But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. — 2 Peter 3:10
It was Saturday evening, and our family packed our vehicle in preparation for the 135-mile trip we would make early Sunday. The trunk of our car was loaded with expensive musical instruments — a trombone, an accordion, and a guitar — as well as other items for the trip. The plan was to wake up our four children, get ready, and depart for the branch church we would minister to on Sunday.
The next morning, our family got up, dressed, ate, and hurried out the back door to get into the car. But — the car was not there! Confused at first, I checked around front to see if I had forgotten where I had parked it, but soon the truth dawned: the car had been stolen during the night.
Our trip was cancelled, and we reported the theft to the police. Had we known that someone would steal our vehicle during the night, we certainly would not have loaded it. What a jolting illustration of the warning given in our focus verse that the day of the Lord will arrive like a thief who comes when we are not expecting it.
Many cataclysmic events will transpire in the last days, and at the end of those events, the earth will be destroyed, and God will establish the new heavens and a new earth. The Rapture of the Church will transpire at the beginning of these last-days events. The Bible is clear that Jesus will snatch His followers away suddenly, unexpectedly, and lightning-fast. When we were first told about it, we may have been concerned about the imminent return of the Lord, but over time, it is human nature to relax and forget.
There is a moment appointed for the Lord to return and no man knows when it will be. God does not want us to be ignorant of this; He wants all to be saved and ready. Unfortunately, many will not be watchful and cautious, and will someday experience unspeakable regret when they realize what has happened. There will be no rolling back time and preparing after the Lord has come.
The sinking feeling I had when I realized our car had been stolen was only a hint of the terrible anguish we will have if we are not ready when the Lord returns. Let’s make sure we are prepared and watching for that moment! Then we will be safe through the remainder of the end time events and all of eternity.
The first letter Peter wrote was for the encouragement of believers. He reminded them of the familiar truths of the Gospel, especially redemption by Christ and the hope of glory in the future. His second letter dealt with heretics, false teachings about Christ, rebels against His authority, subverters of the Gospel, and those who scoffed at the Second Coming of the Lord. Peter’s goal was to warn against these false teachers who opposed the truth and attempted to undermine the very foundation of the Gospel.
In this chapter, Peter spoke of “the day of judgment,” “the day of the Lord,” and “the day of God” — the time when judgment will fall upon the corrupt and scornful. The Second Coming of Christ will have two distinct appearances. First, the Rapture of the Church will occur when the saints are “caught up” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Second, the Revelation of Christ will take place at the close of the Tribulation, when the heavens will open and Christ will return to this earth in power and great glory with the heavenly host. He will then execute judgment on the ungodly and set up His Millennial Kingdom.
Chapter 3 reminds readers to anticipate Jesus’ return. Some mocked the brethren who were alert and waiting for Christ’s return, saying He would never come back. Some had become apostate in doctrine and had failed to live a holy life. Peter explained that the scoffers were willingly ignorant because they did not want to know the truth.
The letter continues by stating that regardless of what some may say, God’s promise is sure, and all His promises will come to pass. The longsuffering mercy of God reaches out to the entire world during the period of waiting for His return, that many may believe unto salvation and receive eternal life.
Peter spoke of the commodity of time, which may appear to be long to us. However, to God, Who is eternal, it is very short. He looks at time as a vapor that quickly disappears, and He contrasts time with eternity. The epistle ends in a similar manner as it began — with an admonition to “grow in grace,” and finally with praise to God, "To him be glory both now and for ever” (verse 18). Peter spoke here of when “time” will move to eternity.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Call to reassurance in Christ’s coming (3:1-18)
A. The denial of Christ’s coming (the theological problem) (3:1-7)
1. The presence of mockers (3:1-3)
2. The accusation of mockers (3:4)
3. The ignorance of mockers (3:5-7)
a. Of a past divine intervention (3:5-6)
b. Of a coming divine intervention (3:7)
B. The explanation of Christ’s delay (the theological explanation) (3:8-10)
1. The patience of the Lord (3:8-9)
2. The certainty of His coming (3:10)
C. The conduct of the believer in view of His coming (the theological application) (3:11-18)
1. Be holy and godly (3:11-13)
a. The exhortation (3:11)
b. The basis (3:12-13)
2. Be at peace (3:14-16)
3. Be growing (3:17-18)
Each day brings us closer to the next wonderful event Christians are anticipating: Christ’s return. If you still need to prepare for His coming, now is the time. We want everyone to be ready!