Summary: This Sermon was written as a response to Harold Camping's prophecy that the world would end on May 21, 2011.
Well friends, we’ve spent the last few weeks looking at 1 Peter. It’s been both challenging and uplifting. We’ll continue in that letter next week, but for this week, I thought we’d take some time out to discuss an issue that has been talked about a lot lately. Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently, then you’ve probably heard of Harold Camping and his recent prophecy that the world would end on May 21st, 2011. Well, as you know by now, that prophecy did not happen, at least not the way he originally said. Originally, we were all supposed to be raptured on May 21st, and then God would return to destroy the earth and give the Final Judgment on October 21st. Now, Camping is saying that Jesus came on May 21st, without our knowledge, and pronounced judgment on the earth. Everything is now sealed off. Camping is saying that nobody can be saved between now and then, the Great Commission is no longer in effect, so don’t bother with evangelism. We’re either saved or we’re not, and we will all either be raptured or destroyed on October 21st. Some people just can’t admit when they’re wrong, can they?
I’ve never really understood this obsession with trying to figure out exactly when the end of the world will take place, and what exactly will happen. Ever since the church began, folks have been setting dates. Some thought it would be 381 A.D. Then there was 500 A.D. Then 1000 A.D. A friend of Martin Luther liked 1533. The great scientist Isaac Newton predicted 1715 AD. And Jehovah Witnesses have predicted His coming several times including 1844 & 1914. In 1988 a man wrote a book “88 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming in 1988”. Guess what? Didn’t happen. So the next year, he wrote a sequel: “89 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming In 1989”. It didn’t sell nearly as well as his first book. Even 11 years ago, wasn’t the world supposed to end with Y2K?
Some people spend their entire lives trying to figure out everything they can about the end times and the second coming of Jesus. They’ve got charts and graphs and all sorts of Scriptures memorized. They can tell you who the two witnesses will be, where the antichrist will come from and who he will be and so on. Quite frankly, I don’t get into all that. I don’t mind telling you I don’t have it all figured out and honestly I’ve never felt compelled to try to figure it all out. As far as I’m concerned, when we get today under control then we’ll worry about what happens tomorrow. But even though I’m not one who likes to search the Bible for hidden codes and meanings, I do think it’s important that we know what the Bible does actually say about the end of time. So today, I’d like to look at 2 Peter 3:3-18
(vv 3-7) Peter talks about the scoffers who mock the idea of Christ returning. Do we have that going on today? Absolutely! Let me ask you something: why do you suppose the media made such a big deal out of Harold Camping and his predictions? Why didn’t they just write him off as a religious nut and ignore him? Could it be that they actually enjoyed casting Christians in a negative light? I believe so. Though they never came out and said as much, I imagine in their minds they were thinking something like, “Look at those Christians! They’re still waiting for Jesus to return! It’s been 2000 years people! He’s not coming back!”
The ironic thing is, what these people don’t realize is that by mocking the idea of the Lord’s return, they are actually fulfilling the prophecy that Peter gives in verse 4. Their presence is proof that the Word they deny is the true Word of God! We should not be surprised at the presence of these mockers. Why do these people mock us? Because they want to continue living in their sins. Peter makes it clear in 2:10 and 2:18… (read). These people mock the doctrines of judgment and the coming of the Lord. What is their argument? (v. 4) “Nothing catastrophic has happened in the past,” they argue, “so there is no reason to believe it will happen in the future.” They take the “scientific approach” by examining evidence, applying reason, and drawing a conclusion.
God created the heavens and the earth by His word. The phrase “and God said” occurs nine times in Genesis 1. Not only was Creation made by the word of God, but it was held together by that same word. Peter’s argument is obvious: the same God who created the world by His word can also intervene in His world and do whatever He wishes to do! It is His word that made the world and that holds it together, and His word is all-powerful.