But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:8-10
There is no greater message that needs to go forth today than the fact that mankind will one day face God in judgment. In the world many are living their lives as if there is no God – sin is rampant, and the public media (television, radio, newspapers, and most sources on the internet) leaves mankind with the idea that there is no standard by which we judge right and wrong. When man worships himself, when we make idols of government and people, then there is no standard of what is right and wrong. Right and wrong becomes what I like and what I don’t like, or if I follow someone, then what he/she likes or doesn’t like. Evolution teaches us that we do not have eternal, immortal souls, and that we are no better than animals, and we thus sometimes act accordingly. Scientism has left man with the idea that given enough time and information, mankind will, by ourselves, solve our own problems and evolve into something better. Yet, if we are honest, we must realize that we have reaped the fruit of secular humanistic philosophy. From Nazi death camps to the Taliban and terror attacks, from racial issues as well as gender issues, we do not ascend higher, but descend lower and lower into the morass of sin and degradation.
Some would argue that mankind is becoming more wicked, as we see the depths to which we are descending, but we must realize that this has been the case since man sinned. We do not know how long it was from the beginning of sin till the Lord destroyed the world in the flood of Genesis 6-9. We do not know how long God put up with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, but it seems that he waited for some time, giving man an opportunity to repent. As we continue through the Old Testament, we see his LONG-SUFFERING characteristics as he dealt with his own people. Solomon tells us, by inspiration, that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), so the wickedness man has devised is something already engaged in at one time or another.
In 2 Peter 3, as noted above, Peter refers to those who were going to come in the last days, scoffing at the teaching of the Second Coming. These scoffers had the following characteristics:
THEY WALK AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS. They do not want to hear preaching about a coming day of judgment, because many do not want to stop engaging in the pleasures of sin or be made to feel guilty when they do engage in such. To these the only joys are in the here and now, and it is sad that many in the world believe this, for they live as if there is no tomorrow.
THEY ARE BASICALLY UNIFORMITARIANS. 2 Peter 3:3-4 states, “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires, 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. . .” Uniformitarianism is a long word that simple means that everything continues as it always has – nothing ever changes. This is the fundamental belief of evolutionists in that they need “time” for the small “adaptations” that has brought us to where we are now. Man does not want to be reminded of Biblical catastrophism, which is clearly seen in God’s intervention in the affairs of men as noted above.
THIRD, MEN WILLFULLY FORGET THAT GOD CAME IN JUDGMENT ON A WICKED WORLD AND HAS PROMISED TO DO SO AGAIN. God, being eternal, is not bound by the limits of time. Man’s thinking is that because God has not yet come, this is proof that he will not come. But the one fact does not imply the other, simply because God does not operate on man’s timetable. Therefore, it is futile for man to try to ascertain when the Lord will come again, and why the idea of premillennialism must fail.
We must ask, “Why is God waiting to come again?” It seems to many Christians, as well as to others, that this world is not getting any better and that wickedness is increasing. HOW MUCH LONGER WILL GOD PUT UP WITH SIN? Why has he not come back?
In 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) we read, “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.” God has not come in judgment upon the world because of his long-suffering. He wishes for all to come to repentance, and he is waiting to give all men the opportunity to do so. This should impress us with the importance and necessity of being about the mission of the church – preaching the saving message of Christ to a lost and dying world (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). It is time that we stop discussing what God wants us to do and time to stop discussing how to do it – it is time to do it. Friends, relatives, neighbors and others need to hear that God loves them and is wanting them to repent. Will we tell them?
The word long-suffering comes from a Hebrew word which could be translated as “patient, slow to anger.” The Greek word is most often translated long-suffering (twelve times) and patience. Others words synonymous with this are endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance and forbearance. It simply means that one is slow in avenging wrongs and patient in enduring offenses. The word patient means “bearing pains and trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, being steadfast despite opposition, difficulties or adversities.” How desperately mankind needs patience in our dealings with one another; the kind of patience and long-suffering God has shown to us.
One of the great examples of God’s long-suffering is found in the context of 2 Peter 3 – the destruction of the world by the flood. When one studies Genesis 6-9; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5 and 2 Peter 3 we find these points:
God repented that he made man, because the thoughts and deeds of man was only evil continually (does this sound like modern day America?)
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord – Genesis 6:8.
God provided for the salvation of humans through the building of the ark, and Noah and his family were saved. This was and is a fitting symbol of the church, through which we are saved today. The theories and ideas that man can be saved without being a member of the church Jesus died for is contrary to the truth of the gospel. Just as Noah and his family were saved in the ark and could only be saved by being in the ark, so today man will only be saved by being in the church (Acts 2:41-47).
While Noah was building the ark he preached righteousness during that one hundred twenty years (Genesis 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5). He warned, not only publicly proclaiming the judgment of God to come, but also by building the ark. As people passed by this daily, who could fail to hear about what he was doing, and why? Each day would be a mute testimony of judgment to come!
Next week, God willing, we will finish this study and draw the necessary applications.