II Peter 3:3-14
There are few certainties in life. When we are young we don’t know if we will be blessed with a spouse and children. We don’t know if we will live to see old age. We don’t know about the political and financial security of our country. The only one we can rest in is Jesus Christ our Savior who has promised to take care of us until we are home to heaven.
God’s Word is true and all of God’s promises will come to pass. Every prophecy will be fulfilled, and every warning should be heeded. Christ is coming back! Do you believe that? Let’s look at one of the passages that assure us of that fact.
In 2 Peter 3, we see first, the preparation for the last days (3-7). “Knowing this first” is not a term of chronology but a priority. Peter’s primary goal was to warn his readers that scoffers would come denying the return of Christ (2). God spoke through His prophets as early as Enoch (Jude 14, 18) about the judgment coming in the last days. Scoffers deny Biblical truth because of their fleshly lusts (3b). If the Lord is coming back to judge and reward mankind, that means man is accountable to Him, an unpopular concept to many. It is one thing to be ignorant or uninformed, it is altogether something else to “willingly forget,” to shove truth out of your mind, to disregard it. These scoffers, if they believe in God at all, deny divine intervention in world history. They contend that the present is the key to the past; nothing ever changes and there was no supernatural creation and no cataclysmic flood, just the naturalistic system of cause and effect. We know that God created the world and sustains it by His power and has reserved it to be destroyed by fire. The earth’s core contains a huge amount of molten rock, which is estimated to be as hot as 12,400 degrees Fahrenheit! We now understand that the entire creation, because of its basic atomic structure, is a potential nuclear bomb. I’m not worried about mankind blowing up or burning up the planet because God is going to do that in His time. This judgment is reserved for ungodly men who reject Christ.
But next, we see the manifestations of the last days (8-10). Peter now tells us God is on time (8-9). Eternity is not just extended time, rather it is existence above and apart from time. Scoffers were saying, “If there is a God, why hasn’t He returned?” The amount of earthly time that passes is of no consequence from God’s timeless perspective. Christ’s return may seem far off to us, but it is imminent from God’s perspective. If a thousand years is as a day to God, then the whole universe is only a few days old. Finite man cannot confine an infinite God to his time schedule. God is never in a hurry, but He is never late.
God is also merciful (9b), longsuffering towards sinners. If it seems as though He is delaying His return because He wants the lost to be saved! God is not willing that any should perish (9). Put another way, Christ will not come back until every person whom God has chosen is saved.
When will the Lord return? Nobody knows because that day will come “as a thief in the night” (10). Jesus used this phrase (Matt 24:43; Lk 12:39) as did the Apostle Paul (I Thes 5:2). When the world is feeling secure then God’s judgment will fall. The thief doesn’t warn his victims of his coming; he comes when they least expect it.
“The Day of the Lord is used many times in the Old and New Testaments It always describes extraordinary, miraculous interventions by God in human history for the purpose of the judgment of the wicked” (MacArthur II Peter, p.123). The heavens will pass with a great noise or roar, a cataclysmic explosion that melts the earth and intergalactic space. Our universe didn’t begin with a “Big Bang” but it will end with one! God will consume everything in the material realm and start over. As the Bible says in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
Lastly, there is the anticipation of the last days (11-14). The Christian’s proper response, knowing what is coming, should not be dread but expectancy. We are to be looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God (12). We don’t live in fear of these things because we will be in heaven when they take place. But we should be anticipating these events and “hastening” them. How? By praying “Maranatha! Lord come!” (I Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20) and by sharing the gospel with the lost. We are to live peacefully as holy people conducting ourselves with godliness (11b), with speech and lifestyle that stand out.
Yes, there will scoffers, mockers and doubters who deny the Biblical accounts of the creation, the flood, and the Lord’s return. But God is merciful and patient, desiring that men would turn to Him in faith and be saved. However, God’s timetable is precise and someday soon all that we know in this world will melt in fervent heat and those who belong to the Lord will step into a new world that He has created without any taint of sin as eternity begins.