I found myself at an interesting juncture, reading 2 Peter 3 while watching 50,000 gathered for prayer marches and solemn assemblies of repentance at our nation’s capital last weekend. It’s good for us to humble ourselves and pray, not just for our nation, but for ourselves. Because, for all of us, there will come a day of reckoning.
This is Peter’s point in chapter three of his second epistle. And his words are very timely to our day, even if it’s not THE Day. But before we continue, let me say this. You may not agree with my interpretation, and that’s fine. What I do ask is that you don’t just bring what you’ve been taught into this reading. Look at it with fresh eyes, letting Holy Spirit speak to you and teach you what you need to know right now. With that in mind, we’ll start in verse 3….
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days mockers will multiply, chasing after their evil desires. 4 They will say, “So what about this promise of his coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, yet everything is still the same as it was since from the beginning of time until now.” (2 Pet.3:3-4 TPT*)
I’ve had these very conversations! Mockers indeed multiply, especially in the Internet age where every crazy notion is just one click away. This is why having a vibrant relationship with the Lord is better than being religious (see my last post).
Next, Peter makes this point:
5 But they conveniently overlook that from the beginning, the heavens and earth were created by God’s word. He spoke and the dry ground separated from the waters. (2 Pet.3:5 TPT*)
Mockers continually try to “overlook” that our cosmos came from something, and that it could not begin itself, or even sustain itself (which would be like saying plugging a power strip into itself will give it power), so they come up with incoherent explanations in order to stay spiritually asleep in some intentional state of myopic self-indulgence.
Peter goes on to explain something we may not fully understand, especially if we take the Bible with wooden literalism:
8 So, dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape your notice: a single day counts like a thousand years to the Lord Yahweh, and a thousand years counts as one day. (2 Pet.3:8 TPT*)
Peter is saying our perspective isn’t the Lord’s perspective. For instance, what He calls a “day” is not necessarily a 24-hour period. This explanation may be an interpretative key to the rest of the chapter, but the clearer and more important point is why the delay.
9 This means that, contrary to man’s perspective, the Lord is not late with his promise to return, as some measure lateness. But rather, his “delay” simply reveals his loving patience toward you, because he does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance. (2 Pet.3:9 TPT*)
Two things are clear here. First, God’s delay reveals His heart toward us. His desire is that ALL people be saved. Of course, this implies that all won’t. Second, He’s waiting for us to respond to Him. This means we have free will as human beings to either accept or reject His overture. And this is because love, to be love, requires free will.
This next section is more cryptic, but important for us in order to keep our heart’s properly calibrated toward heaven. Peter is referring to the Day of Reckoning.
10 The day of the Lord will come and take everyone by surprise—as unexpected as a home invasion. The atmosphere will be set on fire and vanish with a horrific roar, and the heavenly bodies will melt away as in a tremendous blaze. The earth and every activity of man will be laid bare. 11 Since all these things are on the verge of being dismantled, don’t you see how vital it is to live a holy life? (2 Pet.3:10-11 TPT*)
First, we see that Peter is referring to Day of the Lord. This always refers to a day of God’s judgment in Scripture. What’s not clear here is what’s actually happening to the physical earth. Like with verse 8, it may be metaphoric language, because the atmosphere being set on fire, melting, and vanishing is tied to “every activity of man being laid bare.” It’s also referring to a complete “dismantling,” which seems to speak of the total demise of the world system in alienation from God and His kingdom.
What is clear is that this “world,” as we know it, will not continue forever. And regardless, if this earth ends, or you and I end, we all will one day stand before our creator and give account for the life given to us.
And the only righteousness that will count is Jesus’ righteousness—the One who holds the cosmos together (Col.1:16-17), and who gave Himself so that we could be with Him forever (see also Rev.5:1-14).
The only question we’ll have to answer is, did we accept God’s invitation into Jesus’ life? Secondary to that, did we learn how to be loved by Him and give His love away to others? (John 15:9-12). Nothing else will matter on that Day, and everything contrary to love will be dismantled.
13 But as we wait, we trust in God’s royal proclamation to be fulfilled. There are coming heavens new in quality, and an earth new in quality, where righteousness will be fully at home. (2 Pet.3:13 TPT*)
Peter is saying here that everything in heaven and earth will one day be recalibrated to God’s other-centered, self-giving love (1 Cor.13:10-13). There will be no more need for marches or calls for repentance. No more corruption of evil of any kind, only Christ’s reign of love and goodness and peace will remain.
14 So, my beloved friends, with all that you have to look forward to, may you be eager to be found living pure lives when you come into his presence, without blemish and filled with peace. 15 And keep in mind that our Lord’s extraordinary patience simply means more opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him. (2 Pet. 3:14-15 TPT*)
Peter concludes that our wait is not in vain because it means more opportunity for people to accept God’s invitation into His life! And knowing how bright our future is should motivate us to keep our hearts open and pure before the Lord, working out our great salvation in cooperation with Holy Spirit in reverential awe and wonder (Phil.2:12), keeping our heart and mind fixed on what ultimately matters.