Why it’s taking so long for Jesus to come back
2Peter 3: So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming?
The Apostle tells his readers that as the time for the return of Christ gets closer that people will be more outspoken in their doubt that it will happen. One of their reasons for doubting is that it’s been so long since the promise was made. Common sense, they think, dictates abandoning belief. People will think, “Nothing like that has ever happened since the beginning of time, now so long after the promise, things have continued as they have always been. It’s time to move on and forget about the promise.” Peter gives a three point response to that kind of thinking. First, there’s precedence for God stepping in and changing everything. After all, for eons the universe existed without this planet. Then, God stepped in, bringing about the creation of this very world. Later on, in Noah’s day, God changed everything again by bringing to pass a great flood. Here are two prime examples of God intervening in Creation to do a new thing. Second, time matters a lot more to us than it does to the Eternal One. A thousand years is a lot of time for humanity, but it’s a blink of the eye for the Ancient of Days. Third, God has reason to wait. That reason is that he wants to give more generations opportunity to be redeemed. The Lord wants to save people; all the people he can save. Therefore, he’s patient, taking all the time necessary to get as many in as he can. The Day of Judgment is definitely coming. Jesus will return and that will set the whole End of Time in motion. Meanwhile, we wait with the understanding that God knows exactly what he’s doing and at just the right time Jesus will come back. My job is to get ready, to stay ready, and to help all who will to prepare for that certain upheaval of history.
Take Away: No doubt about it, Jesus is coming back.
Not the most encouraging chapter in the Bible
2Peter 2: Their evil will boomerang on them.
If you’re looking for some comforting, uplifting, encouraging words from the Bible, I suggest you skip 2Peter Chapter 2! This is full blown “hell, fire, brimstone” preaching. Peter is writing to scattered believers who are under considerable pressure from outsiders who don’t understand their faith. Now, to top that off, there are so-called “teachers” traveling here and there pretending to be Christians but are actually hucksters trying to get out of gullible believers anything they can. Peter warns his readers about such people and then he lowers the boom on these unprincipled predators. He takes us back to some of the Old Testament stories of God’s judgment: Sodom and Gomorrah and the Great Flood. He describes the false teachers in the worst of terms: insolent, brutes, loudmouths who are headed for “a black hole in hell.” Peter’s words are so heated that you can practically warm your hands above the page! The thing that has him so riled up is that these predators are preying on God’s people. Peter is good and mad and, according to him, so is God. Apparently, God takes it personally when individuals take unfair advantage of his people. Directly stated, he’s not going to put up with it. On one hand, there’s an encouragement here for believers to be prudent in who they allow to influence them in spiritual matters. On the other hand, there’s a warning for any who try it. Even though Peter uses every description he can think of in describing what’s coming for such people I can’t help but come away thinking that the actual judgment of God will be even worse.
Take Away: Be careful who you allow to influence you in spiritual matters.
Retelling the old story
2Peter 1: This is the post to which I’ve been assigned—keeping you alert with frequent reminders.
In the early days of my ministry the so-called “special days” were especially challenging to me. Every year Easter and Christmas came around and I felt challenged to come up with some innovative way to preach sermons on them. I was especially challenged by “civil” calendar events like Mother’s Day and Independence Day. Ultimately, I arrived at a two sided solution. For Father’s Day and the like, I don’t preach on the day, but acknowledge and observe it early in the service. Then, having done that, we move on to a regular worship event. “Spiritual” calendar events, though, need to be highlighted. I was still left with the challenge of preaching a sermon that would help people better process the meaning of the day. Finally, the Lord seemed to have mercy on this struggling preacher. It dawned on me that spiritual events come around as reminders. I don’t need to “dress them up” with some impressive new approach. Instead, I need to go back to the basics and retell the story. From that point on, I prepared sermons for those days with a sense of freedom. As I read this passage from 2Peter today I see that he set the example for me and countless spiritual leaders through the centuries. He tells his readers that some things need to be said again and again and that, to some extent, if the leader is successful in keeping people reminded of basic spiritual truths that leader has been successful, fulfilling his or her God-given assignment.
Take Away: We never progress to the point that we don’t need to be reminded of foundational spiritual truths.