Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 29 2013 - 2 Peter 3:1-18 – The day of the Lord

We are entering the period of Advent, the run up to Christmas in which we focus our minds on the coming of the Lord. During the 400 years between the Testaments, godly Jews must have wondered when the promised Messiah would come; others would have mocked their hope with the scoffing accusation, "Where is this 'coming' he promised?" But, when the time had fully come, God sent the Saviour into the world to the accompaniment of angels and the joy of those like Simeon and Anna who longed for his appearing.

The Saviour who came to earth in Bethlehem has long returned to heaven. But he has promised that the day will come when he will return in power and in glory and that every knee shall bow to him. Before one hundred years had passed there were scoffers who said, "Where is this 'coming' he promised?" (2 Peter 3:4). How much more does the promise of Jesus' return seem simply ridiculous to many today.

Nor is that mockery reduced by misguided attempts by Christians to predict the time when Jesus will come again. I have a fourth edition of John Wesley's Notes on the New Testament, printed in Bristol in 1768 – when John Wesley was 65 years old. At the very end of the book, appended to his notes on the book of Revelation, is an outline of world history. It concludes with the beast ascending from the bottomless pit in 1832 and the destruction of the beast and imprisonment of Satan in 1836, ushering in the Millennium.

Today it is all too clear that John Wesley was unwise to place such dates against future events. Indeed, someone reading this final page of his Notes might conclude that the whole book is unreliable – if he got this wrong, why trust him on anything else?

Jesus told us that no-one knows the timing of his return and Peter here reminds us that God’s time-scales are different from ours. Notwithstanding all the bad press, we can be sure that the day will come when Jesus will return, to the delight of those who have longed for his appearing and the dismay of those who have mocked the promise of his coming. Peter encourages us to go on trusting in the promises of God and to look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And there’s a reason for the 'delay' in his return. Peter tells us that, "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" (3:9). This is not an age of inactivity; not a time during which God is leaving the world to its own devices. Now is the age of salvation, the time during which God is at work by his Spirit to bring people into his kingdom that they also might look forward to Christ's return (see 3:15). Nor is it to be marked by inactivity on our part: "You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (3:11b-12a). We are not only to look forward to the coming of Christ; we are to 'speed' his coming by being active in the work of the kingdom and seeking to draw others to Christ.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the season of Advent. We look forward to the day of your coming and to the transformation of all things at your appearing – “to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” We look forward to the day the whole of creation will share in the glory of your resurrection life. Help us to prepare the way for your coming – to speed your coming by praying and working towards the day when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Peter Misselbrook