2 Peter 3:1-10 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed (burned up).
As we move into the third chapter of Peter’s second letter we see that he is still concerned with the false teachers. In the first chapter Peter assured us that he was an eyewitness to the glory of Jesus. He confronted those who denied Christ’s first coming with eyewitness testimony. He called on his precious Christian friends to recognize the truth of the prophecies. And then in the second chapter he directly confronts those who were bringing in secret heresies. God is not going to spare those who opposed the truth and he is able to rescue those who follow Him faithfully. He wants to warn them about those who come in to pull aside weak willed or immature Christians through sexual passions. Now he needs to confront those directly who are denying the second coming of Christ.
First, Peter shows us that God has done what he said he would do in the past…
The ancient world was destroyed by water. Turn with me and listen while I read Genesis 7:20-24. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.
These verses are the end of the story of the great flood. There have been many explanations and denials of this event. In fact, there are constant arguments between some scientists and some preachers about what happened and when.
The conflict is between people who hold positions very strongly. The truth is we do not know everything we need to know about natural science or the Bible! I believe any conflicts between the two will someday be settled. I do not believe the Bible conflicts with truth in any area. The Bible is not a textbook of any kind but everywhere it touches on any subject it tells the truth.
For our current purpose let me just say that the Bible absolutely confirms a worldwide flood. The Bible states that the water rose above all the mountains, that existed at that time, by a depth of more than 20 feet. It seems to me to be very possible that there was a time when there were no high mountains anywhere on earth. Then, after the flood had reached its peak the mountains were then pushed up through the water. It may very well be too simple to explain the geological evidence in that manner but it works for me and explains the destruction of the world by water. Then Peter tells us…
The present world will be destroyed by fire. Turn with me to Genesis 9:8-11. Listen while I read. Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Part of the promises that God made in the covenant with Noah was an assurance that a worldwide flood will never again occur. Peter is very clear in his understanding of what will happen. The day of the Lord will be a surprise like a thief coming to steal. When it comes the heavens will be set on fire and the majesty of the universe will melt in the fire.
I suppose this proves that he was not talking about a nuclear war because the heavenly bodies will not be affected if the world is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. We’ll talk about this more next week as we look at the next few verses.
Many people challenge the Bible by saying that certain prophecies were not fulfilled. It’s true! Many prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. We can look forward to their fulfillment by looking at how…
Many prophecies were fulfilled. I cannot begin to look at all the prophecies that have been fulfilled. There are literally hundreds of them! It will need to be sufficient to look at Isaiah 53:1-10. Listen while I read.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Some 700 years before Jesus was born Isaiah the prophet saw him. Isaiah spoke of one who grew up before the Lord. Isaiah saw this man as being despised and rejected. Isaiah understood that this man — whose name he did not know — bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. The prophet saw that this one was struck by God because of our transgressions! He saw that he was not just “struck” but he was “pierced”. By using that word, “pierced”, Isaiah indicated how Jesus would die — by being nailed to the cross.
The prophecies begin in Genesis 3:15 with the promise that the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. Again and again as we read through the Old Testament we see one prophecy after another that was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet…
Many prophecies still remain. Turn with me to Malachi 4:1-3 and listen while I read. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.
Some 400 years before Christ’s birth, and obviously, thousands of years before the end of the world Malachi also saw the fire that was coming. However, he didn’t just see the horror of the end time fire. He also saw “the sun of righteousness” that would rise “with healing in its wings”. Along with the prophecy of destruction Malachi promises us that for those who fear God’s name there will be rejoicing.
The prophet talks about “leaping like calves from the stall” and for some people that doesn’t represent rejoicing. People who live around here really should be able to understand this. Here in upstate New York some of the cows are kept in the barn during the winter. During the first warm days of spring they are allowed out of confinement and when they are they leap and run around as though they were young calves. If you never seen it ask a farmer. In fact, find out when it’s going to happen and see for yourself.
Yes Malachi the prophet saw the fire coming and he also saw the rejoicing of God’s people. I can imagine that during the 400 years, until the birth of Christ, many read Malachi and scoffed because it had not happened yet! We need to remember that…
Time has a different meaning to God. Listen while I read Psalm 90:4. Peter may have had this passage in mind. For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. “One day is as a thousand years” Peter wrote. Now folks this is not a math problem! Some people have taken this concept and tried to use it to convert the seven days of creation into 7000 years. It just doesn’t work that way. Listen while I read Psalm 39:5-6. Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah 6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
David could see that God measures time differently than we do. “My lifetime is as nothing” and “mankind stands as a mere breath” shows how we see time differently. In our memories a long time can be shortened. How many times have you said, “It seems like just the other day.” And, in saying that, you are referring to a much longer period of time. Just as we, in our memories, can compress time, God compresses all time into a mere memory. However he doesn’t just compress the past he also has the ability to compress the future.
Isaiah 46:8-10 tells us how God views time. Listen while I read. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’” God sees it all! Past, present, and future are all present with Him at the same time! Imagine all of time being displayed like a diorama on a tabletop. On one end would be the Garden of Eden and on the other end would be the New Jerusalem. From the viewpoint of God any particular moment can be seen. “One day is as a thousand years” is not a formula for determining time, it is an indication that — for God — time has relatively no meaning.
All of this is to say that God is not slow to fulfill his promises. The literalists and scoffers who say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” need to remember that God is patient. A reading of the Old Testament will confirm that idea. When Israel rebelled against God after leaving Egypt God patiently waited for that generation to die off before he took the nation into the land. During the time of the judges and the Kings year after year turned into century after century as God observed the rebellion of his people. God was, and is, patient. The patience of God has a purpose…
God’s patience will allow the full number to be saved. Jesus told us in John 10:16. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
“Other sheep” beyond the people of Israel includes people who, today, have come to faith in Christ. By God’s choice a certain number of people will believe and then the end will come. In fact, Jesus, Himself, said that before he returns the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world then the end will come. God is patiently waiting until the full number of believers come into the fellowship. I wouldn’t want anything to interfere with anyone coming to faith in Christ. Someday, when the last person believes, the clouds will part and Jesus himself will descend just as he ascended from the earth 2000 years ago. There are many things we do not know about the second coming of Christ. But one thing we know for certain…
Christ will return but no one knows when. Turn with me to Matthew 24:36-44 and remember these words when someone tells you they know when Jesus is returning. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
One thing for certain, Jesus is coming again! When Jesus returns people who are ready will be taken. Those who are not ready will be left. I do not believe there will be any hope for those who are not ready when He comes. Please remember the words of Jesus, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” How do I know He is coming back? Jesus said he would return. And as the disciples were watching him ascend into heaven the Angels that stood nearby said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” The Jesus they knew and loved would come again in the same way that He left. I am not so sure we should be eagerly calling for His return considering that all those who do not know Him at that time will be doomed!
There’s an old gospel song, the chorus goes like this: Wait a little longer please Jesus There are so many still wandering out in sin Just a little longer please Jesus A few more days to get our loved ones in. Jesus’ delayed return is meant to lead unbelievers to repentance rather than cause believers to doubt. As far as God is concerned the promise was given just the other day. Whenever he chooses God can bring judgment to this world just as he did in the days of Noah. This time the judgment will be by fire and not by water. For those who believe this will be the greatest experience. It will be glory and honor and fulfillment of all the promises. For the unbeliever judgment will bring eternal pain and suffering. Are you ready to meet Him? Today is the day of salvation! Put your trust in God through Jesus Christ!
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.