Sermon on 2 Peter 3:8-14
Text: Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Deadlines. Everyone has them. Few people like them. The student has to have their book report done by a certain date. The child has to have their room clean by a certain time. There are deadlines at work when certain projects are due. As we grow closer to December 24, we feel another set of deadlines. There are the Christmas gifts that have to be boughten and wrapped. There is holiday cooking that has to be done. There are the holiday decorations that have to be put up. Christmas cards have to be addressed and sent out. Whether we like it or not, we all have deadlines that have to be met. Today, as we study God’s Word, we are reminded of the ultimate deadline, and that is the end of the world. Dear friends, remember this: THE DAY IS COMING. 1. Don’t Procrastinate. 2. Be Prepared.
Many people seem to live in denial of their deadlines. The student waits to the last day to get the book read. The child waits until there are five minutes before they have to have their rooms cleaned. We end up burning the midnight oil to get done a project that we knew weeks ago had to be done. The unprepared husband ends up getting the most romantic gifts that he can find at the Caseys. It seems to be part of our nature to procrastinate when it comes to deadlines.
Peter warns us against this sort of attitude when it comes to the end of the world. Previous to our text, he wrote, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” When these people heard about the end of time, they thought to themselves, ‘It’s never going to happen. Life goes on and will continue to go on like it always has done.’
It is so easy to fall into that trap. We hear about the signs of the end that Jesus gives to us in Matthew 24 & 25. He speaks of wars and rumors of war. He speaks about earthquakes and famines. He mentions the love of many growing cold. He also speaks about the gospel message reaching the four corners of the earth. These are very clear and unmistakable signs. Yet, we think to ourselves that these things that we see happening in our world have happened for centuries already. So, who’s to say the end will happen soon?
It is exactly this type of attitude that Peter warns against. He reminds us in verse 10, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.” Who knows exactly when a thief will come? He does not send an announcement to let you know when he will be breaking into your home or business. He is suddenly there. That is the way that it will be at the end of the world. It will come suddenly.
Yet, people try to be ready for a thief. They lock their doors. They purchase security systems. They install alarms. It really would not make sense to buy these things after the thief has come. Procrastination would cause great sorrow and ruin for the business and the homeowner. This is also true as we wait for our Lord’s return. There are many who say that they will get to God’s Word and church after they clear up some situation or business. Unfortunately, that day never comes. They find other excuses as to why they do not get around to it. Yet, it is not just the unbelievers out there that make these types of excuses. We find ourselves doing the same things. We will get serious about reading the Bible when life settles down or the kids are a little older. We will become more active in Bible study when we retire. We will stop doing this or that sin in the future. Right now, we are having too much fun.
There is great danger in procrastinating. As the rest of verse 10 goes, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” At the end of time, all of the things of this life will disappear with a roar. They will be destroyed by fire. Does it make sense to put all of our energies in the things of this earth that will be gone? We dare not procrastinate when it comes to getting ready for the end of the world.
We also note that Jesus is not procrastinating when it comes to the end of the world. First of all, we need to remember that God’s timetable and our timetable are not the same. In verse 8, it says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” What seems to us like a long time, because of our little time on this earth, is nothing but the blink of an eye when it comes to God in eternity. Peter even tells us why Jesus has not yet come back. He writes in verse 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” There are still people in this world whom God has chosen from eternity to be with him forever in heaven. These must still be brought to faith in Jesus as their Savior. However, you can be sure of this. When that last person has been brought to faith, the end will surely come. In the meantime, we want to be careful that we do not procrastinate when it comes to getting ready for this deadline, namely, the end of the world.
Rather than procrastinating as deadlines loom, if you get right at the project, you find that you are not as rushed. You get better results and, often, enjoy it when it is all done. The student that didn’t rush the book report might find that they actually like the book that they were reading. Rather than attacking the project at the last minute, if you did it a little at a time, you do not feel so overwhelmed. The husband that takes the time to thoughtfully purchase the Christmas gift has the pleasure of seeing the joy in his wife’s face. Our Savior also wants us to be prepared for the last day.
The first way that we are prepared is to believe in Jesus as our Savior. What that entails is, first of all, an acknowledgment of the fact that we need a Savior. This comes as we hear the voice of the law condemning us. For example, every single time that we have loved the things of this world more than we loved God, we sinned. This shows itself in our priorities. Does God and living for him always have top priority or do other things fit into that category? If only once, God took second place in our lives, we have broken his law and deserve to spend our eternity in hell.
Once we come to the realization that we have sinned, then we can see what Jesus has done for us. We thank our God that Jesus did not come the first time to this earth as Judge. He came as our Savior. He rescued us from our sins by his perfect life, by his suffering and dying on the cross, and by his victorious resurrection from the dead. He then sent his Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we might have the faith that makes what Jesus has done for us our own. It is this faith that makes us ready.
Peter reminds us of another way in which we are ready for the Last Day. He writes in verses 11-14, “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming . . . in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” We want to live our lives in such a way that we are glorifying and thanking him for all that he has done for us. This means that we want to stay away from those things, places, and people where we are tempted to sin against God. We want our lives to be ones that let the light of God shine out. We make our relationship with our God the number one priority in our lives. We make every effort to grow in our knowledge of God. We make regular use of Sacraments that he has given to us. We serve those around us, as God gives us opportunity. The list goes on and on of the ways that we can put our faith into action. We do this always as we look forward to the day of God.
Does this mean that we will do this perfectly, and if we do not, we are not Christians? No. Unfortunately, we will not always do it perfectly. We will continue to sin. However, that does not mean that we throw our hands into the air and say, ‘It’s no use. I can’t be perfect. Why even try?’ Rather, we come to God in repentance and know that, for Jesus’ sake our sins have been forgiven. With that reassurance, we then, as Peter says, “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” We strive, with the Holy Spirit’s help to do it that much better. This helps us to be better prepared as it puts into focus what the priorities of life really are. Heaven and earth will disappear with a roar. We will be with our God forever.
During the busy time of the year, we all have certain deadlines to contend with. My dear friends, don’t be afraid to stop and take a breath and enjoy what the season is all about. It is the story of God’s amazing love that moved him to send his Son to be your Savior. Since that is true, you and I do not need to fret about the final deadline that will affect the entire world. We don’t want to procrastinate getting ready for it. We are prepared because Jesus is our Savior. When the final deadline has come, we will be able to face it unfazed. Yes, the Last Day is coming. Of that you can be sure. Yet, we look forward to enjoying the new heaven and the new earth that will be made just for us. Amen.
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