Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the end of the world has come. - 1 John 2:18
In the waning hours of 1999, many people were preparing for the end of the world. They believed that the world was created in 4004 B.C. Adding the 2000 years A.D., they calculated that the world had been in existence for just over 6000 years. As a thousand years are like a day in God’s reckoning, and as God worked for only six days in creation, it was obvious to them that the world would end when the clock struck midnight, January 1, 2000. They were wrong, of course.
Then there was the Y2K problem. There was great concern that computers would not know whether it was 1900 or 2000, so murderers might be released early from prison, nuclear warheads could take off of their own accord, and electrical plants the world over might shut down. Predictions of a nuclear holocaust, a new ice age, or rampant anarchy abounded. In fact, nothing cataclysmic happened. Very little happened at all except for a larger-than-usual New Year’s celebration (and, for many, a larger-than-ordinary headache!). It was a monumental non-event.
Predictions of the end of the world have come and gone, only to be proved inaccurate time and again. A degree of skepticism about end-of-the-world scenarios has settled in.
Toward the end of the first century, the apostle John wrote, “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the end of the world has come” (1 John 2:18). John was addressing the belief, commonly held by Christians, that human history would not go on indefinitely, that God would terminate this world as we know it and eventually create “new heavens and a new earth.” Before that would happen, a major political figure, the Antichrist, would arrive on the world scene. He would epitomize everything that is anti-God and would attempt to replace God with himself. But he would be defeated, and Christ’s eternal kingdom would be established (see 2 Thess. 2:3 12; Rev. 11:7-13; 13:1-18; 19:11-21).
“Many such antichrists” were already abroad in John’s day, and he saw it as the beginning of the end. The subsequent 1900 years have served only to add to their number, so prudent people avoid skepticism, thank God for his mercy in allowing things to continue, but do not forget for a moment that one day the “last hour” will strike. They live their lives fully aware that anti-God forces are at work and that this state of affairs will not continue indefinitely. They anticipate the impending showdown and Christ’s ultimate victory.
Since we survived the recent millennial transition, human self-confidence received an enormous boost. Optimism abounds, much of it misplaced. Things will come to an end. The coming of the “last hour” is only a matter of time.
For Further Study: 1 John 2:15-25