Meditations in 2 Peter : 28: Deliberately Forgetting
2 Pet 3:5-7 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Because we are going verse by verse, we perhaps need to remind ourselves who the “they” are who are referred to here by Peter. They are “scoffers” who are “following their own evil desires” (v.3). In other words he is referring to a group of people who are sceptics but they are sceptics not because they have intellectual difficulties with the Gospel but simply it is inconvenient to believe it because it runs counter to their self-centred lives based upon desire. They do what they want because they are godless and they are godless because they want to do what they want! We should remember that because often that is how it is with people. I once discussed the Gospel for five hours with someone and at the end they said, “I agree with all you have said. Intellectually I understand it and agree with it, but I like the life of sinning that I’m living and that’s it,” and they got up and left. Often people will choose not to believe because it is inconvenient and goes against their self-centred desires.
Now we say all this because Peter now says “they deliberately forgot”. The truth is that there is a tremendous volume of evidence for the existence of God, the coming of Jesus and for the outworking of the Gospel, but for some people it is purely inconvenient; they really don’t want to believe it because they know that if they do then there will have to be changes in their lives and they don’t want to do that. Self prevails over intellect!
It is probable that these people are Jews that Peter is referring to and as such will have been taught from childhood the basics of Jewish belief in what we call the Old Testament. They would have known the Genesis account of the Creation, when God spoke words and the world came into being. They are choosing to forget that He is first and foremost the all-powerful Creator of all things. But they would also have been taught about the Flood and so they choose to forget that God is able to intervene in His world as and when He wants. But there was something else about that: there had been plenty of time of warning of the coming flood but most people chose to deride Noah when he started building the ark and when time passed and no rain appeared they mocked him. That is also there in the background which Peter is later going to refer to.
But after the Flood the Lord determined never to flood the world again, but the Old Testament prophetic teaching said that there would come a time of final judgment when the existing world would be burnt up and the unrighteous destroyed. All of that teaching they would have heard, but now they chose to forget it, because it was more convenient to do so. Forgetting all these things, they become scoffers who mock the thought of Jesus returning because years have passed and it hadn’t yet happened.
But the point of Peter’s three illustrations is that time does pass when God’s will is involved. From outside of time, God came and created the world of time. We don’t know whether it was a literal six days or six periods. It was possibly a long time. Then a long time passed and God needed to intervene in the affairs of the earth and so warned of a flood. Time passed before that eventually happened – and yes, there were scoffers in that time mocking the thought of a flood – but it came. But then God gave us a second chance through Noah but along the way warned that for those who ignored Him and turned to their own sinful, godless, unrighteous ways, they would eventually come a time of destruction. So that end time hasn’t happened yet and time has passed. So what?
Peter is going on to make a point about God and time but for the moment, can we reiterate the point we made in the previous mediation? If we have to wait for the Lord’s word to be fulfilled, and it seems we have to wait for a long time, and we’re still waiting, can we remain faithful and true in that time of waiting? Will the Lord find us still faithful and true when he comes? That is the big issue that surrounds all of these thoughts about him coming back and about people around us being skeptical. Can we stand against the skepticism that so often surrounds us in the world, skepticism that comes through the press, through books that atheist crusaders write, through the publicity that TV gives them? Their words are hot air that will evaporate with time. God’s word is true and will endure. Amen? Amen!