The Promise of His Return
2 Peter 3:8-15
April 30, 2017
This is the Apostle Peter's last words in many ways. He writes with a sense of urgency because he knows his time on this earth is drawing to a close. He is writing to these believers to stir them up knowing that they will be encountering trouble and difficulties soon. He wants to strengthen their faith. The time to strengthen your faith is before the troubles come 'cause it's really hard to do it when you're in the middle of it. He's strengthening them and he said earlier in this book, "God has given to us everything we need for life and godliness."
What he means by that is that God has granted to us His divine power by which he has given his precious and magnificent promises by which we then partake of the divine nature. That is an amazing thought that we can participate in the divine nature. Not only that, there is no transformation unless you do partake of God's divine nature.
Then you get to chapter three and here in chapter three He is writing prophetically about the condition of the last days. He said, "Markers will arise in their marking saying, "Hey. Where is the promise of His coming? Nothing has changed. Everything is as it has been from the beginning."
In other words, we got nothing to be concerned about. God hasn't done anything. When you look from the perspective of a believer, the coming of the Kingdom of God on the earth is a great hope and a great encouragement. Oh Lord Jesus come. to the non-believer, there is a understanding that if God does come on the earth, there's probably judgement coming with him. There's a concern about that. They say in their mocking, "We got nothing to be concerned about. Everything is as it has been from the beginning. He writes, "When they maintain this, it escapes their notice that the earth was formed out of water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded in the days of Noah."
In other words, they escaped their notice that God has already destroyed the world before through a cataclysmic flood and will in the last days destroy it again. But this time, it will be through fire. Speaking of the days of Noah, Jesus said something interesting in Matthew 24. He said, "The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For in those days, they were eating, they were drinking, they were partying, they were living it up." In other words, they are marrying and giving in marriage and they were doing this until Noah entered the ark. They did not understand until the flood came and took them all away so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
When you look at what's happening in the world today, to me, as I look at what's happening, it seems to me that there's a striking resemblance to the days of Noah.
I. The Lord is not Slow about His Promise
Peter's words therefore should steer us up in our faith now as a day to strengthen our faith because we are entering into days of tremendous difficulty and turmoil. There needs to be a sense of urgency in our faith. Let's look at this second Peter chapter three beginning in verse eight rewrites, "Do not let this one fact escape your notice beloved."
A. A day is as a 1000 years
That with the Lord, one day is as 1,000 years and a 1,000 years is as one day. He says, "The Lord is not slow about his promise as some counts slowness is patient towards you not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." Underline that verse.
It really is a helpful verse in understanding God's heart. the day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all of these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people are you to be?
In holy conduct and godliness. Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat. But according to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. I don't know about you but that sounds like something really wonderful. Because I tell you what, there is a day coming when evil will no longer rule the day. When righteousness dwells and it will be a day of glory and a day of power and we look forward to that day.
"Therefore beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, spotless and blameless. Regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation just as also our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given to him wrote to you."
I want to go back over these verses and understand particularly where he says, "The Lord is not slow about his promise," He says, "as some count slowness." There are a lot of believers today that look at what's happening in this world, they see the messed up world that it is and they call out to God, "Oh, Lord Jesus. Come quickly." I don't know about you. I pray that prayer myself.
"Oh Lord Jesus come, this place is messed up." Peter wants to stir us up in our faith to recognize that God is not slow about his promise. It's important for us to gain from his perspective. He says in verse eight, he's telling us this, "A day is as a 1,000 years to the Lord." We need to grasp what he's saying here.
Notice verse eight. I love the way he says it. How he starts this verse out. "Do not let this one fact escape your notice beloved. That with the Lord, one day is as a 1,000 years and a 1,000 years as one day." In other words, God will fulfill his promise of his coming in His time not according to our expectation.
We have to grasp the time itself. The passing of time is immaterial to God. Time itself was created. Let's get into physics just for a little bit, shall we? Time and space are intriguingly combined together in the fabric of space time continuum. It is a wonderful understanding that God, by the word of His power, has created this and therefore time is immaterial. He stands outside of time. When I think about that, I am reminded of a funny story that happened with our grand kids. I promise you they are related.
I'm outside working in the yard or something rather and our two grand kids come up, Avia and Ethan, nine and four. They're obviously playing and having fun. They've got themselves dressed up in this crazy stuff. Ethan, who's four is wearing like an Einstein type wig, right? They're holding hands and they come up to me and Avia says, "Excuse me sir, what year is this?" I'm smiling. "It's 2016." and I said, "What is going on? Who are you guys? What is this?" She says, "Well, we left Earth in 1881 and we have been stuck in time travel ever since and we are trying to find our way home." My heart was whispering like, "This is too cute."
I said, "Well, I hope you find your way home but you can stay with us in the meantime." I was like, "Oh, my goodness."
Here's the point, right? To many today, they wonder, "Why is God taking so long? Why does He not come quickly? Why does He not bring an end to all this wickedness and the corruption that's in the world?" One thing is for sure, God is not stuck in some time space continuum loop. He tells us, there is a purpose and a reason for what we consider to be a delay.
B. God is patient not wanting any to perish
Notice verse nine, "The Lord is not slow about his promise as some kind of slowness but is patient. God is patient not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
This is absolutely key to our understanding about the timing of the return of the Lord, something God is slow in fulfilling his promise. the timing of the Lord is based upon his heart to seek and to save that which was lost. He loves to take messed up people and be reconciled in them to God. he's giving them ample opportunity, He's patiently giving them an opportunity to come to faith while there is time. It's much better to come to faith and receive God's offer of forgiveness now. Before the coming of the great day of tribulation in which God's wrath will be poured out on this world.
We're going to look into that more in the detail when we get to the Book of Revelation which we're going to do pretty soon. In there, it shows us that there is a period of time called the Great Tribulation which God's wrath will be poured out on the world. Now is the time to receive the offer of life. There will be people in that tribulation period who receive Christ and find salvation. they will do so in the midst of Earth rending cataclysmic events when they do it. It's much better to receive Christ now in the age in which we are living and that's God's.
Heart actually. In fact at Romans 11:25, Apollo's writing, "I do not want you brother to be uninformed of this mystery. That a partial hardening has happened to Israel," but get this phrase here, "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." From God's perspective, there is a point where the fullness of Gentiles has been completed and God is waiting patiently for that to occur. It's important to see the phrase, there in that verse. God says, "He's not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." You want to see God's heart towards sinners, it's right there in that verse. God's heart is to save. The reason He sent His Son was to save. To seek after the lost, to reconcile them to Himself. God is pursuing. This is important to understand God's heart. You maybe a sinner but He's the forgiver and He loves. He sent His Son to knock on the door, to call out your name, to pursue.
If somebody does not receive this, if somebody rejects that offer of love, God's response is to grieve. It grieves Him when someone is heart to heart and refuses the offer of salvation. But when someone opens their heart and receives that forgiveness, they receive the love of God poured out upon them, I tell you, angels in heaven rejoice. God rejoices. There is rejoicing. That is God's heart.
Ezekiel 18:23, look at this verse, "I don't want wicked people to die, "Declares the Lord Almighty." You want a great verse, you can't get much more clearer than that. "I want then to turn from their evil ways and live."
Let's look at Luke 15. Would you all turn in your Bibles to Luke 15. I don't think you'll find a clearer set of verses than Luke 15 here. Notice how He begins, "Now, all the tax gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him." I don't know about you but I love that verse right there. It just warms my heart to look at the perspective of that verse. It says, "All the tax gatherers and the sinners." You got to understand, the tax gatherers on that day are distinctly different from IRS agents today. The tax gatherers on that day were despicable.
Follow with me. There is a difference. They were despicable because they took advantage of people. They hurt people because they were in their selfishness, they were considered betrayers. And here's, Jesus is sitting with tax gatherers. They were the despicable of the despicable. And here's, Jesus is sitting with tax gatherers, and it says, "and sinners, coming to listen to Him."
I love that phrase.When I think of that phrase, sinners coming to Him, I remember when I was going to Bible College and working as server in a restaurant. Whenever I had a workaday world job, I always made very clear who I was, shared my faith, did it always humorously and respectfully.
One day, I got an invitation to speak at this little church. For a Bible student, that was a big deal, right? I'm sharing this to my friends, "Hey guys, I got this invitation to speak to this little church. I got an idea. Why don't you all come? Come on, let's do it." They said," Us? Us in the church. You got to be kidding." "No, no, no. I'm serious. Hey, come on, let's do it. Come on. You guys can all come. I'll tell you what, I'll even introduce you." And they said, "Really? You're going to introduce us. How are you going to introduce us?" I'll say, "Hey everyone, I want you to meet my sinner friends. They're sitting in the back.'"
They laughed. But here's the thing, they came. By the way, don't be afraid to be inviters. Do not be. You would be surprised. Sometimes people, they just need the invitation. They just need the invitation. Don't be afraid to be inviters. I invited the whole group of them and they came.
I love this perspective that He delights when sinners come. He delights when sinners are sitting in the pew listening to the gospel.
Notice this next verse, "Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble." These so-called religious leaders. They don't like it and they're grumbling. They say, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." They're like wagging their tongue. This is despicable.
And so He tells them a parable. He said, 'Listen. What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and lost one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, and he says to them, 'Hey, rejoice with me, I have found my sheep which was lost.' I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance." Or at least they think need none.
Then he goes on. "What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and her neighbors saying, 'Rejoice with me, I have found the coin which I had lost.' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." I don't know about you but I love that. The perspective of God is found, you go back to 2nd Peter chapter 3. He's telling us there is a reason and there is a purpose for what we considered to be the delay of the Kingdom of God. He has given sinners an opportunity 'cause He wants to see sinners come to faith in Jesus Christ and find hope. Notice what He goes to next.
II. That Day Comes Like a Thief in the Night
He says, in verse 10, " The day comes like a thief in a night." Verse 10, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. And the heavens will pass away with a roar. And the elements will be destroyed with intense heat. And the earth and its works will be burned up."
You've probably heard this phrase. That the day the Lord comes is like a thief in the night. What does this mean? It means that the Lord will come when He is not expected. He brought up that fact that there will be mockers who will say, "We got nothing to be worried about. We got nothing to be concerned about." And so they go on with their lives, eating and drinking and partying. Doing the marrying and giving in marriage, all this sort of thing.
And it says, "They did not understand. They did not understand and therefore it comes upon them like a thief in the night." That's what its point is.
A. It will not come as a thief in the night for you
But let's also, having said that, let's understand this. That the day, it will not come as a thief in a night for you. Let me explain, let me build my case. No one knows the day or the hour in which the Son of Man will return. This is true.
Jesus said in Matthew 24, "For this reason, you're also be ready. For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." Having said that, while that is true, at the same time, Jesus said that there will be signs of the times that will indicate that the time is drawing near. That the end of age, at the return of the Son of Man, will be indicated by the signs of the times.
Notice Matthew 24, "Now learn the parable from the Fig Tree. "When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." Jesus gave us these signs, that condition of things in the world that will indicate to us that when you see these signs, you know that the time is drawing near. He said, this is Matthew 24, "You will be hearing of wars and you will be hearing of rumors of wars. See to it that you are not frightened, for these is not yet the end."
An example of rumors of war would be what's happening right now in regards to North Korea. There's a lot of discussion. A fleet of ships is drawing near. These are going to be war. What are they going to do? What if they send a bomb? There's discussion because these are called rumors of wars. "See to it that you're not frightened, for those things must take place but it's not the end. In various places, there will be famines and earthquakes, but all of these are merely the beginning of birth pangs." And any woman who's had a baby will tell you that birth pangs grow greatly in intensity and closer together as you'd drawn near to the time of having the baby.
In the same way, He says, "As you're drawing near there's going to be increase in famines and earthquakes. "
If you would've put those on a graph or a chart, you would be shocked and amazed. Then He continues though and says, "You, Oh Israel will be hated by the nations. And many will fall away. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold."
There will be a great falling away. Increase of mocking the faith. There will be a great falling away in the latter days but I tell you the church will actually be strengthened. There will be a purifying. People will either draw away or draw nearer.
But He continues and He says, "The gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole for a witness and then the end will come." So here's my point, God gives the signs of the times and events--
So that the day of the Lord will not come upon you like a thief in the night. Because you've seen he's giving you these indications. Let me show you at 1st Thessalonians Chapter 5. Paul is writing. "You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. But you brethren are not in darkness."
B. Let it change what sort of person you become
The day should overtake you like a thief for you are all Sons of Light. You are all sons of day. You are. You have the gospel. You have the Scriptures. You have the word of the Lord. He gives you these things to strengthen your faith in advance and to show you these things. That's why he gives you them in the next verses. That personal challenge, that personal call out. That it should change what sort of person you become.
Verse 11 "Since all of these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people are you to be in the holy conduct and godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord." That's not a question. That's a statement.
In light of the fact that there is a great day or coming that God's judgment is going to be upon a corrupt world, it should change what sort of person we are. In other words, our conduct should be holy, our character should be Godly because the reason that God's wrath is poured out on the world at all is because of its corruption. Therefore, we have to decide whose side we're on.
The world is distinctly not on God's side. The world is an enemy. They've made themselves an enemy with the Lord and so we have to decide whose side we're going to be on. We need to align our character, we need to align our conduct with our captain and our commander. With the one who saved us from the corruption that's in the world.
Notice what we read last week in 2nd Peter 1:9, "He who lacks these qualities-" And he's speaking of the godly qualities that come from partaking in the divine nature. "He who lacks these qualities is blind and shortsighted having forgotten his purification from his former sins."
All of these things in these verses brings up an interesting question. Can we hasten the coming of the day of God? This scripture and others seem to suggest that the church's holy conduct, godliness of character, the revival that happens in the church, in other words, and our heart after the lost and even our prayers can have an impact of hastening the day of the Lord.
Remember when the disciples came to Jesus and they said teach us how to pray. Jesus responded, He said, "When you pray, you say, Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come." You pray this. When you pray, you pray, "Your kingdom come Lord." And look forward to that day. Let it be a regular part of your prayer. Your kingdom come Lord. Of course, he went on to provide for us our daily bread and keep us from the evil one. But see, is part of our prayer.
Then in another place Psalm 122 verse 6 he makes an interesting point where he says, the writer, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you."
He's building a case here. Do you know that God has a special place in his heart for Israel and Jerusalem in particular? Do you believe this? God has a special place in his heart for Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Which reminds me of a joke. I promise you. They are connected.
Okay. So Billy Graham gets an invitation to visit the pope in Rome. He goes to Rome and he's sitting in the office of the pope and he notices on his desk there's a red phone. He says, "Hey. I can't help but notice you've got a red phone on your desk. What is that for?" The Pope says, "That phone is a direct connection to God." Billy Graham says, "Really? How much does it cost to use that phone?" He responds, "$20,000 a minute. But hey, you're talking to God. It's worth it.
Sometime later, Billy Graham got an invitation to go to Israel to visit the Chief Rabbi. He goes to Israel. He's sitting in Jerusalem in his office. He happens to notice he's got a red phone. He said," You don't suppose that phone is a direct connection to God?" The chief Rabbi says, "As a matter of fact, it is." So Mr. Graham says," How much does it cost to use the phone." The chief Rabbi says, "It's free." "It's free? I visited the pope. He's got a phone like that and it costs $20,000 a minute." "Well yes," the Rabbi says, "but you have to understand from here it's a local call."
The point of the whole thing is that God has a place in his heart for Israel, for Jerusalem which is very true. When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you're actually praying for the return of Christ. Here's why. There will be no lasting peace in Jerusalem until the Prince of Peace sets foot in that city. And the scripture tells, "When the kingdom of God comes upon this earth, the Son of Man will set foot in Jerusalem and he will rule and reign the earth from that place." Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Here's another one. When the Apostle Paul was an old man exiled to the island of Patmos, he brought the book of Revelation. All of this vision and understanding about the events of the latter days. When he finished it, he drew a whole letter to a conclusion. He said in Revelation 22, "Oh, even so, come Lord Jesus." That's how he finishes the whole book. He's praying, "Oh Lord Jesus come." Have a heart after.
C. Keep watching and waiting
Looking on. Notice in the next verses. He's telling us to keep watching and keep waiting. Notice it's a theme he repeats over and over and over. Anticipate, watch, wait, be ready.
Verse 11, "Since all of these things, are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people are you to be in holy conduct and Godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God."
Verse 13, "According to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
Verse 14, "Therefore, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in him in peace. Spotless and blameless. Keep watching keep waiting. Be found in readiness." Jesus says. "Be found in readiness. Be faithful in your waiting."
Notice Luke 12 verse 35, "Be dressed in readiness," Jesus said, "and keep your lamps alight." What does that mean? Keep your lamps alight. It is a spiritual analogy and it means let there be some fire in your heart. Let there be passion. Let your lights be lit. Let there be passion in your soul. In other words, the day of lukewarm is done. We are living in times, we are living in an era where is like hot or cold, make your call.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus just calls it straight out. Hot or cold. Days of lukewarm are done. This is a call for us. Jesus is telling us be dressed in readiness. Be alive spiritually.
I remember when I was in my young twenties. I was really looking forward to being married. I didn't know who I was going to marry or how long's was going to take. I was looking forward to it and I was sharing this with my pastor and he gave me some great advice. He said, "You don't know how long it's going to be. You don't know who it is. But listen to this. You prepare your life now. You grow in your faith. You grow in maturity and you grow in spiritual revival because friend that's what you are going to need."
That was great advice. You don't know how long it's going to be but you be ready and you be dressed and readiness. While you're waiting, have spiritual revival. Let there be a passion after Christ in these days. While you're waiting, be confident in your faith. You will hear of wars and you'll hear of rumors of wars. See to it that you are not frightened. God still sits on the throne and is still sovereign over all the earth. "Don't let your heart be troubled," Jesus said, "Believe in God. Believe also in me. Have a confident faith."
Psalms 27 verse 1, the whole Psalm 27 is amazing, "The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear." You tell me who should I be afraid of. The Lord is the defense of my life. Who should I fear? You tell me. Should I dread somebody? You tell me. Should I be afraid? Wait in confident faith. Let there be passion in your faith. Now is the day. Lukewarm is done.