Meaning of “Day of the Lord” Part 7

May 3, 2015 at 5:45 PM

In this series, we have been taking the time to go over what the Bible means when using the term “day of the Lord” (DOTL). We’ve looked at a number of Scripture from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and with this particular article, I want to take some time to look at a section in 2 Peter 3. Let’s take a look at the text.

2 Peter 3:1-2 tell us the following:

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”

In the above two verses, Peter takes the time to remind his readers what they have already heard, not only from his first letter to them, but the actual words spoken beforehand by the prophets (from the Old Testament times), as well as the commandments taught by the apostles. Peter is one to refer back to other teachings even though, as an apostle himself, he had the authority to simply declare what he knew to be from the Lord. This is a mark of Peter’s humility because he was essentially stating, “Don’t take my word for it, but look at what the prophets and other apostles have written regarding what God has said.”

After this brief introduction of chapter 3, Peter moves directly into the subject of that chapter. In verses 3 – 9, Peter tells his readers very bluntly that there will come a “day” when people will scoff at and mock the very idea of the physical return of Jesus. In case it has escaped your notice friends, this is happening today and it started a number of decades ago. It didn’t just happen on one particular day and then stop. This mockery of the Lord’s return has been going on for a number of generations in earnest and it largely comes from one particular group of people: unsaved.

We need to remember that the visible church contains unsaved people. Not all are saved. Jesus pointed this out to us in His parable of the wheat and the tares (cf. Matthew 13:24-30). He warned us that Satan would have his “infiltrators” become part of the visible (not invisible), Church. Satan has no power to put unsaved people in the actual Body of Christ. He only has power to put them sprinkled throughout Christendom, where people gather in their local churches. Many of these infiltrators have become pastors and have been leading people astray for decades. But none of this is represented by one “day.” Peter’s use of the comparison of one day to one thousand years is twofold. The meaning of that phrase is actually explained in the following verse, verse 9. Peter is reminding us of God’s tremendous patience and He will wait as long as possible before meting out judgment. To us, it will be a thousand years, but to God, since He is not constrained or controlled by time (He created it), one thousand years to us is like a day from where He sits.

2 Peter 3:10-14 states the following:

“10 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 intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

These verses have an interesting construction and actually prove that the “day of the Lord” is much longer than merely one day. Peter starts off by stating that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” so let’s deal with this first. This declarative statement is a complete truism. However, many students of the Bible take this to mean that even Christians will be taken by surprise. That certainly could happen, but Peter is educating his readers so that they will know that in essence, the entire world will be taken by surprise and specifically, he is referencing unsaved people. These are the same people who mock His eventual return to this planet.

The lost of this world are absolutely clueless. Because of their continued rejection of God, His Word, and His salvation, as Paul states in Romans 1, God will “throw” them over to their own unbelief. They will fully believe the lie that God throws them over to so that those who are alive when He returns, will be absolutely shocked! It will be the last thing they expect to happen!

This “thief in the night” description references people who are not prepared. Like the person who runs an errand and they leave their home wide open. They return to find their home has been robbed. They were not expecting it and took no precautions. They did not even consider the fact that a thief might decide to rob their home. Never crossed their mind. This is the unsaved person who has no thought of God, much less of His impending return to the planet He owns. They go about their daily lives and when Jesus returns, they will be profoundly shocked because it is something they did not ever believe could or would happen. In fact, they likely joked about it often.

Paul reiterates as much in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. There, he says the same exact thing as Peter and certainly, Peter is likely referring back to Paul’s writings because 2 Peter was written roughly 10 years after Paul wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians.

“For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”

Notice also please – and this is very important – that when Jesus returns, Peter notes that “the earth and its works will be burned up.” Peter makes it sound as though this will take place the moment Jesus returns! However, we know from the book of Revelation alone that before this earth and the heavens are burned up and replaced with new ones, Jesus will reign on this earth for 1,000 years from his “father” David’s throne in Jerusalem.

Peter is cobbling it altogether making is sound as though Jesus returns, then BOOM, new earth and new heavens. The reality though is that Peter is looking over a long stretch of time and that is very obvious if we allow Scripture to interpret itself by comparing what the Bible says about this in other portions of Scripture. This is similar to Zechariah 9:9-10 where a gap clearly exists between the two verses there. We’ve discussed this in a previous article which can be viewed here.

What really happens is that Jesus returns to this earth at the end of the 7-year period known as the Tribulation bringing that period of time to an abrupt end. He then judges the nations (Sheep and the Goats, cf. Matthew 25:31-46). After this, Jesus reigns for 1000 years. It is after this that Satan (who has been bound for that period) is let loose, then the Great White Throne Judgment, and THEN the new heavens and earth are dealt with at that point (cf. Revelation 20-21).

So even for those people who believe that the “day of the Lord” is one specific day, they unfortunately have it wrong, according to the apostle Peter. Clearly, the events that Peter points to stretch out over a period of over one thousand years and he includes the creation of the new heavens and earth IN that “day.” If that is the case, the obviously, the “day of the Lord” from Peter’s perspective cannot be summed up in one particular day. It is most assuredly a long period of time.

We’ll go into just a bit more detail on this in our next article. Thanks for joining me for this one.

Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming.

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