Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude,
like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given to her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
The multitudes are shouting, nations are proclaiming and worshipping the Lord Jesus as the wedding day of the Lamb arrives. This is the day of the fulfilment of God’s will – “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” [Ephesians 1:9-10] This is also the day when the mystery of Christ is fulfilled – “that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus” [Ephesians 3:6] The bridegroom has arrived, the bride has made herself ready and the wedding day has arrived. We are not yet at this day, but this is the day we look forward to. There is still preparation to be done before the wedding day. 1 Peter and 2 Peter offer insight into how the bride is to make herself ready, how she is to be dressed.
LIVING WITH EXPECTATION (2 Peter 3)
What do we look forward to?
2 Peter 3 describes the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord represents an extended time period in which God’s judgements are fulfilled, and also, a specific day when Jesus returns. Peter describes some features of the last days:
- They have been spoken about by the holy prophets, the apostles, through the Holy Spirit (v.2)
- Scoffers will come who will scoff the way of the Lord and follow their own evil desires (v.3)
- The Lord will be faithful in keeping his promise (that is the promise that His son, Jesus Christ, will be exalted over the heavens and earth) (v.9)
- God is patient and desires that all would come to know him through repentance and faith in Jesus (v.9)
- The day of his coming will be unknown (v.10)
- The present heavens and earth will be completely destroyed (v.10)
In describing these things, Peter reminds us that:
- God’s word and promise will be fulfilled soon.
- The present way and being of things will be completely destroyed.
- There will be scoffers who do not believe the word of God or obey His commands.
We also know from God’s word, that this is not the end of the story. In 1 Peter 3:13, Peter tells us that “in keeping with [God’s] promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” Revelation 21:1 also speaks of the new heaven and new earth, a transformed heaven and earth existing in complete unity with the holiness of God.
With a new heaven and new earth, we also receive new and resurrected bodies. 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 describes what we look forward to in receiving these new bodies:
“1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7For we live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Knowledge and experience of the coming Kingdom of God compels us to live our lives on earth in preparation and expectation of these things.
- The earthly tent we live in (ie. Our physical bodies) will be destroyed, replaced instead, with an eternal, resurrected body (v1)
- While we live in our bodies on earth, however, we groan (wait expectantly, desire) to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (for the completion of God’s promise that we will be one with Him in Christ Jesus, filled with eternal life – Ephesians 2:19-22)
- The Spirit has been given to us as a deposit of what is to come (we are enabled, through the spirit, to experience some of the fullness of this life and body that is to come, in this present age)
- Because of this deposit, we are confident that God’s promises will be fulfilled, and that we are in Him. Even though we are not in that age, or in the resurrected body completely one with God right now, we are confident of His promises and truth (v. 6-8)
- Because of this confidence in Christ, we live in a way that pleases Him – this is preparation for our eternal dwelling with Him (v.9-10)
So, what do we look forward to? And how do we receive God’s promises with an expectant heart?
- We look forward to the coming of the Kingdom of God, and the fulfilment of all His promises. This includes a new heaven and earth, and new resurrected bodies which are created in perfect holiness and replace the old, sinful world.
- The starting point to having an expectant heart, is knowledge of what is to come, and experience, through the Holy Spirit, of the holiness of God.
How does this affect the way we live?
After describing all these things, Peter asks a question – “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (v11) Remember, Peter has just explained that the day will come when the present way and being of things, contaminated with sin, will be destroyed. It will be replaced, instead, with the fullness and holiness of God. If this is the case, it makes no sense to live for gain of things on this earth, but rather, it would be wise to invest in the permanent things to come. Consider Matthew 6:19-20:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The pleasures, life and treasures on earth are temporary, but treasures in heaven are eternal. Moreover, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The heart of the bride belongs completely to her bridegroom, Jesus. Matthew 22:37-38: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” The heart of the bride, the heart of the church, the heart of God’s people is to be found completely in Him. Therefore, the treasure we are to store up as the bride of Christ must be found also, in Him.
How do we store up this treasure in heaven?
Peter goes on to say, as an answer to His preceding question, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (v.12) Again, he says the same thing in slightly different words – “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
1. Look forward to the day of God
- Requires that we believe it will happen
- Requires that we actively look forward to it in the way we pray and live
2. Speed its coming
- The Lord has given us a role in master plan. There are many passages in the Bible which tell us what is to come and what will happen before the day of the Lord.
- We speed the coming of this day but endeavouring in prayer, fasting, and action for the following: the maturity of Jesus’ bride (the church), the gospel to be preached to the ends of the earth, crying out for God’s kingdom to come, for Jesus to come.
In endeavouring for the maturity of Jesus’ bride, we:
3. Live holy and godly lives
- Through keeping in step with His spirit and obeying His word (Galatians 5:19-26, Psalm 119)
4. Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God
- Remain in Christ who is our peace
- Explored more in “Carrying the Peace of God” (https://lostnowfoundk.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/carrying-the-peace-of-god-2/)
Peter also addresses the situation of scoffers in the end times, those who will be ignorant of, or distort the Scriptures, to their destruction (v.16) Looking at the Greek for the words used to describe these people give insight into the type of people these are. They are basically false prophets functioning in mocking the gospel and distorting its truth in their ignorance and separation from God.
- “Scoffers/mockery” (2 Peter 3:3)
- Greek: empaigmos
- Scoffing/mockery; there is also reference to torture inflicted in mockery
- “Ignorant people” (2 Peter 3:16)
- Greek: amathés
- Meaning one who is ignorant or unlearned
- These are people who lack wisdom and understanding through the spirit of God’s word and purposes
- “Unstable people” (2 Peter 3:16)
- Greek: astériktos
- Literally describes someone who does not have a staff to lean on – they cannot be relied on because they are not steady, not properly established
- Psalm 23:4 mentioned the “rod” and “staff” of God which give us comfort
- In the Old Testament, there was a staff for each of the leaders of the tribe of Israel. Each staff had the man’s name written on it. [Numbers 17:1-3]
- We are to lean on God’s staff, to take His Name. 1 Corinthians 3:11 describes Jesus Christ as the foundation already laid, and the only foundation that can be laid. Those who build on the foundation of Christ are stable and secure.
- “Distort” (2 Peter 3:16)
- Greek: strebloó
- Can be used to describe a twisting and torture
- In this context (the only time in the bible it is used for this purpose), it describes a twisting and perverting of Scripture
1. Understand, keep watch, and recognise scoffers.
- “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” [2 Peter 3:3]
- “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” [2 Peter 3:17] – a warning against being led astray from actively living in expectation of the bridegroom’s arrival.
2. Turn your focus from what the scoffers desire and promote, to growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Proclaim Him as Lord and Saviour, to whom belongs all glory.
- “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” [2 Peter 3:18]