Wait For It…
A sermon based on 2 Peter 3:8-14
Sunday, December 7, 2014 – Advent 2B
Christmas is coming! We're only a few weeks away now! But kids, you have to wait until you can open your presents. It's not for another 18 days! Do you like waiting to open your presents?
Adults, have a winter vacation planned? Going to get out of the snow and warm up? Well, you're obviously not gone yet, so you have to wait for it. Do you like waiting? And it's a little over 4 months before you get your tax return, and another 6 months after that before you get your PFD's again. But you have to wait for it…
We don't always like waiting, do we? We're not always super patient. That truth comes across in our conversations. We don't like waiting until it's our turn to talk, so instead of listening, we're often formulating our response in our heads, if not outright interrupting others.
But God isn't like that. He doesn't mind waiting. He's pretty patient. In spite of all the wickedness and evil he sees take place every day in this sin-filled world, in spite of the pain he sees us humans inflict on one another, he doesn't end the earth. At least, not yet… He's being patient.
And this morning we hear from the Apostle Peter again as he encourages us to be patient too. "Judgment Day is surely coming!" he reminds us, "But… wait for it…." Our text for consideration this morning is from 2 Peter 3:8-14…
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 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.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Do you know the average life expectancy of a gnat? It's around 3 or 4 months. A gnat lives his entire life—from birth to death—in just 16 weeks! So he learns to fly at week 1, maybe goes to prom at week 2, gets married by week 4, goes through his midlife crisis at 8 weeks, finds a nice little gnat retirement home at 10 weeks and 2 to 6 weeks later. He dies.
Now the average life expectancy of your average US citizen is 78 and a half. That's 942 months. That means that on average we live more than 235 times longer than the average gnat. Now if I could somehow communicate with a gnat and tell him that I'm going back to Wisconsin soon, a little over 7 months from now and wanted him to come with me, what do you think he would say?
"Soon?! You call that soon?! I will be long dead by then, and most likely, my kids will be dead too! Two weeks would be 'soon' for me! Not seven months! You have a totally different perspective on soon because you live so long!"
Okay, so the analogy is a bit goofy. But that's kind of what it must be like for God. "Judgment Day is coming soon!" he's promised. "It will be here any time now!" he says in his Word. But almost two thousand years have passed. Dozens of generations have passed! And still, Judgment Day hasn't come.
And we may think like the gnat, "Two years would be 'soon' for me, Jesus! Not two thousand! You have a totally different perspective on soon because you live so long."
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
When you're hurting and in pain, God's "soon" can be discouraging. When you're facing persecution like the first century Christians were, that "soon" can't come soon enough! When you're sick and tired, when you're struggling with a relationship, struggling with the finances, struggling to find some direction, the promise that Jesus is coming soon to take us to be with him in heaven seems a long way off, not soon. We wish that day were here now! We wish he would take us to heaven. But it's not here. Not yet. So we have to wait for it…
And at times we grow impatient. Because God's "soon" is different from what think of as "soon," we can be tempted to think he's forgotten about us. We doubt his love. We doubt his promises. And we demonstrate that every time we sin against him. If you knew Jesus would come back tomorrow morning, I think you'd live differently tonight. But because it seems like he's so long in coming, we forget about it.
But Peter tells us why he's taking so long! "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."
Make no mistake. Judgment Day is coming. "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare… That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. "
Remember the fire that ripped through the Peninsula this past spring? That won't even be a small spark compared to the fire that is to come on Judgment Day. And what a horrible fate will fall on those who aren't prepared. It will be a day of disaster like we talked about last week.
How selfish we are when because of our frustrations or pains wish for Judgment Day to come soon without giving any thought to what that will mean for those outside the faith! How self-absorbed we are! We don't deserve to be spared on that day for our loveless lack of concern for others. We deserve to have God destroy us with eternal fire on that Day.
But, "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
And so he calls you to repentance again and again, leading you to confess your impatience and your selfishness to him. He leads you back to the Gospel where you see Jesus' perfect life lived for you and the innocent death he died for you.
He leads you here to be comforted with that message of peace that you are already perfectly saved even though you're not yet fully saved and in heaven. And we know that we will be fully saved and "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."
And because he is so patient, he's waiting for others to come to faith too that they might be spared of that disaster. He doesn't want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
So we wait for it…
But what do we do while we wait?
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming… make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
What do we do while we wait? We "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." And how are we spotless, blameless, and at peace with God? Surely not because of our efforts, but through faith in Jesus' efforts already done for us. In other words, we make every effort to stay in the faith.
And as we do, we live holy and godly lives! We work hard to please our Savior to show him how thankful we are for what he's done! Because he has declared us to be "spotless, blameless and at peace with him," we want to actually be what he's already declared us to be and stop sinning.
While we wait, we don't wait with impatience, but we do look forward to Judgment Day with excitement! We look forward to that day more than children look forward to tearing the paper off of the gifts under the tree. For we will have not just a new gadget or toy or article of clothing, but a new heaven and new earth and a new home—a home of righteousness for us who are righteous through Jesus—a home where sin and all its effects are completely, eternally absent! We look forward to that Day like you look forward to a holiday or a vacation but even more because we know that that vacation will never end!
And, finally, Peter tells us that as we look forward to the day of God, we should speed its coming. But how? How can we make Judgment Day come any sooner? Well if God is holding it back until more come to faith in Jesus, we can make Judgment Day come sooner by doing all we can to help bring other people to faith! So let's share the Gospel that brings more to faith!
Invite a friend come with you, ladies, to the Ladies' Advent by Candlelight this afternoon. Do you use Facebook? Like a sermon or better still, share it on your page or with a friend. Ask a question from your Bible reading or about the Exodus movie on your Facebook page and tag me. Let your friends see not just the answer, but your commitment to growing in your faith. Invite a family with young children to bring them to Christmas for Kids next Saturday. Invite a co-worker to come to Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship with you.
Let's get the Word out. And then let's pray that the Holy Spirit would overcome resisting hearts and lead more people to faith.
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.
So we wait for it…
And while we wait, we do all we can to keep our faith. We do all we can to share our faith. And we will be ready for that great Day as we continue to… wait for it. In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.