What leads people to be skeptical of the return of Jesus to this earth?
Peter now takes on skepticism about the 2nd Coming. His conviction is rooted in God’s activities of the past, and the need for a world-wide re-creation and cleansing.
Skepticism in the Last Days
2 Peter 3:1-7 – This letter is intended to “stir up” his hearer’s minds. Once again, Peter turns to the “more sure word” of the O.T. Prophets, but now he adds the apostles who relate Jesus’ commandment.
Peter’s hearers no doubt faced mockers in their day, as we do today. Proclaiming the return of someone to earth 2,000 years after his death (and resurrection!) sounds unreasonable. It’s interesting to note the foundation of this argument, though: naturalism! The world of the future must be gauged and measured by how things have been in the past and how we view it today. Natural explanations must suffice. But Peter argues that such a philosophy ignores history, and especially the flood event. It should come as no surprise, then, that a global flood or multiple large-scale deluge-events are debated among naturalists.
But in a way, such mockers are correct. God used water in the past. He will not do so in the future. Rather, it is fire God will use as His cleansing brush.
Do a Bible search: what Old Testament passages speak of God using fire to work a purification of earth from sin and/or sinners?
Time in God’s Eyes
2 Peter 3;8-10 – God’s timing isn’t like ours. Some have suggested that God exists outside of earthly time, and thus He doesn’t experience it as we do. Peter is less concerned about the nature of God than he is the conclusions to be drawn from the apparent delay of God in sending Jesus back to earth and the final judgment. This must have been a question even in Peter’s day. So, why the delay? God is being patient. He is waiting for all to come to repentance who will. God’s plan for all is broader than we know. Nevertheless, there will be an eventual end in fire, and the coming of Jesus will be unexpected, like a thief (see Matthew 24-25).
Does verse 9 suggest that everyone will come to repentance in God’s plan, or is there a difference between God’s “purpose” for us and the eventual “result”?
2 Peter 3:11-13 – If the world is going to be destroyed, then what should our conduct be? Peter suggests several behaviors that should mark the last-day people of God: Holy conduct, that is, set apart to and for God; Godliness, where God’s people live as He does; expectation, looking forward to the Day of the Lord with eager expectation; and hastening, doing the work given to us that prepares a world to meet Jesus.
What would Peter’s hearers have done that might hasten the “day of he Lord”? What might we do today?
If the timing of final events are up to God and not humans, how can we work to hasten the Second Coming without bearing guilt and responsibility if it doesn’t come in our lifetime?
Preparing for Judgment
2 Peter 3:14-18 – The final of this letter is advice is spiritual and ethical: make effort to be spotless and blameless, very high standards indeed, and to realize that the prolonging of the Second Coming is about salvation.
Verses 15-16 admit openly what many Christians feel cannot be said: Paul isn’t always easy to understand! But this doesn’t mean we have license to misuse his letters. Peter comes near to classifying the writings of Paul with “scripture”; but
The final warning is to be on guard against the false teachers, and instead grow in grace and knowledge. The benediction is appropriate for a letter that has spoken much of the future. The idea, “the day of the eternity” is a delightful one where “day” means “age” or “period of time” no exclusive to 24 hours.
Many people use the excuse that we will not be “perfect” until Jesus comes. How should I reconcile this with Peter’s command to be found “spotless” or “blameless” when Christ returns? Why do we fear the language, and maybe even the idea, of God working to perfect our characters?
Peter closes this letter much as he began it, with grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This knowledge quells skepticism, and prepares people for the coming Day of the Lord.