This message has three points, because Peter emphasizes three things as he tells us to remember the second coming of Christ.
I. DON’T FORGET THAT MOCKERS ARE COMING (VERSES 3, 4)
Peter seems to say, “Don’t be surprised when people come up and mock you for believing in the second coming of Christ.” They will come; there is no doubt about it. It’s not that Peter is brilliant here, nor is it that he needed an extra-special revelation from God to make his point. Rather, it’s that there have always been those who deny the coming of God—and there will always be people who deny His coming.
In the book of Psalms, David explains how his enemies have said to him all day long, “Where is your God?” (Ps. 42:3). In Psalm 115:2, the nations are saying, “Where, now, is their God?” In Malachi’s day, the cry was, “Where is the God of justice?” And if people have always denied God’s coming, won’t there always be people who will deny Christ’s return? Of course they will! And this is Peter’s point.
The epistles of the New Testament are flooded with references to the return of Christ. Consider the following verses: 1 Corinthians 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; James 5:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 1:7 and 22:20.
The message of Christianity couldn’t be clearer. Our Messiah has come. He was crucified for our sins. And God raised Him from the dead, exalted His name above all names, and seated Him at His right hand.
Let’s move on to the second point.
II. DON’T FORGET THAT ALL IS NOT THE SAME (VERSES 5-7)
Peter does a masterful job in this text of diffusing the argument of these scoffers, who deny the return of Christ. Verses 5-7 are a direct response to these mockers who deny the second coming of Christ. The first phrase in verse 5 sets it up: “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice.” In other words, these mockers are maintaining that all has been the same since the days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and right up to Peter’s day.
For those living in Peter’s day, that was a long time. Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Christ, and for the next 2,000 years, the world remained essentially the same. In fact, their argument would be even stronger today, because we are some 2,000 years after Peter wrote. But Peter points out that all has not been the same; the flood destroyed the earth long ago (verse 6). And then Peter brings up the final judgment, which awaits all who deny Christ’s second coming (verse 7).
Peter’s point is this: “Don’t forget that all is not the same” (verses 5-7). It wasn’t the same in the past—God destroyed the world with a flood. It won’t be the same in the future—God will destroy the world with a fire. So don’t rest upon the fact that things have been the same for thousands of years. Go back a bit further, and you will remember how the world was once destroyed with a flood. Think about the future, and you will know that the world will be destroyed with fire.
Christ is returning again. As verse 10 says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.” It’s going to be sudden. It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be unexpected.
III. DON’T FORGET THAT GOD IS PATIENT (VERSES 8, 9)
The first thing that you notice in verse 8 is that it sounds a bit like verse 5. In verse 5, Peter wrote that the changes the earth has experienced “escaped the notice” of the mockers. Here in verse 8, Peter urges us not to let one fact “escape your notice.” The same Greek word—lanthano—is used in verse 5. It means “to forget, neglect, be hidden.” Peter says, “Don’t forget that God is patient.” This is the point of verses 8 and 9. Don’t neglect this fact.
In verse 8, Peter quotes from Psalm 90:4, in which Moses wrote, “A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.” Isn’t this the essence of patience? Patience takes little regard for the passing of time. Two people agree to meet at a certain time. One person arrives on time, but the other person is 10 minutes late. A patient person won’t be rattled by the passing of time; he or she is okay with it.
Look at verse 9: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” The Lord has made a promise that He will return. Any delay in His return isn’t a sign of weakness or inability. It’s not that God has forgotten His promise. It’s not that God is incapable of fulfilling His promise; rather, it’s a sign of His patience. He will fulfill His promise someday!
How ironic that the reason God delays His coming judgment—because He is waiting for repentance—becomes the very reason people refuse to believe! Take note here of the heart of God. His heart is for people to repent!
Obviously, there are questions that abound in this verse. How is it that God doesn’t wish for any to perish, but people actually do perish? Is God not in control? Are there things that He really wants but can’t accomplish? No. God is fully in control. The God who can destroy the world with a flood can certainly change a human heart. The God who will destroy the world with a burning fire can do as He pleases.
Romans 2:4 says, “The kindness of God leads you to repentance.” Is this the case with you? Has God’s kindness in delaying His return led you to repentance, or are you still holding strongly to your sin, unwilling to repent and cry out to the Lord? May today find you repenting of your sins and crying to the Lord for mercy before it’s too late.
General Conference Ministerial Association