2 Pet 3:8-10
Do you remember the Back to the Future films with Marty McFly and Doc Brown and his flying Dolorian time machine? Do you remember the irony of the Doc that even though he can travel back and forth in time he's always in a hurry? Or do you remember the use of the time turners in the Harry Potter series and even when they're being used it's still a race against the clock? For each of these I've asked, "Do you remember" something that happened in the past. Well God wants us to remember something that's going to happen in the future - he wants us to remember the future.
2 Pet 3:8-10 Remember the Future
But, unlike the time travellers just mentioned, with God there's no rushing around at all. In fact God's patience - his patience is what decides the future. God's patience is what decides when he returns in the future. And we're going to see that in our passage today which is 2 Pet 3:8-10 so please do turn with me to p863 in our blue Bibles and we're going to look at each of these three verses individually.
This is a letter from Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples, and he's encouraging some Christians to be godly as they wait for Jesus to come back and get us. It's a bit like a military rescue movie where the remaining solders have to keep their nerve whist waiting to be rescued, but what the Christians in Peter's day had, and what we have today is people casting doubt in our minds of the reality of the Lord Jesus returning. They had false teachers saying Jesus isn't coming back at all v3&4:
"3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised?"
The false teachers say that our resurrection is not physical but only spiritual and that it has already happened so the physical is worthless and you can do what you want with your bodies - leading to all kinds of promiscuous and stupid behaviour. They argue (rest of v4): "Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." " They argue that things in nature happen now just as they've always done - that nothing ever changes and so Jesus isn't going to return - this life is it. Everything goes on the same. This here is all we have.
Peter counter argues with a couple of arguments in v5-7 and then in our verses v8-10 Peter raises two more counter arguments. In v8 he says "8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." Some evangelicals think this means that God is outside time, and some evangelicals don't and we're not going into that now, but t's fair to say that God can see the whole of history and the future at the same time and is completely in control of both. The point Peter's making here is that from God's point of view he hasn't been a long time. The Lord IS coming; it's not been long to God.
We haven't been waiting a long time for the second coming really. It might seem long to us but not to God. Waiting a day and waiting a 1000yrs are the same to God. If you think of the eternal God who has always existed and always will - what is a 1000 yrs like to him? Well compared to eternity there's not much difference between 1000 days and one day. Statistically it's negligable. Psalm 90v2-6 says this "2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-- 6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered." I've heard one preacher using the example of time flying when you're having fun and as you get older, I mean really older, you begin to say, "Well it seems like only yesterday …" Time although constant can be shorter or relative to your experience - relative or in comparison. The Lord is coming It's not been long to God.
Peter'snext argument follows in v9: 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Peter says God has promised to come back and he will. The Lord IS coming it's just that he is giving us longer - and the more time he gives the more gracious he's being. The longer he gives us then the greater the number of people who can be saved. He is giving us longer to repent. He doesn't want people to perish. He wants people to repent. Notice, if you're not a Christian here tonight, that if you want to not perish then you need to repent. Repent means to do a U turn; a 180 degree change in direction in life - from going your own way to going God's way. Repentance doesn't get you to heaven but you can't get to heaven without repentance.
Isn't it sad that people can accuse God of not keeping his promise. Isn't it sad that sinfully we turn the truth on it's head and say the longer he leaves it the more we think he's not coming at all. When in fact it's the opposite. The longer he leaves it the longer he's giving people to repent. He's giving us longer to repent. How rude of us to throw his kindness back in his face. But this is what us sinful humans are like - we'll take anything - even a gift of God, such as time, as an excuse for sin and for not repenting. Even the kindness of a second chance we twist to use it as the opposite of what it's meant for. It's like getting caught smoking at school and deserving a punishment for it but the teacher is gracious and gives you a second chance by giving you time to think about the merits and demerits of smoking - and all you do is use the time to have another fag! "Ah he doesn't mean it. I won't get into trouble." And when it comes to God what do we hear the world saying? "Ah God's not coming back. There's not going be a judgment day." And you and I get all this bombardment from the world - all these false voices. Are they seeping in to our thinking and our hearts? Are our hearts becoming more calloused to sin and the seriousness of sin? Are we forgetting that Jesus is coming back?
But remember - Remember says Peter - Remember the future. The Lord IS coming; it's not been long to God. The Lord IS coming; and we need to tell people about judgement, tell people that he's being kind - that he is giving us longer - to repent. He's giving us a 2nd chance - to repent
And like Doc Brown in Back to the future - this is urgent - this is a race against the clock - this kind second chance that God has granted could end at any minute. Verse 10: 10 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. The "day the Lord" means the day when our Lord Jesus comes back to Judge and to save. It means judgement and salvation - judgment for those who haven't believed and repented and salvation for those who by God's grace have. And No one knows when that day will be - not even Jesus himself. The Father does - see Matt 24. It could be at any time and in that passage Jesus says we've got to be ready but he goes on to say in Matt 25 that we need to be ready to wait.
You see Jesus' return affects how we live now. Remember the future. The Lord IS coming so live like it. Jesus's return makes all the difference. Yes we should work for justice and the good of our fellow man but we must not try to build our own heaven on earth now. No marxist dream or John Lennon humanist delusion is going to bring peace and harmony. People living without remembering Jesus' return live with no fear of judgment and so people do whatever they like (such as the false teachers in Peter's day). When we know the Lord is coming back it would be foolish to live just for today. Knowing that The Lord IS coming shapes how we live. The Lord IS coming so live like it.
We'll talk more about this next week when we read v 11 onwards but in our last verse for today, verse 10, we see "the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." Again there is a difference of opinion; some evangelicals think this means that everything will be destroyed and recreated in the New Creation and some think that things will be renewed and even that the good things of this world will be transported as they are, but we're not going into that now either. Peter's point is the same. Jesus coming back in the future shapes how we live now. And he's talking here about matter. We learnt last week in our morning series in Genesis that physical things are good but there is a comparison - things are relative. Peter focuses on the elements - the matter -the physical. All the things (all the matter) will be burned up but the people will survive. However you want to translate it there's a relative importance in Peter's argument.
Think of the recent Grenfell tower disaster. What is the greater disaster; the loss of the building or the loss of the people who died? What's most important? It's the people of course. And do you think if it was the most magnificent building in the world - if it was one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal or one of the pyramids, then people would be more sad about the building or the loss of life? Some heartless far off idiot might care more for the building, but those round about, who lost family members and friends and members of the community, of course care more about the people. The material things matter but people matter more. Matter matters but people matter more and people are going to get judged. They're going to die in their sin and suffer an eternal death - an eternal punishment - they're going to "hell, where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:48 Matter matters but judgment and salvation matters more. People matter more than matter. People are more important than things. That's one of things I teach my kids especially when they're arguing or fighting over something. Think of people paying so much money for fast cars or works of art - it's obscene isn't it? I wonder if our view of matter needs challenging - challenging in the light of Jesus's 2nd coming. Are we trying to build our own heaven on earth now? Why when it's just temporary? More about this next week. The Lord IS coming so live like it.
So in summary: Remember the future. The Lord IS coming; it's not been long to God. The Lord IS coming; he's giving us longer - to repent. The Lord IS coming; live like it.