There is a unique and unprecedented environmental context that has an essential relation to the PAROUSIA of Jesus Christ. Our Lord specifically teaches His return is inseparable from this environmental context, which is plainly mentioned in several Old Testament prophecies. It is also the heart of the pre-wrath theological position on the second coming of Christ.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt. 24:29).
Verses 29-31 compose the next complete paragraph to which an incredible amount of sacred scripture is directly or indirectly linked. Our study will now focus on these very verses and associated links. In reading verse 29 we see this paragraph relates to the previous one in that the new information being presented is linked to a subject developed in the previous paragraph. Recall verses 27 and 28 are transitional. Jesus makes it plain this transition into a new dynamic phase, a new historical period having its own unique characteristics and events, hinges upon the important period developed previously in verses 15 through 28.
The Lord begins to explain something dramatic is going to happen relating to His PAROUSIA, as well as the sign (SEMION) of His PAROUSIA. Before He describes what that dramatic element is He establishes the historical and environmental context within which the sign will occur. Verse 29 helps orient us to the timing issue and aids in establishing the order of events surrounding the PAROUSIA of Christ.
The Lord begins by saying “Immediately after the tribulation of those days”. The English translation “tribulation” is of course from a form of the familiar Greek word THLIPSIS, therefore it could be translated as “persecution” or “affliction”, and obviously refers to the Great Persecution/Tribulation period of verse 21. This is further confirmed by His reference to “those days”, thereby linking verses 22 and 29 together. And now is a good time to once again recall the near/far principle of prophecy. There are many who teach that everything Jesus has taught so far in this chapter of Matthew has already occurred historically. Yet it should be obvious that what we are now looking at in verses 29-31, has not. The period of “those days” our Lord is referencing in verse 29 is specific to the association of His PAROUSIA regardless of any additional historical application.
We already discovered this period will be KOLOBOO’ed–it will be suddenly cut short, curtailed, docked, amputated. By stating “immediately after”, we see Jesus preparing His followers for the explanation of what it is that will cause the Great Persecution/Tribulation period to be suddenly cut short, curtailed and abruptly halted. Now, usually when I discuss the Great Persecution/Tribulation it is from the perspective of a period of time. It can also be discussed from the perspective of it being a major event. And if we were to make a list of major events that must occur before the PAROUSIA can or will occur, we would have to include the Great Persecution/Tribulation. The event of the Great Persecution/Tribulation sponsored by Satan, Antichrist and their minions will be interrupted and curtailed by the event and occurrence of spectacular “…signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars, and upon earth dismay among nations…” (Luke 21:25). The reference in Luke categorizes this event as SEMEIA (the plural of SEMEION), while Matthew provides a description of what this event, these “attesting miracles” will appear to be like. Its a very dramatic event; its a very dramatic, unmistakable sign.
This event, these signs in the sun, moon, stars and heavens, introduce a new epoch, a new phase in “the plan”, a new, distinct period of time known as the Day of the Lord. There will be supernatural darkness imposed upon the entire world as God shuts down the lights in a spectacular display of power. I’d like to share an interesting tidbit found in Genesis.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14).
Isn’t it interesting that long ago Moses recorded one of the specific purposes of the “lights” in the heavenly realm (which would include all celestial bodies), is to provide signs for observation? The total darkness God will impose upon the world will unmistakably signify the Day of the Lord is about to commence and every man and woman will know unequivocally what it means because they will have been warned repeatedly. This sign, this event, this supernatural darkness that envelopes the globe sets the stage for the next major event. It constitutes the final remaining condition and event necessary for the PAROUSIA of Christ.
and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.(Matt. 24:30).
Do you remember what “the sign of the Son of Man” is? Verse 30 links back to verse 27; “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so shall the PAROUSIA of the Son of Man be.” Do you see how the SEMEION of the Day of the Lord is essential for the SEMEION of the PAROUSIA of Christ? They are intimately linked together. The SEMEION announcing the arrival of the Day of the Lord will occur, terminating the Great Persecution/Tribulation as well as setting the stage for the PAROUSIA by encasing the earth in darkness. The darkness will then be shattered by the blinding brilliance of the glory of the Christ as the whole world beholds the Son of Man ERCHOMI-ing on the clouds of the sky. This won’t be the humble, meek and mild teacher that allowed himself to be abused at the hands of sinful men; its payback time! “Vengeance is mine” saith the Lord, “I…will…repay.” Ezekiel recounts a glimpse of this glory in chapter 43 verse 2. “and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.”
While the scene is the PAROUSIA, the emphasis of verse 30 is the thought of movement from one place to another, but as a part of the event of the PAROUSIA. It is one of the many activities, one of the many facets, one of the many aspects associated with the PAROUSIA as a major event. Interestingly, there will be two distinct responses toward these SEMEION. The first one is revealed in the second half of verse 30 where we read:“and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn”. The time of the Great Persecution/Tribulation has come to an abrupt halt and the time of the Day of the Lord is about to start. The time of Satan’s Wrath will focus upon two groups, the first being the Jews as they are still the recipients of a number of specific promises made by Jehovah. If Satan can eliminate/exterminate all the Jews who refuse to take the mark of the beast and worship his image, then God would be unable to fulfill His promises and would be guilty of violating His word. The second group of course are the Christ followers, whom Satan also despises.
As we continue to investigate the response of the tribes of the Earth when they experience the signs in the sun, moon, stars and heavens, and that the signs themselves announce the Day of the Lord, we need to return again to the book of the Revelation. Remember, the Lord presented both the Olivet Discourse and the Revelation; the Apostle John was a recipient of both, and both deal extensively with the time period of Daniel’s 70th week of years. We should expect the two sources of information to be harmonious and complementary. We should also expect Revelation to augment and supplement what is established in the Olivet Discourse. As I have mentioned previously I am convinced that before one can have an accurate understanding of the book of Revelation, one must have an accurate understanding of the foundation it is predicated on–the foundation presented in the Olivet Discourse.
As we take a quick read of Revelation 6:12-17, we must be mindful of the context of the passage. Chapters 5 and 6 of Revelation deal with a big scroll with seven seals on the outside edge preventing the scroll from being unrolled to reveal the contents. You should remember the seals represent conditions that must be met/fulfilled before the scroll can legally be opened. Scrolls/documents with multiple seals on the outside were common during John’s day. But what is represented in the contents of the scroll? The scroll depicted in Revelation 5 is a legal, judicial document. Once the legal conditions are met, the seals broken, the contents of the scroll can be executed. Only the Lion and the Lamb of Revelation 5 is worthy and legally qualified to break the seals and expose the contents of the scroll. In this case, the contents of the scroll require the administration of judgment against wicked and rebellious mankind. Were we to take the time we would discover the first three seals deal with the conditions that will exist during the “Beginning Birth Pangs” of the first three and one half years of Daniel’s 70th week of years, while seals four and five deal with the Great Persecution/Tribulation. We touched on these points earlier in the journey. Now we want to take a look at the sixth seal, and we particularly want to notice the timing and linkage of important points of the passage to our text in Matthew 24:30.
Rev. 6:12 And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
vs. 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
vs. 14 And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
vs. 15 And the kings of the earth and great men and the commanders and rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;
vs. 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;
vs. 17 for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” (NASB)
Isn’t it obvious this passage supplements, complements and augments what Matthew records in the Olivet Discourse? As we look again at verses 16 and 17, is there any reason to suspect that “the wrath of the Lamb” and “the great day of their wrath” started at any time prior than at this moment when all these people are experiencing the signs given in the sun, moon, stars and heavens? Isn’t it easy to spot the links? I identified at least three: first, the timing is the same; it occurs at the end of the period of Great Persecution/Tribulation as seals 4 and 5 deal with the Great Persecution/Tribulation. Second, the signs are the same. Third, the response of the wicked and ungodly is the same.
The issue of when the Day of the Lord begins is a pivotal one so I want to “hammer home” this subject. I must confess I see no justification for debate as the Bible is plain and clear, and very consistent in dealing with this topic. The book of Joel provides our first Old Testament link.
Joel 2:30 “And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
vs. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
When does Joel say the signs and wonders will occur? The answer is- before the Day of the Lord comes! When does Christ say the signs and wonders in the sun, moon and stars occur? Immediately after the period of Great Persecution/Tribulation! Therefore, what must come first–the Great Persecution/Tribulation or the Day of the Lord? The answer is so plain, so simple. If you have access to your Bible, please read at least the first eleven verses of chapter two. Only for the sake of brevity do I select a couple of verses, for those who may be reading without access to the scriptures at the moment.
Joel 2:1a For the day of the LORD is coming;
Surely it is near,
vs. 2a A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.
vs. 10 Before them the earth quakes,
The heavens tremble,
The sun and the moon grow dark,
And the stars lose their brightness.
vs. 11 And the LORD utters His voice before His army;
Surely His camp is very great,
For strong is He who carries out His word.
The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it?
Joel 3:14b For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision!
vs. 15 The sun and moon grow dark,
And the stars lose their brightness.
vs. 16 And the LORD roars from Zion
And utters His voice from Jerusalem,
And the heavens and the earth tremble.
But the LORD is a refuge for His people
And a stronghold to the sons of Israel. (NASB)
The book of Amos follows Joel so while we’re here let’s see what Amos has to say.
Amos 5:18 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
vs. 20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?
Now let’s read what the prophet Zephaniah writes regarding the Day of the Lord.
Zeph. 1:14 Near is the great day of the LORD,
Near and coming very quickly;
Listen, the day of the LORD!
In it the warrior cries out bitterly.
vs. 15 A day of wrath is that day,
A day of destruction and desolation,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
vs. 16 A day of trumpet and battle cry,
Against the fortified cities
And the high corner towers.
And I will bring distress on men,
So that they will walk like the blind,
Because they have sinned against the LORD;
And their blood will be poured out like dust,
And their flesh like dung.
vs. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold
Will be able to deliver them
On the day of the LORD’S wrath;
And all the earth will be devoured
In the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make a complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth. (NASB)
We can’t leave out the major prophet Isaiah!
Isa. 13:6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
vs. 7 Therefore all hands will fall limp,
And every man’s heart will melt.
vs. 8 And they will be terrified,
Pains and anguish will take hold of them;
They will writhe like a woman in labor,
They will look at one another in astonishment,
Their faces aflame.
vs. 9 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it,
vs. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises,
And the moon will not shed its light.
vs. 11 Thus I will punish the wicked for their iniquity;
I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud,
And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.
vs. 12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold,
And mankind than the gold of Ophir,
vs. 13 Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble,
And the earth will be shaken from its place
At the fury of the LORD of hosts
In the day of His burning anger, (NASB)
And finally, if you are able, please read all of Psalm 97. While there is no mention of the Day of the Lord, it clearly speaks of the day of His PAROUSIA as seen in the following verses:
Psalms. 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
vs. 3 Fire goes before Him,
And burns up His adversaries round about.
vs. 4 His lightnings lit up the world;
The earth saw and trembled.
vs. 5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD,
At the presence of the LORD of the whole earth.
vs. 6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.
vs. 10 Hate evil, you who love the LORD,
Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;
He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Did you notice that all of these Day of the Lord passages give reference to the signs in the sun, moon, stars, heavens? Do you see the validity of the argument that the Great Persecution/Tribulation–the period known as the time of Satan’s wrath (Rev. 12:12), is KOLOBOO’ed, curtailed, docked, abruptly halted by the signs in the sun, moon stars, indicating the Day of the Lord is at hand, and which also sets the stage for the PAROUSIA of Christ? At that time, Isaiah says, the Lord alone will be exalted! Satan has his chance and then the Lord will have His, and the response of the wicked and ungodly is they are terrified at what is about to befall them.
There is a very different response that will be expressed by others upon observing the signs given in the sun, moon, stars, mentioned in a parallel passage in Luke.
Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves,
vs. 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the power of the heavens will be shaken.
vs. 27 “And they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.
vs. 28 “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” (emphasis mine).
Looking at verse 28 we see it is the observation of these signs that are to cause the saints to lift up their heads. After surviving the most intense period of persecution and affliction in the history of mankind, suddenly their redemption is drawing near! They are going to be delivered, rescued! They are going to see their savior coming in great power and great glory! The PAROUSIA of Jesus Christ will dispel the darkness as brilliant lightning, shining from east to west as a spectacular and glorious event. As instructed by Paul in Titus 2:13, these ones have been “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”, and they will not be disappointed. Though some authors and interpreters like to refer to Titus 2:13 as a classic “rapture” passage, perceiving the rapture as being the blessed hope of the Church, it is not. This verse is a classic PAROUSIA passage. There is not even one verse of scripture linking the future appearing of the glory of Christ to the “rapture” of the Church. It is linked to the PAROUSIA. It is linked to Matthew 24:30 and Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27!
While we are in the book of Titus I want to take a look at the following two verses as well.
…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2:14, 15).
Time and again as we read the scriptures we come across passages that discuss purifying and refining and removal of that which is detestable within God’s people, whether it be the nation of Israel or the Church. Its a theme we see repeated often. How does God accomplish this feat? The answer is, God tests His people through fire; He purifies us through suffering and adverse circumstances. He burns away the dross and refines us through the refiner’s fire of persecution and affliction and tribulation. It’s the method God uses to demonstrate to the demons, the angels and to all mankind that His grace and provision is sufficient. As God’s people apply the principles of the Word to exigencies and circumstances of every kind they form the testimony, the witness of the sufficiency of God’s character and Word. We imitate the Son. As in the wilderness temptation for example, we are to live, not on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. This type of genuine Christianity demands the filling of the Holy Spirit and a total commitment to yield, serve and obey. May I respectfully ask a question? How has your commitment level been lately? Are you like me, always tempted to address the urgent at the expense of the important? How about your prayer life? Sometimes mine is a joke. Is rolling eyes heavenward and saying, “Lord help me make it through another day” your mainstay prayer? Is your praise of thanksgiving pretty much limited to “Thank God its Friday!”? Take a moment and ask the Father to enable you to make time to engage in essential prayer, praise and thanksgiving on a daily basis.
Just as the PAROUSIA has many facets, aspects and numerous and varied activities, so also does the Day of the Lord. Think of a Track Meet with the different dashes, relays, runs, jumps, etc. Personally I believe the Day of the Lord is technically a part of the PAROUSIA, though a major part!
There are a few passages that contain the term “Day of the Lord” without mentioning the signs in the sun, moon, stars but that is because they are focusing upon other issues or aspects related to the Day of the Lord. Such a verse is Malachi 4:5. “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
Along with all the great Old Testament passages available there is one in the New Testament we need to study. 2 Peter 3 is related to our Day of the Lord topic and has suffered torturous abuse at the hands of well meaning interpreters and authors of books trying to support their theologically biased position. I try to restrain my bashing of other theological positions while trumpeting my own biased opinion. From the beginning my goal was to embark on an expedition to discover the truth in God’s Word without mistaking “fool’s gold” for the genuine, valuable treasure to be found in God’s Word.
Let’s take a look at what should be the plain teaching of a plain fisherman, on fire with the Holy Spirit! Peter was no theologian; he was no Apostle Paul. He wasn’t deep or mysterious in his teaching, and that’s great because the simplest rules to follow for understanding the scriptures work very well when attempting to get to the true meaning of Peter’s inspired writings. As the old seminary saying goes, “If the plain sense makes sense, then you have the right sense.” Also you might want to get a cup of tea or something to drink, maybe even snack as we’ll be here a while…
The first issue to note is, who is Peter addressing in this epistle? The answer is– believers, Christians and yes, we would even say the Church. As we prepare for studying chapter 3 of 2 Peter it is important to note that in chapter 2 Peter was instructing the brethren to watch out for false teachers and false prophets. Do you recall my definition of a false prophet? It is someone who claims to be God’s spokesman but really isn’t. Since Peter shows a great concern regarding false teaching we should keep that in mind as we see how he develops the remainder of his letter.
2 Peter 3
vs. 1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
vs. 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. (NASB)
Here Peter wants to remind Christians to remember. Remember the words or teaching of God’s Old Testament spokesmen–the true prophets and also the commandment of the Lord as communicated by His personally trained apostles. Let me suggest that when Peter used the word “commandment” in the singular he is referring to all that Christ had taught the apostles as a singular collection. Peter is drawing an intimate link, the integration of instruction and revelation provided by the Old Testament prophets with the complementary fulfillment, instruction and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should call to mind the Great Commission given to the apostles in Matthew 28. Peter is preparing his readers for the discussion of a particular subject and this is his way of telling them to remember what they have already been taught, and the authority, the credibility behind that teaching, insuring its accuracy–its trustworthiness! Having established this principle he begins to address a particular subject. As we study on we’ll discover he addresses this topic from two different perspectives: the perspective of the mocker, and the perspective of the godly.
vs. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,
vs. 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
First let’s look at the last…the “last days”. Are we living in the “last days” now? Lots of people think so and some people emphatically so. Many would even quote verse 3 as documentation that indeed we are in the last days as there seems to be an increasing number of people questioning the return of Christ. The problem as I see it is, there doesn’t seem to be any scriptural indication of precisely when the “last days” begin so it’s open to some debate. However, we can have enough confidence to assert that, scripturally speaking, Daniel’s 70th week of years should be included in any definition of the term “last days”, and this is the period Peter had specifically in mind as he wrote this passage.
I find it interesting to read the mockers Peter writes about follow after their lusts. Wherever their lust will lead them they will follow, like a bull with a ring in its nose and a rope through the ring whereby the handler can control and manipulate the more powerful creature. And look at the question these mockers raise in verse 4: Where is the promise of His…PAROUSIA! This is a key point you don’t want to miss. Now, I want you to think about something here. Have you ever tried to witness to an atheist or a “New Ager”? Ofttimes some of these people could be categorized among those that are “ungodly”, and they are among the first type of people that comes to my mind when I hear the word “mocker” in conjunction with any biblical discussion. But you know, most of these people are seldom concerned about Jesus Christ; in fact many have a real disdain for fundamental, evangelical Christians. Could it be that Peter is not describing the reactions of these types of people but rather is describing certain people within the “professing church”, people with little or no genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
I envision a degree of chaos within the organized church during the Beginning Birth Pangs and the Great Persecution/Tribulation periods. There will be false Christs, false prophets and at the same time one of the biggest problems the Church has had since its inception–false teachers. There you are, wondering what in the world is going on because everywhere you turn there are different viewpoints, counseling and rumors, and you don’t know what to think. The Bible doesn’t seem to make much sense to you; it’s so archaic and confusing. So, you go to the one who has been your spiritual advisor for the past several years (that is, on the rare occasions when you did attend church), and you go see your old pal, the “Reverend Liber-Al”. He can steer you straight. After all, he went to seminary and mastered that “Al-agorical” method of biblical interpretation. Well, the next thing you know you are sucked into a vicious circle of doctrines of demons and false teachings as he tries to assuage your fears and concerns by “explaining away” the “goofy” teachings of those “prophecy nuts” you heard about. “No”, he will tell you. “Jesus is not coming back in a literal sense. Religious extremists have been saying that for decades!”
This is just one of several ways of looking at our passage in 2 Peter. But the epistle of Jude follows this basic line of thought that it is people in the “professing church” with no genuine faith in Christ that participate in the majority of mocking. Jude’s epistle is primarily devoted to rebuking false teachers and warning of false doctrines within the organized church. Here are a few verses that make this point, yet relates to our text in 2 Peter.
Jude vs. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
vs. 14 And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,
vs. 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
vs. 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
vs. 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
vs. 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”
vs. 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
vs. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;
vs. 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
I trust it is fairly apparent how the two epistles fit together in these related texts. Lets resume with the next verse to study in 2 Peter.
For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water (2 Peter 3:5).
Notice the complete arrogance of these mockers. All the while they maintain and insist that, just like the old doxology I sang as a child in the church I grew up in, “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be–world without end.”, at the same time, they deliberately, they willingly forget (the Greek word THELONTAS implies willingness to forget). I would paraphrase it, they disregard and ignore the truth that God spoke the word and creation was born. And subsequent to creation, water, Peter verifies, played a part as a powerful force in forming and shaping the topography of the earth.
vs. 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
What is Peter referring to in verse six? The answer is of course the Noadic flood, the Great Deluge. Peter had already introduced this subject within the context of judgment previously.
and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:5).
So we know that God as sovereign, God as omnipotent, judged the world and through the agency of water, destroyed the world. I want you to think through a couple issues. First, is there any doubt in your mind that God literally and physically destroyed the entire earth at the time of the Great Deluge, the Noadic flood? This is not a trick question. Peter makes it quite plain the world was destroyed by the flood. The next question is, without getting picky or technical, when God destroyed the earth with water what was His primary target; what was He really after? Genesis 6:5 says God saw that the wickedness of man was great, and in verse 7 God says, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” So, we could easily make the case God was targeting wicked and ungodly people. The third question is, when God destroyed the earth during the great deluge, was the destruction limited to what we would designate as the outer crust portion of the planet, or was it total annihilation, like the nuclear fission of all atoms and the whole globe being vaporized? The biblical answer, without minimizing the massive and catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon the earth, is that the globe was not vaporized but there were extraordinary changes in the atmosphere as well as upon the surface area of the earth. These are critical points I would like you to remember as we examine the next several verses.
But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7).
The word “But” establishes a contrast between the thought presented in verses 3-6 and the new thought presented in verse 7. It helps show similarity, but also contrast, a difference. Peter’s point is, those who will mock the PAROUSIA of Christ in the end times don’t believe, or refuse to take into account, that God already judged and destroyed the earth to remove wicked and ungodly men, using the agent of water. That same sovereign God, that same omnipotent Creator, is going to do it again. This time He is going to use fire as the agent, though the target will be the same, wicked and ungodly men. Peter even tells us when this will happen. It will occur during “the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men”, a clear reference to the period of the Day of the Lord’s wrath.
Verse 7 concludes the paragraph started in verse 1 of chapter 3. Lets quickly summarize the paragraph. Peter is writing to remind the beloved of issues they should already understand to some degree; that being during Daniel’s 70th week of years, imitation believers or counterfeit Christians will mock the PAROUSIA of Christ, disdaining any thoughts of judgment that will be associated with His return, and who the recipients of that judgment will be!
Verse 8 starts a new paragraph with new information and a new perspective. However, this new information and perspective is linked to, is relative to, is in the same context of the previous paragraph.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).
I’m telling you I’ve read books and articles that seem to indicate that as Peter was writing this epistle, right in the middle of it he receives some divine revelation, some special principle that unlocks Bible prophecy and he throws it in the middle of chapter 3. It seems to me as if some treat this verse as an interruption of the flow of Peter’s train of thought. Peter was a fairly simple man; he is merely using a figure of speech to convey an important principle relating to the previous paragraph, and the new paragraph he is now developing.
The next words after verse 8 in my “The Open Bible”, published by the Lockman Foundation, are the words, “Repentance Defined” and appear in bold type, announcing a new section of the excellent Bible study one may choose to take, as it hops around various passages of scripture. But we are on more of a verse by verse study, so I would say if we are going to have a bold heading here it should say, “Verse Eight Explained”! And surprise, surprise, it fits precisely within the context of the chapter.
Vs. 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.
Could Peter have put it any plainer than this? What is this “promise” in verse 9 that he says the Lord is not slow about? The answer is, the promise of His PAROUSIA discussed in verse 4. Verse 9 is unquestionably linked to the promise of the PAROUSIA of verse 4. Peter is answering the challenge of the mockers. The mockers are saying “Where is the promise of His PAROUSIA? It hasn’t happened yet. If it was going to happen, it would have by now. What makes you think it ever will happen? Its not going to happen, its vain imagination!” Peter then provides the explanation of why its taking longer than many think it should take for the PAROUSIA to happen. What is the reason he gives in verse 9? The answer is, God’s patience. When we strive to remain patient what is the number one issue that assaults our mental attitude? The answer is time. What is the major part of every excuse we use whenever we fail and “throw patience by the wayside”? Time. “I’ve spent enough time.” “I’ve wasted too much time.” “I’ve given it enough time.” “I’ve tried time and time again.” “I don’t have anymore time.” “I’ve had it–time is up“, and so on.
I want you to notice the word “come” in verse 9. It is a form of the Greek verb CHOREO (pronounced: co-reh’-oh) and it means to “make room” or “make a place or space” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary. Peter informs us that the Lord is not willing for any to perish and enter into condemnation, but that all would make a space of time…to repent, to change their mind and attitude regarding the Lord Jesus Christ and sin and righteousness and judgment!
Now, look again back at verse 8 and summarize God’s attitude about time. Peter’s approach is so powerful here if people would just listen. What’s God’s attitude about time, and time’s relationship to God’s level of patience, His long-suffering? The answer is, time means nothing to God when it comes to His patience and His desire! There is incredible irony here. In verse 4 we see that the mockery is initiated because of the issue of “time”. “For ever since…all continues…as from the beginning…” But meanwhile God has been discounting time, to allow a maximum amount of time for repentance and to make a space of time for repentance! In verse 10 we see this irony kick in.
verse 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
First, be sure to notice the linkage of the PAROUSIA, judgment of the earth and ungodly, and the day of the Lord–which, after all, is what brought us to 2 Peter 3. Do you see where the irony kicks in? Peter reveals that when the day of the Lord arrives it will come as a thief. What does a thief do? He steals of course. But what does a thief steal? It could be anything but primarily it is something of value. What will be the most valuable commodity these mockers will have stolen or removed or taken from them when the day of the Lord arrives? The answer is–time! Once the day of the Lord arrives it will be too late and time will be up! God’s delay to allow for repentance will have expired. His patience will be spent and He will be pouring out His wrath upon the earth and upon the wicked and ungodly and unrepentant. Peter lists in his own words a few of the familiar features of the day of the Lord judgments we saw in other passages. We could take a look at the seven trumpet judgments and seven bowl judgments in the book of Revelation to get additional insight on the day of the Lord judgment. If you read it for yourself you will see Peter’s description fits in perfectly with John’s description.
What other scripture writer talks about the day of the Lord coming like a thief? The Apostle Paul does in 1 Thessalonians 5. We will look into 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5 with a fair amount of detail later but I want us to read verses 2-4 and verse 9 of chapter 5 right now so you can clearly and plainly see that the phrase “the day of the Lord will come as a thief” refers to a time period that unquestionably falls within the 70th week of years spoken of by the prophet Daniel.
1 Thess 5
verse 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
verse 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
verse 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief;
verse 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (NASB)
Do you see the link between these two apostles and this subject of the day of the Lord? Let’s continue on with our passage in 2 Peter. As we look at verses 11-13 we will be provided some exhortation to engage in holy conduct and a lifestyle characterized by godliness.
2 Peter 3
verse 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.
verse 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
verse 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (NASB)
Recall other passages dealing with the day of the Lord. Remember the vivid descriptions of the supernatural destruction involving the heavens, such as the stars falling from the sky, the sky being split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, the destruction of the earth by being burned with fire and all the earthquakes. Take all those passages into consideration, and then look carefully at the context surrounding 2 Peter 3:12. Do you honestly think Peter has suddenly and mystically switched from discussing the day of the Lord judgments against the mockers and wicked and ungodly, to discussing the complete annihilation of the universe, based on the sole reason that here he uses the term “the day of God”? Is there justification to claim that phrase is completely different and totally distinct from “the day of the Lord”? Yet that is what several well intentioned scholars actually teach. Don’t be fooled friend, not by me or anyone else attempting to teach the word of God. Be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Examine the scriptures yourself to see if these things are so.
Following the day of the Lord/day of God judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants there will be a 45 day period of restoration. The topography of the earth will have been totally burned, the water turned to blood and the islands and mountains will have fled away through tremendous seismic activity in the earth’s crust. God is going to have to restore the earth to enable it to support life once again. Peter mentions that we are promised new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (verse 13). Peter wrote this epistle at least 25 years before John received and recorded the book of Revelation, so how did Peter know about new heavens and a new earth? He knew because the promise is given to us in Isaiah 65:17-25 and 66:22, generally familiar verses dealing with the Millennial Kingdom. The earth has to be restored following the day of God judgments so the Millennial Kingdom can commence. By the time God finishes unleashing His judgments against the wicked and ungodly, the topography of the earth is basically destroyed just like it was during the Noadic flood!
Peter admonishes us to look for and earnestly desire the PAROUSIA of the day of God, in verse 12. Recall that PAROUSIA speaks of “coming” as an event. Even though the day of the Lord/day of God is intimately linked to the PAROUSIA, the second coming of Christ, I teach it is a separate event in its own right as well. Now why would followers of Christ, believers, Christians earnestly desire the day of the Lord’s Wrath with all its judgments upon the earth? Peter qualifies his statement by providing us with the reason we should earnestly desire and look for the day of God, in verse 13.This verse reminds us God has promised to provide His faithful followers with new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Before we get the new heavens and earth, this present earth must be judged and destroyed. Then the righteous and faithful, the chosen ones and saints will be the recipients of phenomenal blessings from the Father of light.
As we consider what Peter is communicating here we need to recall that the destruction he has referred to all along the way was limited mostly to the earth’s topography. Just like the Noadic flood, so shall the day of the Lord/day of God judgments be. The difference between the two judgments are the agents involved. One being water, the other fire. Keep in mind the sequence, the order that all the scripture writers have established. We saw the sequence as we looked at various Old Testament prophets; we saw it again as we read what Christ told the apostles and now we see Peter confirming the same thing, which is when the Day of the Lord arrives it will usher in the most intense period of judgment against mankind and the earth since the great deluge. Recall what Zephaniah wrote in chapter 1:18, “On the day of the Lord’s wrath, all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy.”
Later on, historically speaking, John will record in Revelation 6:14 that when the 6th seal is broken the sky will “split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up”, the very time the sign in the sun, moon and stars is given, indicating the Day of the Lord has just now arrived.
Now, as Peter described the new heavens and new earth, he had a choice of at least two Greek words to select from to convey what the Lord will perform to make a place of habitation for survivors of this period of tremendous judgment and devastation, for those who will enter the Millennial Kingdom. One of the words he could have used is the word NEOS, which often expresses a newness in relation to time, as in comparatively younger. Another choice Peter had would be the word KAINOS, which often connotes a re-newing of something already in existence. Tell me, which of these two words do you feel Peter used in his epistle? The answer is, forms of the word KAINOS. This would not make sense if Peter was trying to communicate God will vaporize the universe before the Millennial Kingdom and create a totally new, younger one in its place. Remember what we just covered in Isaiah, (the first ones at least) the new heavens and new earth come after the day of the Lord judgments but before or actually, on the first day of the Millennial Kingdom. Were we to conduct a more thorough study of this topic we would see that all the Old Testament and New Testament verses including Revelation would be in complete harmony on this point.
Is this making sense? Are puzzle pieces fitting without shaving edges and forcing them to promote a particular bias? Let’s finish the chapter and the epistle by reading the final admonitions and exhortations Peter provides in his last paragraph.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:14-18).
Take a break, have another spot of tea and we’ll head back to Matthew but only temporarily! As you may or may not remember, we are looking at verse 30 of Matthew 24. Since it has been a while may I suggest you read verses 29-31 again to get your bearings back?
Continuing on with Matthew 24:30 there is another important link to look into. The PAROUSIA of Christ will feature our Lord ERCHOMAI’ing on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory! There are two small passages among a selection of several I want us to check out. The first passage is found in Titus.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2:11-15).
While Peter exhorted the beloved to live godly lives within the context of impending judgment upon the world during the day of the Lord, Paul exhorts us to live godly lives within the context of anticipation of the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus! And Jesus Himself reveals precisely when He will appear in power and glory: it will be when the signs in the sun, moon and stars are given to announce the arrival of the day of the Lord’s wrath, with Christ shattering that supernatural darkness with the brilliance of His glory–at His PAROUSIA! It will be like lightning shining from east to west and the whole world will see Him coming in power and great glory! Any way you slice it, the “blessed hope” referred to by Paul is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, plain and simple. I can’t speak for anyone else but my hope is not in the rapture of the church; my hope is in our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. And he has given us the precise timing of when that will occur. He doesn’t provide us with a date on the calendar but He gives us the sequence of events. Let’s refresh our remembrance of a passage we looked at awhile back.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation (1 Peter 4:12, 13).
Do you see how it all fits together? Christians are going to whoop it up when the Lord reveals His glory, as He “cuts short” the great Persecution/tribulation period! When is that glory revealed? No, not at the “rapture”. According to scripture it is at His PAROUSIA.
We have looked intently at what the sign of the Day of the Lord is and when it starts. But what else happens during the Day of the Lord’s Wrath period? Are there any scriptures that provide additional insight as to what transpires? Much of the answer to that question can be found in Revelation. John the apostle discusses yet another part of his vision in Revelation chapter 8 by introducing seven angels who are each given a trumpet. As each one takes their turn blowing their trumpet John records the specific judgment which befalls the earth and its inhabitants. These “Seven Trumpet Judgments” as they are commonly referred to continue through chapter nine. The sequence is interrupted before discussion of the seventh trumpet is blown but resumes in the second half of chapter 11. After another break in the action, chapters 15 and 16 discuss seven angels who have seven plagues, “which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (Rev.15:1), and are given the seven bowls of wrath illustrating the quick pouring out of the final judgments of the Wrath of God period of history. It is beyond the scope of our journey to look further into these judgments as presented in the Revelation, but these chapters provide a great place to glean information for those who wish to know more about the actual judgments issued during the Day of the Lord’s Wrath. It is information that is heart-wrenching and should be very sobering to all who read about it.
There is yet one last item I want you to notice before we move on and it is right here in verse 2 of Revelation 15. John records, “And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass holding harps of God.” The next verse explains this group sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. This is one and the same song but two groups as one, singing. Sure looks to me like it’s the saints of all the ages worshiping together in heaven while the wrath of God is being administered on earth. No, the true spiritual Church will absolutely not experience the Wrath of God. Praise the Lord!