Meditations in 2 Peter : 27: No Judgment?
2 Pet 3:3,4 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this `coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
Have you ever noticed that you can have complete confidence in a whole range of Scriptural truths, but when there is one thing you don’t understand, it nags at you and can spread doubt over everything. Peter has been reiterating the truths about prophecy and Jesus Christ as foundation stones for belief but he is aware that there is a vulnerable area of belief that will allow people to question and subsequently doubt, and that is to do with Jesus’ second coming.
To the unknowing, Peter’s phrase ‘the last days’ might be thought to refer to the days just before Jesus returns again, but actually on the day of Pentecost, inspired by the Spirit, Peter referred to Old Testament prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) which declared, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people,” (Acts 2:17) and clearly meant that it was then being fulfilled. The ‘last days’ are indeed those before Jesus returns but that may be a very long time. References to “the end times”, indeed, does refer to those days immediately before he comes.
The trouble with the return of Jesus is that we don’t know when it will be. When the disciples asked about when he would return and set up his kingdom on earth he replied, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7). We know how he will return because the disciples were told by two angels as they watched Jesus ascend, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) but we still don’t know and won’t know until it happens. Jesus himself warned against imposters: “At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.” (Mt 24:23,24)
Now all that we have said is very important and it becomes an issue of faith. We are told that Jesus WILL return but not when he will return and so every generation has wondered, “Will he come in my time?” When I was a young Christian I remember preachers saying he would be coming soon but forty years later he hasn’t come. The best I can say today is that when I look at the prophetic things spoken of as happening in the end times in the book of Revelation, I can see that they are now easily possible – we do have the means to destroy a third or a quarter of the earth’s population and we do have the means to pollute vast areas of the earth’s oceans. The means are there, but whether it will be in my lifetime or in another two thousand years, only the Lord knows.
At the end of a parable Jesus laid down a simple principle for us: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) That is the crucial issue, not when the Lord will come but what he will find us doing when he comes. We may have to wait and wait but the crucial thing is that we remain faithful throughout however long a period that will turn out to be. That applies over everything we have to wait for, whether it be for the Lord’s return, for healing or for the righting of injustice, will we remain faithful and true however long we have to wait?
Now that waiting will be made hard because of the scoffers around us who say, “He won’t return,” or “He won’t heal,” or “He is powerless to deal with evil.” No, if He’s said it, He will do it. As we said earlier, this thus becomes an issue of faith. Will I believe God or will I believe the scoffers and doubters stirred on by the enemy? And even more, when it comes to a question of waiting for something will I not let that waiting cast doubts on the enormous field of sure beliefs that we do have – the beliefs that were stated in the Old Testament through the prophets, the beliefs that were brought into being when Jesus came, and which have now been passed on by the apostles who witnessed it all. Hold firm!