Many people believe that if they invite Jesus into their heart, and follow him, they will not
have to suffer on this earth anymore; we mentioned earlier. However, that is not true.
For, God's children still suffer. Sometimes even more than others because the Lord wants
to make them gradually holier and stronger. Or, because he wants to bless them and people
around them through those hardships. Yet, while they, or rather we suffer, we often give
up hope for a better and nicer future. Although - for us - the best is yet to come.
This might have been the attitude of the Christians of Asia Minor. That is why the apostle
Peter repeatedly encouraged them and even told them: "Dear friends, do not be surprised
at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed
when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are
blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (1 Peter 4:12-14 NIV.) For, The
Day Of The Lord will come, but before that happens many other things will take place.
Then, in 2nd Peter 3 (NIV), he even names some of the things they can count on, and how
they should relate to those events, saying:
Dear friend, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as
reminders to stimulate you to whole some thinking. I want you to recall the
words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our
Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that
in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
They will say,
"Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since the our fathers
died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."
deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth
was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time
was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are
reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly
men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a
thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keep-
ing his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting
anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will
come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be des-
troyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything
will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to
live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will
melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new to
a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness... Therefore, dear friends,
since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away
by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the
grace and knowledge of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now
and forever! Amen.
What kind of information and instructions did the apostle Peter give the Christians of his
day, and us as well in this letter? The following ones: 1 - Recall! 2 - Understand!
3 - Be ready! 4 - Be on guard and grow!
1 - Recall! - Was his first request, when he wrote: "Dear friends, this is my second letter
to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the commands
given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles." In other words – while in the midst
of their trials - Peter wanted God's children to recall or to continually keep in mind
their prophets' hopeful promises and their apostles' commands. Which they could only
do by constantly studying the Scriptures and the apostles' words. But why did they need
to recall these? So that - in the midst of their trials - they may be able to keep their faith
and peace. Just as we - modern day Christians - need to. For, we too need to recall, or
keep in mind the promises of the prophets and the apostles' words, and therefore
constantly study the whole Bible; else we forget their hopeful promises and instructions
and get discouraged. While, if we keep them in mind, or repeatedly recall them, we
too will be able to keep our faith and peace, in spite of the things we may have to suffer
for Christ's sake.
2 - Understand! - Was the apostle Peter's second plea. Namely, that through their Scripture
studies they as well, as we, may understand or know what to expect before the day of the
Lord arrives. For, if we understand or know what things will happen; we maybe able to
wait more patiently, than if we had no idea about what to expect and things just hit us
unexpectedly. In addition, things we know ahead about, don't seem so scary, when they
happen; as those that we don't know about. Which keeps us more peaceful too. That is
probably one of the reasons why God - through his prophets - foretold us so many things.
But what should we understand or know, while we are waiting? According to our lesson,
we should understand "that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following
their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised?..." Especially
since such scoffers are even more evil in our days than ever, which may indicate to us that
the day of the Lord is quite close; and thereby - even in the midst of our greatest trials - help
us to look ahead with joy.
Moreover - according to our Scripture - it is also important to understand or know that
"by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word
the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and
destruction of ungodly men." Meaning that our present earth will be destroyed by fire.
Furthermore - according to the apostle Peter - it is also good to understand or keep in
mind that the Lord doesn't keep time the way we do. For "with the Lord a day is like a
thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." Meaning, that the day of the Lord is
not delayed because God doesn't understand what it means to us to wait so long; but
because he is patiently waiting for more people to get saved, in order to spend eternity with
him. Understanding this truth may calm us down, and provide us with more patience
while we are waiting for that day to come; and may even fill us with thanksgiving toward
our loving heavenly Father's goodness.
3 - Then, be ready! - Was the apostle Peter's third message. For, "the day of the Lord
will come like a thief..." Meaning that there is no doubt that it will come! But it will
come unexpectedly, when we least count on it. Therefore it is important to be constantly
ready. Or, as our Scripture said, that we consider: "what kind of people ought (we) to
be?" Or, what a holy and godly lives we ought to lead as we wait for that day, in order to
make sure that we will not be found unprepared.
4 - Finally, be on guard and grow! - Was the apostle's last request, when he said:
"Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may
not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But
grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." In other words - knowing
all this - we should not only strive to live holy lives but also continually guard
against or watch out for false teachers and teachings and keep growing in the knowledge
of Christ and the Scripture, so that we may never be carried away by their errors.
The apostle Peter was concerned about the Christians of Asia Minor. That is why he
repeatedly told them how to relate to their sufferings while waiting for the day of the Lord.
And since today, we are still waiting for that day, his warnings speak to us as well. For it
is important, or even more important for us to remember the messages of the prophets and
the teachings of the apostles; understand or know about the events that precede that day;
live holy lives or, be ready; and be on guard and grow; then ever! For, only then will
we be able to rejoice at its appearance,