Sunday 15 June 2014

"WHERE IS THE PROMISE ..." Bible Reading Thoughts for June 15th

“WHERE IS THE PROMISE …?”                                                                                                            

     Today we read the final chapter of Peter’s final message before he died.  He was martyred, as Jesus said he would be (John 21 v.18,19) but where is not known. Catholic’s claim it happened in Rome, but there is no real evidence he ever went there, it was a story the church invented  much later. St. Peters Church in Rome only began to be built in AD 320. It is much more likely that Peter died in Jerusalem. 
      Peter’s final verses are written to warn believers about scoffers and the chaos of “the last days.”  His words about the last days were very apt as a warning about the fate that Jerusalem was to suffer. That was their first application, and the zealot Jews defending the city were scoffing about the promise of his return; 40 years had passed, only the  elderly would remember Jesus in person.
      Now note what Peter is inspired to write! “Do not overlook this fact beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” [Ch.3 v.8], surely a reference to Psalm 90 v.4.   Peter wrote that scoffers would ridicule those who believed in Christ’s return, saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?”   This is followed by the prediction that at that time people will be saying, “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning” [v.4]    We see this as a reference to the belief in evolution, that there is no Creator – noting the Psalms also speak of those who say “there is no God” (Psalms 14 v.1; 53 v.1].
       Peter says that people will “deliberately overlook” [v.5] the fact of the destruction God brought about in Noah’s time.  Just as God acted to punish ungodliness then, he will do so again.  Do we understand verse10? “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved … “  to be followed by a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” [v.13] 
       As we have seen in Isaiah. reference to “heavens” can symbolises rulers, those whom people look up to!  All human governments are going to panic and fail. “But according to his promise we are waiting for the new heavens” [v.13].  “Beloved, since you are waiting for these”, writes Peter, “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” [v.14] Let us believe his promise, it is the only hope, but it is a sure hope, for our godless world.

2 Peter 3:9,15 we read of the LONGSUFFERING of our Heavenly Father towards us:
"...but (God) is LONGSUFFERING to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"
"And account that the LONGSUFFERING of our Lord is salvation"

We have some powerful reminders of the LONGSUFFERING of the LORD, in the Old Testament:
"The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, LONGSUFFERING, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and sin, and that by no means will clear the guilty"

"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, LONGSUFFERING, and plenteous in mercy and truth"

the purpose of Gods LONGSUFFERING towards us, as Peter writes, it gives us that opportunity to repent and receive salvation. Indeed Paul in his letter to the Romans lays this out to us:
"...despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and LONGSUFFERING; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

But as Paul writes, we must consider what's in our hearts, as there will come that day when we will each have to answer for what we have done with Gods great mercy and LONGSUFFERING towards us:
"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds"

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