Friday, December 07, 2018

Devotional: Be Ready for the Day of the Lord, 2nd Peter 3:1-18

Outline 2 Peter 3.1-18

In chapter 3,  Peter deals with one of the false teachings that was prevalent in the church of his day and one we still face today: that the “Day of the LORD” will never come. The “Day of the LORD” is a prominent theme in the Old Testament and refers to a time when God steps into history to judge the sin of his people and the world, to set things right and to set in motion the next phase of his plan. In the Old Testament it referred to Noah’s flood, the Assyrian invasion, the Babylonian captivity and other pivotal events in the nation’s history. At Jesus’ 1st coming he predicted a “Day of the LORD” that would come for Israel when Jerusalem would be wiped out, the temple destroyed and the new covenant age of the church would begin. As Peter wrote this letter, this prophecy was on the horizon and would be fulfilled in less than ten years. All these “days of the LORD” were merely precursors to the final one that is coming when Jesus will return bodily, all the dead will be raised, final judgment will commence, and heaven and earth will be renewed. It was this final “Day of the LORD” that was being denied by the false teachers. Peter reminds his readers that just as God kept his promise of the previous “Days of the LORD” he would be faithful to complete what he promised in the end. Jesus will come back and Peter’s last words are here to prepare us for that event.

Again Peter points to the evidence for this in the Old and New Testaments (3:1-7). This promise has been repeated over and over again from Genesis to Revelation. The false teachers shortsightedly point out that things have been going on as always for a long time. The long delay in the return of Jesus must mean that God has forgotten his promise. Peter responds with a reminder of the history of God’s promises. God formed his creation out of the chaotic watery mass and, in the judgment of the flood, returned the world to that chaotic state. As Noah preached the coming of judgment for 120 years, the people of his day made the mistake of thinking that delay meant God had forgotten his promise. Just as the flood judgment came on those who were not ready, so the final judgment will bring a refining fire that will purify and prepare a new heavens and earth and remove “the ungodly.”

Peter explains the reason for the delay in keeping his promise in 3:8-13. God delays because he wants to allow the repentance of as many as possible. The Bible is clear that God is very patient and does not want anyone to experience condemnation, but eventually judgment will come. God will remove evil and cleanse the universe of all its effects. To create a universe where “righteousness dwells” God must remove anything that does not conform to his character and standards of beauty and order. Thus, Peter’s point is that we must live godly lives now to be prepared to live in the new order of the heavens and earth.

What does that look like? (3:14-18) We prepare for Jesus’ return by responding to the grace of the Gospel with faith and by working hard to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to grow into the image of Christ (14). We work hard to live out the gospel. This means that, like God, we are patient  with ourselves and others as we grow together (15). We work hard to understand scripture and apply it to our daily lives (16). We work hard to know and guard the truth by being alert for false teaching and living according to who we are in Christ (17). Finally we work hard to grow by learning to appreciate and use the resources God has provided and to deepen our relationship with Jesus and with his people (18). Because judgment is coming, believers must live for God now, focused on His Word and on the eternal; not on the temporary things of life. The way to be ready is to work hard now to grow to be like Christ and to do the work he has called his people to do.

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