Thur, Dec 7: The Lord’s desire – none to perish, all to come to repentance

2 Peter 3:8-14

Our time frame and God’s eternal time frame work in different ways, as God holds out opportunity for people to get right with Him – but when that encounter comes, what will He find us doing?

8-9 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. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  • “…a day is like a thousand years” – Peter appealing to Psalm 90:4 _ to make his point._
  • God’s patience might be an allusion to Noah, Genesis 6
  • God sometimes delays judgment to give opportunity for the wicked to come to repentance, as in the time of wicked kings generally and a particular example, Jereboam II of Israel, 2 Kings 14:23-27.

10 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11-13 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the Day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

  • “Holy…”  a pattern of life that sets one apart as a believer  “…and godly lives…”showing reverence before awesome God.
  • The Day of God is probably synonymous with the Day of the Lord, especially as the events described are similar. The language is apocalyptic (like Daniel, or Revelation); more attempting to put into words the indescribable, than a precise forecast.
  • The point being made is not so much the nature of God’s coming, but the priority of living holy and godly lives, expecting the Lord’s return at any time. What are we found doing?
  • “As you speed its coming.” The rabbis of the time debated whether or not repentance would hasten the end. The New Testament in Peter’s words “Repent then and turn to God… that times of refreshing may come…” Acts 3:19-20 , suggests that it does. We don’t argue from opinion or experience, but church history and church experience bears out that prayerful and sincere repentance by a community does attract God’s favour and even visitation.

14-15 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

  • “Our Lord’s patience” – allowing more time for repentance.
  • “At peace with Him” – “Inwardly calm, with a sense of well-being and confidence…” (Amplified Bible)

Application

Our view of life and our world is temporal, not eternal. There is a time coming when everything of man will receive a fiery purification – the language used is ‘destruction’. While God, in His love, desires our salvation more than anything else, He cannot countenance rebellious or independent attitudes. So the exhortation is to be found “spotless, blameless and at peace with Him”.

So, how do we keep right with God? By careful religious observance? Just over 500 years ago, Martin Luther, a monk and university teacher in Wittenberg, Saxony, who knew a great deal about being correctly religious, was studying the book of Romans and found there, that he had been headed down the wrong road. Righteousness with God did not come by any amount of effort we could make (and he knew all about that) but by faith, especially faith in Jesus. “It is a righteousness that is by faith, from first to last”, Romans 1:16-17 . So to be found right with God, whenever God makes this Day of the Lord judgement and visitation, is by keeping close relationship with Him, steered by the Holy Spirit into what is right and helped to put right, what needs to be put right, when it needs to be put right. The phrase, slightly quaint to our ears, used to be “Keep short accounts with God”. It is hard to put this advice better.

Discussion starters

6. Can it be that simple? Why is it that we feel more comfortable engaged in practices and actions that amount to earning favour with God?

7. Are we, like God, lovingly patient and persistent with those who are not yet in a place to turn to God and confess their need of Him?