Refocusing for the Last Days
© 2021 C. O. Bishop
2nd Peter 3:1-9
It is interesting to me that Peter is reminding us ofwhy he is writing: to “stir up” our new nature, through a reminder to focus on the Word of God. That is interesting to me, specifically, because that is my goal here at True Hope Christian Fellowship as well: to stir up the new nature of those who have already been born again, so that they desire the sincere milk of the Word, as Peter said in his first epistle. This is how the saints of God (defined by God as those who have entered into a covenant with Him by sacrifice…specifically, through faith in Jesus’s blood at the Cross) …this is how the saints of God grow into the servants and soldiers of God, and are manifested as the Sons of God. (Romans 8:14 says “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God.”)
The Goal of the Twin Epistles of Peter
So that is our goal: we want to give the Holy Spirit “free rein” in our lives by being obedient to His Word, since that is specifically how God has chosen to lead His people: through His Word.
1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Peter reminds us that both epistles had the same goal: to “stir up our pure minds.” (What “pure minds?”) The only “pure minds” we have are our new natures, created by God in righteousness and true holiness, according to Ephesians 4:24. Paul had pointed out that “no good thing dwells in” our old nature. (Romans 7:18) In fact, by the end of Romans chapter seven, Paul concluded that the old nature is no longer us. God no longer sees your old nature as “you” at all. This is a hard concept to grasp, because the old nature still feels like “me.” But God says (Romans 6) that He has separated me from my old nature to the degree that He considers me dead to sin and, more than that, a “new Creation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) It is hard for me to grasp that I am a new creature. I don’t feel new! But I can tell something is new, in that I do desire to walk with God…where before, I had no such desire. So I know I have a new nature: I just need to learn to see my new nature as the “real me,” just as Paul did, in Romans 7:17. Just as Paul struggled with his old sin nature, which he called “the flesh,” we also struggle. But we can learn from his experience, accept by faith the fact of the new birth and the resulting new nature, and begin learning to feed that new nature and watch it grow strong and stable.
So the “pure mind” Peter refers to is our new nature, which, as we know, must be fed, strengthened and exercised. But how is it to be fed, strengthened, exercised and “stirred up?”
He says that we are to “be mindful of” (to keep in mind…to remember…to focus on) the words of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament Apostles. (In short, “read your Bible and apply it to your life!”) Why does he consider this to be such an important message?
The Last Days are Coming.
Peter has already told us that we are to grow through the Word. He has already told us that we are to become partakers of the nature of God through the Word. He goes on to say what the end times will hold and what our response should be:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Scoffers have been around since the beginning: there is nothing new about that. But the trend is growing stronger, wherein the scoffers are very vocal and very public: They loudly proclaim Jesus to have been a myth or a self-deluded fool, and that anyone who believes in Him is mentally deficient at best, and probably socially unacceptable at every level.
When the believers confidently assert that Jesus will return, they are elated, because they consider 2000 years plenty of time to “prove” that He will not return. So they loudly condemn all those who trust in His Word. They say nothing has changed in all these years, so it isn’t going to change. They make assumptions about the world and base their decisions on those assumptions. They deny the creation even happened; or they claim that the impersonal “Universe” is responsible for all things and that it has a “will” and makes choices for their lives. All of this is what we have called “pantheism” for centuries, and we have seen the wretched results of it in the nations which continued to embrace it. Life has been very cheap in those nations, and persons are not seen to have intrinsic value as individuals.
And Peter says that the day is coming when those sorts of beliefs and values will be all over the world, and that, collectively, the world will insist that it is folly to believe the Bible. They will also violently oppose those who teach it. So we have to be aware of these things in advance.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
He reminds us of the Creation:
He reminds us that God spoke the World into existence! He reminds us that it was initially completely covered with water, but that God had caused the dry land to emerge from beneath the water, to stand out of the water, but surrounded by water. When we read the entire Genesis account, we see a number of things that God confirmed in His Word, and that people witnessed on earth, but which geologists claim happened hundreds of millions of years ago, and which, in any case, they only in the last century admitted happened at all! One of those is that the land once existed as a single “supercontinent” and was broken up into the tectonic plates we now see slowly drifting on the surface of the globe. Another is that the breakup actually happened within human memory! (Genesis 10:25)
But then he takes a step forward in history to the time of the flood, pointing out that God chose to use that same water that was present at the creation, to judge the earth.
And the Flood:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
We know the story of that destruction, from Genesis chapters 6-9; and we can see the truth of it written in the layers of sedimentary stone all over the world. The highest peaks frequently have seashells in the strata, even on the highest peaks, showing that they were once under water. And this is repeated all over the world. Science refuses to consider the flood as a possible explanation for the phenomenon, though the evidence continues to build.
How do we “Tell time?”
The “geologic clock” can be read from the point of view of a worldwide flood, which telescoped the history of the world down to less than ten thousand years, or it can be read from the point of view that everything took millions of years to form, making the world billions of years old.
I recall, as a child, being told that the limestone caves with their hanging stalactites and great stalagmites below then took millions of years to build. Yet the concrete sidewalks through those caves, where visitors see the amazing limestone structures, and hear that solemn lecture, have stalagmites growing on the concrete, and stalactites growing from the railings. (Must be old sidewalks!)
And when the geologists first visited the Toutle River canyon, near Mt. St. Helen, immediately after the waters broke through the volcanic ash dam, they all exclaimed that, “If we hadn’t known that this happened last week, we would have sworn it took millions of years to carve away these layers of rock!” (Reaaalllly! So, what happens if you take that idea a step further, and consider the ramifications for the rest of your world view?)
One recent find, in Cornwall, England delighted me: workers in a quarry discovered the intact fossil skeleton of a whale. So they stopped work and called in the paleontologists to dig up the fossil. The problem was that the whale was fossilized upright, standing on its tail! And, no, the strata had not been tilted after the whale was buried in silt: the stratified layers of sediment were horizontal, and the whale had literally been buried “upright.” So…what are our three options?
- The whale died, and sank (but, you see, dead whales float, as a rule) and it slipped into an underwater chasm which subsequently filled with sediment, and then fossilized, leaving the fossil as they found it. The problem with that idea is that the layers of sediment were not broken by a different sediment as if a chasm had been filled…all the layers fully engaged with (and permeated) the fossilized whale!
- The whale died in a cataclysmic flood and was caught up in the roiled waves of settling silt from the flood (which naturally settle in layers by relative density and particle size,) so that it was literally buried upright, with the silt entombing it as the heavy mud rapidly filled and solidified to make the stratified layers which are visible in the rock today. (The problem with that idea is that if we believe the flood really happened, it gives credence to the rest of the Bible! And the world can’t allow people to believe that kind of stuff!)
- The whale stood on its tail and waited for millions of years while it was buried in all those layers of silt. (That must have been one very patient whale!)
So, the “Geologic Clock” poses some problems for the unbelieving world: to them, it clearly says that the Biblical account of the Creation is false, which adds to their confidence as they rail against God. But the fact is, they are “reading the clock” incorrectly.
What should we expect for the future?
Peter points out that the world we see today is also headed for destruction, but not by flood.
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Consider the horror of a prairie fire or a forest fire, or even a house-fire: This goes far beyond anything we can imagine. Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus is the one “holding all the physical world together.” (The phrase in KJV “…in Him all things consist” is usually translated, “in Him all things hold together.”) Jumping ahead to 2nd Peter 3:10, we see that the heavens and the earth will melt and pass away with a fervent heat and a great noise. If I understand Colossians 1:17 correctly, it sounds as though Jesus is simply going to “let go,” and the entire physical world will disintegrate at an atomic level, like a sun going nova! (Yep! I would call that a “fervent heat and a great noise!”) It will be impossible to escape and will spell the absolute end of the world we call home. Peter says that the same authority that created the World is going to destroy it.
When should we expect it to happen?
Looking at Revelation 20, I can see that this World will end immediately after the Millennial Kingdom age ends, and immediately before the Great White Throne Judgment.
And there is one more thing to point out in that verse: The first is obvious, that the world will be destroyed by fire. The second should be obvious, but we tend to brush over it: The coming judgment is specifically the judgment and perdition (eternal loss) of ungodly people. In that particular judgment, God’s saints will be untouched! (Remember, this means those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice: they have trusted in Jesus’s blood at the Cross as their blood sacrifice for sin…these are they whom God calls His saints.)
In many of the world’s judgments, wars, etc., the godly were hurt along with the ungodly. But this one is different: This judgment is only for those who have rejected God’s Grace, and have spurned His sacrifice. These are they whom God calls the “ungodly.”
The specific judgment involved, of course, is described in Revelation 20:7-15. Please remember that the Judge sitting on that Great White Throne is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We tend to think of it as being God the Father, but according to John 5:22, it is not…Jesus said that He is the only Judge: the Father judges no one.
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
All we can say for sure is that God is never late: He is not failing to keep His Word. He is holding back that final judgment, offering time for people to change their minds. It is easy for Him to call an event in History the “day of the Lord” when, to us it seems to be over 1000 years!
The Day of the Lord, in fact, begins with the Rapture of the Church, which is the portion said to be “as a thief in the night,” but it immediately transitions into the Tribulation, which according to Daniel 9:23-27, is specifically aimed at a final purge of both the unbelieving World and Israel. Even during that tribulation, God will provide thousands of witnesses, offering salvation to anyone willing to receive it..
That seven-year period of terrible disasters on earth is cut short by the sudden appearing of the Triumphant Christ, not coming as savior, but as King. The living nations will be judged by Jesus in person, as recorded in Matthew 25:31 and following. Some will be admitted into the 1000-year kingdom on earth. Others will be sent to Hades to wait out the Kingdom age there.
But when the Kingdom age ends there will be one final rebellion, summarily stopped by God the Father, and then we will see the fulfillment of verse 7. And that final judgment, described in Revelation 20:7-15, includes the fact that Hades proper, along with all the unrighteous dead of history will be cast into the Lake of Fire. That is the end of the day of the Lord… and that is final!
So: How should we respond?
We tend to want to just “hunker down and wait it out.” But that is not what we are called to do. We, who by God’s Grace and faithfulness are guaranteed to spend eternity with Him should be driven by the priorities which drive Him. What are God’s priorities?
Well, He just said that He is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Who is He patient with? The World? No…with us! He wants people saved! He desires that all would come to repentance, and even though He knows that will not happen, he wants us to act as His ambassadors, offering that eternal life to all.
There are people in each of our lives for whom we may be their only light in this dark world: How are you shining that light? Are you deliberately angling the light so that they can see their way to Jesus? Or is it just random flashes from an otherwise unstable walk with God?
If you were a pilot on a dark night, and, as you approached an airfield, you were told that the runway-lights below were actually flashlights taped to the backs of box tortoises, and that they were free to wander anywhere on the airfield, how comfortable would you feel? You would hope you could head for some other airfield, wouldn’t you? We do not want to be “wandering lights.” We need to provide stable, steady light, to show the Savior to the dying World.
We need to take this seriously, and realize just how important our testimony may be to the people with whom we live and work. You may be their last chance to choose life! Don’t turn off the lights! Walk by faith and hold forth the Word of truth.
Lord Jesus, fix our fading vision on Your face, and teach us to reflect the light of your Love and truth in the deepening darkness of our World. Raise us up as your Saints and allow us to serve you faithfully.,