Peter begins this chapter by reminding his brothers and sisters in the faith of what both the prophets during the Old Testament and also the Apostles of the Lord and Savior in the New Testament have spoken: “knowing this first”, that scoffers [among even the people of God] will come in the last days, living according to their own lusts, and saying that there are no indications/signs that the Lord is coming; nothing has changed since the creation of the world. If Christians and Jews do not believe in their heart that the Lord and Judge is coming, why should we expect others to take the matter seriously?! If believers are not praying the last prayer of the Bible – “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”! – why should we expect Israel to say “Blessed are you, Lord Jesus/Yeshua, who comes in the name of YHVH!”?
The scoffers are secure in their own unbelief and evil (in God’s eyes), and make light of the coming again of Jesus, who is going to judge them and their lifestyle. Peter writes that these scoffers willfully forget (willful collective amnesia) the flood in Noah’s day, when Godintervened directly into human affairs, judging and destroying the world as it was then. And God has promised by His word to again judge and destroy the world as it now is, this time by fire, on the day of judgment – the Day of YHVH – to put away ungodly people and subdue evil, and to rescue and save the righteous. The God of Israelwill vindicate and sanctify His holy name, and glorify His people. By faith, we, according to His promise, look beyond the Millennial Kingdom for the perfect New Heavens and New Earth to come (the present Heavens and Earth are “very good”) (Gen 1:31; 1Cor 13:10; Rev 21:1-4), in which righteousness dwells. (2Pt 3:13)
The scoffers have accepted or been heavily influenced by the teaching of evolution, which, in essence, claims that the Biblical record and testimony do not stand up to human wisdom. (And they can also be negatively influenced by numerous false prophecies about the end times and rapture that have already been proven to be false.) They add much and take away much of what is written in the Scriptures, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Peter writes that they willfully forget that YHVH judged the world by the flood, and that Jesus is coming again to judge the world in righteousness. Evolution teaches that death was happening long ago without sin as being the cause; whereas Yeshua and the Apostles affirm that death came in because of sin through one man, Adam. In evolution teaching, there may have been a flood that covered the Earth, but it was not a judgment from the Creator. Evolution is more than just a teaching about length of time for things to be what they are. Yeshua came to save us from our sins, from the liar Satan, and from death and Hell. This is the gospel message!
Evolution teaches, generally, that there is no God, at least not YHVH, and if there is a God, then He is not good; no judgment; no Heaven, and no Hell (but, if there really is the God, they want to usually be in Heaven after the judgment that they do not fear, with the Lord whom they deny). This teaching undermines the Biblical testimony of the LORD Himself, who has revealed to us what He has done, when He has done it, and why He does it. Therefore, it, too, falls into the category of “destructive teachings”, or heresies, having come out from the household of faith. God also tells us that human beings are unique among all other created things, in that we are created in His image and likeness. That is why we are commanded to live in holy conduct and godliness. Charles Darwin (accredited for popularizing evolution as a world-view) knew that if he was right, then Genesis is wrong, and the whole Bible becomes discredited as the primary source and authority about origins and purpose; it becomes only a mythology of the Hebrews. In his theory, the strong survive (survival of the fittest). Jesus, and the writers of the Scriptures, tell us that the meek and righteous shall inherit the Earth and the Kingdom. (Ps 37:11, 27-34; Mt 5:5)
(Parents, pastors, teachers, we have an obligation to know and to show from the Bible why evolution is wrong. We do not have to understand how our God could create everything as He said He did. Neither can anyone explain how evolution is right. We either believe our Father, who has revealed to us what only God knows, or else we reject that and put this world’s wisdom above God’s Word. “Has God really said?!” We want to worship Him in spirit and truth.)
In these last days, Peter informs us by the Holy Spirit that people live in unbelief, without the fear of YHVH. We can see lawlessness increasing, with more violence and brutality as a consequence. They live as if God does not exist, or else, if so, that He is irrelevant. “God is dead”. Yeshua tells us that “as in the days of Noah, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Mt 24:37-39) People will be living as everything will continue to be as they always have, not expecting the return of the Lord. The Scriptures are united in their witness and testimony. The “scoffers” do not believe in their heart in the living God, or in the signs which He has given us to prepare and be ready of Jesus’ return. As disciples of the true Messiah, we need to renew our minds, and not be conformed to this world, and the spirit of it.
The Day of YHVH corresponds to the Day of Atonements in the redemptive calendar which God gave to Israel. On that day, either the Jewish Israeli people accepted the sacrifice that He provided for their atonement, or they did not. If they do, He dwells among them (full-filled realized during the Millennial Kingdom, corresponding to the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles). If they refuse, they cut themselves off, and YHVH will see to it. (Lev 23:26-32; Lev 16; Zec 12:7-14; Heb 9:11-28) The 1000-year reign of Messiah, and the saints with Him, is the Sabbath rest for this creation – the seventh 1000-year period since the Creation, according to God’s Word. (Heb 4:1-11; Rom 8:18-25) All of the covenantal promises of God to Israel and her people and land are ‘yes’, and ‘amen’ in Messiah Yeshua, and will all find their fulfillment during those times of restoration of all things pertaining to this world, which will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. (Acts 3:19-22; Is 11:9; 2:17)
God has been long-suffering before this long-awaited Day comes. He wants people to be saved, having their sins forgiven and wiped away, and to live with Him for eternity! (2Pt 3:9) It took Him about 1700 years after Adam and Eve to judge and kill all of the wicked, but saved Noah and his family in the ark. Peter is also telling us that God is not slow to put away the evil, but long-suffering, wanting as many as possible to repent and be saved. So Peter, by the Holy Spirit, references Ps 90:4, in which Moses writes, by the Holy Spirit, that 1000 years is like yesterday to God. Moses goes on to write that our life expectancy is 70 years, and with strength, 80 years. (v 10) In other words, a normal lifetime is between 70-80 years. (In Israel today, the average life-span is about 83 years; Israel today, as a nation, is approaching 71 years.)
Moses also wrote that that we should want God to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. (v 12) Hosea the Prophet wrote that Israel should return to the LORD, for YHVH has punished them, but will heal them. He has stricken them for two days, and on the third day He will raise us up, that we might live in His sight. Let us know and let us pursue the knowledge of YHVH. (Hos 6:1-3) These two days were not 24-hour days, but these completely align with Peter’s prophetic counsel to believers in Jesus in the last days – which began since Yeshua died and rose again, ascended to sit at the right-hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 120 disciples. (Acts 2:16-21) We are living in the end-times of the last days, marked by the reestablishment of the Jewish people in the land of promise. (Mt 24:32-35) (Interestingly, even in the Talmud is a reckoning of history into three 2000-year periods, for the six days of history following the Creation: 2000 years of no Law; 2000 years of Torah; 2000 years of the Messiah. http://www.come-and-hear.com/zarah/zarah_9.html ) (With evolutionary thinking, there are no reliable time-markers.)
Yeshua rebuked the multitudes of the people in His day that, although they could discern the signs about the weather, they could not discern the times about His having come to them, the Messiah and Lord that the prophets had foretold them. (Lk 12:54-56; Acts 3:17-18) Do we want Him to say the same thing to us? The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age. (1Cor 10:11; Acts 3:19-26) And what was the context in which Paul wrote that to the believers in Corinth?: they were walking according to their own lusts, just as Israel had done, warning the believers not to become idolatrous like unbelievers who live according to the lusts of the flesh. This is what Peter is saying to us, as well, nearing the end of the age: that since God is going to judge all these things, we are to live in holy conduct and godliness, waiting for and hastening the day of God (the day of YHVH). (2Pt 3:11)
The Father has set a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, and Yeshua is that Judge. (Acts 17:30-31) No one can know in advance precisely that day and hour; but, we are told to watch and pray concerning the signs which the Lord and the apostles and prophets have given us. Then we can be prepared, and not be taken by surprise when the Lord returns as a thief in the night.
How do we hasten a day that the Father has set and no one can alter?: by faithful obedience, and by love. If we are busy with what our Lord and Savior has given us to do, we will be blessed in Him, and the “work day” will not seem so slow and long. He has commissioned us to take the gospels to all peoples, and that when the fullness of Gentiles have come in, then all Israel will be saved. And if we really love Yeshua, then we will be continually desiring to see Him, even as we go about His work, loving others, and He will comfort us by His Word and Spirit that He will come for us. We will “feel” that the time is going by faster, thus, hastening the Day. (Mt 24:36-51) As we read the whole counsel of God, we see that there is a unity and an agreement within the Bible that reinforces what He would have us to hear and understand and do. We are His children; we are His servants; we are His friends; we are His witnesses; we are the Lamb’s beloved Bride.
Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, commends his brother Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, but who was also commissioned by the Lord Yeshua to speak to the Jewish people and to kings. Paul had rebuked Peter when Peter had acted hypocritically regarding his lifestyle and teaching as a believer: he was eating with Gentiles, and free to eat whatever was put before him (if he wanted), giving prayer and thanks to God for it. (1Tim 4:3-4) But when leading Jewish believers who were still keeping certain traditions that were no longer required of believers in Messiah Yeshua, he acted like he was, too. His example influenced other believers, and Paul rebuked him for bringing confusion into the truth of the gospel – to the Jews first, and also to the Gentiles. (Gal 2:11-21) Peter humbled himself, and accepted the rebuke, and now, in his second epistle, commends Paul and the wisdom which he had received from God. He adds that those who twist Paul’s words and teachings – though some are very challenging to understand — do so with all of the Scriptures! (2Pt 3:14-16)
This third and last chapter of Peter’s second epistle to the Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua focuses on how believers – whether Jewish or not – should live in light of the falling away from the true faith in the true God, in order that disciples of Jesus can be overcomers in the Day of YHVH, after which there shall be a regenerated Heavens and Earth during the Millennial reign of Messiah with His saints co-ruling over saved Israel and the nations. (Is 65:17-25; Rev 20:4-6; Dan 7). Yet Peter takes us beyond the last 1000 years of this creation – which will pass away (Mt 5:17-18) — to the New Heavens and New Earth “in which righteousness dwells”. (Rev 21:1-8) God has called us by “glory and virtue”, given us “exceedingly great and precious promises” – all this that we would be motivated to strengthen ourselves in God to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2Pt 1:2-4; 3:11,18) Are you ready for the Day of the LORD? Or are you thinking that everything will just continue as they always have seemed to? What kind of people should we be in the light of that Day? Yeshua gives us attributes of God’s character in the Sermon on the Mount; and Paul gives us the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians. Let us aspire to become more like our heavenly Father, in His image and likeness. We should look forward to these things, and be diligent to be found in peace, without spot, and blameless when He comes.
The Apostle Peter’s reminder and counsel to us is similar to Hosea’s: pursue the knowledge of our God and Savior. Grow in knowing God – our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent, the Holy Spirit dwelling within us joining us as one Spirit with our Creator and Redeemer. This is eternal life, which we possess already if we are born again from Above, and which we long for in fullness in the resurrection of our bodies.
To God be the glory both now and forever!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, January 5, 2019, and reposted with permission.