The Day Of God's WrathSeries: An Eschatological Mix
THE DAY OF GOD'S WRATH
Sermon By Terry Siverd / November 07,, 2021 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Welcome to those who are joining us online - - we're grateful for your interest in the study of God's word.
When I returned from a sabbatical last April I began a sermon series on eschatology. In the midst of a pandemic, many were opining (bloviating) about how these were signs of the times, heralding THE END. It grieved me to hear preachers and numerous others misinterpreting the message of the Bible. We are now nearing the conclusion of this extended series on eschatology. ThIS word “eschatology” literally means words about lasts things. Eschatology is the study of things related to the time of the end. Sub-topics under the broad canopy of eschatology include: last days, judgment, resurrection and the parousia/coming. Please notice here that I have very carefully stated that eschatology relates to the time of the end. Unfortunately many misunderstand the Scriptures, thinking that Jesus and His apostles spoke about the end of time. Early on in this series I attempted to capture your attention you with the following statement: The New Testament speaks often about the time of the end, but it never speaks about the end of time! I offered this statement, which some may find to be quite startling, as a challenge to you with the confidence that you would respond like the Bereans did back in the 1st century. Acts 17:10-11 records - - And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.
The only way to properly grasp eschatology is to read Scripture through THE LENS OF A COVENANTAL CHANGE. This changing of the covenantal worlds, taught by Jesus and His apostles is what the New Testament is all about. To properly employ this template will revolutionize one's view of end-time events. The last days that are spoken of in the Bible concerned two things: the ending of the Old Testament and the full establishment of the New Covenant. In sharing these truths with you, I am hopeful that this perspective on eschatology will ease your mind. There are many things that produce anxiety in our current age, but eschatology should not be one of them. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying: the Word Of God is preeminent in shaping our lives. As your preacher for the last 25 years, I have constantly stressed the importance of a “thus sayeth the Lord”. Throughout my preaching career I have devoted myself to trying my best to teach you the Scriptures - - nothing more and nothing less.
Please open your Bible to 2Pet.3:10f - - I have titled our sermon for this morning, The Day of God's Wrath. This morning's lesson will lay a foundation for next Sunday's sermon sequel on 2Pet.3, Judgment By Fire. 2Pet.3 is aptly considered to be a mainstay for any legitimate discussion of eschatology. A “mainstay” describes that strong rope that serves to steady and support the mainmast of a sailing ship.
If you've ever played the game of Risk you know that there are some “areas” that are more important than others. The goal of the game is to conquer the world but in order to do so one has to plant soldiers in every “country” and conquer continent by continent. The only way to achieve world domination is by fortifying key border regions with the aim of possessing and keeping an entire continent (doing so brings the benefit of being awarded more armies). Therefore, it is better to stockpile armies in North Africa than Madagascar; Siam is a more strategic site than Siberia; It is smarter to place larger armies in Central America than in Ontario. Etc. One could make a similar argument with the game of Monopoly - - Marvin Gardens is typically more valuable than Baltic.
Every plot of land is important, but some appear MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS.
On a more serious note, this kind of reasoning can also apply to numerous eschatological texts of the New Testament. Each and every one of the end-time passages are important, but some are what we call “biggies” or mainstays. 2Pet.3:10-13 falls into this category. It's not only a “biggie”, it is a “whopper”. Please see today's FamilyMatters for a companion essay, Wherein Dwells Righteousness.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with fervent heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Next Sunday, Lord willing, we will address the symbolical language of this text. My aim this morning is to examine carefully the context of this exhortation found in 2Pet.3. Let us begin this morning by noting (rehearsing) a few introductory points.
First, it is important to recognize that the inspired apostle Peter was writing to a first-century audience (1Pet.1:1f). Secondly, Peter wrote two epistles which are obviously interwoven and connected. 2Pet.3:1-2 confirms: This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you to remind you of what the prophets and Jesus' apostles spoke. These two letters are conjoined - - the first epistle leads to the second and the second feeds off of the first. Thirdly, in 2Pet.3:14f, Peter refers to Paul's eschatological writing as some things hard to grasp. But Paul was not a lone or singular voice in delineating end-time concerns, Peter himself had much to say and write about eschatology.
In 1Pet.1:5 & 7b, Peter wrote of a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In 1Pet.1:10-13, Peter adds: as to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to YOU made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but YOY, in these things which now have been announced to YOU through those who have preached the gospel to YOU by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven - - things into which angels long to look. Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to YOU at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In 1Pet. 4:5, Peter speaks of God - - who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
In 1Pet.4:7, he declares - - the end of all things is at hand.
In 1Pet.4:17, he announces: it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God...
In 1Pet.5:11, Peter exhorts - - after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
In 2Pet.1:10, Peter reiterates the relationship between the Lord's transfiguration and His power and coming. This revelation on the mountain top was A CLEAR DEMONSTRATION OF COVENANTAL CHANGE. When the clouds dissipated, Moses and Elijah were gone, yielding to Jesus alone (Mt.17:8). This was a portend of the removal of the Old Covenant in favor of the establishment of the New Covenant.
In 2Pet.3:3, Peter returns to elaborate on events specifically related to the last days.
Peter's apostolic writings percolate with concerns about the end of the age. The last time … revelation of Jesus Christ … glories to follow … ready to judge … end of all things … suffering for a little while … confirmation and establishment … the last days.
As to covenantal change, please note Paul's reference in 1Cor.10:11 / upon whom the ends of the ages have come. This period from from 30-70AD brought about the intersection of two worlds/ages - - it featured the phasing out of the old (Heb.8:13) and the bringing in of the new (Heb.10:20).
Fourthly, In noting the context of Peter's words, we must realize that Peter's expectations are not other-worldly. Although 2Pet.3 is draped in apocalyptic and highly symbolic language, which is quite common in the Old Testament, the focus of Peter's prophecy is not the changing of the cosmos, but rather the changing of the covenants. 2Pet.3:12 is a fulfillment of Isa.65:17 - - For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. but according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.