Today we read the last chapter of Peter’s final message before he died. He was martyred, as Jesus said he would be (John 21:18,19) but where is not known. Catholics claim it happened in Rome, but there is no real evidence and was a story invented much later. St. Peter’s Church in Rome only began to be built in AD 320. It is probable 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 end times 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 writes. “Do not overlook this fact beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8), surely a reference to Psalm 90:4. 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” (verse 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 14:1; 53:1).
Peter says that people will “deliberately overlook” (verse 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 verse 10? “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” (verse 13).
As we have seen in Isaiah, reference to “heavens” can symbolise 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” (verse 13). “Beloved, since you are waiting for these”, writes Peter, “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (verse 14). Let us believe His promise, it is the only hope, but it is a sure hope, for our godless world.
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