Reading: Ezekiel 16-19, 2 Peter 3
For many years the hot topic of discussion among believers was the Second Coming of Christ. I still occasionally hear people refer to this or that event as being a “sign” of the end times. We’ve been waiting for a couple of thousand years for Jesus to return, but though that seems like a long time, the passage in 2 Peter 3 reminds us that: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (3:8, NIV).
God isn’t in a hurry. 2 Peter 3 tells us that there were folks in Peter’s day who gave the young church a lot of grief because their Lord seemed to be taking His time at returning. Imagine what they would have said if they had lived in our time! Peter addresses the issue in this chapter, but he also explains why Jesus has delayed His return. Interestingly, the Old Testament passage in Ezekiel echoes what Peter says in the New Testament.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance…Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” (2 Peter 3:9, 14, NIV),
In Ezekiel, we are reminded of how long God waited for His people to get their act together and walk with Him in righteousness and justice. Hundreds of years passed before He finally brought judgment on Israel for her waywardness. During all those years, God patiently worked to bring his people to a state of sincere repentance. Why did He wait so long?
Ezekiel writes: “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declare the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30, 32, NIV).
Jesus will come. But He waits because He is merciful. He really doesn’t want to see people choose hell over heaven. People often complain that God doesn’t put a stop to the evil in the world. They don’t seem to understand that when God does come to put a stop to the evil in the world, there will be no more opportunity for repentance. It will be too late for all those people who have not accepted His offer of forgiveness and restoration. The consequences for those people will be far worse than any evil man can perpetrate here in earth.
The Second Coming will happen without warning–despite the “signs” everyone is looking for. For that reason Peter encourages his audience to: “…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…So then, dear friends, since you look forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:11, 12, 14, 18, NIV).
This “living” has two purposes: It prepares us for what heaven will be, and it has a redemptive element. Matthew says that people will see Christ in our lives and “glorify” the Father because of it (Matthew 5:16, KJV). There is nothing that brings more glory to God than a sinner who, through faith, comes into a living relationship with the Saviour.
That’s our mission. That’s God’s heart.