This is a common question in our homes. Usually, an answer is not far away with many wristwatches, smartphones, and various clocks in our houses. However, more important than what the time is in our particular time zone is the current time in history. For the covenant family, this question and God’s answer is fundamental for a pure confession, godly life, and realistic hope in the increasing spiritual darkness of this world.
Since the beginning, God is the timekeeper of history. He does not need a physical, atomic clock to measure and govern time. He made time. He fully knows and comprehends the wonder and essence of His creature, time. He owns time. He governs time. He makes it possible for man to measure time. He regulates His continuum of time through the predictable and regular movements of the earth, the moon, and the sun in their marvelous and divinely synchronized orbits. He stands above time in His eternity. Even when He works in time among the children of men by His providence or works our salvation by His Word and Spirit, He remains from everlasting to everlasting, God.
Our God has a clock. He does not have an earthly clock in heaven. His “clock” is a way to describe His counsel in which all things in history in their respective eras are determined and fulfilled by Him. Just as our analog clocks have hands and markings on them, so Jehovah’s “clock” marks out distinct periods in history and arranges all of the details therein. Some of those hours are very long: lasting one or two millennia. Other hours are very short, only covering a brief period of time in history. In spite of the varying lengths of the different eras in history, they all have one feature in common. Each hour in history sets forth another major revelation of God’s eternal covenant of grace in Christ alone with a view to its final realization in the new creation.
The Lord declares in His Word that we are in a certain hour on His clock. The hour is not the first, in which Jehovah made the heavens and the earth and for a brief time enjoyed unconditional and free covenant fellowship with Adam and Eve in Paradise. It is not the hour of the history of Noah and the great worldwide Flood. It is not the hour of the Lord’s suffering and redeeming death for His sheep alone.
What time is it? Our heavenly Father answers: “Little children, it is the last time” (a). The word “time” may also be translated “hour.” Thus, we understand that today we live in the last or final hour.
Beyond this final hour, the Lord has no additional hours marked on His clock. He has no additional hours in which supposedly the church is absent from the earth, great tribulation falls upon the earth, or Jesus reigns for a millennium in an earthly kingdom. He has marked out no additional hour of a millennial reign of Christ from heaven in a world governed by Christianity, either outwardly by its principles in the governments of the world or in the regenerated hearts of most men. Our Father has not prepared a future hour of worldwide peace in which the church will blossom far beyond a small remnant of mankind prior to the final appearing of Christ.
Little children, it is the final hour. This hour began at the ascension of Christ and Pentecost. Now, almost 2,000 years later God’s clock still measures out and unfolds the final hour. Because the day of the Lord is at hand (), soon the clock of God shall strike the end of history and the awesome wonder of the final appearing of the Son of Man in His glory shall take place.
Just as little children might ask their earthly fathers to show them the proof of the time, so we may properly ask our Father in true faith in order to learn “What is the evidence that it is the final hour?”
One of the main indications that we are in the final hour is the presence of the many antichrists in the world that lead up to the great Antichrist (). Indeed, we see many antichrists today who not only oppose God and Christ but also behave as though they are God and Christ. These many antichrists include cult leaders as well as the papacy and pope of the Romish church. These all are governed by the Lord to prepare the world for the great Antichrist, who will have all men worship and bow down to him and who will gain control over the whole world in his powerful kingdom. We see now at this moment in the final hour that the political, economic, sociological, technological, and religious ingredients for the Antichrist are coming together quickly. The increase in world unity towards one world government and the speed at which this currently develops indicate clearly that we are in the final hour.
In addition, there is the evidence of the world’s development in iniquity. The world more boldly and openly defies God. Man openly claims sovereignty in all spheres of life, including the fundamentals of marriage and gender. Man claims the authority to determine marriage and even to decide what his gender will be. The world increases in its immorality and ungodliness, and in its hatred of the only true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Looking beyond the ripening wickedness of the world, we notice ongoing disasters throughout the creation. There is the awesome intensity of typhoons, the devastation of earthquakes, the spread of diseases, and man’s inexcusable unbelief and impenitence in response to these judgments of God in the earth. All this declares that we are in the last hour.
Then, too, there is the evidence of apostasy. We see and weep over Reformed churches who have rejected repeated warnings and who increasingly maintain the unbiblical doctrines of theistic evolution, post-millennialism, a conditional covenant, justification by man’s act of believing and good works, and common grace as their creedal fundamentals. Moreover, unfaithful Sabbath observance, worldliness, materialism, and lack of time for kingdom work, family devotions, and Bible study become an increasing threat to the faithfulness and life of even our own churches.
However, in the midst of the deepening darkness of this last hour there is the small, bright, and fundamental light and voice of evidence that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The preaching of the gospel by the direction of Christ and His Spirit continues to advance miraculously through the globe from nation to nation, island to island, and people to people. According to election Christ knows His sheep. He works quickly and meticulously, gathering them out of every nook and cranny of the creation and their darkness. While His Word preached serves the condemnation of the ungodly whereunto they were appointed, yet His Word preached also marvelously gathers the remnant of His elect sheep and their seed into His everlasting covenant of grace. In the service of that spread of the gospel, we also observe the ongoing translation work of the Word of God into new languages. Indeed, it is the final hour!
Now, how should we and our children respond to this Word of God? Shall we do as the world does in the final hour, and live and celebrate in its wickedness as though there is no judgment day and no Judge of heaven and earth? Shall we join with the world and so be put to shame? Let us beware, and teach our covenant seed to flee the wickedness of this world.
Shall we be deceived by false prophets who tempt us with a false comfort that the Antichrist and great tribulation have been fulfilled in the first century A.D. already? Let us beware, and warn our children of the false prophets and their false hopes for the future.
Shall we be afraid for Christ’s church or for ourselves personally in this final hour? Fear not, little children of our heavenly Father, because this final hour belongs to Him. The Father has closely connected this hour to the central hour on His clock of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ our Lord. The hours on His clock, even the last moments of the final hour with all of its darkness and persecution for the church, are all the hours that serve His wonder of salvation in Jesus Christ. The final hour with all of its details even today is moved forward by God precisely in providential sequence for your final salvation. Thus, we may believe that, being adopted with the blood of Christ and made His children by the Spirit of regeneration and renewal, the final hour of history is the final hour of God’s fulfillment of His everlasting covenant of grace with us and our seed for the sake of Christ alone.
Let us as covenant families respond to the final hour in true faith and humble gratitude. Let us seek the grace of God to maintain by the Word of God and His truth that spiritual separation of the antithesis in holiness and thanksgiving to God. Let us pray for the grace to be preserved through this final hour in true faith by the chief means of grace in worship on the Lord’s Day and by means of our personal and family worship with the Word of God and prayer. Let us be willing and prepared to labor and suffer reproach and persecution for the sake of God’s doctrine and glory. Let us trust our heavenly Father that although the final hour of history will be the most difficult for the true church of Jesus Christ, yet it will also be the hour in which the wonder of His almighty, sovereign, electing, and irresistible grace for the gathering, defense, and preservation of His church shall shine the brightest. Our Father is faithful and able to deliver His people through the final hour into the coming everlasting day in glory with Him.
What time is it? Little children, it is the last hour, but not for very long anymore. Soon, and by faith alone “…we expect that great day with a most ardent desire, to the end that we may fully enjoy the promise of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen” (Belgic Confession, Art. 37).