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Grace Bible Church
The Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3:10
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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 14, 2010
The Day of the Lord
Over the past few weeks we have been examining the mockers Peter warns about in 2 Peter 3 and their foolishness in scoffing at the promise of the Lord’s return. In doing so they reject the prophecies already fulfilled in the past as I have mentioned previously. They do this because it is in keeping with their own lusts. If they can find a way to ignore what God has done in the past, then they can also ignore what God has promised to do in the future, and they do not want to acknowledge those future prophecies. They believe they have found a way to reject the past by claiming that “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” In professing to be wise in coming up with this premise they commit a very serious error which leads to a even more serious error in their conclusion. (See: Mockery in the Last Days, Part 1)
Their premise is the foundation of uniformitarian geology and evolution that the present is the key to the past. They believe we can examine what occurs today and from that make conclusions about what happened in the past, but that is a false premise. All things have not continued the same way as they always have, and the present rates of geologic activity are not the key to what has happened to the earth in the past. That the past was very different from the present is very evident with even a cursory examination of geologic features no longer happening. (See: Mockery in the Last Days, Part 2)
Two quick examples of this are the facts that there are no longer active supervolcanoes any where in the world as had once existed in the Pacific Northwest. Much of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming sits one of the ancient caldera’s and is the reason for its geothermal activity. While glaciers still exist, they are only a remnant of those that once covered much of the northern and southern latitudes and all the mountains.
However, the greatest geologic event of the past that they ignore is the Genesis Flood. 2 Peter 3:5-6 states, “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God [the] heavens existed long ago and [the] earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. I have pointed out previously the Biblical, historical and scientific evidence for this global catastrophic event in which God brought judgment upon sinful man. These mockers willingly forget and ignore all the evidence that cries out against them because they want to be able to reject the idea that God will judge again in the future. A truth Peter warns about in verse 7 saying, “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
What is most amazing in all this is not the utter foolishness of sinful man in doing this. I am sometimes still surprised at the foolishness of sinful men, but I am never amazed anymore. What is most amazing is God’s patience with sinful man as expressed in 2 Peter 3:9-10, “But do not let this one [fact] escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (See: The Patience of God)
We examined these verses last week and saw that we can hold fast to the Lord’s promised return even though it has been thousands of years since His promise was made. We can do this because of the character and nature of the Lord. First, the Lord’s relationship with time is radically different than our own. We are creatures of time that are caged in by it. The Lord is not bounded by time. He existed before time and will exist after time ceases. The past, present and future all belong to Him. He accomplishes His will in His timing regardless of our own perspective of whether it is done quickly or slowly.
That God seems slow to act to us at times is because of His wonderful patience. The particular word here means forbearance which is to be patient even while being provoked, and God is patient with sinful man even while their sinful acts prod Him to render judgment. The reason that God is patient and does not judge man immediately is that it is not His desire that anyone perish.
The Lord declares in Ezekiel 33:11, “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!’” It is not God’s moral will that the wicked die and go to Hell. His moral will is that all people everywhere repent and turn from their wicked ways so that they might live. It is His moral will that all men believe in His son, Jesus, and receive eternal life from Him. God has not yet brought judgment upon the earth only because He is patient and still giving time for yet another sinner to repent and be saved.
The Day of the Lord – Overview
This morning we are going to examine the next three verses to see what Peter has to say about the coming judgment that God will bring upon the earth and ungodly men. God’s kindness, forbearance and patience should lead men to repentance (Romans 2:4), but there will come a day when that will come to an end and God’s judgment will arrive with the Day of the Lord. We will look at the Day of the Lord in a broad overview and then come back to consider the Biblical concept of the Day of the Lord in more detail.
2 Peter 3:10-13: 10 “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. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
We will see in a few minutes that the Day of the Lord is a broad topic with many specific events with in it, but here Peter takes all of these events and squashes them together. He starts at the beginning of the Day of the Lord arriving unexpectedly as a thief in the night and then jumps all the way to the end of it with the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth in eternity. There are two major reasons that this is my favorite passage dealing with eschatology, the doctrine of last things.
First, there is a personal aspect of growing up in churches in which prophecy conferences were a common occurrence. They were exciting at first, but over the years I grew to dislike them. Certainly not because of any lack of desire to hear of Jesus’ promised return, but because so many of the speakers tried to make current news headlines fit into the Scriptures or the Scriptures fit into the news headlines. It did not take all that long to figure out they did not know what they were talking about because their assessments consistently turned out to be wrong. For that reason, I do not have any interest in the speculations that are so often part of the discussion of eschatology.
Peter skips all the stuff in the middle and goes directly to the end of the ages in which the current heavens and earth are destroyed and the new heavens and earth are created. Without all the events that occur in between the beginning of the Day of the Lord and its culmination, there is no room for speculations on how the news headlines fit into it. Let’s face it, this final event will not be in any news headline anywhere because all the printing presses, television networks, radio programs and internet sites will be destroyed along with everything else that makes up the earth. The destruction of the first heavens and earth is so complete that the every elements themselves are described as melting.
The second reason this my favorite passage concerning the future is that Peter is very clear the about the effect that the study of the end times should have on believers. Perhaps one reason I do not care for the typical prophecy conference is because of all the controversy and contention that get generated out of them. That has always seemed to me to be contrary to the effect the hope of Christ’s return should have upon us. Peter is direct to that point in verse 11. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” We should strive to live holy lives with our minds set on things above instead of the things here on earth (Colossians 3:2) in view of the fact that everything here on earth is going to burn. We will go into more detail about this and its importance next week.
I want to spend the rest of this morning talking about the Day of the Lord in more detail than Peter gives here in this passage because there is a lot of confusion about it leading to all sorts of erroneous theologies with their consequences. While the study of the Day of the Lord can be very complex, if a few basic concepts about it are understood then the confusion and erroneous theologies can be avoided.
Context Determines Its Meaning: The first error to be corrected is the idea that the phrase, the Day of the Lord, must always refer to the same thing whenever it is used. Like any other word or phrase, it is the context of its usage that determines the specific meaning. This is especially true in Hebrew usage in which context is even more critical since the specific words can vary greatly in meaning.
There are two specific phrases in Hebrew and two equivalent phrases in Greek that are translated as “the Day of the Lord.” The most commonly used phrases in both Hebrews and Greek do not actually include the articles. They are simply hwhy mwy (yom Yahweh) and hmera kuriou (hemera kuriou), but since both Hebrew or Greek can imply the articles by context the phrases are translated as “the day of the Lord.” There are also a few passages in which the articles are included in the phrase – hwhyl mwy (yom l yahweh) / h hmera tou kuriou (he hemera tou kuriou) – “the day of the Lord.” The differences between them are only in form according to context and style and not any difference in actual usage.
It is Used for Varied Time Periods. Next, it needs to be pointed out that “the day of the Lord” is used to refer to various time periods and only context determines which one. It may be used in a broad sense in which it refers to a time period covering many years, or it may be used in a narrow sense in which the time period is only one particular day. This is in keeping with the range of meaning for the Hebrew word, mw / yom. I have pointed out before that this word can be used the same way our English word “day” is used. It may refer to only the period of time in which sunlight is striking a particular area of the Earth, i.e. day time (Genesis 1:3a). It may refer to a complete rotation of the earth in which there is a cycle of sunlight and dark which equals one day (Genesis 1:3b). It may also refer to a much longer period encompassing many years that are characterized by something in particular. If I say, in my grandfather’s day, I are referring to the period of time in which my grandfather was alive. The same thing occurs in the Old Testament in reference to prosperity, gladness and calamity, trouble and evil.
Some examples of the day of the Lord being used in a broad sense are Joel 3:9-21; Obadiah 15-21; Zechariah 14 and our passage of study this morning, 2 Peter 3:10-13. Joel 3:9-21 covers a time period beginning with preparations for war, includes signs in the heavens, the destruction of Egypt and Edom, the restoration of Judah and ends with Jerusalem being inhabited for all generations. Obadiah 15-21 begins with the Lord’s judgment on wicked nations and ends with the restoration of land to those who have been exiles. Zechariah 14 begins with the capture of Jerusalem by her enemies, includes the Lord’s descent upon the Mount of Olives to conquer, and ends with the Lord on His throne in Jerusalem and the celebration of the feast of Booths. As already pointed out, 2 Peter 3:10-13 begins with the return of the Lord and then jumps to the culmination of ages and the start of eternity with the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of new heavens and earth. In each of these passages the day of the Lord encompasses time periods of many years.
The day of the Lord can also be used in a narrow sense. An example of this is Joel 2:1-11 in which it is used in reference to the singular event of the arrival of a severe locust plague. In Ezekiel 13:5 the day of the Lord is used for the specific event of the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
It is Used for Varied Events. Since the day of the Lord is used for different time periods, it is not surprise that it also used to refer to different events. In some passages it is used to refer to events that will be fulfilled in that time period. This is called near historical. It usage in Joel 2:1-11 in reference to a locust plague and in Ezekiel 13:5 in reference to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. are examples of this.
In other Scriptures passages the day of the Lord is used to refer to a time that will occur in the last days. This is often referred to as the eschaton which means last thing. Examples of this include Joel 3 and Zechariah 14 which I have already mentioned. Additional examples include Isaiah 2:12 & 13:9; Malachi 4:5 and again, 2 Peter 3:10-12. Each of these refer to a time yet future when God will judge the wicked though there is variation in the specific events described that will occur. Isaiah 2:12 describes this in general terms saying, “For the Lord of hosts will have a day [of reckoning] Against everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.” Specific events mentioned among the various passages include loss of light, darkness, earthquakes, violent weather, blood, fire and smoke,
There are also passages that have a combination of both a near and future fulfillment. Joel 2 does this by starting with the locust plague which occurred in the historical past, but then it moves to the future in its prophecy of a day in which God will pour His Spirit out on mankind as well as bring about displays of wonder in the sky in which the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood as part of the events culminating in His deliverance of those who call upon His name. Zephaniah 1:7-18 does a similar thing. It begins with warning of the coming judgment on Judah for her sins which eventually came about when Babylon conquered Jerusalem. It then ends in verse 18 speaking about the Lord’s wrath that comes upon all the inhabitants of the earth. An event which is still future.
It is Used in Reference to Both Judgment and Blessings. Another concept that must be understood is that the day of the Lord can be used in reference to both judgment and blessings.
Passages such as Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7-18 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 only speak of the negative aspects of the day of the Lord because it will be a time of God’s judgment on sinful men. Isaiah 13:6, Joel 1:15 and Zephaniah 1:7-18 were all dealing with events that have already taken place in the historical past. Isaiah 2:12; 13:9 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 refer to God’s judgment that is still to come. There will be a future day of reckoning in which God will bring down and abase the proud and lofty. There will be a future day in which the Lord will make the land desolate and exterminate sinners. There will be a future day in which He will judge those who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
There are many other passages in which the day of the Lord refers to both judgment and blessings that are to come. In the Old Testament passages, the judgment could be on either the wicked within the nation of Judah such as in Joel 2, or the surrounding nations for their wickedness such as in Ezekiel 30 and Obadiah, or both such as in Zechariah 14. However, in the Old Testament, the blessings are consistently directed for a restored nation of Israel. That is true in both those passages that are historical in fulfillment and those that are to be fulfilled in the future. It is this consistency throughout the Old Testament prophets in telling of a future restoration of the nation that convince us that the Jews are still God’s people and that He still has a plan for them as a nation. Though they will suffer terribly for their own unbelief and wickedness, there will be a future remnant that the Lord will redeem and restore as a nation with Jerusalem as its capital and the Lord reigning from there on David’s throne.
Joel 3:9-13 describes what will happen this way. 9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.” 11 Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, And gather yourselves there. Bring down, O Lord, Thy mighty ones. 12 Let the nations be aroused And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, For there I will sit to judge All the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars lose their brightness. 16 And the Lord roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the Lord is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel. 17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, And strangers will pass through it no more.
18 And it will come about in that day That the mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the Lord, To water the valley of Shittim. 19 Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, In whose land they have shed innocent blood. 20 But Judah will be inhabited forever, And Jerusalem for all generations.
Notice in verse 16 & 17 that the Lord is roaring from Zion and His dwelling is Jerusalem. There is both judgment and restoration, and the restoration is one of great blessing for the nation of Israel (vs. 18) with Judah being inhabited forever and Jerusalem for all generations. Zechariah 14 is similar in that it describes judgment on Jerusalem and the wicked nations followed by blessing for the nation of Israel. The Lord will reign as king from Jerusalem (vs. 9 & 17) and their will no longer be a curse there and Jerusalem will dwell in security (vs. 11).
Israel has a Future. The apostle Paul stressed the importance of these promises to the nation of Israel so much that he made it a pivotal point in his explanation of the gospel to the Romans. He explains God’s faithfulness to His promises in Romans 9-11 including the future fulfillment that all Israel will be saved. It is because God is faithful to His promises to them that we have confidence that He will also be faithful to His promises to us.
It is for these reasons that we absolutely reject the idea that the church has replaced Israel and inherited her promises. The church is grafted in to also receive blessings, but Israel remains the root and will be restored as the flourishing vine of God in her land. Because we believe the Old Testament prophecies that God has a future for Israel as a nation, we are known theologically as dispensationalists.
There are great ramifications to these beliefs. It directly effects my hermeneutics – the manner in which I approach the Bible to understand its truths. Do I understand and interpret the prophecies for Israel’s future according to the plain sense in which they are written, or do I have to find a method to force them into my theology? If I do the later with these texts, what will keep me from doing the same with any other Bible passages? Does the Bible control my understanding of theology, or does my theology control my understanding of the Bible?
When theology is supreme over the Scriptures, there is nothing that can keep that theology from developing beliefs that are even contrary to God’s commands. This goes much beyond just disagreements about the specifics of exactly what God has promised for the future. It directly effects the manner in which people live in the present.
The entire Bible, except for perhaps Luke and Acts, is written by Jewish people. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was born a descendant of Abraham through the tribe of Judah in King David’s line. He is Jewish. Paul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin and a former Pharisee of the Pharisees is the one who has given us our foundation for understanding the nature and purpose of the church. Yet, there are not only many who claim to be Christians, but many denominations and groups which claim to be Christian that are anti-Semitic, some severely so. Why? The foundation for hatred and persecution of the Jews among those that claim to be Christians of some type is the rejection of these Old Testament prophecies of future blessings to the nation of Israel and replacing her with the Gentile dominated Church. Theological anti-Semitism gives rise to theological justifications for hatred and even persecution of the Jews, even though that would be directly against even the basic commands Jesus has given un in how to treat others. Even if it were somehow demonstrated the Jews were our enemies, Jesus has commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Anti-Semitism can never be justified before God, for it is sin.
Even a cursory understanding of the day of the Lord in the Old Testament would end this theological error and its resulting sin. God will keep His promises. He will judge the wickedness of His own people as well as the wickedness of the nations, and He will bring blessings of redemption and restoration for His people and will reign in their midst in Jerusalem.
The Day of the Lord in the New Testament. The day of the Lord in the New Testament follows the same pattern as in the Old Testament. The phrase is only used five times in the New Testament and Act 2:20 is a quote of Joel 2. The New Testament usages must take into account the Old Testament usages, though that it not easy to do since the specifics vary so much from passage to passage. (There is a chart on the back table that lists out many of the specifics for each passage).
The New Testament passages speak of blessings for those who have been redeemed by God’s grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We who believe look for the coming day of God with anticipation for we long to see the fulfillment of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:12-3).
All of the New Testament passages do speak of God’s future judgment of the wicked. Destruction will come upon them suddenly and without warning while they were unprepared, which is the meaning of it coming like a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). God will judge all who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
But this is just the problem for the mockers Peter is warning about in 2 Peter 3. They mock the promise of the Lord’s return in the futile belief that somehow ignoring the truth will keep it from happening. “The present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). God has given fair warning to all that they need to prepare now and turn to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in righteousness lest this sudden judgment of His wrath fall upon them. The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
For the most part, the world is not ready, but you can be ready? Are you? Are your loved ones and friends ready? Have you warned them if they are not? Then there are those who are ignorant of the truth because they have been so influenced by false teachers and mockers. They need to be warned and have the gospel of the Lord Jesus presented to them so that they might repent and join us in looking forward to the day of the Lord instead of fearing it. What role do you play in warning others and presenting the gospel to them. If you are true a Christian, then you are to be a witness for Him to others.
If you are not ready, talk with me or any of our church leaders and we can show you in the Bible how you can be ready. If you are ready and want to become more effective in warning others, talk with myself or anyone on our evangelism committee and you can be trained to be an effective witness.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many times the day of the Lord is mentioned. 3) Talk with your parents about the promise of Jesus’ return.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the premise of the mockers in 2 Peter 3 and why is that premise false? What do the mockers willingly ignore? What are they trying to avoid? What is the Lord’s relationship to time? Why does the Lord forbear with sinful man? What does the Lord desire for all men? Peter compresses the day of the Lord into just its beginning and its culmination in new heavens and a new earth. How does that within the flow of his argument in 2 Peter 3? What is Peter’s emphasis in 2 Peter 3:10-13? How does he want his readers to respond to the day of the Lord? Why is context so critical to the proper understanding of the day of the Lord in any particular passage? There are 19 passages in the Bible that use the phrase, the day of the Lord. Look them up or use the chart and answer the following questions: Does the day of the Lord refer to the same thing in all the passages? How does the day of the Lord vary in meaning with reference to time? What are some of the varied events that occur in the various passages about the day of the Lord? Who are the ones that are judged in the various passages? Who receives the blessings, what are they, and when will they come? What does the Old Testament teach about the future of the nation of Israel? What does the New Testament teach? Why is anti-Semitism also anti-Biblical. Does the church replace the nation of Israel? Why or why not? Are you ready for the day of the Lord?
The Day of the Lord, 2 Peter 3:10
The mockers ignore what God has done in the past in order to ignore His promised future ___________
The premise that all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation is ___________
_____________________ of the Pacific Northwest and the Ice Age refute the uniformitarian premise
The Genesis ___________ is attested by the Bible, history, and geologic and palentologic evidence
God’s ______________ with sinful man is more amazing than the foolishness of sinful man.
Man is bounded by ____________ , but the Lord is not.
The Lord is ______________ with sinful man, patiently enduring man’s sinful provoking.
The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires instead their _________- Ezek. 33:11
The Day of the Lord – Overview
The Lord is kind and forbearing, but there will be a day when his patience will end and He will _______
Peter takes the _______________of the day of the Lord and compresses them into its beginning and end
Peter is direct that the anticipation of the coming day of the Lord should result in personal ___________
The Day of the Lord – Specifics
Study of the day of the Lord can be ____________, but some basic concepts will reduce the confusion
Context Determines Its Meaning
The meaning of the day of the Lord must be determined by ____________.
Both the Hebrew and Greek phrases occur with and without the _____________ (the)
It is Used for Varied Time Periods
mw / yom (_____) can be used for the period of light, a cycle of light & dark, or period of many years
It is Used for Varied Events
It is Used in Reference to Both Judgment and Blessings
In the O.T., the judgements could be on ___________, the surrounding nations, or both
In the O.T., the blessings are consistently directed for a restored nation of ___________
Israel has a Future
Romans 9-11 – God’s ____________to the people of Israel gives us confidence in His promises to us
We absolutely reject the idea that the church has ____________ Israel and inherited her promises
Dispensationalists believe God’s prophecies to the _________of Israel will be fulfilled to that nation
When theology is __________over the Scriptures, beliefs contrary to God’s commands can develop
Jews wrote the Bible and Christians follow a Jewish Savior, yet some Christians are _____________
The foundation of anti-Semitism among Christians is a rejection of God’s promises to ___________
Theological anti-Semitism gives rise to hatred and persecution in __________of Biblical commands
The day of the Lord will bring judgment upon the wicked and blessings and restoration to ________
The Day of the Lord in the New Testament
New Testament usage must take into account O.T. usage – which greatly varies – see chart
Christians can look forward to the _______________ of salvation and eternal righteousness
The day of the Lord will come suddenly while the wicked are ________________(thief in the night)
Mockers try to ignore the coming day of the Lord, but it will come and the _________will be judged
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