Tuesday, 18 February 2020
… and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4
Peter is referring to the “scoffers” of the previous verse. These are people who walk “according to their own lusts.” Of them, he notes that they are the type who are saying, “Where is the promise of His coming.” This question implies a non-believer in the truest sense. The words speak of the return of Jesus Christ as is promised. However, instead of saying, “the Lord,” He is referred to in a general sense, as if a denial of His Lordship.
Secondly, it is a denial of His promised return. It doesn’t matter if it is 2 months or 2000 years. The Lord has promised He would return and, therefore, they are making a mockery of His return. Depending on the context of the question, it could even include a denial of the resurrection of Christ. This is because all of Christian theology is centered on the truth of a literal, bodily resurrection. Only in the resurrection are the creeds and rites of the faith of any merit. To say that “Jesus is Lord” is to say that Jesus resurrected, because nobody would follow a dead Lord.
Further, in taking the Lord’s Supper, the very purpose of the rite is described by Paul in his words, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Proclaiming the Lord’s death is an acknowledgment that He died for sin, but the proclamation is tied up in His resurrection which proves that He overcame death. One cannot “come” unless He is alive to do so. Therefore, to mock the return of Christ is to implicitly mock everything that encompasses the Person and work of Christ. As God cannot lie, and as Jesus has promised to return, then if He isn’t coming again, then He must not be God.
In this then will come a denial of the very thing that man attempts to get away from – judgment. If the resurrection of Jesus isn’t true, then the return of Jesus isn’t true. If these things are untrue, then Jesus isn’t God. And if Jesus isn’t God, then Jesus is not going to judge the world as the Bible proclaims. If this is so, then the words of the Bible concerning judgment are not true. And if those things are not true, then man is free to act in any unholy and perverse manner he wishes. One thing leads to the next, and in the end, it is all brought forth as a perverse way of man being able to do what he wants without the fear of being held accountable for his actions looming over him.
Peter then continues citing the words of such mockers by saying, “For since the fathers fell asleep.” The meaning of the words, “the fathers,” is debated. Some say it refers to the patriarchs of Israel, some say those who were of faith even from the earliest humans who anticipated a Messiah, others say it refers to early Christians, and so on.
As Peter is speaking, and because his words deal with the Christian faith, this is then certainly dealing with the return of Christ (His coming, which implies He has left and promised to return). Because of this, “the fathers” are speaking of something long in the future from Peter’s time, and it is a note that Christ’s return – even if delayed by an extremely long period – will come about. But as that time continues to get longer, the scoffers will use the extended gap as a tool to claim that the words concerning Jesus are untrue. Thus, “the fathers” are those at the beginning of the faith, meaning the apostles and early believers.
The words, “fell asleep” are then used in a mocking sense. The very word “cemetery” comes from the Greek koiman which means “put to sleep.” Thus, the word koimeterion means “sleeping place.” To sleep implies that one will wake up. It is the hope of those who trust in Christ. As He arose, so will believers. But in their scoffing, they are mocking this. “The fathers ‘fell asleep,’ and they ain’t waking up again!”
This is why Peter then continues citing them with, “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” This is a general statement which probably covers many thoughts in one.
* People die and stay dead.
* The sun rises, and it sets. Time goes from day to day without change. The words of the prophets speak of cataclysms and end-times judgments, and yet the world continues on.
* Jesus supposedly rose and said He will return, but Jesus keeps on not returning.
* Judgment is supposedly to fall on the wicked, but people who do wicked things are the only ones who really prosper and get ahead in life.
All of this has gone on since “the beginning of creation,” and yet nothing of the message of God in Messiah comes about as was spoken of by men who died and returned to the dust of the earth thousands of years ago.
But the very words spoken by these lugheads shows a fault in their thinking. If there is a “creation,” there must logically be a “Creator.” Peter will speak about this next as he continues.
Life application: Peter’s words speak of one of the most common sentiments among those who would undermine the teaching of a literal return of Christ… “Where is the promise of His coming?” This isn’t reserved only for atheists or adherents to other religions, but it is, rather, a common method of dismissing the truth of the Bible among supposed “Christian” theologians as well.
The book of Revelation says several times, “Behold, I am coming quickly…” The argument is that this was written 2000 years ago and yet Jesus still hasn’t come. The “fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning…” However, the term “quickly” (also translated “soon” in some Bibles) is not speaking of when Jesus is coming, but rather the speed at which He comes. In other words, “rapidly.”
When Jesus returns, it will be in a moment; in a flash. The heavens will open, and the victorious Lord will return in full view of the peoples of the world. Likewise, before this awesome day there will be a secret return, specifically for those who have trusted in His promises. This moment is known as the rapture and will be sudden and final. As it says in the book of 1 Thessalonians –
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17
It is no less reasonable to believe in the rapture of the church than it is to believe that God truly united with human flesh in the Person of Jesus, that He died on a cross, and that He was resurrected to eternal life. If such things are true, then the doctrine of the rapture is no less difficult to believe and accept. The promise of Jesus’ return will be fulfilled literally. This is as sure as the ground under your feet. Don’t become disheartened by those who would attempt to undermine the truth of this event!
Glorious Lord Jesus! Nothing will ever sway our faith and hope in the promise of Your return. We look for, and wait upon, that Day with great anticipation. Our hope is in that glorious moment when we will be taken to Your presence… there to rejoice in Your glory forever. May it be soon! Amen.