by Mike Ratliff
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)
I am no “expert” on eschatology. All I know is that the Jesus and writers of the New Testament say over and over again that the Day of the Lord is coming and we need to be ready, but most will not be ready. If you look at the current trends in the Missional movement, its adherents seem to have abandoned any concrete concept of a Church age that will end with the Lord Jesus returning in judgment against those outside of His Kingdom. To be honest, I grew up with a lot of that eschatology stuff with those very complicated charts with arrows and lines running all over the place and I must admit that I understood them only when those presenting them spoke, but when I read the Word of God for myself, I couldn’t find what they were talking about most of the time. I think they were overcomplicating things. Let’s look at one passage from 2 Peter that deals with this.
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)
In this passage Peter begins to explain our Lord’s promised return and it seems to be done in a way that addresses an apparent debate concerning the timing of the return of Christ at the end of this age. It seems that Peter’s purpose here is to encourage his readers with this message. I know that it always encourages me when I read it. I want so much for my Lord to return or for Him to take me to be with Him, but here I am still in this body in this life in this evil age. It is not yet my time to depart according to our Lord’s plan nor will it happen until then. Also, look who is in charge of our Lord’s return.
To be encouraged, we must “remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.” What is this? This is talking about how our Lord’s Second coming was clearly predicted. We looked at this in last night’s post as our Blessed Hope. The Second coming of our Lord is not an “ify” thing. It is not the purview of those weird tele-evangelists with the weird haircuts with all those charts who are always asking for money and trying to sell you their books. No, it is our blessed hope and it was clearly predicted and commanded by God. However, as we remember these things and are encouraged by them, we must do so as scoffers scoff. These are the εμπαικται the nominative, plural of ἐμπαίκτης or empaiktēs. A ἐμπαίκτης is a false teacher who attacks the truth using scoffing and mocking. I remember reading this passage as a younger Christian thinking this was referring to those outside of the visible church, the unchurched, atheists, et cetera. No, Peter is talking about professing Christian leaders in the visible church who teach heresy and mock and scoff and make light of the Second Coming of Christ attempting to get believers to forsake that blessed hope.
These εμπαικται will mock our blessed hope saying things like, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” Doesn’t that sound just like these ultra cool, desperately seeking to be relevant, so-called Christian leaders we have all around us today? They are Biblically ignorant because they do not live in the Word of God. Those who follow them are Biblically ignorant because they are not taught the truth nor are the feed from God’s Word. To these people, all that matters is right now and their own vision and what they can do in and of themselves. Peter tells them the truth. They do not know God’s Word or they ignore it, so they are in the dark and so are in big trouble, “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
Where is our encouragement?
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. 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. 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, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:8-13 ESV)
When our Lord does return, it will be sudden and no one will be expecting it. It will be like a thief. However, look at what happens, “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.” All of this effort and money we put into “stuff” and it will all be burned up. What will be left? Well, our works will be exposed. Since these things are true and our blessed hope is in Christ and none of this “stuff” means anything in eternity, shouldn’t we live lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?
Since this is true, it really makes me wonder when I see professing Christians take their ministries and become totally temporally focused in everything as they totally ignore the eternal. This is backward. The reason the Puritans were such misfits in their society at their time was that they were eternally focused in all they did. Our Lord said that if we lived that way that the world would hate us because it hated Him first.
We should expect the world to hate the truth. It is quite shocking when scoffers in the visible church mock the truth though. This is becoming more and more prevalent and so we must do all we can to be encouraged in the Lord by staying in His Word and not letting what is passing away deflect us from it.
Soli Deo Gloria!