The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience thinks this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concluded Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”
Resource, July/August, 1990.
Could it be that we are the ones in that theater?
Students of God’s Word know that the Bible teaches that there are 2 distinct time periods —This Present Age and the Age to Come. And between those two periods of time there is what the prophets called “The Day of the Lord.”
The Old Testament Prophet Amos was the first of the prophets to refer to the Day of the Lord (see Amos 5:18-20. He sees the day as a time of judgment upon a rebellious Israel whose power, wealth, and inordinate ambitions made the nations self-deifying.
The Prophet Joel saw in the locust plague and the ensuing drought previews of the Day of the Lord.
The Prophet Zephaniah extended the Day of the Lord to cosmic proportions and saw both the historical and the apocalyptic aspects of that Day.
The Writers of the New Testament equated the Day of the Lord with the Return of Christ along with the Last Judgment and the glorious triumph of the kingdom of God.
(Taken from Beacon Dictionary of Theology, Page 151).
In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke of that day giving many signs that would precede its arrival. In verses 4-8 of that chapter Jesus is quoted as saying, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.”
We have had three major hurricanes in the last month hitting our nation. Mexico City is still in recovery from an earthquake that killed hundreds. There have been major fires out west. And our nation is actively engaged in war in Syria and Afghanistan, and we are on alert as Korea continues to threaten with its nuclear arsenal.
Does this mean we are rapidly approaching this catastrophic event that is described as The Day of the Lord?
I have to tell you that I don’t know. When we study the periods of time in Biblical chronology we know that the so called “Last Days” began on the Day of Pentecost. When someone asks me if I think we are living in the “Last Days” I assure them I do—we have been living in them for 2000 years.
But I can also say this: We are definitely closer to the end of time that ever before!
Throughout history since the beginning of time, there have been wars, nations opposing nations, storms of various magnitudes, and earthquakes in various places. The fact that we are having them now is no surprise. But in the context of God’s Word, I have to say these things continue to be signs that God gives us to draw our attention to our eternal destiny.
And so we come to this important passage in 2 Peter chapter 3. Let’s consider God’s message to us in this prophetic chapter.
- DELAY DOES NOT MEAN CANCELLATION.
- Peter points out those scoffers will cast doubt on the Day of the Lord ever arriving. They look at the length of time since creation and think, “It has always been and it will always be the way it is.”
- In my studies in preparation for ministry in the area of human mortality, I have read and heard many times that we humans tend to be in self-denial about our own mortality. We act like we think we will live forever. When it comes to establishing wills or trusts that will dictate what happens to our possessions when we die, the tendency is to procrastinate. We don’t like to think about our own death. Yet we all will die sometime.
- The scoffers who deny that the Day of the Lord is coming like to put the warning of His return in the same category as those old sayings we may have heard as a child: “Don’t cross your eyes, they may get stuck that way!” “Don’t make a face like that, it may freeze that way.” “Don’t step on a crack or you will break your mother’s back!
“What if Jesus comes while you are acting like that!”
- At the same time we like to think that the end of this age will come, but not yet. After all, we have a lot of living that we plan to do before the end comes!
- I’ve talked to many people over the years who believe in Jesus, and believe that He is coming again, but they put off repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord because they believe they have plenty of time yet.
- And Peter says the scoffers want to deny the return of Christ and the Day of the Lord because they want to continue to pursue their evil desires.
- Yes, it has been 2000 years since the Day of Pentecost ushered in this new age that Acts 2:17 refers to as “The Last Days.” For many, such a time delay suggests that the end will never come.
- DELAY REFLECTS GOD’S LOVE.
- In 2 Peter 3: 8 & 9 we read: “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. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- I cannot imagine how greatly God is grieved when His creation continues to reject Him. The scene at the Cross where darkness suddenly envelops the Crucifixion scene is often described as God the Father not wanting to see His Son in such agony.
- And yet, God keeps trying to reach us. His Holy Spirit still tugs at the hearts of those who have yet to receive Him.
- I remember a discussion I had years ago when I was pastoring in Warsaw. This man with whom I had befriended told me he did not believe in death-bed conversions. He said it was just not fair that someone will live in sin and then at the last moment make it into heaven.
- I’ve thought about that for a long time. I thought of my own children. What if one of them lost his or her way, fell out of grace, rejected my values and was caught up in deep sin. What if, at the last moment they came to their senses and asked my forgiveness and wanted to be reconciled with me and with God. How would I feel about that? I would be elated! Like the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I would want to throw a party!. And I’m sure that God, the God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, out of His love would be overjoyed to save one of his children even if it was at the last moment!
- The story of Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah reminds us that God is so loving that he was willing to save those cities if there were just 10 people who would serve Him.
- The bottom line is this: God is doing everything He can to save us. He gives 2nd and 3rd chances and sometimes more. He has sent His Holy Spirit into the world to continue the work Jesus started of seeking the lost to save them.
- Every day that God lingers is a reminder of how much God wants to save us. His love is beyond measure.
- But when all hope is gone, and hearts are hardened, and there is no chance that the person will change and accept Christ, then the verdict is in. In John 3: 18-19 Jesus says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
- Only God knows what is truly in the heart of mankind. Only God knows the decisions we will make in the future. But God’s delay is His Love giving us another chance to get right with Him by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord!
- BUT THE END WILL COME.
- Throughout the Bible there are many descriptions of events that will happen on the Day of the Lord and Christ’s return.
- Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 writes about this day: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
- In Matthew 24: 30-31 Jesus said, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
- In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and goats as he describes the final judgment that will take place on the Day of the Lord. In verse s 31-32 we read, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
- And now, in our passage in 2 Peter 3:10 we read one more description of what will happen on that day: “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 done in it will be laid bare.”
- I don’t know when this will happen. It could be today or tomorrow or next week or next year or a 1000 years from now. I personally think the signs of the time point to sooner rather than later!
- But this I know: It will happen. The Day of the Lord will return—ushered in by our Lord’s Return. Time as we know it will come to an end. And eternity will begin along with our eternal destiny.
The Day of the Lord will Come. We will face the final judgment. The world as we know it will be changed. Fire will destroy the elements. We live in a day where nuclear arsenals make this seem all the more real. It may be a nuclear war. It may be a collision with an asteroid. It may be a massive volcanic explosion. It may be something beyond what we can imagine. But however it occurs, it will occur.
And because of God’s great love we have been warned.
And in light of that warning, Peter drives home the point that we all must consider. In 2 Peter 3: 11-13 we read: “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. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and anew earth, where righteousness dwells.”
Now is the time to prepare for that great and notable Day of the Lord.
God has called us to holiness. Holiness will save us from the destruction that will come.
Are you ready?