I Peter 3:8-14

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Theme and parts:

“The Day of the Lord is Coming”

I. The Lord Keeps His Promises (8-10)

II. The Lord will Usher in the New Heavens and New Earth (11-14)

            Dear fellow redeemed, waiting for the new heavens and new earth,

            I follow a particular Portage community social media page as one way to stay up to date on what’s happening in our town. Last week, I read a post where people were talking about the bad things happening in our world and how that affects the residents of Portage. One resident commented that Portage “needs Jesus.” Another resident then replied “Folks been waiting for centuries now… I don’t think he’s going to show up” followed by an indicator of sarcasm. This woman, one of our neighbors, is a modern day scoffer like Peter wrote about in his second Epistle. Do not let such people lead you astray, because, unless they repent, this woman and all who think like her are headed for an eternally dreadful surprise when Jesus returns. The Day of the Lord is coming.

            II Peter chapter 3 is the final chapter in this book. In it, Peter urged his readers to “remember” the commands and promises of God given through the Prophets and Apostles, and he warned them that “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” These scoffers will mock the return of Jesus saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?… all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” Are we in the last days? Yes. Do we see scoffers mocking the return of Christ? We see them in our very own community.

            However, this sin isn’t just “out there” in our community. You see, we have a “little scoffer” inside of us. It’s our sinful nature. The Devil tempts us to listen to that little scoffer by bombarding us with the mockery of the world and playing on our own weaknesses. Has the mockery of the world ever shamed you? Have you ever doubted by thinking, “it’s been two thousand years and nothing has happened”? Or, on the other hand, have you ever questioned God because you don’t like His timing for the end of the world? Have you been frustrated with God or angry at God because this world full of sin and hurt is still ticking on?

            Therefore, the Holy Spirit has used the Apostle Peter to set us straight that the “little scoffer,” our sinful nature, should not grow and destroy our faith, but continually be beaten down by the Word of God which keeps us in the truth faith. The day of the Lord is coming; God keeps His promises. Thus, the Apostle exhorts us, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

            The Lord is independent of time; He is outside of time; this is part of His “transcendence” as God. Since God is the creator of time, He is not subject to it. God’s eternity is incomprehensible to us; we cannot understand what it is like to be outside of time, and that’s because we are bound by time. Here’s how one theologian has written to help us have some small concept of this: “With God [eternity] does not express an endless period of time. Rather, there is no time with God. He simply lives in a never-changing present.”

            Since God is above time, a day and a thousand years are both really the same with the Lord; neither one hinders nor helps Him. What seems long to us is not long to Him. Therefore, recognize the sin and foolishness of doubting or disbelieving Christ’s return because of how much time has gone by. Jesus will return.

            God keeps His promises. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness.” The season of Advent gives us so many direct reminders of this. In Advent, we hear the longing of the Old Testament people for the Savior to come. The Old Testament prophets looked ahead in hope to the Christ’s coming.  Adam and Eve had the promise of the Savior and they lived some 4,000 years before His birth. The last Old Testament Prophet lived some 400 years before His birth. This is a very, very long time from our perspective, but God kept His promise.

            The Savior came. The Son took on human flesh and was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He lived the life we all needed: a life free from a “little scoffer,” and doubts, and questioning the Father’s timing – a sinless life of steadfastness, and trust, and confidence in the Father’s timing.

            The Savior died for you. He offered His holy life upon the cross as the payment for your sin. He has saved you from death, the penalty for your sins, and an eternity of God’s righteous punishment. This is why He entered into our world as one of us. God kept His promises – to the prophets and to you and me.

            Though God is transcendent – outside all things created – He is also immanent – close at hand in time and space. Christ entered into our time and space in the flesh. God is present with us in time and space through Word and Sacrament. He is close at hand to you.

            God keeps His promises; that’s enough for us to learn that Jesus certainly will return. Yet, God gives us even more, He tells us why the Day of the Lord has not yet come! “But is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” What’s God waiting for? Why hasn’t the end come? God desires that all should be brought to repentance. God is loving, patient, and long-suffering. Not all will repent, but God is waiting until the very last of His elect, those whom He predestined for eternal salvation, is brought to faith. Jesus didn’t return before you were born because He wanted you in His Kingdom. That will continue to play out until the last person He has chosen for salvation is brought to faith.

            It is good for us that God is patient, and yet His patience must not be an excuse to neglect the things of God. As we saw in detail last week from Mark’s Gospel, so too we are reminded of this week: The day of the Lord, the day of Jesus’ return, will come unexpectedly. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” The scoffers will be surprised and caught unprepared and cast into hell upon Jesus’ return or their own death. Believers will find Jesus’ return to be unexpected but they are prepared because they trust in Jesus. The Lord keeps His promises and therefore you know and believe that Jesus’ return is coming.

            The Day of the Lord is coming; at that time the Lord will usher in the new heavens and new earth. Peter described what would happen at that time. “Then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” The elements that make up this earth will be dissolved, burned up. All the impressive things built on this earth will be dissolved, burned up.

            Therefore, Peter asks, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Our thoughts and minds ought not cling to the things of this world, for the things of this world will not remain. Rather, we are to stay focused on the things of God. Advent is a wonderful season which aids us in this focus because it stresses preparation for eternity.

            How do we “hasten” the day of Jesus’ return? Remember that Christ will return once the full number of His elect has been completed. God uses us as instruments in this work. We, Christians, go out into the world with the Gospel which converts people. We, Christians, pray for the conversion of all people. We, Christians, pray for the Lord Jesus to come according to His perfect timing. That’s how we are a part of hastening that day.

            In verse 12, Peter again turned his attention to what happens on the day of the Lord, the day of Jesus’ return. “Because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn.” When Jesus returns, all the elements of this world will be burned up and not have the slightest resemblance to what they are at present. However, they will not be annihilated.

            Because, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” The new heavens and new earth is our final home. When Jesus returns then also comes the new heavens and new earth. The elements of this world will be restored into their former perfection before the fall into sin. The earth will be perfect with no heartaches or disasters or hurts or death. The bodies of the faithful departed will be raised in glory. We will live forever with the Lord in the world restored to the perfection of the Garden of Eden.

            Peter concluded our text with these words, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” Be diligent; hear the Gospel, receive the Sacrament, remember the Lord. This is proper waiting for Jesus. Remember who you are. You are spotless, you are blameless, and you have peace with God. All this is yours through Christ. Through Christ you will live in the new heavens and new earth forever.

                Dear friends, I will end with an illustration of why it is so good for us that Jesus is patient to return. As Christians, we pray for God’s Will to be done. We acknowledge this as part of our prayers. Yet, we still pray for specific things according to His Will. There have been two time periods in my life when I prayed that God according to His Will would not yet usher in the Day of the Lord. Both of those lasted well over a year; they were when we in the process of adopting Jahleel and Camden. I knew there was almost no chance that either of them had been exposed to God’s Word, and there was no chance they had been baptized. I wanted Jesus to wait because I desperately wanted Jahleel and then Camden to be brought into God’s Kingdom. Jesus waited and it was good because Jahleel and Camden both were brought into God’s Kingdom through baptism. Jesus waited and you were brought into God’s Kingdom and it is good. Amen.