2 Peter #10 2 Peter 3:1-7 (MSG) Encouragement in the End Times


2 Peter #10  2 Peter 3:1-7 (MSG) Encouragement in the End Times


As we begin the 3rd chapter of 2nd Peter he turns his attention away from the false teachers and back to encouraging the congregation.  Peter reiterates the importance of staying with the basics. We are going to deal with the idea of the last days, with its false teachers and scoffers. We’re going to figure out what the watery chaos is and what Peter wants us to understand from the story of the Flood.


2 Peter 3:1-7 (MSG)


1 My dear friends, this is now the second time I've written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention. 2 Keep in mind what the holy prophets said, and the command of our Master and Savior that was passed on by your apostles. 3 First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, 4 they'll mock, "So what's happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything's going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing's changed." 5 They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God's word. 6 Then God's word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. 7 The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics.


Repetition and practice of the basics safeguard you from going astray. I have always been very inquisitive, looking for answers, trying to figure things out, harmonizing trying to make sense of things, especially spiritual things.  I’m the guy who asks why.  As a result, I’ve been down many a rabbit hole that turned out to be just a futile exploration of dead ends. I’m down in one right now on a topic called open theism.   What keeps a person balanced in their thinking is going back to the basics, and you can’t go back to the basics without practicing the basics.


The most basic basic is to be reconciled to God. We end our estrangement from the Creator when we sincerely bend our knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We make Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience as revealed to us through our encounters with God authoritative.  Which means we are determined to obey God’s commands.  We stay loyal to the One we pledged our allegiance to, and thus we maintain and deepen a right relationship with God.


The next basic is to live a life of love.  Love.  Deal with others and with yourself with love. You love others by being concerned with their welfare and treating them as you would like to be treated.  You love yourself by partnering with the Holy Spirit to bring about the transformations that make your thoughts and behaviors increasingly like Jesus. This transformation progressively sets you free from worldly corruption and empowers you to live your life to the full. Love enables you to be a wise steward of all the material provisions God has entrusted you with. God-inspired and empowered loving behavior keeps you on the path of truth.


Certain various things matter in the belief department.  Peter is arguing for the second coming of Jesus and a day of accountability.  The incarnation is a theological necessity. Belief in the resurrection is another basic. Much beyond that is all doctrine which is just different folk’s ideas on how to think and act like a Christ follower. Layer it all with faith that moves you to be Christ’s ambassador and you live an exemplary life.  Belief manifests in behavior.  


Undistracted attention to the basics keeps you walking in the ways of Christ.  It is important to guard your mind.  Just like what you feed your body affects your health, what you feed your mind affects your faith. Here’s an example: It is better to read scripture than watch the news. The easiest way to control people is to create fear through crisis.  The easiest way to distract people is through entertainment. Guard your mind folks, stay clear of cultural distractions, the stuff that keeps you from practicing the basics. Try this little experiment, cut yourself off from the news, the talk shows, and the stuff on youtube and Facebook for one week, instead read and mindfully consider the Psalms and Proverbs.  Well, not so much youtube if you’re checking out HBCC Life. You’re going to find that you are much more positive about life and that you are not as stressed as when you started the experiment. Feed your mind with the basics, feed your mind with how to become the person you want to be.  The Apostle Paul gives us this advice: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”  Keep the basics of the faith in your mind and those basics will become your behaviors.


Having reminded us to become experts in the basics Peter begins addressing the end times.  One of the problems, when we enter into a discussion of the end times, is that we tend to assume that the end times are some future event in which we are either in the midst of right now or about to enter.  This tendency is full of apocalyptic imagery.  God's wrath is going to be poured out on the sinners. If God’s wrath is going to be poured out, what happened upon the cross on which our Savior died?  In light of the New Testament, I just can’t accept the image of an angry God smiting the world and everyone in it for their rebellion and sin.  Jesus took that upon himself. Don’t misunderstand, there will be a judgment, each one judged according to the things they did in life, but it's not some anger inferno. Here’s a rabbit hole speculation: God’s wrath is letting you go your way apart from Him.  The results of going your way are your responsibility.   I inwardly cringe whenever I hear that old Sinatra song “I Did It My Way,” because the scripture reveals if you don’t do life Jesus' way it’s like being cast out into outer darkness, it’s like being thrown alive in a volcano, it’s like an eternity of torture. That’s the best the writers of scripture could come up with when they tried to communicate what eternity is like without a right relationship with God.


Peter believed he was in the last days, and friends, he was. Acts 2:17 and Hebrews 1:2, inform us that the "last days" or "end times" began with Jesus.  The “end times” last until the second coming of Christ.  God's incarnation as Jesus is the inauguration of the Kingdom, the beginning of the last days.  We live in the last days right now. During these end times, we await the consummation of the Kingdom, which will occur with Jesus’ return.


There are plenty of preachers and teachers that see the latest headline as the signs of the times.  The crazy weather, earthquakes, plagues, wars, famine, technology, and Jesus said “Watch out for doomsday deceivers” (Mark 13:5 (MSG). There is a lot of hype about the coming of Christ followed by a lot of disappointment.  It’s another open door for the scoffers and the mockers.  "So what's happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything's going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing's changed." The promise of God’s intervention to right all the wrongs was long in coming. The scoffers argued, that the reason for the long delay was that it was not going to ever happen. Everything just goes on as it always has.


Peter cites the watery chaos from which the universe is created Such an idea makes no sense today, but remember the Bible is not a book of science, it’s a book revealing God’s desire for humanity. Genesis used the best science of the day to explain creation.  If you draw a picture of the earth according to Genesis you get a picture like this:




The spirit hovered over the waters and from the chaos brought order, separating the waters and creating dry land. The firmament is the sky, including the sun and moon and stars and the land. Under the land is the place of the dead called Sheol.  Above and below the firmament is water. This of course is what a pre-technological society understood how their world was organized.


Peter says wait a minute; things haven’t always been the way they are now. He calls the scoffers to consider the flood. That reference tells me at the time many people recognized that there was a flood. Today we can find experts that say no such thing happened and experts whose research convinces them that there was a worldwide flood. In Peter’s day, it must have been taken for granted that such a cataclysm happened.   Peter used it as an example that the world doesn’t always behave as it normally doesn’t. 


The historicity of the flood is not as important as the theology of the Flood. The destruction and restart of humanity that occurs within the flood is an example of God’s seriousness when it comes to morality. 

Gen 6:5-7 & 11-12 (MSG)

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, "I'll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep…As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. 12 God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core.


What Peter is telling us is that God takes our behaviors seriously.  Evil was destroyed in the flood.   It will be destroyed again.  Remember that rabbit hole speculation concerning God’s wrath, let’s add to it.  God created a universe with physical laws and with moral laws.  The moral laws of God set a boundary, like a city limit.  Within the city limits the promises of God are found.  When we live within the moral law boundaries we live our lives to the full.  But if we choose to live in the wilderness we are going to be devoured.  Within the boundaries, we are safe, outside the boundaries we are in peril. Our choices determine where we live, within the good graces of God or outside of His loving kindness. Outside destiny is like being thrown alive in a lake of fire.


Peter tells us that there is another judgment coming, this one a judgment by fire. There are numerous Old Testament writing that foretells that the end comes through fire. For instance, Joel prophesied a future moment when God would reveal signs like blood, fire, and pillars of smoke (Joel 2:30). The Psalmist painted a scene where God's arrival would be heralded by a consuming fire (Psalm 50:3). Isaiah referred to a devouring fire in his prophecies (Isaiah 29:6; 30:30), depicting the Lord's arrival with fire and a sword to judge all living beings (Isaiah 66:15-16). Nahum vividly described mountains melting and the earth burning in God's presence, as His wrath poured out like fire (Nahum 1:5-6). Similarly, Malachi depicted the day of the Lord as burning like a furnace (Malachi 4:1).


These prophecies are part of a type of writing called apocalyptic. With a type of literature, there are always things you expect.  A fairy tale begins, Once Upon A Time, a historical narrative begins, On this day in Aug 27, 2023, a mystery “It was a dark and stormy night.  Then there are certain things you expect in what you are reading. There are always symbols and imagery, catastrophes of a cosmic order, good verse evil, and hope and redemption for the faithful in apocalyptic literature.

With apocalyptic imagery, fire is seldom to be understood literally, it is more commonly understood to mean purification


Peter doesn’t focus on the end of the world though instead he encourages the faithful that God is ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics. After the skeptics, mockers, and scoffers have their heyday, they are purged. We can see this judgment coming, it manifests in a person’s life.  We can see it coming in our culture.


Take heart after the purge, the will be a new heaven and a new earth. Just like after the flood.  Again the imagery informs us that the wrongs will be made right, justice and love will prevail and it’s all going to be good.  We win because Jesus has already secured the victory.


From this teaching today be encouraged to become an expert in the basics.  Becoming an expert in the basics will keep you on the path of truth.



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