Now when I was growing up the word homosexual hardly was ever mentioned, it was a thing you didn’t talk about. And one knew there were a few people like that, but they were in hiding, they didn’t come out in the public. Today homosexuals are some of the most aggressive people in the world. Is that right? Amazing! So it was in the days of Lot. When Lot’s two visitors came, all the men of the city, all the men of the city gathered around and said, “Bring out the men, we want to have sex with them.”
Then one feature of the whole of that time was materialism. They were eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, building, planting, buying and selling. There’s nothing wrong with any of those activities but they were so deeply immersed in them that they didn’t know what was coming on earth. I believe the same is true of the majority of professing Christians in this nation. They are so taken up with materialism that they do not understand the judgments of God that are coming upon this nation and other nations.
And then in Matthew 24:7 Jesus is speaking about the birth pangs, or the labor pains, that would introduce a new age. And not, quote, The New Age, but a new age when the kingdom of God will be established on earth. Speaking about those labor pains He says, amongst others, “there will be war of nation against nation.” Now, the interesting thing is that the Greek word for nation is ethnos from which we get the world ethnic. I think ethnic conflict is one of the great labor pains of the new age. It is spreading with unbelievable rapidity in the whole of Russian, and Eastern Europe, in Africa, in many other places. Groups that have been able to live together in comparative peace are now at one another’s throats across the earth. I believe it will affect such nations as the United States, which has a great multiplicity of ethnic groups. I don’t exclude the possibility from Britain. I think it’s one of the most distinctive characteristics of the age in which we live.
Then in 2 Timothy chapter 3:1–5 Paul says:
It’s very emphatic. Be certain of this one thing.
“...that in the last days perilous times will come.”
But that word that’s translated perilous is only used in one other place in the Greek New Testament and that is to describe two demon possessed men coming out of the tombs exceedingly fierce. That’s the same word. So in the last days fierce times are going to come. And Paul gives the reason. It’s not scientific development or the development of nuclear fission, it’s the corruption of human nature. Paul says, “Men will be...” and he lists eighteen moral and ethical defects which will characterize humanity near the close of this age. And if you look at the world today, basically all of them are conspicuous. One thing I saw through studying Scripture some years back is this: Corruption is irreversible.
Let me take a simple example. You have a beautiful peach. It’s all ripe and ready to eat but if you just leave it, it begins to wither and rot because there is the force of corruption in it and nothing can reverse that force. You can put the peach in the refrigerator and the refrigerator will slow down the process of corruption but it will not reverse it. I hope you will forgive me if I say it but I think some churches are like refrigerators. They do slow down the process but they don’t reverse it. God doesn’t begin with all of that, He says you’ve got to be born again. You’ve got to have a totally new start, a new nature free from the corruption of sin.
And interestingly, out of the eighteen features that Paul lists, the first one is men will be lovers of self, then lovers of money and, at the end of the list, lovers of pleasure. Can you think of three words that better describe the culture in which we live today? Love of self, love of money and love of pleasure.
But the key word is love of self. I believe that’s the root out of which all the rest grow. When we begin to love ourselves more than anyone or anything else, society breaks down. It’s self love that breaks up the family, that breaks up marriages. The man says to his wife, “If you don’t like the way I live I can find another wife.” The wife says the same to her husband. Then parents say, “We want to lead our own life, we don’t want to be tied down with the responsibility of children.” Self-love. And it goes beyond, it goes further. In the political situation in the United States today, basically politics are dominated by various pressure groups, all of them seeking their own objectives. Very few of them have any real concern for the welfare of the United States. What is the problem? Self-love. I believe out of that comes the breakdown of the family, and out of the breakdown of the family comes the breakdown of society, and out of the breakdown of society comes anarchy. And, if I’m right, out of anarchy comes tyranny, despotism, dictatorship. I believe, myself, many democracies that are crumbling and cannot hold together will ultimately give way to dictatorships. And there will be one final dictatorship, the worst of all, the rule of the antichrist. I believe that’s where we’re headed and it could all happen before this century closes. I’m not saying it will, but I think it’s perfectly possible. I think the time is later than most of us are willing to admit.
You might say well, history is full of examples of the things you’ve been talking about. That’s true but I think none of them on the same scale and the same worldwide manifestation as we have today. Let me point out to you there is one absolutely unique feature of this age which is without any prior occurrence since the first century. Since the first century to the 20th century there’s one thing that’s happened this century that had never happened before. And it is the regathering of the Jews in their own country, the restoration of the state of Israel. There is no parallel to that in any previous century. I believe it is the decisive indication of how near we are to the close of the age. Somebody said the Jews are the minute hand on God’s prophetic clock. And by my reading of the clock, the minute hand stands at about two minutes to midnight.