Wednesday, 26 February 2020
… looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:12
There is an appointed time when the heavens and the earth will go through their cataclysmic changes. Peter just noted that because of this, believers should conduct their affairs in holiness and godliness. In this, they will be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
First, the term, “day of God,” is unique in Scripture. It is an event usually associated with Jesus – the day of the Lord, for example. However, the term God is used, probably to show that the entire Godhead is uniquely involved in what shall come to pass. This seems evident because of the use of the Greek word Parousia, which signifies actual presence. It is “a technical term with reference to the visit of a king or some other official” (HELPS Word Studies). God’s visitation will be the reason for, and evidenced in, what occurs.
For the believer, the term “looking for” signifies more than just looking around to find something, but looking in eager anticipation. It is a state of expectation that something will come to pass. Believers are to always be eager for the events which have been prophesied. This does not mean that they will be participants in that time of destruction, but that their deliverance will come because the timing of those events has also come. This is seen with the word “hastening.”
The idea here is that what believers do will actually affect the timing of these events. Paul says in Romans 11:25 –
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
There are a set number of Gentiles that will be brought into the redemptive plan of God before the rapture. When that number is met, the current age will come to its close. Obviously, if nobody evangelized anyone for a year, that number would be delayed. If everyone evangelized everyone they knew, and many converts came about each day, the time would be shortened.
A similar thought is found in Acts 3 –
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19
Peter knew that when Israel as a nation repented of their crucifixion of Christ, the nation would finally be granted all of the promises which had been made to it. Thus, if the whole nation did so 2000 years ago, the earthly kingdom would have come at that time.
This means that our actions affect the timing of such events. And yet, God already knows what our actions will be, and so the timing has been set and prophesied in advance. Like free will in man, there is a synergistic working out of the timing of redemptive events. Just because God knows what will happen, it does not negate that we must act in order for it come about. Jesus says as much in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Next, Peter says of this coming “Day of God” which we should look for and hasten, “because of which the heavens will be dissolved.” This returns to the thought of verses 10 and 11 which spoke of this event. At first, it sounds contrary to right thinking that anyone would want the heavens to be dissolved. But if we are to “hasten” that day, then it must be a day with a good purpose.
With that understanding, and before that good purpose is explained, Peter continues with the state of those heavens, which is “being on fire.” One can think of the very oxygen of the atmosphere being ignited. Everything will burn as the fuel is brought into the burning, causing it to continue growing and increasing in fervency. This will be so much the case that “the elements will melt with fervent heat.”
It appears that what man has produced through nuclear science is the very thing God will use to bring about the destruction of the earth. Whether God actively or passively brings about an action, it is still ascribed to God. This is true throughout Scripture. A battle may be won by Israel, but it is said that the Lord brought about the victory. There is no reason to doubt that this will be the case in the end times.
In the next verse, Peter will explain why it is, in fact, appropriate for believers to look for this coming day with expectation, and to even hasten its coming.
Life application: The book of 2 Peter has spent a great deal of time speaking of false prophets and destruction. When analyzing it, it is hard to miss the fact that, unlike Jesus’ earthly ministry, there is another side to His expectations.
Jesus came and spoke a gospel of peace to the world. He preached about love and servanthood, and he demonstrated these attributes personally and faithfully. So why do Peter and other apostles write so much about faithlessness and destruction?
The reason is that Jesus’ ministry was an example to us of how we should live and conduct our lives now – following His lead. Additionally, it was intended to show us our own state of moral depravity – what He did we could never do.
Finally, He gave His life to reconcile us to God the Father. All of this was accomplished for our benefit and to give us a choice – to accept Him and be saved from what we deserve. Peter is merely showing us what to avoid, how to avoid it, and also the consequences for not paying heed to Jesus and His work. The “day of God” is coming, and we need to choose now what we will do about Jesus Christ.
Peter’s words about the coming destruction are not some exaggerated speech intended to scare us into loving God. They are intended to show us the consequences of not loving Him. Peter says we should look forward to and hasten this coming day. No one in his right mind would do this, knowing what it will be like, unless he was already securely protected from that day.
The fact of the matter is that God’s justice demands the destruction of the wicked. This is all of us. None of us meet His standards, but in His great mercy, He judged wickedness in His own Son. If we accept the payment rendered at the cross, then we are free. If not, we will meet our Maker in the vast inferno prepared for that horrifying day.
Lord Jesus, what You endured on the cross clearly demonstrates the guilt we as humans bear and the punishment we deserve. Thank You for giving us life through Your death and hope through Your resurrection. We look forward to the day of Your visitation, knowing that through You we are safe from the wrath to come. What a splendid Lord You are! Amen.