“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:3–7, NASB95)
Watch out. Things will get worse. Before Christ returns there will be those who mock Christ, Christians, and our faith as they chase after what they want for themselves. The believers to whom Peter wrote two thousand years ago were in the last days just as we are today. Nothing has changed in this regard other than time and the growing disregard for truth that we’ve seen surface and resurface time and time again. Knowing this, as Christians, Peter wrote to us to encourage us to endure through it knowing that our hope is real and the wait is worth it.
Man’s perspective is generally based in what he can see, and when what he sees seems not to change and possibly even worsen it is very easy for man to lose hope. So, telling us that people are going to mock us as fools because our hope has not been fully realized deals head on with this perception of man apart from God and prepares us with the fuel that we need to continue the journey. Peter strongly reaffirms that Christ will return and that He will deal with these ambassadors of evil. But he also cautioned us to remain strong because it would likely not happen in a way that we count as soon.
When Jesus was preparing to leave He made it very clear that He would come back for His followers. He also made it clear that there would be a time of judgment. Both are true. As Peter was anticipating his own leaving and looking to those who would make things difficult for Christians, Peter used his last words to encourage believers in the truth that Christ was coming back and He will bring all this stuff to an end. Peter did not tell us how long we are to wait, but He did give us a firm assurance that God’s judgment of evil would come.
In the meantime, they may mock us thinking that they are getting away with it. But God’s Word makes it very clear that they aren’t. They may feel safe taunting Christians saying things such as, “If you’re so certain that Jesus is real, then, where is He?” By the time of Peter’s writing thirty years had passed, and Jesus had not returned. And the naysayers were growing bolder. It’s not hard for us today to imagine their bold taunting because we see the same kinds of taunting today as people jab at His not yet coming as some kind of proof that He won’t. These false teachers and antagonists of Christians pull no punches in their effort to try to demoralize and dissuade Christians, and Peter knew it would only get worse.
Pushing Christ aside, these false prophets boast in their own license and the pursuit of their own pleasures as they ridicule Christians for being faithful. They claim that history has proven their point. After all, look at the prophets and how long they had to wait, and still no King Jesus. “If Jesus was so great, then, where is He?” Having no fear of God, they taunt those who seek after Him as fools for looking to Him for so long only to die one generation after another. Nothing has changed.
Peter described their mocking with these words, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” Then he spoke of the very things that they neglect in making this statement. We read, “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” Standing as creations of God in the creation of God they miss they truth that He created all that they see and that has been seen. They miss the truth that God formed the earth out of water and that He even had judged man in the past for his great evil by a worldwide flood. They look to their own apparent freedom to do as they please, and they totally miss that it is God who created them and even holds everything together now.
They miss His persistent hand in all that has gone before them, and they are blind to the fact that He currently holds it all together even as final judgment draws closer and closer. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16–17, NASB95) It escapes their notice that God creates and sustains, and it definitely escapes their notice that God has also said that He will come to judge and destroy. Peter added, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” This is not something kept for those who believe, because we have a great hope to be brought into a new heaven and a new earth to be with Him forever. But those who reject Him, their end is equally certain and it is not good.
On July 8th, 1741 Jonathan Edwards delivered the historic sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is a classic, and among the many notable quotes that it contains, Jonathan Edwards wrote, “That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.” … “The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.”
Near the end of his sermon he turned his attention to the great opportunity that exists for all who are currently under judgment and who have been granted the opportunity for life. He continued, “And now you have an extraordinary Opportunity, a Day wherein Christ has flung the Door of Mercy wide open, and stands in the Door calling and crying with a loud Voice to poor Sinners; a Day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the Kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the East, West, North and South; many that were very lately in the same miserable Condition that you are in, are in now an happy State, with their Hearts filled with Love to Him that has loved them and washed them for their Sins in his own Blood, and rejoycing in Hope of the Glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a Day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoycing and singing for Joy of Heart, while you have Cause to mourn for Sorrow of Heart, and howl for Vexation of Spirit! How can you rest one Moment in such a Condition? Are not your Souls as precious as the Souls of the People at Suffield, where they are flocking from Day to Day to Christ?”
The call that Jonathan Edwards made in the face of impending judgment is just as relevant today. For those of us who have trusted in Christ we know that we won’t be left behind in that Day, but for those who have not trusted in Him for their salvation and had their sins washed in “his own Blood,” there is still hope because God has delayed. “How can you rest one Moment in such a Condition?” Don’t be swayed by the mockers.
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