2021 – The Others
2 Peter 5
The Hope Challenge
Let’s begin with a quote…
We are eschatological creatures. To flourish we need a horizon, a goal, a telos, a destination, if not a destiny. Lacking this, we wander, life seems pointless, random and meaningless. And this is one of the key reasons we struggle in the modern world. Without God, we lack a metaphysical structure that can sustain hope in any durable way. In the modern world, the arch of the universe doesn't bend toward anything except randomness… and death. --Richard Beck
Let’s break this down…
We as humans, need to believe there is something more than just this life. We need to believe something happens after this life! We have this intuition, in us, that the world is going someplace. That there is an eschatological end to all this; that the last things will resolve our lives. In the end there will be justice. There will be love. Without God, without some judgment at the end, life becomes… mostly meaningless. Without hope, without hope, we just, sort of, meander around until we die. Without hope… it’s all over, but the crying.
But, but, but… I have good news this morning. Want to hear some good news? I need some good news. We do have hope! We do have a goal for our lives. We do have a destination for our destiny! The arch of the universe bends toward a righteous God who will make all things right! The arch of our lives bends toward being the people of God!
Interestingly, the same problem we face in our “modern” world, Peter faced in the “ancient” world. People, today, question the eschatological ending of this age. There were people in Peter’s world who questioned hope!
This morning, as we continue in 2 Peter, we see how Peter answers the Hope Challenge. Peter’s answer will also be our answer.
2 Peter 3:1-4 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They (the scoffing scoffers) will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation."
The scoffers of Peter’s day scoffed… “Jesus is not going to return. Jesus came and went. We will not hear from him again. People die just the same as they always have died. From the beginning through the ages people are born. People live. People die. There is nothing to this promise of the Parousia; Jesus coming again? Don’t be ridiculous!”
Perhaps, the scoffers are pointing to the death of Peter as their evidence. Remember, we have already learned, Peter began this letter and then was killed by Nero. An unknown disciple picked up the letter and finished it. “Our fathers,” the scoffers were taunting, “like Peter are dead. Jesus did not return to save him. If Jesus let’s Peter die… he is breaking his promise. Paul is also dead. James, Jesus’s own brother, is dead. Those who were close to Jesus are all mostly dead!”
Maybe these scoffers even quoted Jesus…
Matthew 16:28 "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
If the scoffers in the first century were saying this… how much more would the scoffers of the twenty-first century say this. “Jesus’ return? Poppy-cock… people have lived and died for 21 centuries and this return, your Parousia, never happened! Your hope is… poppy-cock!”
We, along with Peter, face a challenge to our hope. “By way of reminder”, Peter offers… four answers to the hope challenge…
Answer #1: Remember the flood
2 Peter 3:5-7 For they (the scoffers) deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Last week, in our Naturalist service, we observed… “Raah” that all of creation was formed from the chaos. God hovered over the surface of the void and spoke creation into existence. It was… tob! His word spoke creation into existence… long, long, long ago. Time, time, time passed… many ages between God speaking the waters into order until the days of Noah when the water created disorder again.
The point… Just as God spoke the world into existence out of chaos; just like God spoke the Noah’s world into chaos… there will be a judgment on this world again. There is a pattern here. God speaks and things happen. Creation… and then judgment!
God will, once again, speak creation and then judgment. Just like the flood. Don’t count on God forgetting His day of righteousness! This age will end with another cataclysm, described as fire, being kept for the judgment of the ungodly
Peter is just warming up (pun intended). Answer #1 Don’t forget the flood. Here is answer #2…
Answer #2: Time to repent
2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
The second answer begins with an observation about God being an infinity being. God, who is infinity, is not in a hurry like we are. The scoffers were pointing to God being late. But Infinity cannot be late. The gnat, whose life expectancy is measured in hours, cannot comprehend days, or years! So, we, whose life expectancy is measured in years, cannot comprehend a millennium, or an age. Don’t put your urgency on God.
But the reverse is also true… a day lasts for a thousand years. The intensity of concentration for God means he can focus on a single moment for a millennium. Mind blown! Don’t plug your digital clocks into God’s timetable. Good answer!
But then, Peter tells us why. God is patient with us. God wants all humanity to have the opportunity to repent. God is giving us, humans, the opportunity to accomplish his will! God wants all to change. Wants us to change the world… before the end of the age. God is not slow. God is love!
Answer #2 – God is not slow… infinite beings can’t be slow. Instead… he is giving us every opportunity to repent!
Peter gets back to the heat in answer #3… Heat it up for us, Peter…
Answer #3: Like a Thief
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
The end, the day of the Lord, the Parousia, will break in like a burglar!
Matthew 24:43-44 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.
The Parousia, His return, is going to be unexpectedly. It cannot be calculated. The thief is watching your house. The burglar monitors when you go to bed andwhen you get up. The intruder checks the security cameras… there are hidden spots. The invader could come tonight… tomorrow or next week. Certainly, the burglar is not going to be predictable.
The Coming will be a spectacular affair. Just like in the morning, after the burglar has come and gone… You wake up to a startling change… our stuff is gone! Someone was here. Someone revealed all our stuff!
The second half of verse 10 is spectacular! Using the apocalyptic language of the prophets Peter says everything will be exposed to judgment!
YLT Malachi 4:1 For, lo, the day hath come, burning as a furnace, and all the proud, and every wicked doer, have been stubble, and burnt them hath the day that came, said Jehovah of Hosts.
YLT Isaiah 34:4 And consumed have been all the host of the heavens!
Just like water ended the age of Noah and brought judgment… The image of fire will bring exposed judgment! Judgment comes across the universe like fire!
After turning up the heat in answer #3, Peter gives us hope in answer #4… This is the part of the sermon I need…
Answer #4 We hasten the Coming!
2 Peter 3:11-13 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
By the way we live our lives we can hasten the Parousia. Our being, who we are called to be; our being set apart; for god-likeness hastens the coming of the Day! Well, that’s interesting. When we live in our purpose of being like God, we bring closer the Parousia.
Wow, let’s get on with the mission because we are anxious for the new heavens and the new earth! We expect to live in the next age on the new earth! We will live where all things have been made right. That is the promise! That is the expectation! That is the hope! A new heaven with a new earth!
NRS Revelation 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new."
We live in hope! When the scoffers scoff calling our hope poppy-cock… we remind ourselves… One day, on that Day, on that Day of the Lord… a fire will sweep over everything and reset it all to a new earth where God will dwell with his people!
So, we wait… in hope!
September 26, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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