Be Found in Peace

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:10-14)

There seems to be a sense of anxiety in the coming of an end to events, rather they be good or bad. When I see a good time coming to an end I tend to fret as much as if it is a bad time. There is an uncertainty that follows the end of something. There is a deep seated knowing that the world at some time will come to an end and this causes a great curiosity among many people. From a scriptural point of view there is theological teaching that teaches us what to expect and how the world, as we know it, will come to a final conclusion. This theology is called Eschatology, the teaching of the coming Day of the Lord. Many in times past have predicted and in times forward predict when the end will come. But be assured that no man knows or can know when that hour will arrive as only God knows when His purposes have reached their conclusion. Jesus made this point clear in the Gospel of Matthew. “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

The foremost Apostle, Peter, remembered these words well of His Lord and uses the same comparison as his Master. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” The Apostle Paul also in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica used the same words. “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4)

From these opening words of Peter there are three things that we can take note of. On the Day of the Lord our Lord will come as a thief in the night. He will not come at an expected time and will be a surprise to all. This sudden arrival of the King of kings will be a time of destruction for those who have not placed their faith and trust in Him. They who have rejected the gospel of Jesus will now suffer the full wrath of God. For those who have called upon the name of the Lord and followed Him in faith to serve His Kingdom it will be a day of salvation and deliverance. It would be well for us to be alert to His coming, waiting with plenty oil in our lambs that the light of His truth is shining bright. It would be well for us if we are busy going about the good work of the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns.

Peter goes on to tell us of the destruction that the present world will suffer in the fire of judgment. The heavens too shall pass away with a loud noise. Peter tells us that the elements will be dissolved by fire along with the earth and all the works that are on it. All this will happen on the Day of the Lord. Let us look at the meaning of the Day of the Lord.

In the Old Testament the Day of the Lord was a time in the future when God would vindicate His holy name. God would bring judgment upon the unbelieving and call His people into a new kingdom of righteousness and peace. The picture of this day that Peter draws is from the prophet Joel as he wrote of the Day of the Lord. “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” (Joel 2:30-31)

The Prophet Zephaniah also gave the same picture of the Day of the Lord. “Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. I will bring distress on men So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their blood will be poured out like dust And their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’s wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:14-18) It will be a day of unspeakable fear in the hearts of those who have rejected the salvation of the Lord. And the Prophet Malachi gives us this insight. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:1-2)

To the Jew these were not new words to them as they knew the scriptures of the prophets but for the Greek it must have been alarming and surely gave many much thought. Still this was not news as for eight centuries people knew that the day was coming when the wrath of God would boil over and there would be a fiery destruction of the ungodly and the world that they loved.

When God created the world in Genesis chapter one He called His work very good. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31) It would seem strange to man that God would destroy the world that He created and loved. But when sin entered into man not only man was corrupted but also the world in which He lived. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21) God cannot be in the presence of sin and the time is coming that the Children of God will be sinless through the righteousness of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How then can sinless beings live in a corrupted world without first the curse of sin being removed? Could it be then that the earth is not literally destroyed but that it is purged in a supernatural way from the curse of sin by the God that makes all things new? “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5) Where the flood purged the earth of sinful man the fire of God’s judgment will purify and transform His creation for the righteous Children of God.

So here in Peter’s writing he has laid hold of the promise from the Prophet Isaiah where God says, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness.” (Isaiah 65:17-18) Peter is telling us that the new world is one where the righteous dwell. This is the cause for destroying the old world man’s unrighteousness and those who failed to live in righteousness. Neither the curse of the old world not the unrighteous will be included in the new world.

Let us look at the motivation we should have for righteous living. We should not focus on what we may lose in the age to come but of the great things we will gain. Looking at verses 13 and 14 we read, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” First according to the promise of God we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. Followed by the foundational reason of why we should strive to live a righteous life now in the hope of the assured righteousness that is coming.

How then we as sinners find hope that we can be found now without spot or blemish? The Apostle John gives us a strong measure in which to accomplish righteous living. “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) We must discipline ourselves to walk in the truth of His Word. If we stumble God is faithful to forgive if we confess our sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) If we are walking in fellowship with one another then that is living in peace. The cleansing blood of Jesus is how God can see us without spot or blemish. Both of these conditions peace and spotlessness and fellowship and cleansing depend on walking in the light, as God is the Light. This is the way we are to move forward in our faith and to “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 12, 2017

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