Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-14

Live for God's Tomorrow

Popular Translation

8 My friends, don't forget that the Lord can think of a thousand years like a day and a day like a thousand years. 9 The Lord is not slow to keep his promises, just because some people think he is. No, he is being patient with you! He doesn't want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to turn back to him!

10 Be aware! The Lord's day will come like a thief! On that day, the sky will fall away in a thunderclap. Nature will be burned up. And everything on earth will be clearly seen. 11 Since everything will be destroyed, you should live holy and prayer-filled lives, 12 as you eagerly wait for the Lord's day to appear. Then, the sky will be destroyed with fire; nature will burn up and melt away. 13 We wait for a new sky and new earth where goodness lives. The Lord promised this!

14 So, my friends, as you wait for all this to happen, be eager to live a good life. In this way, God will find you without sin and in his peace.

Literal Translation

8 But, do not let this one (fact) escape you, beloved, that, with the Lord, one day (is) as a thousand years and a thousand years (is) as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow in his promise, as some consider slowness, but is patient with you, not intending any to be destroyed, but everyone to reach out into metanoia. 10 But, the day of the Lord will come as a thief, in which the heavens will fall away in a clap of thunder, and, being burnt up, the elements will be destroyed, and the earth and the activity upon it will be laid bare. 11 As all these (things) are thus to be destroyed, [you] should be the sort (of people) to live in holy activities and true piety, 12 waiting expectantly and hastening the presence of the day of the Lord on which the heavens, being on fire, will be destroyed and the elements, being burnt up, will melt away. 13 But, according to his promise, we wait for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness lives.

14 Therefore, beloved, waiting with expectation for these (events), be diligent to be found without stain or guilt before him, at peace.

3:9 "metanoia" is literally the change of one's mind and heart. It can be translated "repentence."

What attitude should we take when we are faced with the doctrine of the Second Coming?

The thought of the Second Coming provokes fear in many people. Some fear out of guilt. Some fear they have not done enough. Some fear God's wrath will consume them. After all, doesn't the Bible predict a reign of fire and destruction at the End?

These visions of fiery judgment sometimes overshadow Scripture's intent, like those found in 2 Peter. To be sure, 2 Peter did announce God's judgment in stark terms. But, a closer look reveals a greater sweep. God's judgment leads to a better existence. The destruction of the rebellious angels, the people swept away in the Noah story, and the fiery end to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah led to better world (see 2 Peter 2:4-8). So will the coming judgment. [3:13] Indeed, God judged the world in the beginning of time with water (the Noah story). He will judge the world with fire at the end of time. [3:10, 12] Notice the symmetry of the judgment at the beginning and the end of time. Also, notice that the instruments of judgment (the "elements" of water and fire) will also be destroyed.

The author of 2 Peter used such stark images to make a point. In the Christian mind, God's will is constant, not the world. The author railed against those who assumed the delay in the Lord's coming meant this core Christian belief could be ejected (see 3:4). He also rejected those who focused on freedom from judgment as a sign that "anything goes" (including sexual promiscuity; see 2:18-19). These people made the mistaken assumption that the world was stable and unchanging. But, since the world would pass away, according to the author's logic, Christians should live as if the end were already here! [3:14]

The famous mathematician and Christian thinker, Pascal, made everyone a wager. "Live as if you would see God in the end," the wager went. "If you see God, your faith has been justified. If not, you have lost nothing." The author of 2 Peter would agree with that challenge. Live for God's tomorrow. That way, you can live in peace, no matter the outcome.

Choose one or two ways to change this week, as you prepare for the coming of the Lord in this holiday season.