2 Peter 3: The Day of the Lord

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Bible Study from 2 Peter 3:10

The Day of the Lord

by I Gordon


We have seen so far that the context of chapter 3 deals with the last days and the Lord's return. We have seen that some will come saying 'Oh yeah, right, Jesus is coming, yeah sure! There's going to be judgment at the end of the age, yeah right! Everything just carries on as it always has, the sun rises, the sun sets. Nothing ever changes. God doesn't step in, if there is a God, to the affairs of man'. So Peter is saying that this is going to happen in the end times. They are going to start mocking the thought that there could actually be a judgment, and that God would even judge the earth. But the Day of the Lord will come, Peter tells us... there is no doubt about it. So what I want to look at in this study is this term 'the Day of the Lord'. We will look at what it means and what the threefold purpose  [1]  for the Day of the Lord is.

The Day of the Lord

2 Peter 3:10 '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.'

So firstly, let's look at the term 'the Day of the Lord'. Peter didn't make up this term. Paul didn't make up this term. The other apostles didn't come up with it. This goes all the way back to the prophets of the Old Testament and they were always consistent in talking about the Day  [2]  of the Lord that would come at the end of the age. In short, the day of the Lord defines a period of time at the end of this age where God will bring His judgment upon the earth.

So Peter says that the Day of the Lord will come. It is not going to be a day too late and it's not going to be a day too early. It will be in God's absolute perfect timing  [3]  .

And it 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.' So how does a thief come? When you are least expecting it, and that is why Paul said this in Thessalonians (he was talking about the Day of the Lord as well)

'  For you yourselves know full well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night, while they are saying peace and safety then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labour pains upon a woman with child and they will not escape.  ' (1 Thes 5:2-3)

Jesus also, when He was talking about His return (Matt 24:42-44), said it would come unexpectantly and quickly like a thief  [4]  . We know that they will be saying 'peace and safety', 'everything is great in this world'. But it's amazing how quickly some things can change. I preached this study in the week of the disaster in New Orleans. Everything is fine one day, at peace and people are at ease, and then sudden destruction the next.

Now, in Arnold Fruchtenbaum's book 'The Footsteps of the Messiah', he states the three fold purpose for the Day of the Lord and I want to use this as the frame work for this study. The first is in Isaiah 13.

 First purpose - To make an end of wickedness and wicked ones 

Isaiah 13:9-11 'See, the day of the LORD is coming - a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger -  to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it  . The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.  I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins  .  I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold  , more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.'

In this age in which we live, Peter says that God is amazingly patient, He is wanting people to repent, He is wanting people to come to Him and to know Him. But all of the Prophets talked about this time as Isaiah does here. And so the first purpose of the Day of the Lord is to bring an end to wickedness and wicked ones... which is a pretty full on thought. It says in verse 9 that God will make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. And not only will this judgement be upon the earth, but the heavens as well as we saw in 2nd Peter 3:10. We see this also in Isaiah 13 passage where it states that '  The stars of the heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light and the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light  '.

Isaiah chapter 24 pictures the same time as this and it speaks of a weight that is upon the whole earth, pulling it down. It says -

 'The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder; the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls - never to rise again.' (Isa 24:19-20) 

So basically it is picturing the earth and likens it to a drunken man with weights upon him, pulling him over - and that weight upon the earth is its sin. It is a vivid picture of the day when God just says ENOUGH!! ENOUGH - there is enough sin. And I don't know about you, but when I was thinking about it, I thought we have gone 2,000 years where God has been dealing with mankind in the day of grace. And God has been amazingly patient... and we know that the Amorites had 400 years until their sin was complete, so that judgment could take place. And when I think of the sin of the world, it reminds me of the exponential growth curves that you see in physics and mathematics classes at school. It starts off pretty flat for a while, but it starts to grow and double, and double, and before long it is increasing enormously in very little time. Sin can be like that. Because the world in which we live is becoming so unified, the philosophies of the world are spreading everywhere - and rapidly! There does seem to be an exponential growth curve in terms of sin. Because of this I really feel that the day of the Lord and Jesus' return can't be too far away. So it says: '  The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard, for its transgression is heavy upon it and it will fall never to rise again  '.

So that's the first purpose of the Day of the Lord; to put an end to wickedness and wicked ones. But there is another reason for God has a very real purpose for the good of mankind, even amongst His judgement!

Second Purpose - Worldwide Revival!

The second reason for the Day of the Lord is to bring about worldwide revival. Now, a lot of people talk about revival, saying 'oooh there's gunna be a revival, revival is coming, oooh here it comes'. I've heard that for some time. And it is true that God is doing some fantastic things in the earth right now - normally though within eastern or third world countries where there is either persecution or real need for Him. But as I read my Bible, the only revival that I see clearly in scripture is this one during the tribulation, the day of the Lord. Let's have a look -

Rev 7:9-14 After this I looked and there before me was  a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne  and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'... Then one of the elders asked me, '  These in white robes - who are they, and where did they come from?  ' I answered, 'Sir, you know.' And he said, '  These are they who have come out of the great tribulation  ; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

So John saw a great multitude that no man could count. From every nation standing before the throne! And it specifically says that they are the ones who have come out of the Great Tribulation. This period of time, this Day of the Lord, is going to be decision time for people. You cannot just sit on the fence. If you have watched the news about the New Orleans disaster and all that has happened there, a lot of the reporters stated that it was bringing out the best and the worst in people. You had some who were just trying to help others by fetching water, comforting them etc. And on the other hand you had those who were looting, taking guns, people getting shot and absolute madness. Well in a similar way, the Day of the Lord is a real decision time  [5]  as to which way people are going to go. And make no mistake... many, a number far to great to count, will decide and stand for the Lord - even to the point of death.

So the first purpose of the Day of the Lord is to put an end to wickedness. But it is also to bring people to the point where they are going to make a choice. Which way are you going to go? - Are you going to believe and stand up for the Lord or are you just going to carry on with the masses on the broad road that leads to destruction? And in Revelation itself you see both of these cases. You see these people, multitudes even from every single tribe and tongue who come out of the Great Tribulation because they have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb - meaning that they have accepted the Lord and have been washed clean. Yet you see others that curse God when the judgements occur and will not repent! (See Rev 9:20-21, 16:9, 21) This always amazes me, and I always think 'why can't they just give in - why don't they just acknowledge God as God?' But they will not. So you see both sides of it. At least at that stage there will be no more 'lukewarm'. No sitting on the fence then!

The Third Purpose - Break the power of Israel!

The third and final purpose is in Daniel chapter 12. It goes back a long, long, long time to some promises He made to a nation called Israel. Lets read it -

Daniel 12:5-7 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, '  How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled  ?' The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, 'It will be for a time, times and half a time.  When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed  .'

The context of Daniel 12 is speaking about the tribulation that the nation of Israel will go through at the end of the age. And a question is asked - 'how long is it going to be before it is all finished?' The answer - 'It will be a time, times and a half a time.' Now 'a time' is a year, and 'times' is two years and 'half a time' is half of a year - so it is talking about 3.1/2 years. It is talking about the last half of the tribulation period. But it says after that: '  As soon as they finish shattering the power of the Holy people all these events will be completed  '. The third and final purpose of this Day of the Lord is to break the power of the Jewish nation and to bring about their repentance; to bring them to the place where they will cry out for their Messiah to return! It is the fulfilment of so many promises that God made to them. God is not a man, the Bible says, that he should lie, nor the Son the Man that He should change His mind. And He has made these promises to the nation of Israel. They rejected His Son, they stoned the prophets, but God's promises and His ways will still be fulfilled and He has a desire and a will and that is to bring the nation of Israel to the place where they will acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and call out for Him to return! It will happen! It is the third purpose that God has for pouring out His judgement upon this earth in the day of the Lord.


So the three-fold purpose of the day of the Lord is

1) To put an end to wickedness, and the wicked ones 

2) To bring about a worldwide revival 

3) To break the power of the Jewish nation but to bring them to repentance. 

And let's just finish by looking briefly at the two next verses in 2 nd Peter chapter 3. (It's ok, they won't be as long as verse 10!)

2 Peter 3:11-12 'Since everything will be destroyed in this way, 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 how should you live now, seeing as these things are going to happen? Is it going to make any difference as to how we live our lives now?  [6]  Are we going to think more about eternal things and the things that really count, the things that really matter?

There is a saying -

'Only one life and it shall soon be past. Only what you do for Jesus will last.'

And that is the truth of the matter. That is the challenge - To live for more than just the here and now!  [7] 

[1] ↩  This threefold purpose has been taken from Arnold Fructenbaum's book 'The footsteps of the Messiah.' It is a great book of Bible Prophecy and the return of the Lord. I totally recommend it!

[2] ↩  It should be noted that it is not just one single day. Sometimes the Bible uses 'Day' or 'Year' to define a period of time. For example, when Jesus first started His ministry and He got up in the Synagogue and read from Isaiah 61, He proclaimed 'the year of the Lord's favour'. Now, He wasn't just saying that that particular year was going to be the year of the Lord's favour! He was talking about this time that we are now in, this day of grace is actually the year of the Lord's favour. Likewise Paul said that we are now in the 'day of salvation' in 2nd Corinthians 6. He was not just saying that there is only one day of salvation. This whole period is the day of salvation. But at the end of this age all the Prophets and Apostles said that there would be something called the 'Day of the Lord'. In like manner, this is a period of time when God says 'enough!' Enough sin, enough hard heartedness! And God will judge the world. And it climaxes in the return of Jesus. If you want to have a look at probably the most detailed description of this Day of the Lord, then read Revelation chapters 6-19.

[3] ↩  God's timing is always perfect. There is a very interesting verse in Genesis chapter 15. God is speaking to Abraham and as He makes His covenant with Abraham He tells Abraham that 'you will have all of this land but your descendants are going to be strangers in another land for 400 years' first. Can you remember why it says that Israel had to be strangers in this other land, which is Egypt, for 400 years before they could inherit the land that had been covenanted to Abraham? Check out verse 16 for the answer!

What God is saying is very interesting... 'Abraham I am giving you this land, I am covenanting this land to you - it's a covenant between me and you, but it's going to take 400 years because the sin of the Amorites who are currently in the land, is not yet complete.' What God was saying is that God is a perfect and holy judge. Yes, He was going to bring Israel into this land and they were going to have to fight and destroy the nations that were in that land at that time, but it couldn't happen for 400 years until the sin of the Amorites was complete. They were not just going to wipe out the Amorites until the Amorites sin was at a level that demanded judgement! He acts in perfect judgment, and back then it was going to take 400 years until that sin was at a level where judgment was required. Now, God's judgement upon the entire earth has taken far more than 400 years. But it will come... not one day too late and not one day too early.

[4] ↩  Ok, total side issue time, but I read a story about a thief and he was spying out the neighbourhood, seeing when the neighbours packed up and looked like they might be going on holiday. And if he saw that, then at night he would go into their houses. He had broken into a number of houses and then finally he saw this other family who looked like they were getting ready to go away for a little while and so that night he picked the lock on their door, opened it up and in the darkness he heard this voice say 'I see you and Jesus sees you.' He got a little bit startled and said 'who's there?' and he heard this voice again saying 'I see you and Jesus sees you' and he had his flashlight, so he flicked it on and laughed to himself because he saw this parrot inside its cage saying 'I see you and Jesus sees you.' He gave a sigh of relief and switched on the light, when, to his horror, he saw a massive Doberman underneath the parrot's cage and the parrot saying 'Attack Jesus, attack!!!' So that thief got more than he bargained for from a different Jesus - Jesus the Doberman! But these verses tell us that the Day of the Lord, the day of God's wrath and judgment is going to come unexpectedly as well. And the whole world will get the shock of their life.

[5] ↩  I was speaking to a girl at work this week. I had given her the Ian McCormack video a few weeks ago which is a testimony of one Christians life after death experience. I was interested to find out what she thought about Ian McCormack's experience with heaven and hell. So I said 'I would just like to know how a non-Christian thinks. Do you ever wonder about why you are on this earth or what happens when you die? Do you ever think about these things? And her reply was 'No, no, I guess my body will just die and will just go into the ground.' So I said 'but you are not just a body, your soul and your spirit will go somewhere.' And she said 'Yeeah, but I guess I just sit on the fence and don't bother about it too much'. And really that is the attitude of so many people, because we have an abundance. We have lots of wealth, many people have good homes, they have got everything that they need, and so they don't really care much about God, or why they are here and what happens when they die.

[6] ↩  Bible Prophecy and the thought of the day of the Lord and Jesus' return should have an impact on our daily living! J.D Pentecost wrote 'A short time ago I took occasion to go through the New Testament to mark each reference to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and to observe the use made of that teaching about His coming. I was struck anew, with the fact, almost without exception, when the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament it is followed by an exhortation to Godliness and Holy living. While the study of prophecy will give us proof of the authority of the Word of God, it will also reveal the purpose of God and the power of God and will give us the peace and assurance of God. We have missed the whole purpose of the study of prophecy if it does not conform us to the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily living'.

[7] ↩  My Dad passed away last year. And there are lots of different reminders in the house and around the property of Dad. But probably none more so than when I am in the garage. You see tools were his thing. He didn't have a lot of hobbies, but tools and gardening was his thing. And every time I am down there I always think 'those are Dad's tools'. Yet he still couldn't take any of them with him. Not one of them - none. It is just a simple reminder that you can't take any physical things with you no matter how important they may be. The only things that you can take with you are your character and the work you have done for the Lord. And we constantly need to be reminded of that.