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LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY OF GOD

2 Peter 3:1-3:18
Key Verse: 3:11b-1

In chapter 2 we learned that the Lord is the Lord of salvation and of judgment. Peter was very clear about the destiny of false teachers. He repeatedly denunciated them, saying, “Their destruction has not been sleeping,” “They are born only to be caught and destroyed”, “Like beast they too will perish,” and “Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” And then he finally said, “It would been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness…” He was really intense in denouncing them. Surely it was out of his deep love for the Lord Jesus and for God’s flock of sheep. In this last chapter of 2 Peter Apostle Peter pours out his heart for God’s flock, calling them, “Dear friends”, meaning, “Dearly beloved”, four times (1, 8, 14, 17). He also plants hope in them, using the words, “look forward to,” three times (12, 13, 14). In this chapter Peter tells of the rise of scoffers of Jesus’ second coming and their error, what the day of judgment is like, the glory of the believers’ hope, and how believers are to live.

First, scoffers and the word God (1-7). Verse 1 says, “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” In this last chapter Peter makes clear that he wrote 2 Peter along with 1 Peter. The purpose was to stimulate his loved ones to wholesome thinking. Wholesome thinking is in contrast to partial thinking; it is healthy and sound thinking. Also, it is in other translations, pure (NET, KJV) or sincere (NASB, ESV) mind. Surely false teachers’ minds were corrupt and their thinking was partial and unsound. Definitely, having pure mind and wholesome thinking is the prevention to false teachers and their teaching. And then Peter says in verse 2, “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” As for Peter, “recall” “remind” “remember” and “refresh your memory”, these words are significant. Through recalling and remembering the words of God they had learned in the Old Testament and New Testament the believers could be strengthened and encouraged, and, with wholesome thinking, firmly established in faith.

Look at verses 3 and 4. “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” False teachers denied the sovereign Lord, Jesus. His resurrection from the dead was a proof that he is the Lord as the Son of God. And his second coming will be a visible demonstration to all people on earth that he is indeed Lord and King. So as we studied, the promise of Jesus’ coming again will be the culmination of all the promises of God in the Scriptures and of history. But scoffers will appear and deny this great promise of Jesus’ second coming. Scoffers do so following their evil desires. And their claim is “Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” They tried to deny the promise of God’s word based on their own life experience in the present phenomena and their own view of history. What they claimed seemed to be correct. But it was so partially, not wholly. When we look at the world, today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be like today, and it will go on and on according to the routine. This idea is uniformitarianism. Yet, in truth even in one’s life there are events different from ordinary routines, such as birth, marriage and death. Their claim implies that it would be unthinkable that there will be a direct intervention of God at a certain time in this human history. However, Peter could see the defect in their view and claim.

Peter said in verses 5-6. “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” It is true that in history everything did not go as it had been. There were times of God’s direct intervention. Because of God’s creation the world began. However, first of all, they deliberately forget that the world began through God’s creation although they seem to recognize the creation. So Peter states that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” And Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Above all we are minded of Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said…” In his message, Pastor Abraham, who studied ocean engineering, said, “There is no other planet like the earth that contains a vast amount of water. About 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with seas and lakes. Water is everywhere in the air, on and under the ground, and in all living creatures. About 2/3 of our body is water. The Mariana Trench in the Pacific, the deepest part of the earth’s oceans, is 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) deep. If the earth surface is flat, water will cover the whole earth to a depth of 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers). Indeed the earth was formed out of water and by water.” And scoffers deliberately forgot God’s judgment of floodwaters according to what he had said to Noah. Genesis 6:13 says, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” Then Genesis 7:11-12 says, “In the six hundred year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” Through the Scriptures we can believe that, the world was once deluged and destroyed by the waters, and that by God’s word.

And then Peter said in verse 7. “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved by fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” In history things happened, not accidentally but according to God’s word. It seems that the present heavens and earth are there naturally and preserved by themselves. But this is not so. Hebrews 1:3a says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Because of his sustaining through his word the universe has been preserved. But at a certain time that sustenance will end. It is reserved not for a better world but for fire judgment. And that reservation is by the word of God and so it is a sure reservation. The universe that now exists is under sentence of condemnation. 2 Thessalonians 1:7 says, “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

As for us we should not forget but remember that God’s promises have been fulfilled in history. On top of God’s creation and his flood judgment, the birth of Christ Jesus, his death and resurrection were according to the word of God’s promise. And God’s words of promise have been true in our lives. According to a Bible scholar (John MacArthur), in the New Testament, the Parousia is referenced a total of 300 times, in 260 chapters. Jesus will come again as he promised and there will be final judgment according to the word of God’s promise. How easy it is for us also to live a day to day life with uniformitarianism consciously or unconsciously, especially when things go smoothly without much trouble! May we really have wholesome thinking with sound view of life and the world and the future based on the words of God in the Scriptures. The early Christians greeted with the words, “Marana Tha (Aramaic words for ‘Come, Lord’)” (1 Cor 16:22). Let’s greet with these words as our view of the future.

Second, look forward to the day of God (8-18). There were scoffers who questioned, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” They directly denied the second coming of Jesus and Peter gave the answer to their problematic question. Then there might be some probably among believers, who were questioning, “Why then is his coming slow?” Now Peter gives the answer to their question. Look at verses 8 and 9. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses and Psalm 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Peter quoted this Psalm loosely, adding, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years”, and applied it to the Lord’s patience. There is no such a thing as “delay” or “slowness” in the Lord. The Lord is patient and the meaning of the Lord’s patience is, according to 3:15, the Lord’s salvation. And Peter clearly stated, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The patient Lord is like the waiting father in the parable of the lost son, who patiently waited for his home-left son to come back. We can say that last days, the entire time from the arrival of the Messiah to His return, are especially the very period God has actively revealed his love, that is, his long suffering patience for perishing mankind.

However, the Lord’s patience does not mean that there will be no end and no judgment. So Peter clearly stated in verse 10. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” What a contrast to the Lord’s patience! Here some may wonder why the Lord’s coming is compared to the coming of a thief, who is not honourable but detestable. The risen Lord Jesus himself said in Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come like a thief!” The point is that the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly on a definite day. The day of the Lord is a very important concept in the Bible. Isaiah 13:9 says, “See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners with it.” Zephaniah 1:18 says, “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” And Joel 2:31 says, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” The prophets in the Old Testaments foresaw and foretold concerning the day of the Lord: Isaiah (2:12, 13:6, 9), Ezekiel (13:5, 30:3), Joel (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14), Amos (5:18, 18, 20), Obadiah (15), Zephaniah (1:7, 14, 14), Zechariah (14:1), and Malachi (4:5). In the New Testament Apostle Peter said in Acts 2:20, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord,” almost quoting Joel 3:15, but changing “the great and dreadful day of the LORD” into “the great and glorious day.” Certainly, Peter’s saying was from the viewpoint of believers in Christ Jesus after his resurrection. And Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” And Apostle Peter said here after his address at the Pentecost in Acts 2:20, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.” The day of the Lord will come as he promised and it will be sudden and unexpected to the inhabitants of the earth.

First of all, it will be the day of judgment and destruction as he had mentioned in verse 7, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved by fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Peter said continually in verse 10, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” This description is very unique in the whole Bible. The scope of destruction is beyond upon human beings as universe scale including the heavens and the earth and everything in it. And it is described in detail. Peter wrote it again in 3:12b, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” Peter emphasized that this destruction is by fire, stressing it thrice. Interestingly he also mentioned “the elements” repeatedly, saying, “the elements will be destroyed by fire” in verse 10 and “the elements will melt in the heat” in verse 12. Some scientists predict the end of the world by the sun’s explosion, or an asteroid’s collision, or by nuclear war. They say that the nuclear weapons which the five NPT countries own can destroy the earth more than ten times. It is also said that there is a huge flow of mass molten with tremendous heat inside of the earth. An asteroid collision can cause the end of the world by the heat and fire erupting from the earth’s core. But the end will come by a far greater universal catastrophe than these. In our understanding Peter means that the atoms, neutrons, protons, and electrons are all going to disintegrate. We can image that as man from atoms creates destructive bombs that burn a path of death, so God can disintegrate the whole universe in an explosion of atomic energy. But the destruction will be beyond scientific understanding.

Now this is Peter’s point. In verses 11 and 12a, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” Peter mentioned “the day of judgment” in verse 7 and “the day of the Lord” in verse 10, and now “the day of God.” These three can be understood in the same line. But also we understand that the day of God is not the same as the day of the Lord. In the Bible the exact expression of “the day of God” is written just one time here meaningfully. The day of God refers to the eternal state, in preparation for which the heavens and the earth are burned up and the new creation is made. When the day of God comes, man’s day will be over (1 Cor 15:34-38). The day of God will be truly the glorious day for all of God’s people. And he said in verse 13, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (where righteousness dwells).” In the new heaven and the new earth (Isa 65:17; Rev 21:1) our bodies also will be resurrected and made new, spiritual, glorious, honorable, and imperishable (1 Cor 15:42-44). There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain (Rev 21:4). New heaven, new earth and new body—everything will be new because God makes it new (Rev 21:5). It will be a perfect paradise. And he said in verse 15, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this…” “Look forward to” is written three times. Truly the day of God we look forward to is our glorious hope that brings a new heaven and a new earth with everything new, where there will be no hint of unrighteousness but only righteousness dwells and flows like a river. Such day will come. At Peter’s time the day was the day of Romans. But Peter encouraged God’s people to look forward to the day of God. When we look at the world, the world seems to be worse and worse with the increasing power of unrighteousness. But as God’s people we have amazing and glorious hope of the day of God coming: “His day is marching on.” Truly his people are glorious people with this hope.

True hope affects one’s present life. Or as the reality of one’s imminent death will make one’s life attitude different, the sense of the imminent end of history will affect the way that we live—or at least it should. So Peter said, “You ought to live holy and godly lives.” Holy and godly life seems to be an important theme in 1 and 2 Peter. Peter said in 1 Peter 15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.” As you know, “holy” means “different” or “set apart.” The holy God wants his people to be different from the people of the world, not following to the pattern of this world. He want them to live a different life, obviously different from the life of false teachers, who are lovers of pleasure and lovers of money. And he said in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” And here, in concluding his letter, Peter gave an eschatological reminder and said, “You ought to live holy and godly lives”.

Let’s think more about the holy and godly life. Surely, to live a holy and godly life is related to participation in the divine nature through his very great and precious promises, just as expressed in 3:2, “as we look forward to the day of God.” This is to make every effort to add to our faith spiritual qualities in increasing measure (1:5-7). And to live a holy and godly life, we need to pay attention to the word of God, as to a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star raises in our hearts. And Peter said in verse 14, “Since then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” This can be possible through the life of repentance by coming to the cross of Jesus and being cleansed by his blood at each time.

He said, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed it coming.” How can we speed the coming of the day of God? Jesus taught his disciples pray, “Your kingdom come.” As we pray earnestly with this prayer topic, we can speed its coming. And Jesus said in Matthew 24:10, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” By preaching the gospel of the kingdom with priority, we can speed its coming. It is to participate in heart of God who does not want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance. The 1993 Hollywood movie, “Schindler’s List” tells the story of Oskar Schindler (1908-1974), a German businessman, who, during the Holocaust, saved 1,200 Polish Jews by employing them in his factories and protecting them from the Nazis by using his own fortune. The movie ends with his farewell to the Jews who were delivered from death through his efforts. In spite of their heartfelt gratitude, he says, “I could have got more out…. I could have got more… I threw away so much money…I didn’t do enough!” Pointing to his car and gold Nazi pin, he regretted having kept them. He cried, saying that 10 or more persons could have been saved, had he sold the car and pin. It can be wonderful if we preach the gospel with the prayer to save one more.

In verses 15-16 we see that Peter places the writings of Paul whose teaching is consistent with his, in Scriptures, on the same level of authority as the God-breathing writings of the Old Testament. Then definitely Peter’s is also placed on that level. Thus we find the weight of Peter’s teaching in this epistle.

So Peter ends his letter with verses 17 and 18, “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fail from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” In a sense to live holy and godly lives is a spiritual battle that requires being on our guard. How can we fathom the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who saved me from eternal destruction and gave a new life that is eternal with the hope of a new heaven and a new earth! Certainly, to live holy and godly lives is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And Peter’s doxology is directed to Christ: “To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” Jesus is God. Peter wrote this letter as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.

May God we truly look forward to the day of God and live holy and godly lives!

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