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Be On Guard – Episode 11 – 2 Peter 3:8-13

Consider the feeling of being in the Waiting Room. Maybe you’re in pain, ill, or anxious. Perhaps the staff around you are stressed out or calloused. Maybe the actual room is less than comfortable.

When we’re sitting in a Waiting Room, we want or need help or answers, and we may not be able to get it – at least not in the timeline we’d prefer.

What sort of people ought we to be while we wait?

In this episode Michael teaches from 2 Peter 3:8-13, where Peter addresses the imminent return of Christ and what that means about who we should be while we wait.

Show Notes:

What are you like when you have to wait? And what are you like when the people who are supposed to help you are distracted by their own problems?

The Michael Easley healthcare program: take two-dozen Krispy Kreme donuts with you when you go to the doctor. Ask the staff how they’re doing, remember their names. Simply be civil and the healthcare you receive will improve.

Be the patient who is kind, not mad.

This is hard sometimes when you’re in pain or sick.

Context for today’s passage: Peter is writing an encouragement to his readers because mockers are loudly criticizing their belief in the second coming of Christ. He presents the correct view of Christ’s return and concludes with timely exhortations to his readers in view of the dark and dangerous days facing them.

Our perspective of time needs re-framing

  • Recipients of Peter’s letter anticipated Christ’s return very soon, and may have been discouraged – or, at best, curious – about their perceived delay of His return.
  • Peter addresses his readers as their pastor again, lovingly referring to them as “beloved” as he corrects them.
  • Time is often considered a social construct. Different cultures vary widely in their view of time and timeliness.
  • We perceive time differently than God does: Psalm 90:4

“To the Eternal, who is omnipotent in time as in space, all times are equally near.” – Joseph Mayor, The Epistle of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter

We view time as a linear system of events that cannot be repeated. What the psalmist says is that a thousand years to God is nothing, and Peter says the same thing.

God’s view of time is what matters.

We need to remember that man, whether punctual, early, or late; patient our impatient; our viewpoint, sense, and understanding of time is relative and laden with temporal baggage.

The Lord is Patient toward Sinners

  • Peter encouraged first century believers to think beyond their own “predicament”
  • Peter offers both a negative and positive infinitive:
    • not wishing for any to perish” – God is not malevolent. He does not wish for any to perish, and we live with the tension that man has a freedom to respond to the call of Christ (Ezekiel 33:11; 18:23)
    • for all to come to repentance” — God’s offer of life is to all. Repentance in this usage is simply a turning to embrace Christ’s work.

The tension remains: God’s call is to His chosen, but man must respond by faith. God draws us to Himself, He gives us the faith to have faith, and at some point we respond to that call.

The people thought Christ would return within a specific timeframe and they’re now being ridiculed because of what they believed, but God’s not constrained by their (or our) view of time.

The longer we await His return, the more opportunity there is for people to come to Christ.

The longer we await His return, the more opportunity we have to share the gospel.

  • Perhaps the more chilling aspect of this is that waiting is good; for when Christ returns, the opportunity for people to trust in Christ is very brief.

John 21:18-23, Jesus spoke to Peter in cryptic terms about Peter’s last days. Peter inquires about John and Jesus replies, if I want him to remain here until I come, “what is that to you? You follow me!”

A fair inference is that Peter would die before Christ’s return.

Christ’s return is imminent; His judgment is sure

  • The day of the Lord will come like a thief: 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:2
    • Peter’s just established that God views time differently than we do, so he isn’t instructing that we look for an actual day in the way we understand it.
      Supportive text: Matthew 24:42-44
  • The heavens and earth as we know them will pass away. There are many scholarly viewpoints on what this means literally. The language here, “destroyed with intense heat,” is unusual and literally means to be dissolved, as in melting. At its most common usage we can safely conclude that the heavens and earth as we know them will be destroyed.
  • His return is imminent and judgment is certain, and if that’s true:

How then shall we live?

2 Peter 3:11 This is an exhortation to holy living. If we believe in faith, we follow in obedience.

Peter instructs his readers to:
Holy Conduct – to live apart, a distinct way of life
Legalism and licentiousness are equal failures, both sin.
When we contrast our lives to our culture, how are we set apart?

Godliness: Are we living to please God, not self?
This is a devotion to God, knowing He is awesome and deserves our faithful obedience.
We screen our lives actively always asking and answering:

Is this to the glory of God?

The habitual expectation of ‘the coming of the day of God’ is urged by Peter as being at once a characteristic mark of the true Christian, and itself a most powerful motive to universal holiness – John Lillie

We live resting in His promise, looking for the new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness dwells


We need a long, patient view of life.

Peter’s instruction pertains to the timing/apparent delay of Jesus’ return, and the ramifications are practical in innumerable ways.

What sort of people ought we to be?

If you call Him Father, then act like His son or daughter. That’s righteous living.

Joni Eareckson Tada

People who live faithfully in the waiting room of pain, disappointment, and injustice; keenly aware of our eternal destination and keeping focus on the fact that God is patient toward us and does not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

Have a Biblical or theological question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question or email question@michaelincontext.com. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.

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