I learned something new recently, from the Beth Moore study I’m in currently, which is the latest version of her study called “Breaking Free”.  All of the material and thoughts below are from her Bible study– all of the credit goes to Lifeway Publishers and Beth Moore for the study content.

It comes from 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Here is the passage:

“1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

Seventeen characteristics will mark those difficult times, but these 17 are marked on either side by two dichotomous ends: “People will be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God.” In other words, in those days, we’ll see a marked contrast between these two opposite poles. Either people be lovers of themselves or lovers of God. It will be notably clear.

When we break down some of these characteristics and look into their original meanings or check dictionaries, we learn more about them. For example:

Abusive: this is a Greek word that especially emphasizes speech; abusive speech.

Without love: from the Greek, it means “without family love”. There will be an intensifying absence of normal family bonds.

Unforgiving: “irreconcilable, without treaty” The bigger we are to ourselves (i.e., lovers of the self), the more unforgiving we will be.

Slanderous: comes from the word “diaboloi”, which means accusatory. Satan is called “diabolos”. He is the accuser.

Brutal: means “untamed”, or animal-like.

Treacherous: Traitors who are ready to betray their friend.

Conceited: swollen with self-importance

In those days, not only will we see an increase in frequency of the above qualities, but we will also observe an increase in their intensity. Scary.

(Now the following are my thoughts). Pick any and or all of the above vices and multiply its frequency and intensity… and consider the exponential effect if all peoples are headed in that same direction, and then you’ll get a sense of what we should fear from people.

Up until now, when I’ve thought about those days to come, I’ve most often thought about the natural disasters spoken of in the scriptures, such as the earthquakes, famines, etc. But the greater thing to fear will not be the natural disasters; no, rather, the new thought for me is that people will be more feared than a natural disaster.

A natural disaster, as devastating as it may be, is over when it’s over. The horror doesn’t last and last, usually, for days on end. Hours maybe, but it’s not usually a constant threat to daily life. But people– you can’t hide from them, unless you truly are self-sufficient on some deserted island somewhere. Most of us are constantly around a group of people of some sort, so there will be little escape from the company of humankind.  A hardened heart, a lost soul, is a more terrifying thought than a natural disaster.

I’m trying to imagine how this might look in daily life. It’s an ugly thought, but it sounds like neighbors will become quite un-neighborly. A simple transaction in the grocery could be potentially laden with conflict. Many drivers today are already familiar with “road rage”. In fact, any dealing with any person could have the potential to be a negative experience, abusive… even treacherous.

But on the contrary, those who are lovers of God will also be more ardent in their faith, in their love, in their boldness, in their courage. The converse has to be true, right? If the love for self will increase, so also is the love for God! Lovers of God will be filled with the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22), in stark contrast to the vices of the enemy.  If love for God will increase in intensity, then the fruit of the spirit will be greater, too. As evidence, we are also told in Acts 2: 17: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people….”

So in the last days, in the midst of it all, in the midst of this potentially great turmoil, God will pour out his spirit on ALL flesh. What an act of mercy by a loving God, to pour out his spirit on all who breathe and live, and offer us unconditional love, offer his spirit, offer us hope. So glad this story has a happy ending!