Fulfilled Bible prophecy is one factor that reinforces the certainty of the last days and God’s promises. There are over 330 distinct Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled perfectly. We had better pay attention to His warnings of judgment and live with a sense of urgency.
2 Peter 3:1-2 – Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
Peter already wrote about the importance of being reminded (2 Peter 1:12-13). But here he wanted to emphasize what should be known in light of the coming of Jesus and the prophecies surrounding His coming. Even the purest minds need stirring up at times.
Peter knew the importance of reminding his readers of the Scriptures, both received from the Old Testament (spoken before) and contemporary to his own day (and of the commandment of us).
Peter clearly believed that the words of Scripture were important; the words themselves, and not merely the meaning behind the words.
By placing the messengers of the new covenant on the same level as the messengers of the old covenant, Peter understood the authority of the New Testament, even as it was being formed. Peter understood that Jesus gave His apostles the inspired authority to bring forth God’s message to the community. He understood this from passages such as Matthew 16:19, where Jesus gave the apostles authority to bind and loose, much as the authoritative rabbis of their day.
Significantly, Peter saw this authority invested in the apostles, not in him alone. He would think it strange for supposed papal authority to be credited to him.
2 Peter 3:3-4 – (The message of scoffers)
Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Christians should not be surprised to find that there are those who scoff at the idea of Jesus coming again. Peter told us that the scoffers will come.
“Every time a blasphemer opens his mouth to deny the truth of revelation, he will help to confirm us in our conviction of the very truth which he denies. The Holy Ghost told us, by the pen of Peter, that it would be so; and now we see how truly he wrote.” (Spurgeon)
Will come in the last days: In a sense, the last days began when Jesus ascended into heaven. Since that time, we haven’t rushed towards the precipice of the consummation of all things; but we have run alongside that edge – ready to go anytime at God’s good pleasure.
Scoffers do not only have an intellectual problem with God and His word. They also have a clear moral problem, wanting to reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives and follow their lusts.
Plus, in the thinking of these scoffers, Christians have talked about Jesus coming for two thousand years and He still hasn’t come back yet. They base their message on the idea that things have always been the way they are right now, and that God has not and will not do anything new in His plan for creation. Peter continues…
2 Peter 3:5-7 (The error of scoffers) For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
The scoffers presume upon the mercy and longsuffering of God, insisting that because they have never seen a widespread judgment of God, that there will never be one. But they willfully forget God’s creation and the judgment God poured out on the earth in the days of Noah.
A literal belief in Creation, in Adam and Eve, and in Noah’s Flood are essential for a true understanding of God’s working both then and now. To deny these things undermines the very foundations of our faith. Sadly, today it is many Christians who willfully forget these things, thereby putting themselves in the place of scoffers.
Sermon from Freedom Fellowship Church, Kaukauna, WI February 16, 2020
The Bible clearly teaches that the active agent in creation was God’s word. He spoke and creation came into being.
The world that then existed perished, being flooded with water: Peter’s point is that things on this earth have not always continued the way they are now. The earth was different when God first created it and then it was different again after the flood.
Therefore no one should scoff at God’s promise that He will make it different once again, judging it not with water but with fire. The same word of God that created all matter and judged the world in the flood will one day bring a judgment of fire upon the earth.
“The lesson taught by the flood was this is a moral universe, that sin will not for ever go unpunished; and Jesus himself used the flood to point to this moral (Matthew 24:37-39). But these men chose to neglect it.” (Green)
2 Peter 3:8-10 Truths that scoffers deny but God’s people cling to.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
What seems like forever for us is but a short time for God, just as an hour may seem to be an eternity for a child but a moment for an adult. Peter quoted this idea from Psalm 90:4:
For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.
“All things are equally near and present to his view; the distance of a thousand years before the occurrence of an event, is no more to him than would be the interval of a day. With God, indeed, there is neither past, present, nor future. He takes for his name the ‘I AM.’ … He is the I AM; I AM in the present; I AM in the past and I AM in the future. Just as we say of God that he is everywhere, so we may say of him that he is always; he is everywhere in space; he is everywhere in time.” (Spurgeon)
Peter did not give some prophetic formula, saying that a prophetic day somehow equals a thousand years. He instead communicated a general principle regarding how we see time and how God sees time. When people use this verse as a rigid prophetic key it opens the door for great error.
The truth is that God will keep His promise, and without delay according to His timing. Any perceived delay from our perspective is due to the longsuffering of God, who allows man as much time as possible to repent. Many of those who are Christians today are happy that Jesus didn’t return ten years, or five years, or two years, or one year, or even two months ago. There is a compassionate purpose in God’s timing.
Peter here revealed some of God’s glorious heart. The reason why Jesus’ return isn’t sooner is so that all should come to repentance, because God is not willing that any should perish. Rather, Peter’s statement reflects God’s heart of love for the world (John 3:16), and His compassionate sorrow even in the righteous judgment of the wicked.
It is the same thought as expressed in Ezekiel 33:11:
As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
“So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost.” (Calvin)
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night: Though the Lord’s longsuffering love to the lost makes it seem that perhaps He delays His coming, the truth is that He will indeed come. And when Jesus does return, He will come at a time that will surprise many. The ultimate result of His coming will be a total transformation of this present world (in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat).
THE DAY OF THE LORD
1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-5
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The Thessalonians were well taught about the return of Jesus and other prophetic matters. Paul taught them about the times and the seasons regarding the return of Jesus. They had an idea of the prophetic times they lived in, and they could discern the seasons of the present culture. (‘Times’ designates its duration, whether a longer or shorter period; ‘seasons’ draws attention to the characteristics of the period. The first deals with the measurement of time, the second with the suitable or critical nature of the time.)
With this phrase, Paul quoted a familiar Old Testament idea. The idea is that this is Gods’ time. Man has his “day,” and the Lord has His day. In the ultimate sense, the day of the Lord is fulfilled with Jesus judging the earth and returning in glory.
It does not refer to a single day, but to a season when God rapidly advances His agenda to the end of the age.
The day of the Lord denotes the day when God intervenes in history to: judge His enemies, deliver His people, and establish His kingdom!
The phrase labor pains suggest both inevitability and unexpectedness. Jesus used the same idea in Matthew 24:8, when He spoke of calamities preceding the end times as the beginning of sorrows, which is literally the beginning of labor pains. The idea is both of giving birth to a new age and implying an increase of intensity and frequency in these calamities.
More on “the Day of the Lord” from the Apostle Paul. (The persecuted Thessalonians and their persecutors.)
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 The persecution and tribulation of the Thessalonians set the righteousness of God on display.
Which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
It isn’t the fire that makes hell what it is. In the fiery furnace, the three Jewish young men were completely comfortable, as long as the Lord was with them in the fire (Daniel 3). What truly characterizes hell is that there, people are from the presence of the Lord, in the sense of being apart from anything good or blessed in God’s presence.
Back to second Peter.
2 Peter 3:11-13 (Holy and godly living in anticipation of a new created order)
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
In light of the fact that this world order and the things associated with it will be dissolved, we should live our lives seeking first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness – that is, having holy conduct and godliness.
We tend to think that the world is more enduring and will last longer than people. This is not true, and Peter reminds us of it. People will live into eternity, longer than even the earth.
The solar system and the great galaxies, even space-time relationships, will be abolished … All elements which make up the physical world will be dissolved by heat and utterly melt away.
In light of these truths, what manner of persons ought you to be:
“The king is coming; he is coming to his throne, and to his judgment. Now a man does not go up to a king’s door, and there talk treason; and men do not sit in a king’s audience-chamber when they expect him every moment to enter, and there speak ill of him. The King is on his way, and almost here; you are at his door; he is at yours. What manner of people ought ye to be? How can ye sin against One who is so close at hand?” (Spurgeon)
Peter says there is a sense in which we can hasten the Lord’s coming. It’s remarkable to think that we can actually do things that will affect the return of Jesus. In the immediate context, Peter says that we hasten the Lord’s coming by our holy conduct and godliness.
We can also hasten the Lord’s coming through evangelism. Paul said that God’s prophetic focus on Israel will resume when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25).
We can also hasten the Lord’s coming through prayer. Even as Daniel asked for a speedy fulfillment of prophecy regarding captive Israel (Daniel 9), we can also pray “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
God will genuinely make a new heavens and a new earth, even as Isaiah promised:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind (Isaiah 65:17).
The most glorious characteristic of this new heaven and new earth is that it is a place in which righteousness dwells. In God’s plan of the ages, this happens after the millennial earth ruled by Jesus Christ.
It is the re-creation of this world order as described in Revelation 21:1:
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
2 Peter 3:17-18 Conclusion.
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
We, who know of the Day of the Lord and await it with patient expectation, must persevere lest we fall from your own steadfastness. We must take care to keep abiding in Jesus.
“In order that they might know how to stand, and to be preserved from falling, he gave them this direction: ‘grow in grace;’ for the way to stand is to grow; the way to be steadfast is to go forward. There is no standing except by progression.” (Spurgeon)
We prevent a fall from your own steadfastness by a continual growth in grace and knowledge of Jesus. Grace is not merely the way God draws us to Him in the beginning. It is also the way we grow and stay in our steadfastness. We can never grow apart from the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and we never grow out of God’s grace.
“But you will remark that our text does not say anything about grace growing; it does not say that grace grows. It tells us to ‘grow in grace.’ There is a vast difference between grace growing and our growing in grace. God’s grace never increases; it is always infinite, so it cannot be more; it is always everlasting; it is always bottomless; it is always shoreless. It cannot be more; and, in the nature of God, it could not be less. The text tells us to ‘grow in grace.’ We are in the sea of God’s grace; we cannot be in a deeper sea, but let us grow now we are in it.” (Spurgeon)
We must also grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. This means knowing more about Jesus, but more importantly, knowing Jesus in a personal relationship.
To Him be the glory: Amen: We can say there are four meanings to “Amen”:
- It expresses the desire of the heart. · It expresses the affirmation of our faith.
- It expresses the joy of the heart. · It expresses the declaration of resolution.
Under the law, Amen was only said at the declaration of the curses (Deuteronomy 27:14-26). Under the New Covenant, we say “Amen” at the announcement of a great blessing and praise to God.
Adam Clarke added this insightful postscript to Second Peter regarding Roman Catholicism:
“We have now passed over all the canonical writings of Peter that are extant; and it is worthy of remark that, in no place of the two epistles already examined, nor in any of this apostle’s sayings in any other parts of the sacred writings, do we find any of the peculiar tenets of the Romish Church: not one word of his or the pope’s supremacy; not one word of those of affect to be his successors; nothing of the infallibility claimed by those pretended successors; nothing of purgatory, penances, pilgrimages, auricular confession, power of the keys, indulgences, extreme unction, masses, and prayers for the dead; and not one word on the most essential doctrine of the Romish Church, transubstantiation.” (Clarke)
The Day of the Lord is coming. God will judge the ungodly including mockers and persecutors, but He will deliver His people and establish His eternal Kingdom – one where righteousness dwells. The heavens and the earth will be destroyed as a result of the justice of a holy God, so we must understand the season we are in and live accordingly as Christians in the last days.
*Click here for previous message from the Book of Jude: Contending for the Faith, Standing for Truth, discernment, and false teachings.