Series: 1 & 2 Peter, by Rosie Moore.
The only certainty in this world is uncertainty. It seems that we’re no longer just dodging potholes in the road, but large sinkholes. I remember when a sinkhole swallowed a friend’s entire house in the mining district where I grew up. One day the house was standing there, and the next day it was gone. From outside the red and white hazard tape, I remember staring at the massive hole in the ground which swallowed up an entire home without any warning. I wondered if it could ever happen to us. Thankfully the family wasn’t home at the moment of disaster and lived to tell the tale! But here are some real world sinkholes I’ve personally observed in recent days:
- A husband walks out on his wife and family after 27 years.
- Hackers siphon every cent from a widow’s bank account.
- A lockdown cripples the world economy, as a tiny virus sweeps away 3 million people.
- Once cheerful children withdraw to their rooms and become silently depressed and intent on self harm.
- Bewildered employees face daily fears of retrenchment, not knowing how they’ll feed their family.
- A Church of England pastor is dismissed from his job as school chaplain and reported to the government’s terrorist watchdog for giving an orthodox sermon on ‘identity’ politics.
- More than 2200 of the 4761 Christians killed around the world last year died in Nigeria, with lockdowns leading to an increase in Christian persecution worldwide.
- World leaders promise a “Great reset” and an opportunity to “Build back better.”
The Great Reset.
It’s difficult to know who we can believe and what our future on earth will look like. We also cannot be sure where we are in the timeline of the great spiritual war raging in the heavens (Rev 12:7-17). The Apostle Peter reminds us that our calendar is not God’s calendar, and our timing is not God’s timing (2 Peter 3:8-10). God has the master timeline, not us.
But there is one certainty we can bank on. One promise that isn’t a scam. One future event that cannot be cancelled, postponed or avoided. One great and final reset of all Creation: It is called the Day of the Lord, the apex of history. The Bible describes this day as both ‘Great’ and ‘Terrible’ at the same time (Joel 2:11).
It’s a great day for those who stand with Jesus as their defense Advocate, with their sin and guilt covered by his perfect righteousness, worshipping the Lamb (Rev 5:9-14; Rev 19:8). The Lord will save from judgment everyone united to Christ by faith (Rom 8:1; Heb 7:25).
But it is a terrible day for those who face God’s judgment alone, relying on their own little knapsack of ‘good works’ to defend themselves (Rev 20:11-15). This is what the Apostle John saw in his vision of the Lamb (Christ) opening the sixth seal of judgment. It is a fearsome picture:
“The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from it’s place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:12-17).
Who can stand? That’s an important question that God answers for us. The only category or identity that will matter on that day is whether we are God’s people, whether our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 20:12; 15).
None of this world’s ‘sinkholes’ can compare to this great and terrible day of judgment that God has promised throughout His Word (Mal 4:5; Jer 25:30-31; Isa 13:9-10; 34:4; Joel 3:15-21; Joel 2:1, 11, 31; Obadiah 1:15; Matt 25:31-46; John 12:48, 36; Acts 17:31; Heb 9:27; 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Thess 2:1-17; Eccl 12:14; Ps 96:13; Rom 2:16; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev 6:12-17; Rev 20:11-15; Rev 22:12; 1:7).
As offensive as the idea of judgment is to 21st century ears, Peter was fully convinced of its reality. He believed that God would judge the world by his Word, in the same way that God spoke the universe into existence, and judged the world by water in Noah’s day (2 Peter 3:5-7). Convinced of this reality, Peter urged Christians in the first century to put their confidence in what is lasting and eternal, and not to be bound to earth and its treasures and pursuits.
Jesus will come again! This is the crux of Peter’s final chapter:
“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” (2 Peter 3:1-7).
The Second Coming of Christ is no pipe dream of Peter’s own imagination. He’d heard Jesus promise to prepare a permanent home for his people, “that you also may be where I am” (Matt 24 & 25; John 14:3). Peter had seen the transfiguration of Jesus. He’d heard and touched the resurrected Jesus, then watched Him ascend to heaven as King. Peter had heard the angel’s clear instruction on the Mount of Olives, “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” (Acts 1:10-11).
And only because Peter was fully convinced that Christ was coming back, was he able to re-focus the minds of the exiled Christians beyond their personal trials, towards the final Day of reckoning. He handed them a pair of binoculars to see the light on the horizon. This light would give them a hopeful perspective in the hard task of reaching every people and nation with the message of salvation, as Christ had commanded them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Peter believed this with all his heart.
Are you as fully convinced as Peter that Jesus is on his way back? Do you believe the King is near and will judge the world? Our conviction of this reality will lend urgency to our lives. It will energize the way we share our faith, the way we deal with sin and temptation, and the way we pray (1 Peter 2:12; 3:1; 4:2; 7). It will give us the eternal perspective we need to face hardship with a trusting heart (1 Peter 4:19; 5:6; 7), as it did for Peter’s original readers.
Comfort, courage and conviction.
Peter’s final words would have brought the early believers comfort, courage and conviction to remain faithful to Christ; to resist being co-opted into the world and shamed into silence.
Remember that, unlike us, these suffering Christians never had the privilege of freedom of religion. They had no expectations of certainty or security. Their choice to trust in Jesus brought social and economic persecution from the Romans, the Jews and their own families. They were misunderstood, harassed and many were tortured and put to death. Peter himself was in prison awaiting crucifixion.
Shortly after Peter wrote his second letter, Rome would burn, crucify and throw to the lions anyone who wouldn’t confess Nero as Lord. Being a Christian was hard, not easy. Daily, these Christians had to choose which king they would worship. Nero or Christ. They knew that serving Christ as King would probably lead to a terrible fate.
But Peter shone a searchlight through the dark curtain of persecution surrounding these Christians. He showed them the terrible fate that awaits those who ultimately reject Christ (2 Peter 3:7; 10) and he illuminated the wonderful home that awaits God’s people, a home where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).
As the whole Bible testifies, “History ends emphatically with the visible victory of Christ. Every knee will bow before him and confess that he is Lord (Phil 2:10-11). His people confess this willingly, His foes in terror” (Rev 6:15-17). (John Child)
But why hasn’t Christ returned in over two thousand years?
The scoffer asks the question, “Where is his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-5). Don’t you sometimes wonder why it’s taking so long for Christ to return and bring justice and righteousness to this world? Doesn’t He see all the suffering and chaos on the earth? Doesn’t He care that so many people are dodging sinkholes?
Join us next week for our last devotion based on 2 Peter 3:6-18, titled, “Where is the promise of his coming?”
But before you leave, listen prayerfully to Andrew Peterson’s theologically rich song, The Dark Before the Dawn, which expresses the perspective we should have as Christians, as we wait for the Lord to come. He sings,
“This is just the storm before the calm;
the cold before the warm;
the tears before the song;
the dark before the dawn.”