Given that much of the Western World seems to be in a doomsday scenario – ‘the end of the world is nigh’ – this week’s question seems apposite.
BIBLE READING: 2Peter 3:1-18
TEXT: 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 (2 Peter 3:10).
Most people who read this won’t be old enough to remember the beginning of the new millennium in the year 2000. There were lots of predictions of doom and disaster – even from secularists who were concerned and worried about the millennium bug. Every now and then a false prophet or cult leader will announce that the end of the world is due on April the 16th or whatever random date they choose. They will write books telling us how they have calculated this from the Bible (the thought always strikes me – why sell books and make money if the world is going to end?!).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have for example predicted the end of the world, as we know it, several times – 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1975. I believe their latest prediction is now into the 2030s. With a track record like that I’m not sure why anyone continues to follow them! The truth is that we don’t know when the end of the world will happen. And Jesus didn’t. ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’ (Matthew 24:36).
Some people think that can’t be right because surely Jesus was God and God knows everything? But they forget that Jesus became human and limited himself not only to time and space, but also to our intellectual capacity. He had to learn. He wasn’t walking around as a super knowit-all toddler! He says that the date of his return and the end of the world was not revealed to him, and therefore it was not revealed to his disciples. We don’t know.
There does seem to be a great fascination with the end of the world. That’s why we get all these apocalyptic end-of-theworld Sci-Fi movies. Are we going to be hit by a giant comet, zapped by aliens from outer space, wiped out by a super bug, or just blow ourselves up?! Again some Christians seem to fall into the trap of not only speculating about when the end of the world will occur, but they think they can tell us exactly what will happen. They use the apocalyptic literature of the Bible – Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation and some other parts and often present us with a great scheme of things which usually focuses around their country and people they know of!
Again, as with all things biblical, it is better for us neither to add nor take away from the Bible. Let’s just take the simple and plain lessons we get from our chapter today – 2 Peter 3. Jesus is returning. Even though people scoff and mock and ask when it will happen – there is no doubt that he will return. He is being patient wanting everyone to come to repentance (v. 9). If a day with the Lord is like a thousand years then we are only two days away from his first coming. The day of the Lord will result in a great destruction but also a great renewal of the heavens and the earth.
We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Evil will be removed from this renewed universe. This hope makes us live for Christ on this earth – as we anticipate the new universe. We make every effort to be found ‘spotless, blameless and at peace with him’ (v. 14). The teaching about the second coming is not meant for speculative books or films, but rather to inspire us to holiness – to become more like Christ. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such a hope makes us call out ‘Maranatha’ [Come soon, Lord Jesus], (1 Corinthians 16:22).
CONSIDER: Why is it dangerous and wrong to speculate about the end of the world? Do you live your life in anticipation of Christ’s return? What difference should it make to your life knowing that he is coming back?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: How will the World End? – Jeramie Rinne
PRAYER: Maranatha – even so come soon Lord Jesus. We live in a world that was created so beautiful by you. We still see so much of that beauty – but we are also conscious of the great darkness that covers the earth. We long for the day when you will restore and renew the heavens and the earth. Meanwhile we wait for you – and we pray that you would make us ready for that day, Amen
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