By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay
“Arise!” Will that be the loud command of Jesus when the trumpet call of God announces His return in the clouds (I Thessalonians 4:16)? The response to that command will either be “Wow” or it will be “Woe.” For those who have rejected Him it will be “woe!” For those who have received Him it will be “wow!” In II Peter 4:3 Peter tells us “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”
“Above all” means it is a priority matter for us to understand that the presence of scoffers denying Jesus’ return and persons living ungodly lives are signs that we are in the last days. Well, we must be in the last days for scoffers are everywhere — even in the pulpits and the pews.
Scoffers will deny Jesus’ return asking: “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” Their denial is reinforced by their stating: “… everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” In other words scoffers are saying: “This is a stable world. If He has not come, He will not come.” Note Peter’s response: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (NIV). It has happened before and it will happen again, but this time the world will be destroyed by fire. II Peter 3:7 says that this present world is reserved for fire, judgment, and destruction of the ungodly. Will the world be destroyed by fire? Joel’s prophecy reveals God saying: “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke” (Joel 2:30, NIV). Peter assures us that judgment by fire is coming. It just has not happened yet. How can the delay of Jesus’ coming be understood?
Peter reminds us that time for God is different from time for man. He says: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day” (II Peter 3:9). His letter simply reminds us that God dwells in eternity. He not only is the first and the last, but also knows the end from the beginning. Tomorrow or a thousand years from now for God is like reading the morning newspaper. He knows what has been, what is, and what is yet to be. But why is the world just reserved for judgment by fire? Why not do it now? Peter answers those questions.
According to verse 9, God does not want any to perish (go to hell), but is patiently waiting for people to be saved. God the Father sent Jesus the Son to die on the cross for the sins of all people of all time. That is how much He loves this sinful world. He wants to change people from sinners into saints. Consider the picture that Peter paints with words about the end of the world. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. 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” (v. 10, NIV). What an incentive for the lost to be saved and for the saved to be serious about being Christians.
Listen to Peter’s appeal: “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 … since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (vv. 11-12, 14). Being forewarned, Christians are to be on guard as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Jesus is coming again!