Thursday, November 12, 2020

Judgment is Coming

"First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come … saying, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?” (2 Peter 3:3–4)

It may seem strange at first glance, but some interpreters in the Puritan and Reformed traditions have argued that 2 Peter 3 has reference first of all to the destruction of Jerusalem, and then by extension points to the Second Coming. In part they say this because the scoffers of 2 Peter 3 are almost certainly the same as the false teachers of 2 Peter 2. Thus, the “last days” of 2 Peter 3:3 means the last days of the Jewish kingdom, of the remnants of the old covenant, of the temple and Jerusalem—not the last days of the whole planet earth.

Whether Peter is referring primarily to the Second Coming or discussing the destruction of Jerusalem as a foreshadowing of the final judgment is not something we have to determine today. What is clear is that the apostates were taking comfort from the fact that Jesus had not yet returned to do anything. The apostles had told everyone about Jesus’ prediction that Jerusalem would be destroyed, but it was still standing. The scoffers, possibly Judaizers who rejected the idea that the temple would be destroyed, used this as a way of undermining the teaching of the leaders of the church.

Peter warns that God’s promises of judgment are sure and certain. God destroyed the first world at the Flood, and the “present heavens and earth” will be destroyed also. If this means the “old heavens and earth” of the old covenant, then the melting of the elements refers to the removing of the “elementary things of the world,” the old covenant sacrifices and rituals. If Peter is looking to the final judgment, then the “heavens and earth” refer to the external, physical world. Either way, we can say with utmost certainty that judgment is coming.

Those who foment rebellion in the church do not fear God, His Word, nor His judgment. They may be full of talk about the Second Coming, but they do not see it as a time when they will be assessed along with everyone else. They think judgment applies to other people only. Every true Christian, however, fears that there may be a moment of shame and regret when he stands before his Lord—but only a moment. Because we know that judgment is coming, we seek to please Him more and more.

Believer, are you ready to meet God? Or are there some things you were meaning to get right that you have been putting off? Whether Christ returns tomorrow or a thousand years from now, your life may be required of you tonight. Don’t be a scoffer. Wake up, and get things right! Live in the awareness of God’s holy judgment to come.