************ Sermon on 2 Peter 3:5-7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 17, 2021
2 Peter 3:1-7
2 Peter 3:5-7
"The Day of the Lord (2)"
The last time we looked at 2 Peter 3 we heard the three arguments of the scoffers against Jesus' Second Coming to judge the living and the dead. Their first argument was sarcasm: as in, how can you be dumb enough to believe in the Second Coming. Their second argument: no Second Coming to judge the living and the dead means they can follow their own evil desires without fear of punishment. Their third argument: the Second Coming won't happen because nothing has changed since the beginning of creation.
Today, we look at Peter's response to the last argument of the scoffers -- namely, that nothing has changed. Peter raises three points from history which shows how wrong the scoffers are: first, what happened because of God's Word at the time of Creation; second, what happened because of God's Word at the time of the Flood; third, what will happen because of God's Word in the future.
I God's Word at the Time of Creation
A The scoffers and mockers say the Second Coming won't happen because "ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation" (2 Pet 3:4). Here is Peter's first response:
2 Peter 3:5 (NIV84) — 5 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.According to Peter, the Creation event proves things do not stay the same, that Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.
Creation was the change of all changes. The earth was formless and empty, a place of darkness. Then God spoke and there was light, the separation of the waters to make land and sky and sea, vegetation, sun and moon and stars, fish and birds, living creatures including man. What a change: from nothing to everything, from emptiness to fullness, from darkness to light.
B Did you notice Peter's mention of water? Look through the Creation account. Lots of mention of water there. I've looked hundreds of times at the Creation account and until I studied what Peter wrote I have always overlooked all the mention of water.
We are told the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep. Do you remember what else we are told? "The Spirit of God was hovering [over what?] over the waters." Telling us what? Telling us God made water in some form before the six days of creation.
The first day God spoke light into being. What happened the second day?
Genesis 1:6–7 (NIV84) — 6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.God separated the water. The water above was the sky. The water below was the world. Now check out the third day:
Genesis 1:9–10 (NIV84) — 9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas."All this water. Water above and water below. Seas and oceans. God formed the earth out of water.
In this light, consider the words of our call to worship this morning from Psalm 24:
Psalm 24:1–2 (NIV84) — 1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon [what?] the seas and established it upon [what?] the waters.The psalmist knew better than me.
C Back to the argument of the scoffers: There won't be a second coming to judge the living and the dead because "everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation" (2 Pet 3:4). How can they forget, how can they overlook, what God did in the beginning? How can they forget, how can they overlook, that by the Word of His mouth God made the first and greatest change in the history of the universe?
II God's Word at the Time of the Flood
A And then there is a second event which proves things do not stay the same, that Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Listen to what Peter writes in verse 6:
2 Peter 3:6 (NIV84) — 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.What waters? The waters mentioned in the Creation account. God formed the earth out of water and at the Flood destroyed it with the same water.
Peter tells us something about the Flood that we don't read in Genesis. Something surprising. By the Word of God everything was destroyed by the Flood -- the same Word by which everything was created in the beginning. By God's Word everything was created and by God's Word everything was destroyed.
God, who created the world, also has the right to destroy the world. Sin is such a dreadful thing that judgment must come upon it and the sinner (Rom 6:23). That is not only the reason for the Flood, but also for the cross. The wrath of God against our sin was laid on Jesus.
B Have things gone on the same since the beginning of creation? Look at the Flood! This has to rank number two in the history of all changes! The scoffers deliberately forget the Flood by which God destroyed the entire wicked world except for eight people. How many people did God destroy? Some theologians argue that millions died. I don't know.
Try and tell Noah that things never change. Try and tell the people of Noah's time that things never change. Have you ever thought of the changes Noah faced? Before the Flood there were thousands if not millions of people; after the Flood there were eight people. Before the Flood the earth was populated with birds, livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals; after the Flood there were just seven of every kind of clean animal and bird and two of every kind of unclean animal. The Flood meant enormous climate change: before the Flood, the floodgates of the heavens were closed; after the Flood, the floodgates were opened. Many understand this to means there was some kind of protective, watery canopy over the earth before the Flood; after the Flood it was gone. One commentator says that's why people before the Flood lived to be nine hundred years old -- the ultraviolet rays of the sun couldn't penetrate the canopy; after the Flood they had difficulty living for a hundred years. The destruction of the Flood did not put the earth out of existence; rather, it changed the old order.
Read the Flood story in Genesis 6 & 7. What did God do by His Word? God broke up the canopy, the floodgates opened, and the water came crashing down onto the earth. God broke up the fountains of the deep: He fractured the earth so that the continents were formed, shifted the plates of the earth, and the water that was inside the earth poured out. When the canopy disappeared and the earth cracked open, nothing was ever the same again. That was climate change.
We are so worried today about manmade climate change. We have stopped using fluorocarbons in refrigerators. We have changed hair spray. Coal and new hydro-electric plants to generate electricity aren't allowed in California. The air board and the water board have been granted enormous powers. The governor wants a future without gas-powered engines. We get credits and grants to go solar and drive electric vehicles. When he was in office, President Obama did a photo-op on the East Coast and predicted within ten years it would all be under water. There is One who is capable of bringing down this planet and it is not you or me. In fact, that is God's promise to Noah -- that we paltry humans cannot bring down the earth, that we cannot kill the planet.
Genesis 8:22 (NIV84) — 22 "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."Who determines how long the earth endures? God does. Not man. God promises to sustain the earth for our use, our good, and His praise. At the same time, we need to be responsible and to care for God's good Creation.
At the time of the Flood, God did what man cannot do. He destroyed the earth with water. Water. Something as simple as water.
So what does the Flood tell us? The Flood is a testimony that God dramatically changes the world so sin is punished. In other words, it shows us Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.
C We should look at other world events from the perspective of the Flood. They tell us the world has not always been the same, that Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.
Think of what happened in 1918. Some pigs in western Kansas contracted a virus from birds. Some young men who worked with the pigs came down with the Spanish Flu. They were conscripted into the army. They entered basic training with forty thousand other men, and their Spanish Flu infected the other men. When it was over, some 675,000 Americans died. All the great medical institutions of our country were founded back then to solve the problem. They weren't able to do so because they didn't know what a virus is and what it does. They didn't know that a virus attaches itself to a living cell and encodes the cell with its own DNA, and then it spreads through the cell system. The Spanish Flu is a testimony that God dramatically changes the world so sin is punished, that Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.
Now, look at the year 2020. Another virus again proves the world is not always the same. This time a virus that escaped a laboratory in China. Unlike 1918, we know what a virus is. Like 1918, we don't know what to do with it. March 15 was the last Sunday we were all together -- today marks our 46th Sunday with COVID. COVID is a testimony that God dramatically changes the world so sin is punished, that Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.
III God's Word in the Future
A God changed the world in the past. God has changed the world in the present. And God will change the world again in the future. The enormous change God did in the past is a blueprint for what He will do in the future. Listen to verse 7:
2 Peter 3:7 (NIV84) — 7 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.Jesus is coming, my brothers and sisters. Jesus is coming for the second time. The world will change again when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead.
Notice the mention of fire. The first time God's Word destroyed the world with water. The rainbow is God's promise that never again will He destroy the earth with water (Gen 9:15). The second time God's Word will destroy the world with fire.
Isn't it surprising there is not a single mention of fire in the Creation account? After all, we live on a thin crust floating on molten lava at a temperature of 8,000̊ - 10,000̊ F. Above us in the heavens are fiery balls: meteors, comets, planets, stars, our sun. Water was the tool of God's Word at the Flood. Fire will be the tool of God's Word when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead.
B God gives us a preview of what this is like in Genesis 19. The wicked cities of the plain -- including Sodom and Gomorrah -- were destroyed when the Lord "rained down burning sulfur." When Abraham looked the next morning "he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace" (Gen 19:28). That's a preview of what is to come. Isaiah warns about this:
Isaiah 66:15–16 (NIV84) — 15 See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD.Or, think of what John the Baptist said about Jesus:
(Cf Dan 7:9-10; Micah 1:6-7; Mal 4:1; 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rev 6-9)
Matthew 3:12 (NIV84) — 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
C Change is coming, dear people. Change is coming when Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead. Consider just the change that will happen in the way men treat the Lord. Do you think Caiaphas will come and condemn Him now? That Judas will come and kiss Him now? That Barabbas will see whether the people prefer him to Christ now? Will blasphemers curse Him to his face now? Will drunkards stagger up to Him now? Will people laugh at the Bible and scoff at the minister? Of course not!
Jesus is coming again, congregation, to judge the living and the dead. Change, massive change, is coming. Scoffers may scoff. Mockers may mock. But we know better, don't we?
What happens if you are one of the scoffers and mockers? Revelation 6 says it best:
Revelation 6:16–17 (NIV84) — 16 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! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"
You don't want to be one of those scoffers and mockers at the time of the second coming whose end is in the fire. So, I plead with you, repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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