The phrase, “It is always darkest just before dawn” means that things always seem worse right before they improve. The phrase, written by Thomas Fuller, an English theologian and historian, first appeared in 1650.
So, is that true? Is it always darkest just before dawn? It may not be true literally. During the two weeks following the full moon, when it appears after sunset, and not before sunrise, it may seem to be darkest before the dawn, but it most often is not the darkest part of the night. And it may not be true figuratively either. Sometimes, in life, just when it seems it cannot get worse—it does.
However, it is true biblically. The Bible teaches that end time events will become tragically worse before the Lord’s second coming. In Bible prophecy, the darkest hour for humanity is just before the dawn of Christ’s return in dazzling light.
When you look around today, it can be very depressing. I won’t sour your day with disturbing facts of failures, like the lack of spiritual direction in our country, the ineptitude of our political leaders, our deep national division, chemical dependencies with all kinds of addictions, regular mass shootings, or evidence of declining morals across the land. Every day the news media documents the dark times we are in. Most begin their report with some story illustrating how far we have gone in the wrong direction as a nation.
But this is also a very exciting time to be alive, because the Bible teaches this is exactly the way it will be in the last days before Christ returns. Remember these words? “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Paul follows this announcement with a list of 17 characteristics of people who will be living in the “last days.” He writes: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (verses 2-4). Every day events reveal the presence of these kind of people.
He goes on to write that people will also be “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (verse 5). It is not uncommon that supposedly religious people live this way, but their religion is man-made and not God-empowered. In this day, even religious leaders may be hypocrites, appearing as saints, but living ungodly. Only God, through faith in Jesus Christ, has the power to make a person godly.
The “perilous times” Paul wrote about is another way of saying things will be very difficult in the last days. While Christians look forward to the rapture and the return of Christ in glory, they also realize that tough times must come first. According to Scripture, there will be terrible degeneration and degradation in this world. It must happen.
Think about Paul’s description of society in the “last days.” In these verses, each one typifies the age in which we live. People will be self-centered, money-hungry, abusive, loveless, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, treacherous, rash and conceited. They will love pleasure more than anything else and their “godliness” will only be in appearance—not in reality.
Now you may say, “How is that exciting?” Well, because we are seeing Scripture fulfilled before our very eyes. Biblically, it is darkest just before the dawn. Warren Wiersbe was referring to this when he said, “In the life of Christ, as in the life of the Christian, it is always—first the cross—then the crown.” It seems, in our day, we are seeing signs of the end, according to God’s clock.
Five centuries before Christ was born, the prophet Daniel wrote about the coming Kingdom of God that will take place in this world. These are encouraging words and we need to think about the tremendous promise the future holds for all who know Christ:
Daniel 2:44, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
Daniel 7:27, “Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”
Because of this great biblical truth, we can take heart, rejoice and share the gospel with people, no matter what is happening around us. David Crowder used a quote from Thomas Moore to write and sing:
“Come out of sadness, From wherever you’ve been,
Come broken hearted, Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy, Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal
So lay down your burdens, Lay down your pain
All who are broken, Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home, You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart, come as you are.
There’s hope for the hopeless, And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table, Come taste of His grace
There’s rest for the weary, A Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow, That heaven can’t cure.”