Summary: Christians may be at peace despite the cataclysmic events and judgment that will accompany the Day of the Lord.
Title: To Fear, Or Not to Fear?
Text: II Peter 3:8-15
The Big Idea: Christians may be at peace despite the cataclysmic events and judgment that will accompany the Day of the Lord.
There is a 2008 remake in the works that debuts this month. However the original, based on the short story debuted in 1951. In “The Day the Earth Stood Still” a flying saucer orbits Earth, and lands in Washington, DC, on the Mall. Klaatu steps out of the flying saucer and announces that he has come in peace.
In the YouTube.com Trailer from the 1951 film, Klaatu, who is acting as the ambassador from outer space, tells the American people, “If you continue your violent ways, this earth of yours will be reduced to a burned out cinder.”
The ambassador from outer space came to a violent earth to bring a message of peace in order that peace might reign throughout the universe. In the sci-fi story there is the clear threat of destruction if the opportunity for peace is rejected.
In the original cut of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, an angel appeared to the shepherds and told them to not be afraid because he was bringing good news of great joy for everyone! And as he was speaking the angel was joined by a host of others (described as the armies of heaven) saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
The birth of Christ was the first Advent… and the anticipated second coming of Christ will be the second Advent. It is the second coming of Christ that is being described in our text today. And it is God’s desire and purpose that the people of Earth “make every effort to live a pure and blameless lives. And be at peace with God.” II Peter 3:14
It is God’s plan and purpose to extend his offer of peace so that as many as possible will turn to him and receive his mercy, grace, and peace.
1. Extended time is a demonstration of God’s grace.
“You must not forget that, to the Lord, a thousand years is like a day. The Lord really isn’t being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient… he does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.” II Peter 3:8-9
I suspect we have not fully grasped the extent of God’s love for us. Paul attempted to express the greatness of God’s love in Ephesians when he expressed his desire that we might understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. And that we might experience the love of Christ, though it is so great we will never fully understand it. Ephesians 3:18-19
We get a glimpse into the heart of God in the telling of Jewish lore.
Illustration: An old Hasidic story tells of a great celebration in heaven after the Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians at the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was drowned. The angels were cheering and dancing for joy… the hosts of heaven were ecstatic.
Then one of the angels asked the archangel Michael, “Where is God? Why isn’t God celebrating?”
Michael answered, “God is not here because he is off by himself weeping. You see, thousands of people were drowned today.” (Tony Campolo, Let me Tell you a Story, submitted by Debi Zahn, PreachingToday.com)
If we take anything from here today it is this… God loves mankind with a love we cannot fully grasp. God wants all people of all time and of every place to experience his love and the peace of God that defies our comprehension.
There is no denying there has been a considerable lapse in time since mankind first heard of the promise of Christ’s return.
Delay has the potential for two effects:
• Delay can cause people to think that the threat is not real… they may even scoff at very idea of the return of Christ. (II Peter 3:3-4)
The fact that the Earth has been around for a long time does not mean that God has not periodically judged its people when their excesses became too great… the flood during Noah’s time and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are two examples.
Doubters may doubt and scoffers may scoff, but II Peter 3:7 clearly states that God has also commanded that the heavens and earth will be consumed by fire on the day of judgment, when ungodly people will perish.
There is an old story of how Satan called his emissaries in anticipation of sending them to Earth to aid men and women in the ruination of their souls. He asked each what he would tell the people of Earth to cause their spiritual ruin. The first said, “I will tell them there is no heaven.” Another said, “I will tell them there is no hell.” And another said, “I will tell them there is no hurry.” (Bruce Thielmann, “Tide Riding,” Preaching Today No. 30)