II Peter 3:1 – 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,
In this section of his second letter, you can sense the urgency and gravity that Peter feels as he earnestly writes to the believers in Asia Minor.
Notice that these true believers have sincere or pure minds. This indicates that they are still true believers, walking on the narrow path that leads to eternal life. They have not been polluted by the false teachers/prophets mentioned at length in chapter two. As we saw in that chapter, Peter took the time to thoroughly warn Christians about false doctrines of licentiousness that would eventually lead them to apostasy.
But that is not the only snare that Satan has set for believers.
Peter also senses danger for the church in the guise of scoffers. A scoffer is someone who jeers or mocks; who treats something with contempt. They attempt to cast doubt or derision on something, based on their own reasoning or opinion.
Jude 18 –They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
In this particular case, scoffers are people who mock the promises that God has made to his children. In so doing, they attempt to undermine the faith of the believer.
But Peter isn’t about to let that happen. He is going to refute the false, faith destroying opinions of these ignorant people.
Because there are scoffers in every generation (including ours), it is crucial that we listen to the wise council of Peter.
II Peter 3:2 – that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior though your apostles,
Peter wants to stir up the minds of Christians to remember the words of prophesy given to believers in both the Old Testament (the law and prophets) and the New Testament (doctrines included in the gospel message given through the apostles).
Notice that Peter joins together the prophets of old and the apostles of that day, confirming the continuity of scripture. Though there were numerous prophets and apostles who spoke over a span of hundreds of years, they spoke consistent doctrines and promises.
It is vital that we remember and meditate on the promises of God delivered through these messengers, so that scoffers do not derail us from the true gospel message.
II Peter 3:3 – knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
It should be noted that we have no way of knowing how long this period of time will last. It could be over before you finish reading this blog, or it could still be continuing long after your great grandchildren are old and gray!
The term ‘last days’ refers to the final period in human history. We often refer to this as the Gospel Dispensation or the Age of Grace. It began when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and it will end with his return to earth (also known as his second coming).
Here’s what we do know: Scoffers are present throughout the era of the last days, which means we can expect to encounter them, if we haven’t already.
Here is something else we know: Like the false teacher, the scoffer is motivated by a craving to indulge in their own sinful desires.
For a moment, picture a sinner who comes face to face with the reality of God. He discovers that God is pure and holy, and He desires for us to be like He is. To accept and follow Christ is to embrace a life of holiness.
I Peter 1:15-16 – … as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”.
But the sinner is more in love with his sin than he is with God. He does not want to be restrained by what he perceives as the limitations of godliness and holiness. So… what will he do now?
This particular sinner might become a scoffer. In order to avoid the truth, he will constantly try to pick it apart and prove that it is not true. He will dismiss every point that he cannot fully understand. He will find things that he cannot explain and use it as an excuse to deride the whole gospel. He will boldly proclaim the truth to be a lie; he will deem the gospel worthless or despicable. He will persuade himself that that the gospel is spurious.
If he can convince himself that is the case, he has the liberty to cast the gospel aside and follow his evil propensities. Sadly, his opposition to the truth began and ended in his own lusts.
II Peter 3:4 – 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.”
Here is one of the doctrines that scoffers love to revile – the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus returns to earth, he is going to judge the world in justice and righteousness. Those who are found in Christ will receive rewards. Those who have rejected Christ will be judged and punished.
We can instantly see why the scoffer desires to blaspheme the doctrine of the second coming. Remember, he or she wants to continue wallowing in their sin. If they openly acknowledge that Jesus is going to return and judge the wicked, then they must admit their actions are wrong, and they need to repent. However, scoffing at the idea of the return of Christ sears their conscience and allows them to keep on sinning.
The argument presented by the scoffers goes something like this:
When the prophets of old foretold the return of Christ, they expected these events to occur any day (imminently). But nothing happened. They died and were buried long, long ago, but nothing changed. The world just keeps spinning on and on.
Our own forefathers spoke of the same promises. They kept the words of the prophets alive in their generation, but they too are dead. And nothing has changed. The world continues as it always has.
Since the days of creation, the course of nature has gone on steadily. Day after day, month after month, year after year the sun rises and sets. Spring follows winter. The tides ebb and flow. People are born and people die. Nothing has changed.
Where is the evidence that Christ would return? Show it to us! Where is the fulfillment of the promise? It is never going to happen!
These are the views of the scoffer.
To make matters worse, scholars think that some Christians of that day had taken it upon themselves to predict an exact date/time for Christ’s return. When that date passed by without anything happening, scoffers seized the opportunity to claim God’s promise had failed.
Let’s take a look at their claim.
First, we notice that they do not deny that God made a promise to return. There is way too much evidence and too many witnesses of that promise in both the Old and New Testaments to deny its existence. So instead of denying the promise, they mock it. They scorn it. They argue against it. This demonstrates a much higher degree of contempt than simple denial.
Their actual argument is this: If Jesus was going to return to earth, he would have already done it by now. According to the scoffer, if there had been any truth or certainty to that promise, we would have seen some evidence or sign of his coming by now. But there is no such evidence. The world has remained unchanged for thousands of years; therefore, God either cannot or will not return as he promised.
Obviously, their claims are sketchy at best. Simple human reasoning tells us that just because something has not yet happened, does not mean it won’t happen at a future date.
But we don’t want to use human reasoning to defend our beliefs. Here’s why: The second coming of Jesus is the crowning event/denouement of the plan of salvation. When Jesus returns, he brings justice and righteousness to all things. The wicked are judged. Death, the final enemy, is defeated. The righteous inherit eternal life and begin the next phase of our existence. All loose ends are tied up. Everything is perfectly finished. If Christ never returns, these things never take place. Clearly, the significance of the second coming cannot be over stated. So we don’t want to use changeable, imperfect human reasoning to defend it. We want to use the infallible word of God – which is exactly what Peter does!
II Peter 3:5-6 – 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, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
The phrase ‘deliberately overlook’ once again stresses the fact that the scoffer did not arrive at their conclusion by reason or sober judgment. They stubbornly choose to ignore the truth so they can continue in their sinful ways. They will eventually find out that being willfully ignorant does not justify them.
Peter begins his rebuttal with a clear fact: Despite the claims of the scoffer, things have NOT remained unchanged since the beginning of creation.
Creation was disrupted by the flood during the days of Noah. God swept away a whole world of ungodly men during that destructive event. If God was willing and able to destroy the wicked in the flood, why does the scoffer refuse to believe he will do so again, at his second coming?
Indeed, Peter is going to rehearse the events of the flood to show what God has done in the past. These facts should convince/persuade men to believe that God is fully capable of destroying the world a second time, and indeed he will do so at his final return, just as he promised.
In the book of Genesis, we find reference to a vast unformed collection of materials and elements which are collectively called water. The earth itself was formed from/out of this water by the powerful, creative words of God (Genesis 1:1-2).
During creation, God divided the waters according to his wisdom. Some were stored in the heavens (what we know as the atmosphere or first heaven), some were gathered together into the seas (leaving dry land) and some was stored in the ‘great deep’ (Genesis 7:11).
Genesis 1:6-8 – And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And there they stayed, allowing life to flourish on earth.
However, the wickedness of man increased to such a level that the world was entirely filled with violence and sin. At that point, God demonstrated his wrath and mighty power by releasing the repositories of water and allowing the earth to be destroyed by the flood waters, as he promised he would do:
Genesis 6:17 – For behold, I [God] will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.
(See also Genesis 6:7, 6:13, 7:4). Thus, the scoffer cannot claim that the earth has continued since creation without change. Neither can he claim that God is incapable of destroying it. His argument against the second coming of Christ has been demolished!
II Peter 3:7 – 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.
This might be a good time to comment on the word “heavens”. Scripture speaks of three different heavens. The first heaven refers to the atmosphere of the earth. The second heaven refers to what we would call ‘space’; it entails all of the stars, planets, etc. The third heaven is the place where God dwells. When Peter says the heavens are stored up for fire/destruction, he is not referring to the place where God dwells.
Through the word of God (scripture), Peter has just proved that there was a major change in the heavens and the earth during the days of Noah. This change came solely as a result of God’s word and will. The earth and the laws of nature have no power or stability of their own. They go on day after day, year after year because God wills it to be so. He created them. He sustains them. He established their laws of operation. He alone controls them.
By his word he created them; by his word, he destroyed them with the flood. Thus, the foolishness of the scoffer is readily apparent.
The scoffer and the Christian alike should also take note that a second total destruction has already been decreed for the earth. The same powerful word of God that destroyed the world by water will also destroy it by fire.
Like the flood, this future judgment is tied to the destruction of the wicked. Obviously, it is yet to come; we do not know when it will occur. It may or may not happen within our generation or lifetime. But come it will, just as surely as the flood did, because God always keeps his promises. He does what he declares he will do.
Isaiah 66:15-16 – For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many.
Therefore, the Christian should never believe the lies of the scoffer. Rather, we place our faith in the immutable promises of God. We do not need to fear the future; we only need to remain faithful to our loving heavenly Father, who keeps us safe within the secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1-8). At the perfect time, he will deliver his saints and destroy his enemies.
II Peter 3:8 – But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
This is the second point of rebuttal given by Peter to the claims of the scoffer.
The opinion of the scoffer is that if God was going to return, he would surely have done so by now. They imply that too much time has passed between the promise and the fulfillment; God has forgotten or neglected the promise of his return. In God’s neglect, the world continues on and on as it always has.
But Peter again points out that their human reasoning is faulty. God is not trapped in space and time as humans are. He transcends time. For him, nothing is past or future, but all things are present. He existed before he created time, and he will live eternally after he brings time to an end.
Psalms 90:4 – For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
No measurable duration of time has any bearing on the eternity of God. Therefore, God’s actions cannot be judged according to our understanding of time. While a thousand years is far, far past the limits of our fleshly existence, it is nothing to God, for he is eternal.
Even believers sometimes get impatient as we wait for God to fulfill his promises. Peter provides a good reminder for us that God’s hidden purposes will be accomplished perfectly; he is not bound by our measurement of time.
Conclusion: God is willing and able to fulfill all of the promises he has made to YOU, even if it’s been a long time in coming! Don’t give up! Don’t let your faith waiver!
Habakkuk 2:3 – For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.
Did you catch what God said to Habakkuk? The appointed time for fulfillment of God’s promise would surely come! Though it takes awhile, wait for it!
What promise are you claiming?
- Are you praying for one of your children? Don’t give up- wait for it!
- Are you looking for revival to break out in your community? Don’t give up- wait for it!
- Do you want to see miracles? Don’t give up- wait for it… it will surely come!
II Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
All of us can probably recall a time when someone made us a promise, but then either broke it or forgot it. When this happens, we begin to make assumptions about why they failed to keep their promise. We might think they changed their mind/plans, or they forgot their promise to us, or perhaps they do not have the ability (time, resources, money, authority) to complete the task. In the case of humans, any of these assumptions may be true.
But no such assumption can be made in the case of God. He has not failed or forgotten to do anything. The true reason for any perceived delay is the patience and goodness of God. In his great mercy, God delays judgment in order to afford mankind more time to repent, and thus prevent their own eternal judgment/ruin.
Ezekiel 33:11 – Say unto them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Although God does not desire the death of the wicked, it will eventually happen if they do not repent. God has appointed a day to judge the world in righteousness and he will keep that appointment.
Scripture says the return of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, when people are asleep and secure, not expecting him to come (Luke 12:39-40). Therefore, the wicked should not wait to repent.
The same thought is expressed in the parable of the 10 virgins, where five women are unprepared for the sudden (yet long awaited) return of the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). Therefore, Christians should be diligently looking for the return of Christ. This includes you and me.
Every day we have on earth is another day to add Christian graces to our lives, to do good works, to become more like Christ, to share the gospel, to praise and worship our redeemer, to exercise faith, to encourage a brother/sister or to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God.
Each one of us need to consider the return of the Lord as an imminent event. If we relegate it to sometime far in the future, we will tend to become slack in our service for God.
Let me offer you some encouragement
Peter says that in the last days, scoffers will come. They mock the promises of God. They will try to undermine your faith, and get you to doubt God’s promises too.
Don’t fall prey to their false and flawed reasoning. Use your shield of faith to stop their fiery darts of unbelief and doubt. If you are waiting for God to fulfill a promise he made to you, stand strong. Here are some practical things you can do to combat doubt: Repeat that promise or scripture over and over; keeping it fresh within your heart. Pray over it. Rejoice over the answer/victory, even though you haven’t seen it yet. Declare that scripture over your life or the lives of your children.
Remember, God spoke the world into existence. There is power in speaking his word over yourself and your children!
Let me offer you some relief:
As a Christian, you don’t need to fear the return of the Lord. Every sin you have committed has been cleansed and forgiven through the blood of Christ. Satan will try to tell you otherwise…he will constantly bring to your remembrance past mistakes and failures. When that happens, chase him off with your spiritual sword – the word of God!
Quote scriptures that speak of your forgiveness and acceptance through Christ. If you stand up to Satan, he will flee from you (James 4:7)!
Let me offer you some strength:
You are on planet earth for a reason; you have a purpose in life. Every day that you wake up is a new day to fulfill that purpose. Whatever God has called you to do, do it with all your might!
Don’t be one of the five foolish virgins – work diligently each day for the glory of God, and look for his return. He will be back for you before you know it!