Bible Study from 2 Peter 3:1-9
Expect the Unexpected!

By I Gordon

Introduction

I went to the movies a while back and saw “War of the World’s”. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a pretty epic story of an invasion of Earth from outer space. But as big and as epic as that movie is, it has got nothing on 2nd Peter Chapter 3! 2nd Peter 3 is a bit of a different kind of invasion if you like. It is about the Second Coming of Christ and the certainty of that coming. It is also about the destruction of this earth. It is a pretty full on passage and this study is going to look at verses 1 – 9. You will remember that chapter 1 of 2nd Peter is all about what Is right, what is real and what you should add to your faith. 2nd Peter – Chapter 2 is all about what is wrong and what you should avoid. But when we get to Chapter 3 it takes another little turn as Peter wants to remind us to “Expect the Unexpected” - the certainty of the Lord’s return and the Lord’s judgment at the end of the Age.

2 Peter 3:1-9 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 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.” 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. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

How important is the truth concerning the return of Jesus?

When I first became a Christian, I heard someone say – ‘Major on the majors and minor on the minors’. For a Christian, when you come to the Bible, there are a lot of things that you can focus on and lots of different topics. But we should major on the majors and minor on the minors. We should find out what the Bible majors on and major on them as well. So as I came to this passage I started thinking to myself – is the Lord’s return important? Is it a major or is it a minor? What do you think? It is probably not a major or a minor – it’s a massive, it’s huge. Don’t believe me? Check out some facts in the small print! [1]

Now, if it really is an important doctrine, and the Lord has put His emphasis on it in terms of the number of references that He has put about it in the Bible, then you would expect it to be mocked, you would expect it to be attacked by the enemy. You would expect it to be scorned, and that is what we find in 2nd Peter – chapter 3

Peter the stirrer!

So it just starts off by saying in verse 1 –

‘Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking’

Other versions say that Peter wrote to ‘stir up your pure mind’. So Peter, I guess you could say, is a bit of a stirrer. He wanted to stir them up. He wanted them to really, really know, and not just in their heads – but in their hearts, the certainty of that which he was now going to discuss. And he wanted it stirred up so it was a passion within them. He was writing to stir them up, so that through remembering this important truth, they would have a pure, sincere mind with wholesome thinking. Must be a pretty powerful thought! Now in verse 2 it talks about what he was reminding them and what we should remember. It says

I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

Peter is saying, you should remember what the Prophets have said, remember what the Lord has said, remember what the Apostles in the New Testament have said, and especially concerning the last days and the return of Jesus. If you know anything about Bible prophecy, and the Bible in general, you know that the Bible is 66 books written by 40 different authors, but it is has a consistent and integrated message through all these writers. The message of the Prophets and the message of Jesus, the message of the Apostles is all just one total message. There is no divergence in what they said. That is what makes it so fascinating because it yells out to us that it is of divine origin and inspiration! But not everyone can see this and we know that…

Before the return of the Lord is the return of the mockers!

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.”

It is saying that it is a certainty that mockers and scoffers will come – it’s absolutely certain that they will, but just as certain as they will come, it is even more certain that the Lord will come! And it says that they will be saying ‘where is the promise of His coming, you know it’s been 2,000 years, you guys have been going on about this for a long, long time. Where is His coming, where is this return that you keep talking about’. And they will say ‘everything just carries on – day in, day out, nothing ever changes. Where is this judgment of God that you have spoken about and where is the return of Christ? – rubbish, absolute rubbish.” And in some ways, the Church or Christian cults have given reason to mock because of all the dates, “the sure thing” dates that different people have put out concerning when the Lord is going to return. [2]

The Bible is very clear that you are not going to know the day or the hour, but it is even clearer that He will come… He definitely will come. So we look at verse 3 and it gives us another reason, a more personal reason, why some love to mock and scoff at the suggestion of His return. It says: They will come with their mocking following after their own lusts.

Basically they want to mock because they don’t want to believe. And they don’t want to believe because they don’t want to be accountable to a Holy God. It is like that quote by Ray Comfort which I have made several times – ‘An atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a robber can’t find a policeman – they don’t want to!’ These people mock because they want to follow their own lusts and enjoy their sin. So they would far rather not believe any of this.

Deliberately forgetful!

If you have a look in verse 5 it says:

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.

So the mockers willfully and deliberately choose to forget. I read something by John McArthur and he said that in the Greek it literally means that they ‘shut their eyes to the facts’. They would far rather believe in evolution, that we came from some small organism and it turned into a fish and grew some legs. They would far rather just believe a lie because if they believe that they are not accountable to anybody. So they shut their eyes to the facts. [3] Now, there are a couple of things that they try to forget about. One – that there is actually a God who created all of this. And two, it is actually His Word that upholds the whole earth.

But this earth has been designed with the ability to destroy itself

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.

God created and upholds this earth by His word. But He also created this earth with the ability for it to destroy itself [4] . The first time was through water. The next will be by fire. [5] It says ‘By His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment for the destruction of ungodly men’. Someone has said that the earth didn’t come in with a big bang but it is sure going to go out with one! The world is basically like an egg. Like a runny egg in that there is a thin crust around the outside of it, but it’s all liquid in the center. And we know from all the lava that sometimes spills up from volcanoes that there is fire underneath this thin crust that we walk on. So God is one day going to judge this world by fire. We will just look at this time - the Day of the Lord, in the next study, but I just want to look at Revelation because it just gives us a glimpse of what is going to happen, and it also shows us that those who mock now won’t be mocking then. In Revelation chapter 6 verse 12 it says:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains . They called to the mountains and the rocks, “ Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?

That is a pretty full on passage. It is basically saying that all those who had despised the Lord, had rejected the Lord, had mocked the day of tribulation, suddenly know that when they are in the midst of it that this is the wrath of Him who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb. They know that the great day of His wrath has come – the day that had been prophesied over and over and over, by all the Hebrew prophets, has finally come. It says ‘The stars of the sky fell to the earth’ and we know that stars are basically burning suns, huge balls of fire. We can only imagine what it will be like.

But God, abundant in patience, still waits…

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

You may have heard about the little boy who said to the Lord ‘Is it true that a hundred years is just like a second to you?’ And God said ‘Yes – a hundred years is just like a second.’ And the boy said ‘Is it also true that a hundred thousand dollars is just like a dollar to you?’ And God replied ‘Yes, a hundred thousand is just like a dollar.’ So the boy said ‘Well, can I have one of your dollars?’ The Lord replied ‘Sure, just wait a second’. This is basically what Peter is saying in this verse… these people are saying ‘Look, where is His coming - where is His coming, it’s been 2000 years. He’s not going to come, nothing is going to change, everything just carries on as it did from day one – nothing ever changes!’. But Peter said first of all, God was the One who created this world and He is the One that judged this world and He is the One that will judge it again! If His coming, His judgment delays longer than you think it’s going to be, it’s for a reason. It’s because God doesn’t want people to perish; he really doesn’t! If His return takes longer than people expect it’s because of His kindness, mercy and love. For me personally, I am thankful that the rapture didn’t occur when people thought it might in ’88. I didn’t get saved until 1990! So even though Christians want the rapture and the Lord’s return to occur soon, let’s just remember why God does delay that return. The Lord is patient towards even those who would mock Him, and mock His coming. He is patient towards them, because He doesn’t want any to perish but all to come to repentance. And that should be our heart and motivation as well.

But the end will come…

But the next verse which we will carry on with next time says: 'But the Day of the Lord will come.’ The Day of the Lord will come, His return will come, Judgment will come. The time will come when God will say ENOUGH!!

So Peter wanted us to be reminded of what the Prophets said, what the Lord said and what the Apostles said concerning the return of Jesus. He wanted us to have the hope of the certainty of the Lord’s coming, to expect the unexpected, even if people mock it. It’s an absolute certainty! But until then, we should use our time wisely remembering that God doesn’t want any to perish but for all to come to repentance.



[1]  In the Bible the doctrine of the Lord’s return is hugely, hugely important. So before we even start looking at this passage, I just want to dazzle you with some startling statistics, just about the Lord’s coming just to get things into perspective. Do you have any idea of how many references there are in the Old Testament to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Come on! It’s easy… There are over 1800 references to the Second Coming of Christ in the Old Testament. In the New Testament there are over 350 references. So just to put that into perspective – I read this thing that said there are around 20 verses to do with baptism and even the topic of repentance, which is quite big in the New Testament is only about 70. But when you come to the Second Coming there are over 350 references to the Lord’s return. 23 out of the 27 books in the New Testament specifically talk about the Lord’s return and out of the four that don’t, three of them are just single chapter books – 2 nd John, 3rd John and Philemon . Galatians is the only larger book that doesn’t mention the Second Coming. One other thing that I found is that for every prophecy in the Bible concerning Jesus’ First Coming, how many do you think there are concerning his Second Coming? Yep, that’s right! There are eight. So the whole theme of the return of the Lord, and His coming, is really, really, important. So as well as having some ‘startling statistics’ I have got some ‘quality quotes’ –

There was a man called R. A. Torrey – he was a great Bible teacher and President of Moody Bible Institute after D. L. Moody died. He said “the Second Coming of Christ transformed my whole idea of life, it broke the power of the world and its ambition over me and it filled my life with the most radiant optimism , even under the most discouraging circumstances.” Dr. Torrey was asked - “Is not the Doctrine of Christ personal and near coming one of practical power and helpfulness?” To which he replied – ‘It is transforming the lives of more men and women than almost any doctrine that I know of’. This was quite a radical statement , here was a guy who devoted his life to teaching the Bible in a Bible college. But he said the truth about the Second Coming of Christ was actually transforming the lives of more men and women than almost any doctrine that he knew.

John McArthur said that ‘The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ and our hope in that glorious event is the greatest motivator of our joy, the greatest motivator of our service and the greatest motivator for our holiness- we live in anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ.

So it is not just a doctrine or a theory – it has real practical relevance for our lives.

[2]  As an example, there was a man by the name of William Miller and he said that the Lord was returning October 22nd, 1844. And he had really convinced people! He had looked at some prophecies in Daniel and said ‘On October 22nd 1844, the Lord will return’ and he had thousands of followers and they started leaving their jobs, started selling things to people who they thought possibly were not going to make it. Some of them even dressed up in white robes and were on the roof tops of their houses in America. And October 22nd came and went and it is known in history, especially American history, as the 'Great Disappointment’ because they were just devastated. They really were devastated because they thought that it was the day. Now that is just one example, and you can name a whole lot of different dates that people have said ‘this is the day – this is the day of His coming’. There is a book, which I have mentioned it before, that came out with 88 reasons why the rapture is in 1988. Other dates were common through the 90’s and especially as the year 2000 approached. So in some ways, some have given reason for the scoffers to mock because of all the dates. But make no mistake – He will return!

[3]  Thinking about this verse, I remembered that in the Chinese language, which is over 4,000 years old, there were references to parts of Genesis and creation, and the Chinese language even goes back before the Bible was written. The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses in around 1500 B.C. The Chinese language goes back to about 2000 B.C. The Chinese language is all in symbols - it is not an alphabet like a,b,c,d. And this article was just showing how the different symbols that they have for different things are a testimony to Genesis. To give an example, the symbol for ‘desire or greed’ is made up of a woman and trees, because in the garden of Eden that was where the desire and greed came from. There are a whole lot of examples. The symbol for a boat is made up of a vessel with eight mouths, which if you know anything about Noah’s Ark, you will know that there were eight people in the boat. So they must have had this in their culture. So these are really interesting things. I was reading another article concerning as experiment on DNA and they took 146 different people from five different continents and examined their DNA. This was back 1987, and they established from that they had all proceeded from one woman. They all had a common part in their DNA and they could trace it back to one woman of whom all these people descended. Fascinating! That’s Eve. In 1997 they did a different experiment and they were shocked because they said that the woman, although they don’t want to believe it, lived 6,000 years ago! Which is basically what the Bible says! Of course they would rather believe that it was hundreds and thousands of years ago so they can hold onto their precious evolution. So there are some interesting facts coming out.

[4]  This is a bit of side issue really but in the second half of verse 5 it says: ‘The earth was formed out of water and by water’. When I read that, I thought – what is all that about? The earth was formed out of water and by water??? I didn’t really understand it so I looked it up in Big Blue, which is the name of the ‘Bible Believers Commentary’ we have at home, and it said that there are parts of this that we don’t understand but it pointed back to Genesis 1:1-2, in Genesis 1:1 it says ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and in verse 2 it talks about how the earth was void and formless and there was darkness over the deep. And it says that the Spirit of God was hovering above the waters. It is not until a couple of verses later that God created all of the actual land. We think that when he created the world he created the water and the earth at the same time, but verse 2 shows that it was a watery mass to begin with. It wasn’t until later that He separated the water and created land. When we come to the judgment of the flood in chapter 7:11

‘In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

So we find that the flood wasn’t just caused by masses of water falling from the sky. The great wells of water underneath the crust of the earth also burst forth – these waters of the great deep spoken about in Genesis 1:1-4. So God created this earth with its ability to destroy itself as well.

[5]  I had to take the Sunday school at my church a few weeks ago and we were studying Noah’s Ark and the rainbow. We all coloured in the rainbow and I was explaining to them about the promise that God will not flood the earth again. It’s a great promise but in the back of my mind I was thinking – yeah, but next time it will be by fire!! I did not tell that to the children!