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Remember, Judgment is Coming, Part 2
The World’s Approaching Appointment
2 Peter 3:7-9
Bruce A. Hess
If you would, please take out the word of God right now and turn in it to the book of 2 Peter, in the New Testament…right toward the end of your Bible, 2 Peter, chapter number 3. We are going to continue to talk about a series we began last week, talking about how we should remember that judgment is coming, from 2 Peter, chapter 3.
Now, some of you know this, but I grew up—I’m actually a little older—I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and in the 50’s and 60’s it was the era of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Some of you who are younger might think, I don’t know what a Cold War is. Well, a Cold War means there are really no guns firing; there are no missiles being launched, but there are a lot of threats and a lot of concern. When I grew up in those 50’s and 60’s I had tremendous concern about atomic nuclear warfare.
All of that really peaked in October of 1962. See, in October of 1962 the Soviets had sent nuclear armed missiles into Cuba, along with 40,000 troops. It created a lot of concern nationally. In fact, we actually have a map from the era,
where you see Cuba down here and you see the United States and then there is this concern about missiles potentially being launched into the United States. Miami was some 200 plus miles away, Atlanta – 750 miles away.
What is really interesting is a decade before this the Federal Civil Defense Administration released a film aimed at children, which featured a character called Bert the Turtle.
If you go to YouTube, you can still see this video. The message that Bert the Turtle wanted to communicate to children is that if you know that a bomb is being launched or if you hear that sound or you see a flash of light, what you need to do is: you need to duck and cover, to duck and cover. What does that really mean? Well, it means that if you were at school, what you would have to do if heard a big sound or you saw a flash of light you were to duck under your desk at school and you were to cover your head up, put your hands up over behind your head.
When I was in elementary school, we had drills on this, in elementary school. I actually have some pictures of some kids who were underneath their desks, you know, covering their heads with their hands, they were ducking and covering, just the way Bert the Turtle told them to do. I have another one here where you see some of the kids underneath their desks. What really interested me in this particular picture, is the look on the face of that particular girl that is there.
I was 11 years old in 1962 and I can still remember…I can still remember being concerned. I remember worrying and wondering: is the world going to come to an end due to nuclear warfare? Really, I can still remember the emotion that I had and some of us are maybe even thinking some of those thoughts now with the war in Ukraine happening.
That was my concern as an 11-year-old, but as I grew in my knowledge of Scripture, I realized the answer was, no, the world wasn’t going to end due to nuclear warfare at all. It doesn’t mean that there would be no nuclear missiles launched, but what it really meant is: the world is going to come to an appointed end as it says in 2 Peter, chapter 3, and verse 7, by the Word of God. It is going to come to an end by the coming of the Lord Jesus and the judgment that He brings to this world.
So, as we said last time we began this four-part series on 2 Peter, chapter 3, which we have entitled “Remember, Judgment is Coming.” Last time we looked at the first six verses, where we said Peter’s message to you and to me is that we should Embrace Biblical Prophecy. We talked about several positives to Biblical prophecies regarding the end times. We said, first, these Biblical prophesies on the End Times Breed Confidence that God is truly the Ruler of the Universe. He is the one writing history. That is why we are helped by studying Biblical prophecy.
We said it also has another positive aspect and that is, it Calms our Fears about the Future. We don’t have to wonder who is going to win, what is ultimately going to happen in the end? It tells us those things.
Then, the third positive aspect of Biblical prophecy, related to the end times and the second coming of Christ is, it Motivates us to Remain “on Mission.”
Now, the title I have given to today’s message is, “The World’s Approaching Appointment.” We see that in verses 7-9. So, if you have your Bibles open, I will invite you to just read along with me as I read from chapter 3, verses 7-9. Verse 7,
“But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (Verse 8) But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
As we look at these three verses from chapter 3, they really break into three parts.
First, we have God’s Coming Wrath in verse 7.
Then, in verse 8, we have God’s View of Time.
Then, in verse 9, we have God’s Heart for People.
So, that is what we are going to be looking at today and we are going to begin with verse 7, where we see God’s Coming Wrath.
Now, if you were with us last time, in the previous six verses Peter says that it was by the Word of God that God created the world. He also says it was by the Word of God that God judged the world with the global flood of Noah.
I want you to notice, at least in the New American Standard Bible, verse 7 has a connective there and it is translated, in the New American Standard, with the word ‘but.’ This is a connective that also can communicate continuation. We could translate the beginning of verse 7 “in the same manner,” that is, like God creating the world and judging the world with a global flood by His word. Literally verse 7 says, by the same word of God, the present heavens and earth, (it actually says the “now”earth), the world that now exists, he says in verse 7, is reserved for fire. Literally, it means the now world is being set aside for fire: “Kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly.”
Now again, this is not just a message from Peter. We saw this last time, we went to the book of Isaiah, where the prophet Isaiah was speaking and he said, “See, the Lord is coming with fire, and His swift chariots of destruction roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of His anger and the flaming fire of His hot rebuke. The Lord will (do what?) punish the world by fire and by His sword…and many will be killed by the Lord.” The wrath of God is aimed at those who are rebellious and those who are ungodly.
Sometimes with Biblical truth we mention terms, and we don’t always have a full understanding—or we have a minimal understanding—of what that term means. So I want to talk for just a few moments about this term, ‘the wrath of God.’ I want to begin by giving us a definition of the wrath of God. What is the wrath of God when we say that? Well, it is His divine displeasure toward sin. That is the wrath of God. It is the outpouring of His judgment in divine punishment.
I want you to look at that definition for a moment. His divine displeasure toward sin. The outpouring of His judgment in divine punishment. Now, it is astoundingly astonishing—what I’m going to say now is one of the things that makes Biblical Christianity totally unique in the world—it is astoundingly astonishing that God poured out His divine displeasure toward sin on Jesus. That God poured out His judgment and divine punishment on His Son at the cross. Now, that is astoundingly astonishing!! The wrath that God had for all humanity, for all time, was poured out on His Son, Jesus.
The Bible clearly teaches us this, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that “He (speaking of God, the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to (what?) be sin on our behalf.”
The great Isaiah 53 passage, “The Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall (where?) on Him.”
1 John 2:2, speaking of Jesus, “He Himself is the propitiation (that means the total legal satisfaction) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
Ponder that for a moment. You know, my little brain cannot even imagine the ugliness and the awfulness of what was put on the Son of God. Jesus’ sacrifice for us provided the way of salvation. It was a plan to rescue me and to rescue you from God’s wrath. That is astoundingly astonishing!! Astoundingly so.
John 3:36, this is actually the words of Jesus, it says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, (what happens to them?) but the wrath of God abides on him.”
That is why, men and women and young people, what anybody does with the person of Jesus is the ultimate pivot point in one’s life. Very clearly stated, we can either come under the work that He did for us, in taking our wrath, or we have to receive the wrath ourselves.
So, this is the idea of God’s wrath, but I also want us to see that there are several Aspects of God’s Wrath in the Scriptures. Let’s take a look at them. Maybe you’ve never even been aware of this, but there are several aspects of God’s wrath in Scripture.
The first one is what we might call Consequential Wrath. This refers to God’s judgment and punishment that someone might receive in this life as a consequence for some of the choices that they made in their life. Consequential Wrath is spoken of in Romans, chapter 1. Many of us are familiar with this passage. It says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven (in the original, is being revealed from heaven) against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” The idea is, since they choose to ignore God, they are going to consequently receive some of the wrath of God
So, if you follow it through the passage, because they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, it says, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” You want to rule out God in your life? Well, He’ll hand you over to a life of impurity.
He goes on to say, down in verse 26, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions.” That’s the same idea. Since we choose to ignore God, He’ll just let us loose so that we can reap some degrading passions in our life.
Again, it gets stressed in verse 28. Since they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, since “They did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind.” Do you see how some of God’s wrath actually gets visited upon them in their life? So, when we are talking about the wrath of God, it is important to understand there are several aspects to God’s wrath.
The first one we saw is Consequential Wrath. Another aspect to the wrath of God that we see in Scripture, is what you could call End Times Wrath. It is wrath that relates to the second coming of Christ as He returns to this planet. When Peter, in 2 Peter 3, is talking about God’s wrath he is talking about End Times Wrath. When Isaiah is talking about God’s wrath, as we saw from Isaiah 66, he is talking about End Times Wrath. Not wrath that we would necessarily reap in a life of rebellion on the planet, but End Times Wrath. Paul, when he talks about God’s wrath in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, he is speaking of End Times Wrath.
If you want a real detailed look at the End Times Wrath of God, you simply would go to the book of the Revelation [which Mark is taking us through, we are going to eventually get there], but Revelation, chapter 6, all the way through chapter 19, gives us a detailed look at End Times Wrath.
I want to just look at one passage, which is Revelation, chapter 6, verses 15-17. Looking in the future events, the era when Christ would come back, and it says, “The kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves (this is part of God’s judgment falling upon them, His wrath) among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from (here we go) the wrath of the Lamb.” That is an interesting turn of a phrase [a manner of expression], you know, you don’t think of a lamb as having wrath. But the Lamb is also a Lion. “Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
So, when we are talking about the wrath of God, there are several aspects to it. We’ve seen that there is sometimes Consequential Wrath, which would come on us: we would experience this in this life as we reject Christ, and we reject God. There is End Times Wrath. But there is also in Scripture, Eternal Wrath, which is really referring to the Lake of Fire.
Now, again, back to the book of the Revelation, in chapter 14, verses 9-11. It says there, “…If anyone worships the beast (speaking of the anti-Christ) and his image…that individual will drink of the wine of the wrath of God…he will be tormented with fire and brimstone…and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night.” That is Revelation 14:9-11. You can also look at Revelation, chapter 20, verses 12-15, which gives us more insight into the Lake of Fire which is one experiencing wrath eternally.
So, you have these three different aspects of the wrath of God. When we come in a study of Scripture to where it is talking about the wrath of God, we need to ask our self the question: which aspect is it talking about? As we’ve stated, in 2 Peter, chapter 3, it is talking about End Times Wrath that is directly related to the second coming of Christ.
As we are looking at these verses, we’ve looked at God’s Coming Wrath, in verse 7. Now, let’s shift over and look at God’s View of Time, in verse 8. Notice verse 8 with me again, “Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years, like one day.”
Verse 8 really pivots off what had come earlier in chapter 3 which related to the cynics and the scoffers. Remember the ones who would say, where is this Jesus? I mean will He ever return?? It’s been 2,000 years plus, nothing is happening. Well, you notice what he says there again in verse 8. He says, “Do not let this one fact escape your notice.” By the way, this is a command in the original language. He is commanding those believers—and us—don’t miss this; don’t overlook this truth, a very important truth, and that is, “That with the Lord, (His perspective) one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
Now, it doesn’t say a thousand years is one day, or one day is a thousand years. Rather, he is saying that with the Lord—from His perspective—one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
I don’t need to tell you, but we live in a temporal existence. God is different. He is eternal in essence. Eternity is a realm beyond time. So, what Peter is saying is this: what appears to be delayed to us, is truly imminent to God. What does imminent mean? It means, sure and impending. Let me put it this way, God sees eternity past, God sees eternity future, and God sees the present era, concurrently. He’s just different than us.
One of the great passages that I love is Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We could say it this way, God has a more advanced perspective related to time. We could put it that way.
I’ll give you an illustration of how this might work. We have four children, all of them grown, three of them married, all of the married having some kids. But there was a time when we didn’t have four children, we had three children. We had Rebekah and Emily and Kyle. I remember a time when Rebekah was six, Emily was four and Kyle was two, and we would set out to drive from Norman, Oklahoma, to go and visit Grandma and Grandpa in Nebraska. In those days, when they were six, four, and two, and you had the lower speed limits, it would be an eight-hour drive from Norman to Nebraska where Grandma and Grandpa lived.
Now, here is what would happen. We would have a six-year-old, a four-year old, and a two-year old loaded in the car. We would get thirty minutes down the road and then THE question was asked. And THE question was…[pause for audience response] are we there yet? Exactly! I can just imagine in those young minds, a six, four, and two year old mind, they had no concept, really. We could say eight hours, but they didn’t have a concept of what that was. I can even imagine that there were times on those trips when they were thinking, are we ever going to get there? But the difference between them and us is we had a more advanced perspective of time.
I mean, we grasped, we knew what eight hours was like. In fact, we knew within minutes when we were going to arrive at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. But it seemed to our young kids like forever. The difference between them and us is that we had a more advanced perspective of time. And so it is that God has a more advanced perspective of time than we do.
You know, there is a great quote I want to share with you. I am unsure of the origin. I tried to figure out where it came from, but I’ve heard it for many, many years. I love this quote. Here is the quote, “God is never in a hurry, but He’s also never late!” God is never in a hurry, but He’s also never late. Now that, men and women, is a great truth to remember, even in our everyday Christian life. Because there are times when we think: I wonder when this is going to stop or I wonder when this is going to happen to me, because I want it to happen. We need to remember that God is never in a hurry, but He’s also never late. That is a great truth to remember too, when it comes to the return of Jesus and His coming in judgment. God is never in a hurry, but He’s also never late.
So, we’re looking at three different things this morning as we look at verses 7, 8 and 9. We’ve looked at God’s Coming Wrath. We’ve seen there are different aspects of His wrath. We’ve now looked at God’s View of Time. The third thing we want to look at is God’s Heart for People. Have you ever asked yourself the question, why hasn’t God pulled down the curtain [to bring an end to something] on history? I mean, some of the current events we see now—why doesn’t He just pull down the curtain? The answer is, there is a reason for the delay and that reason for the delay is the long-suffering of God.
Look at verse 9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” He is not slow about His promise. It’s not that God is indifferent in some way; it’s not that He is unable; that He is impotent in some fashion. It’s not that He is apathetic. Like He is off busy watching the basketball tournament games. It’s not that. It’s not that He is incompetent in some way.
But here is what Peter is saying, He is working His plan and His plan is always on time. He is not slow about His promise as some count slowness to be: verse 9, it says He is patient. It is a word that means to be slow to anger. It means that God is not hasty to retaliate. God is not prompted to punish, and aren’t we glad that that is true? “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” Then, he says in verse 9, “Not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” This is this idea of God’s Heart for People.
I direct your attention to Ezekiel, chapter 18, verse 23, a good passage, it says, “Do you think, asks the Sovereign Lord, I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! (He says) I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” See, this is the theme that goes all the way through the Old Testament, all the way through the New Testament.
Look at Numbers 14:18. It says, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.”
Then, in the New Testament, 1 Timothy, chapter 2, and verse 4, “God desires all men (it is speaking of all people) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Then, you have Romans, chapter 2, and verse 4, which speaks of—I love this term—the riches of His kindness, the riches of His tolerance and the riches of His patience. This word for patience is the exact same word that we see in 2 Peter 3:9.
Look back at 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Part of the structure of the original language here is: He is wanting to make room for all to come to repentance. The New Living Translation translates that phrase, He is giving more time for everyone to repent.
Now, what does that mean, to repent? Well, I think Biblically repent means to change one’s mind regarding who Jesus is and what He has done and then to choose to trust in Him as their Rescuer from sin and judgment and wrath. He is giving more time to for everyone to repent. Here is what is amazing to me: the opportunity is always open. The opportunity is always open, we even see that in the crucifixion scene, where you have one of the insurrectionists who are being crucified being welcomed into eternity by Jesus.
You know, we see this in probably the most familiar verse in the Scriptures, John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that He gave His unique Son (don’t ever lose sight of next word) that whoever (whoever – no matter who they are and what they have done) whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” The opportunity is always open. It’s always open.
In the book of the Revelation, chapter 22, verse 17, we see this same idea, the opportunity is open, “…Let the one who is thirsty come.” The one who has needs spiritually. By the way, being under the wrath of God is the most incredible need anyone could have. “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” It doesn’t mean there wasn’t a cost. There was a cost and Christ paid it for you and for me. But, to us it is without cost. He offers forgiveness, He offers forgiveness. He offers forgiveness to us. Incredible, incredible truth, men and women.
Now, as we always do, we talked about looking at verse 7, 8, 9. We always want to talk about some Life Response we can have, based on what we have seen. Peter has given a very clear warning about coming judgment and approaching catastrophe so, the first life response I think he wants us to see, that we should respond with is this, to Look to Jesus as your Rescuer.
Recently, I was reading about the spiritual conversion of the great English preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon was living in Colchester, England, which is one of the oldest cities in England and on January 6, 1850, at the age of fifteen, Spurgeon had planned to travel quite a ways that day to attend a church. However, there was a great snowstorm afoot, and it was quite cold, so he decided not to travel to the church he was first targeting, but he was looking for some place to go and he found a very tiny, primitive Methodist chapel. So, to get out of the cold and the snow, he ducked into that tiny chapel and there inside of that chapel were a dozen people. The regular minister was absent and in his stead there was a very thin, uneducated man who was bringing the teaching from Scripture that day.
The text that he was using was from Isaiah 45:22, where it says, “Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” As Spurgeon remembered back on that, he said, as that man read the Scripture, he struggled to even pronounce all the words correctly. That is how uneducated he was.
But, as part of his sermon, here is what that uneducated man said to the dozen people who had gathered there, he said, “Look to Me; I am sweating great drops of blood. Look to Me; I am hanging on the cross. Look to Me; I am dead and buried. Look to Me; I rise again…O poor sinner, look to Me!” Then, that man fixed his gaze on that little visitor, the fifteen-year-old, and to Spurgeon he said these words, “Young man, you look very miserable, and you will always be miserable. Miserable in life and miserable in death if you do not obey my text. But if you now obey, this moment you will be saved.” Then, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look and live!” As Spurgeon looked back on that, he says it was at that point that, as a young man, he repented, and he believed, and he was changed by the work of Jesus Christ.
That tells us a couple of things. One thing, it’s not the messenger, right? It’s the message! I love 1 Thessalonians 1:10, where it says this, it’s “Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
The bottom line, this is true for all of us or anyone who may be listening to my voice. The bottom line is: we are sinners; and the Judge is coming; but He has provided a way of deliverance; and we should repent and look to Jesus.
Earlier, we looked at John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son (what happens?) has eternal life: but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
How comforting are the words of Romans 10:13, “Whoever (whoever, whoever!!) calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How do we respond to what these verses have set before us today? Well, the first life response is to Look to Jesus as your Rescuer. The second life response for those of us who know Him as our Rescuer, is to Honor Him in What you Do and Say Every Day!
Romans 12, we are told to present our bodies, that means to live our life as a living sacrifice, which he says is our reasonable, spiritual service. To Honor Him in What we Do and Say Every Day!
You know, there are some lyrics we sang earlier this morning. I want to remind you of them. We sang earlier:
Released from my chains, I’m a prisoner no more
My shame as a ransom He faithfully bore
He canceled my debt and He called me His friend
(Song: Death was Arrested)
We also sang these words:
What riches of kindness He lavished on us
His blood was the payment, His life was the cost
We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford
Our sins, they are many; His mercy is more
(Song: His Mercy is More)
That, men and women, is why by way of life response, we must Honor Him in What we Do and Say Every Day!
Let’s pray together. Father, we just thank You so much for the incredible truths that Peter is laying out before us. If any have heard my voice and they have not yet chosen to repent and to look to Jesus as their Rescuer, we would pray they would do that right where they are, right now and experience the forgiveness of Christ. And, for those of us who know You, Father, may we remember that it is vital that we choose, as a living sacrifice, to honor Jesus in what we do and say every, every, every day! We pray these things in His name. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
The World’s Looming Appointment
2 Peter 3:7-9
1. Bruce reflected on a time early in his life growing up in the 50s and 60s when there were widespread fears of the world ending due to atomic warfare. Can you remember a time or times in your life when you also found yourself concerned that something could well happen to bring a sudden end to this world? If so, share some about the when, the what, and the why.
2. Peter in chapter 3 is addressing a coming future era when God’s wrath is to be poured out on this world. Bruce shared a definition of God’s wrath. As best as you can recall—how should we describe God’s wrath? Bruce also identified three aspects of God’s wrath in Scripture. List them out and identify a bible passage that describes that aspect.
3. In verse 8 Peter explains that God has a more advanced view of time than we do as humans. If you were speaking with a brand-new believer, how would you explain the differences?
4. Bruce shared the quote, God is never in a hurry, but he’s also never late. How does that idea bring us encouragement and patience in the ups and downs of our everyday life?
5. Why hasn’t God pulled down the curtain on human history as He has promised to do?
Expand on what Peter says in verse 9. What other Bible verses support what Peter is saying in verse 9?
6. Bruce shared some of the story of Charles Spurgeon’s conversion at 15 while listening to a severely underqualified speaker. What does that story tell us about what is most important in communicating the gospel message with others?
7. Review some of the lyrics (below) that we sang on Sunday:
(Death was arrested)
Released from my chains, I’m a prisoner no more
My shame as a ransom He faithfully bore
He canceled my debt and He called me His friend
Take some time in prayer to worship and thank the Living God for loving us so
and for extending the free gift of salvation that we so clearly could never afford