The Last Hour
I would invite you to consider an especially important question (even if it is hypothetical). What if you had only one hour of life remaining? Let’s say you were told you had sixty minutes left on this side of eternity, what would you do? Make some calls? Or perhaps write some letters? Think of the content of the conversations you would have. What would you say to your unsaved loved ones? Who and what would have your full attention? So many questions begin to arise from that one simple consideration—what if you only had an hour to live?
It Would be (and Feel) Different
I'd assume the majority of people would spend their last hour in a manner quite different than all the other common hours of their lives. Honestly, you would feel forced to. That final hour would bring a sense of urgency and seriousness that is simply not present at most other times. We would be made keenly more aware of certain realties and truths that tend to pass through our minds on only sporadic occasions.
But why is this a question we should consider? Is it so we can be ready for that last hour? So we can be prepared for how we are going to handle a future event? Not quite. We should consider such a question, albeit hypothetical, for a drastically different reason. This question should impact our lives now.
When we examine Scripture (particularly the New Testament), we find specific texts that inform us we are living in the last hour (or last days). Paul explicitly uses this type of language when he writes to the church at Rome:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11).
Therefore, such a question, for the believer, turns out to be more than hypothetical. The Bible reveals there is something about the period of time that we are living in that should lead us to view it as the “last hour.” So, what is Paul driving towards when he writes such a statement?
In short, Paul is urging the believers in Rome to understand where they were positioned on the timeline of history. They were living between the first and second comings of Jesus. The promises that were alluded to and made throughout the Old Testament had been delivered upon. Jesus’ incarnation had taken place and His substitutionary death (and all subsequent events such as His resurrection and ascension) were something they looked back upon.
And, according to Paul, they were living in a time where the temptation to lose their sense of urgency concerning their high calling in Christ was a very real threat.
That is why he admonishes them to wake from sleep. To be aware that their position in history should be considered the last hour. And the implications of viewing it as such would bring a level of focus and clarity to their lives that nothing else would be able to.
While it is absolutely true that no man knows the hour of Jesus’ return, the New Testament writers routinely pointed out that this period of time should be considered the last days and urged their readers to consider how they should live in light of Jesus’ return. I can only imagine what they would say to us today. The culmination of our salvation is nearer today than it was for those who believed in the 1st Century. This should cause us to examine our lives and consider what it looks like to serve and worship God in light of living in the last days—the last hour.
There may very well be thousands of years pass before Christ returns, or it could happen before sunrise. But the Word of God would instruct us to view our lives—because of where we are on the timeline of history—as taking place in the last hour.
So, the question remains, “What would you do if you only had an hour to live?”
In light of Romans 13:11, we should ask ourselves if we are spending the final hour of our life on trivial matters. Have we lost our sense of urgency in spreading the gospel? Have we justified complacency? Have we fallen asleep? I like the fact that Paul uses sleep as the illustration in the text. I know that almost everyone looks forward to a good night of sleep, but I doubt many would choose to take a nap if they were in the final hour of their lives. Why? There would be so many more important things to focus on and do! I find this to be a sobering reminder for the Church of Jesus Christ. Have we fallen asleep in the last hour and chosen to focus our lives on things that will not matter in eternity?
We should all begin to wrestle with such questions. God desires to use us in this last hour to carry out His work of redemption.