International Sunday School Lesson for May 26, 2013
Scripture Text: 2 Peter 3: 1-15
Purpose: To look forward to the day of the Lord with eager and effective hope
2 Peter 3:1-15 (CEB)
1 My dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both letters to stir up your sincere understanding with a reminder. 2 I want you to recall what the holy prophets foretold as well as what the Lord and savior commanded through your apostles. 3 Most important, know this: in the last days scoffers will come, jeering, living by their own cravings, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? After all, nothing has changed—not since the beginning of creation, nor even since the ancestors died."
5 But they fail to notice that, by God’s word, heaven and earth were formed long ago out of water and by means of water. 6 And it was through these that the world of that time was flooded and destroyed. 7 But by the same word, heaven and earth are now held in reserve for fire, kept for the Judgment Day and destruction of ungodly people.
8 Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. 9 The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? You must live holy and godly lives, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming day of God. Because of that day, the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
14 Therefore, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found by him in peace—pure and faultless. 15 Consider the patience of our Lord to be salvation, just as our dear friend and brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him,
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This is our final lesson for this quarter, and for the past 13 weeks we have talked about “Hope” beyond the present time.
Peter's second letter seems to be a letter of hope sent to those addressed in his first letter, (northern Asia Minor, [present day Turkey].) Both letters were written as a reminder of what they had been taught not only by Peter but also by Paul and other legitimate apostles. Just as it is today there were many skeptics and false teachers.
Today there are many within, as well as outside, the church that are scoffing at our belief that Jesus will return and create a new heaven and a new earth. This doctrine of the “last days” or “day of the Lord” should not be confused with the doctrine taught by some of the “rapture of the church.”
Peter's message is clearly about the end of the age, or the complete destruction (by fire) of the earth as we know it, and a new creation that consist of a new heaven and a new earth.
Since Peter references the Old Testament as well as the New Testament prophets, we can assume this was written to those who were former Jews, now converted to Christ followers.
The essence of Peter's letter is to be patient, not an easy request for any generation of believers. Peter assures them that God works outside of our normal reckoning of time. Peter suggest along with most modern day geologist that the earth has been around for millions or maybe billions of years. No one knows for sure when God first spoke the world into existence. Verse eight puts it pretty plain, 8 Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. If we take that as fact and multiply it out, then it has been 29,934,745 days since Adam and Eve. 299.3 years in God time. Now my math may be off but I hope you see the point, what seems long to us, is not necessarily long in God's time.
Verse nine offers the hope that we long for. “9 The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives.” It is God's patience that has allowed for our salvation. God has determined that His day will not come until as many as possible have been given the opportunity, “to change their hearts and lives.”
Until that day comes, Peter encourages them, and us, to live as pure and faultless as they/we can.
Peter's call for holy living is not a popular message for today's church. We are told it is too hard, but I will remind you of what God told Sara in Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son." or the words Jesus used in Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them carefully and said, "It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God."
I think without God in our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible, but with God, as Paul says in Philippians 4:13 (KJV) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Outside of Christ holy living is impossible.