Where is The Promise of His Coming?
(a dissertation on II Peter Chapter 3)
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
By: Darrell G. Young
The personal return of Jesus Christ from heaven is the divinely ordained event whereby God's purpose for the earth and mankind will be brought to its ultimate fruition. As if to give added emphasis to the Lord’s own statements about his promised return, the personal and physical return of Christ was restated in unmistakable terms by two of God’s holy angels immediately after our Lord's ascension:
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)
Assuredly as is the reality that Christ came into the world once to bear the sins of mankind, and was raised from the grave, it is just as certain that he will return a second time to establish his kingdom.
Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
One of the very first things the Apostles asked the risen Lord was, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” It is obvious from their query that the Apostles, being Jews and the first Christians, knew enough scripture to ascertain and expect that the Messiah was supposed to establish a kingdom on the earth for the children of Israel. However, they did not know anything about his ascension into Heaven, and the ensuing era of the Church Age. Only the prophets Isaiah (53) and Daniel (9:26) had alluded to the fact that the Messiah’s kingdom would be preempted. But even as these prophecies allude to the Messiah’s death, (cut off) the Apostles were nonetheless insightful by asking the risen Lord if it was time for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
One of God’s promises has to do with the Divine purpose of recalling the “chosen people” back to the land of promise. We often hear that worn out term, “the Promised Land,” but unfortunately too many people often don’t understand the Divine promise that is associated with it, nor the design of God for using this particular land to judge the nations of this world. The Promised Land was prophesied of God to become caught up in conflict in the Last Days between the Jews and the Arabs, and cause all the world’s nations to become drunk with madness. (Jeremiah 25:15-38) This tiny sliver of land sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is called the Promised Land because it is the specified homeland that God Almighty promised to give to the children of Abraham, through his heirs Isaac, and Jacob. In Genesis 32:28, it is recorded that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and thus forevermore the Promised Land has been interchangeably consigned to the children of Israel. (Genesis 17:7-9; Deuteronomy 27:1-3)
In fact, the controversy over the Promised Land today reflects the fact that God is about to move to keep the promise of the Lord’s Second Coming. People have scoffed at the idea of the Second Coming of the Lord for centuries, but in truth, there were several historical factors in Bible Prophecy that must have been concluded before the season of the Lord’s return could be nigh, and foremost among those events is the rebirth of the nation of Israel among the community of nations. As a matter of fact, most of the world leaders today are troubled and consumed by the problematic physical reality of Israel’s re-emergence as a nation. This fact alone points to the quickening birth-pangs of Israel’s appointment with destiny!
Jehovah has made many, many promises in his word. In fact, the Bible is a book of promises. One of those many promises was voiced by Jesus himself, when he pledged to the Disciples that He would come again to the world. The word promise as taken from the Hebrew is the word “dabar” and refers to a purposed oracle. The Greek word for promise is “epaggelia,” and specifically refers to the idea that a Biblical promise rests on a divine pledge. (a literal vow made by God) A promise is therefore a solemn pledge to perform, or bring to pass (by bringing to pass) or grant a specified thing or action.
God did not have to promise anything to sinful man. God did not have to promise a land to Israel, but because He foreknew that someday He would manifest his Son amongst mankind, God purposed by design to choose a man (Abraham) to father that nation, and thereby make him and his descendants, the people of the promise. And the fact that almost all biblical promises are those made by God to man indicates that God’s nature is characterized chiefly by grace and faithfulness to his promises. Amen!
It was the concept of Grace (foreordained by Divine design before the foundation of the world) that prompted God to promise the Promised Land to the Israelites, and thereafter to offer His Son as a Grace offering to the whole world. God’s faithfulness to his word compelled Him to fulfill that promise, in spite of Israel’s disobedience, and His faithfulness to his word will prompt him to not only re-gather the dispersed seed of Israel, but to give them a new heart.
God's promises today are particularly evident in the fulfilled work of Christ. Christians should trust completely that God's promise of eternal life is secure, and rest assured that his promise to return is just as certain.
The Return of the Lord is an Absolute Divine Promise
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ is an absolute fundamental Biblical principle. It is commonly asserted that the New Testament is concerned with the presentation of three great Biblical promises. Those three promises basically include the following:
1.) that the Son of God has already been to the earth, (as promised) and has gone away into Heaven.
2.) that the Holy Spirit has come down to the earth in the Lord’s absence to assist and or perform certain functions in conjunction with the Lord’s followers until the Lord returns.
3.) that the Son of God will indeed come back to this earth again upon God’s own appointed (Psalms 102:13) time. (as promised)
While observing and participating in the Feast of the Passover, Jesus, realizing that the hour of his departure was nigh at hand, spoke in length with a loving tenderness to his Disciples about the trying hour at hand. It is amazing that even as Jesus faced the cruel prospect of the Cross, that he made it a priority to encourage his Disciples. His words were, and still remain words of great encouragement.
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John chapter fourteen is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It was the first portion of the Bible that I memorized as a child. I memorized it and quoted over the school intercom system for an intercession recital in elementary school, way back in the days when Bible reading and prayer were still permitted in public school. The opening phrase, “let not your heart be troubled,” has always had a very special appeal to me. This phrasing conveys a comforting, soothing, settling, and calm assurance to my heart and mind that the Lord isn’t disengaged from the ongoing events in this world, but rather that he is watching over the world, and that He will indeed come again to receive me, just as he has promised.
Also, I believe his words are intended to convey to the heart of every Christian that they can and indeed should possess an inner peace within their souls, even in the present hour while Jesus is out of the world, and while the prince of this present world system (Satan and antichrist) are on the offensive, and soon to have his hour of absolute power. (Rev. 17:12)
John 14:27-30 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
Twice in this chapter (vs. 3 and 28) Jesus alludes to the fact that he is going away, and that he is coming back again to this world. Albeit, many preachers today continue to say that they cannot find the subject of a Second Coming of Christ in the Bible. In between these statements, Jesus says that he shall send another Comforter to abide with us during his absence, and that this comforter (Holy Spirit) would assist in teaching us all things. Furthermore, Jesus concludes his remarks by saying that he would leave something else with us, “His Peace.” The peace that the Lord has left with us is a restful indwelling assurance that is based upon the fact that his word is the absolute truth. There used to be a saying among men of honor, “a man’s word is his bond.” The word of God is more than a mere bond between himself and another, it is an eternal fixture in heaven. (Psalms 119:89 Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.) Neither is God’s peace like the peace of this world, which can be broken and shaken at any time, and cause the heart of man to be stricken with fear and uncertainty. The Lord’s peace instills tranquility in the heart of the believer, because the soul of the man that has faith in Christ has in turn found reconciliation with his Creator. (Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: )
Some Facts That Attest to the Legitimacy of Christ’s Imminent Promised Return
a.) The ever functioning presence of the Holy Spirit in its restraining capacity attests to the absence of the Lord, and works to reprove the world of sin, and our sinful complicity in rejecting him and putting him to death, and by that continued presence demonstrates to us that the Lord has allotted us a “short space” to prepare for his coming in absolute power, and to make the earth his footstool.
b.) The restorative process of the remnant of Israel into the Promised Land signals that our, ”allotment of short space,” is quickly elapsing. The terminal generation has begun its witness.
c.) It was Jesus himself who issued a lengthy and detailed expose about his second coming and concluded it by demanding is followers to: (Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass,) The signs signify the urgency of imminency.
d.) The Apostles always referred to the return of Christ using the language of imminency. (example: Romans 13:11-12 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.) (Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.)
e.) A scriptural recovery of the doctrine of the Blessed Hope. The Bible attests to the fact that in the Latter Days, the Holy Spirit would help foster the discernment of the imminent appearing of the Lord. The “capacity for hasting” (II Peter 3:12) unto the coming of the Lord is intended to instill strength in the believer as he sees the signposts of the Last Days begin to pass by.
f.) The Great Falling Away, which devolves into the Tribulation apostasy signifies that the great restrainer is about to allow the vacuum for the rise of the Antichrist.
g.) The ominous rise of perilous times portends that the return of Christ is imminent. The capacity of evil men to destroy the whole world (WMD) is a sign that the world cannot long endure unless God intervenes. (Luke 21: distress of nations with perplexity)
h.) The world is reaching a climacteric of sin. Evil abounds, and the things of God are abhorred. Tolerance is a byword, but the things of God are intolerable to man.
God’s Judgment has always come when the world becomes filled with sin.
The Patience of the Lord Does Not Negate His Promise to Return
It has now been two thousand years since the Lord made the promise to the Disciples that he would return to the world again. The opening lines of the Olivet Discourse reveal that the Disciples became anxiously excited about the returning of the Lord, especially after he prophesied the destruction of the Jewish Temple, for they hastily inquired of him, “what shall be the sign of thy coming?” Acts chapter one reveals that they eagerly anticipated that the Lord would come to re-establish the kingdom unto Israel when he returned. After the Lord’s resurrection, the Disciples therefore naturally envisioned that the kingdom would be established in their lifetime, and were undoubtedly preoccupied with thoughts about their positions in that kingdom.
As it is with most human beings, we get anxious and excited about something and possess a certain zeal about it for awhile, but if it does not come to pass in fairly short order, we tend to lose interest, and finally we begin to question the sincerity and credibility of the subject altogether.
Unfortunately, this natural worldly tendency has taken its leavening effect within the body of the Church. Because the Lord’s return has not occurred now for 2000 years, the Church has become apathetic towards the subject of the Lord’s imminent return, and has completely lost its prophetic-sensitivity to the promise of his return, and therefore cannot discern the signs that He gave pertaining to its historical proximity.
The reason for this phenomenon is twofold.
1.) The Church has never understood and comprehended the longsuffering patience of the Lord
2.) The Church has become desensitized to Satan’s conspiratorial schemes to debase the Lord’s promises by casting them into disrepute.
Oftentimes people mistakenly think that prophecy enthusiasts watch for and yearn for the Lord’s return so they can see vengeance carried out on the unrighteous. But this is the very opposite position our Lord has for his tarrying. The Lord God is longsuffering, exercising great patience with mankind because He loves all men. God does not want to see anyone be included in the judgment that is slated to befall the Devil and his angels, and the unrighteous that have rejected the Lord’s salvation. (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:7-9)9)
The fact that the Lord has tarried for 2000 years in fulfilling his promise to return is not a reason to doubt his word, but rather it is evidence of his great love for a lost and dying mankind. The Lord intimated in his parables (Matthew 25) that the length of his tarrying stay in Heaven might be rather long when compared to our earthly understanding of time-progression. In verse 19 of the Nobleman’s parable, he states, “after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.”
In the meantime, the Lord instructs us to “watch for him,” “work for him,” and exercise the patience of the Lord. All three of these attributes need to be adhered to by every Christian, so as to be more efficient servants while laboring here in the Lord’s vineyard.
Hebrews 10:36-37 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
James 5:7-8 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman (Jesus) waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Revelation 1:8-9 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,
Nine times in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke repeat a directive from the Lord to watch for his coming. But woven within these commands to watch is the instruction to exercise the patience of Jesus Christ as we strive in unison with the Holy Spirit to bring all men to know the love of God. The word “watch” in the Greek is the word, ”gregoreuo,” and refers to a vigilant wakefulness. The word patience is derived from the Greek word, “hupomone,” and means to keep a cheerful endurance. These characteristics are consistent with the longsuffering patience of the Lord. The term “long-suffering” stems from the Greek word, makrothumeo, meaning long-spirited, forbearing, and patient. Thus, even as the Lord admonished his followers to watch for his return, so as to always be in tune with the seasons of time, he also expressed the need for his followers to exercise a “watchful patience” even as we begin to see events come to pass that herald his imminent return. This patient watchfulness is a characteristic of the Lord himself, as the Lord does not desire that anyone perish, but come to know his salvation. Thus, those of us who watch for signs of the times indicating the nearness of the Lord’s return need always to remember that the patience of the Lord is expressed on behalf of those who do not yet know his saving grace.
Yet, the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, and the Day of the Lord is
definitely nearing. Thus, the following words of warning by Peter (II Peter
chapter 3) are intended for advice, encouragement, and as words of warning.
II Peter Chapter 3…(The Last Days and Second Coming Scoffers)
II Peter 3:1-18 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (Long-suffering…..Makrothumeo….long-spirited, forbearing, patient) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Peter Defends the Prophetic Word
Peter wrote this epistle, his final one, around 64-67 AD. He was probably in Rome at the time of this writing since he was crucified there in 68, though it is remotely possible that he may have still been in Babylon, where he'd written the first epistle about five years earlier. Peter’s purpose in writing was three-fold:
(1.) to stimulate spiritual discernment and doctrinal foundation among Christians,
(2.) to combat the false teaching that was creeping into the Church, and
(3.) to emphasize the absolute certainty of the Lord's return. His writings were specifically meant to warn the Christian brethren about the influx of scoffers, mockers, murmurers, complainers, and unspiritual teachers, especially those mocking and scoffing at the promise of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In chapter one of this letter, Peter re-emphasized the veracity and authority of the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. He recalled the Old Testament Prophets, who being inspired of God, wrote extensively concerning first coming of Christ, of the kingdom, and of Christ’s mission that was now set before them.
As expressed earlier, Scripture teaching plainly reveals that the Kingdom of God was prophesied to be a divine political kingdom. John, in The Revelation indicates that it will last for one thousand years, and that afterwards, the Lord himself shall give the kingdom to his Father, a fact that corroborates that his kingdom has no end. (I Corinthians 15:24) It had its infancy existing as the OT Israelite theocracy, but was overthrown because of national disobedience, yet it will be restored by Jesus at his coming; for God, by the angel Gabriel pledged to Jesus mother that he would give him "the throne of his father David" and that he should "reign over the house of Jacob for ever" in a kingdom which shall never end. (Luke 1:32, 33.) In Matthew 19:28 and 25:31, Jesus himself expressed that upon the, ”regeneration of the kingdom” he would sit upon the throne of his Father David. The apostle Peter, writing by the spirit of God, provides a description of the conditions which shall prevail on the earth just prior to the Lord's return and the restoring of this Kingdom, and he issues a grave warning to those who would neglect or presume to deny the fulfillment of God's promise.
Peter wrote, he said, to stir up his readers' minds, from which the dross of ignorance and superstition had been purged, and remind them of the words spoken by the Holy prophets concerning God's purpose for the earth, for Israel, and for mankind. He writes of the last days, the days in which we are now living, because we have begun to see “all these things begin to come to pass”--thusly:
". . . there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4.)
The "promise of the Lord’s return" should never be questioned by Christians. Men wrongly assume, says Peter in effect, that God never interrupts the "normal" course of human history, but these "scoffers” are "willingly ignorant" of the facts of history, such as the divine intervention in the Noahic flood of which Jesus spoke, and which destroyed all mankind, except faithful Noah and his family; and most are willfully ignorant of the fact that by that same warning word of God (which Noah preached) the world is reserved unto judgment because of the godlessness that would prevail in these closing days of Gentile domination, before god returns his undivided attention to Israel.
One of the heaviest burden’s upon Peter’s heart as the spirit moved him to write this letter was to warn us about the false teaching that would come to be dominate the church of the latter days. It has become indoctrinated within the modern church as the theological ideology of Religious Uniformitarianism. This concept holds the view that God does not periodically intervene (as his providence deems) in the affairs of man but is content just to observe us as we experience a travel along in a linear series of events over an extended period of time. Its proponents sometimes describe God as "the Great Watchmaker," who constructed His universe like a master craftsman assembles a precision timepiece. Having "wound it up" and set it in motion, He's now engaged in watching it run, apart from any subsequent involvement by Him. Galaxies, worlds and even civilizations appear as if by chance as bits and pieces randomly come together to form them, and as species evolve into higher life forms. And as the enormous amount of time that's passed demonstrates, we really shouldn't expect anything more from Him. As Peter implied, the emergence of this kind of false teaching (along with many others such as theistic evolution) would in fact be a sign that the last days are squarely upon us.
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth that are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (vs. 5-7.)
In truth, these false teachers and theologies have made conscious decisions to ignore three indisputable facts; namely that; (1) The Earth didn't come into being by chance. It was created, spoke into existence. (2) The One who created it does indeed intervene in the affairs of man, and has done so many times, and in fact one time brought a judgment so great that the entire world was destroyed by a flood. (3) And stunningly, that He's predicted that evil men will wax worse and worse in the latter days, insomuch that he has forecast that he must judge the world and the nations again, and that one of the signals heralding the final climactic struggle between He and the god of this world involves the rebirth of Israel.
*One of the most disturbing attitudes in the church today that I have personally confronted as I go around teaching and speaking on Bible prophecy is the outright repudiation of the prophetic word, and its relevance for our times by much of the so-called Christian sector. I would dare to say that over 90% of church members and leaders have little or no interest in the prophetic word, and are very quick to renounce anybody that asserts that we are in the Last Days, or insist that Israel has special significance that is relative to the soon coming of Christ. Most American churches today will not even entertain the prospect of inviting a Biblical scholar of eschatology to speak in their church. They’d sooner invite a rock star to perform in their church than to invite an expositor of the prophetic word to share the urgent message of prophecy for our times. Ironically, I find that there are a handful of Christians in every church that are literally starving to death for information about Bible prophecy and how its correlates to current events. Indeed, we live in a day in which scoffers of the prophetic word abound and have slammed the door shut on the subject of the return of Jesus Christ. Little do they realize that they are violating a commandment of the Lord that includes the preaching of the prophetic word of God! When churches lock out the prophetic word, they are literally assisting Satan in shutting up the revealed foreknowledge of God, conveyed to instill the blessed hope to all Christians. Satan wants Bible Prophecy silenced in the churches, and the reason he wants it silenced is because the prophetic word reveals his imminent strategy to entreaty the church into the worldly church of Laodiceanism, and ultimately into the universal worship of himself through auspices of the apostate church of the Tribulation era. Revelation 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Interestingly, the apostle Paul had to comfort some early Christians at Thessalonica for being a little over zealous about the coming of the Lord. In his letter, Paul warned the church that in the latter days, the church itself would suffer from a subtle and pervasive onslaught by false teachers that would engross the church with a perverse but popular theology that would eventually result in apostasy, and in effect lend itself to the strategy of the Antichrist. Unfortunately, the great falling away described by Paul, has generally consumed the church of today, and has resulted in the devaluing of doctrinal study, and also of the purposeful utilization of the prophetic word.
II Thessalonians 2:1-3 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
One of the most bizarre misinterpretations of eschatology is the view that Jesus Christ has already come back! This false teaching apparently had crept into the church at Thessalonica, necessitating Paul’s letter of encouragement. This view has raised its ugly head again in the modern church in the form of “preterism.”
The term preterist is Latin for “past.” Thus, preterists believe that Bible prophecy was fulfilled in the past. Therefore, they view the major prophetic passages of Scripture, such as the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation, as already fulfilled. Preterism is the exact opposite of Futurism, which views these major biblical prophecies as being fulfilled in the future. Extreme preterists, who prefer to call themselves “consistent preterists,” hold that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD70 with the destruction of Jerusalem. They view this event as the Second Coming of Christ and reject any belief in a future return of Christ. Thus, they deny a future bodily resurrection of believers and a literal return of Christ to earth. Extreme preterists believe we are already in the “New Heavens!” Their view is not only ludicrous, but it is also heretical and places them outside the parameters of biblical orthodoxy.
In contrast to the basic beliefs of premillennialism, (with its rapture) moderate preterists believe that God is finished with biblical Israel. They see no prophetic future for national Israel. The fact that the State of Israel exists today is blamed on an “accident of history” perpetrated by “ignorant premillennialists” who supported the Balfour Declaration that eventually led to the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
The basic assumptions of the preterism viewpoint rests on passages that refer to Christ coming “quickly” (Revelation 22:20), or “this generation shall not pass” (Matthew 24:34). They insist these must be related to and limited to the first century. By contrast, premillenialists believe that Christ’s coming is imminent and, therefore, could occur at any moment. Jesus told hisdisciples that the generation that sees the beginning of the end, will also sees its end. He inferred that when the signs come, (parable of the fig tree) they will proceed quickly; and they will not drag on for many generations.
The modern preterist therefore is confining the prophetic word to a past fulfillment and they therefore eliminate any real need for eschatology, and their false teaching leads people to ask, “where is the promise of his coming”? Those who believe that Christ already came back in AD 70 can hardly respect our Lord’s command to “watch therefore” until He comes (Matthew 24:42). Preterism, like scoffing, diminishes the promise of the second coming, and depletes the hope of every believer, and denies Israel of her rightful place of respect in this world.
It is beyond me why any Christian would willingly facilitate false teaching and allow themselves to being ignorant of anything concerning God’s word, and especially Bible prophecy, in light of the fact that its purpose is to testify to the soon coming appearance of our Lord and Savior, and the establishment of his unending kingdom. Nonetheless, the popular reaction today to the prophetic word and the “signs of the times” is exactly what Peter predicted long ago. The overwhelming voice in the church today mockingly asks, “Where is the promise of his coming?” It seems that every time I try to interest a Church members mind toward the subject of current eschatological analysis, they immediately respond with; “I have heard all that stuff all my life, and yet the world continues to go on as it always has. Again, this is precisely as Peter predicted would be the prevalent attitude in the Last Days.
Most churches today are preoccupied with popular ecumenical theology, such as preterism, dominion theology or replacement theology, and their desire is solely for titillating, feel good mind over matter mental aerobics, positive thinking, motivational and success oriented sermons, and entertaining melodramatic celebrations with emotional appellations. They recoil at the very thought of God’s righteous indignation and Divine judgment against sin and spiritual rebellion, or the idea that the King of Kings might soon step into the world stage at any moment to claim his rightful throne.
They modern scoffers deliberately and willingly forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed by water. By the very same powerful word, the present heavens and earth are reserved unto a firey judgment, being kept in store, while mankind enjoys his God granted short space to discover the grace of God, reserved for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.(II Peter 3:5-7)
The Prophets Spoke of the Day of the Lord
What is the Day of the Lord? The Day of the Lord is a special term in the Bible used to refer to a period of time when God directly intervenes in human affairs. That Divine intervention will be either in judgment or in blessing. The Day of the Lord that we are presently waiting for in our earthly time frame will begin with the rapture (or "translation") of the church and will continue through the tribulation period (seven years), and on through the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth until the time of the "new heavens and new earth." (Rev. 21) In contrast to the coming Day of the Lord, we can think of the present age as "The Day of Man," because God has allowed human evil to run its full course in our time. God's interference with man's attempts to conduct his own affairs as he pleases, is today minimal. Although there is restraint from God on man's attempts to run things, God is now allowing what is called "the mystery of lawlessness" to run its course. The culmination of "Man's Day" will be the appearance on the stage of history of a great world leader, a "lawless one," who will in actuality attempt to counterfeit God's Messiah and King, Jesus. We know this individual as the Antichrist, who will have a brief reign at the outset of the Day of the Lord.
The seeming long delay in God carrying out his foreordained providence and bringing judgment to this world is misinterpreted by the scoffers and mockers. Mortal man counts years by his own brief span of life, (Psalms 90:10) and by closing his eyes to the threatened judgments on the godless, he denies himself also the merciful opportunity to repent, and possibly be counted worthy escape the coming day of darkness. (Luke 21:36) The Eternal God does not measure time by man's fleeting lifespan, (a vapor that appeareth for a short while and then vanishes away..James 4:14) and Peter urges the recognition of this on his readers: "be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (Verses 8-9)
We all need to thank our Lord that he is longsuffering and patient, for his continuing age of Grace (Church Age) has accorded each of us “space” to repent, and to come to know the joy of his salvation. As Christians, this fact should be all the more paramount in our minds, as we (watchful servants) observe the passing landmarks of Last Days prophecy, for that is the impetus for us to shift gears into overdrive in taking the gospel to those who know not the Lord. The long-suffering of the Lord can be salvation to all who read if they will accept the faith of the Lord Jesus' immediate disciples, and rejoice in what Peter called the "exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world, through lust." (II Peter 1: 4.)
God has long warned the world through his prophets that this present world system must come to an end. The present system is under the dominion known as the “times of the Gentiles,” and Jesus himself forewarned us that Jerusalem is the central key to the climax of this current era, that will catapult the world into the Day of the Lord. (Luke 21:24) Some Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Day of judgment and wrath include:
Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
Isaiah 2:12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
Joel 1:15 Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Joel 2:1-2 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
Joel 3:13-15 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
In this emphatic letter, Peter returns our attention to the world’s appointment with judgment. Peter warns us, the “Day of the Lord” will come upon the world as a “thief in the night.” This is precisely the manner in which Jesus himself described his coming, and He specifically warned his followers about falling into complacency about his coming. His last command was to, “watch for the signs of its imminence! That is the sole reason why our Lord took so much effort and time to detail the signs of the times in his Olivet Discourse. And due to the popularity of the false teaching prevailing today in the falling away, its swift and sudden occurrence will catch a lot of people by surprise. It is important to realize that Peter wasn't warning about non-believers promoting scoffing ideas about the Last Days, but that this “scoffer” teaching would come from within the church.
Matthew 24:42-51 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Lord’s depiction of the slothful servant assuming that, “his Lord delayeth his coming” is synonymous with Peter’s depiction of Last Days scoffers, who question, or mockingly ask, “Where is the promise of his coming. “ The scoffers and skeptics of the imminent appearing of Christ ignore the fact that God is not governed or corralled by time as we know it. The linear progression of time is in reality only emblematic of God’s longsuffering on our behalf, and does not indicate that the Day of the Lord has been postponed, or delayed. God is the creator of time, and he has appointed a day in which he will judge all men and all nations. Furthermore, it should be noted that God, being patient for a great harvest of this world, would do everything in his power to warm mankind about the imminency of the nearness of the dreadful Day of the Lord, so that men could not only watch for it, but also heed the warning and prepare for its dawning. And that is what Bible prophecy is all about. Thus Peter reiterated a parable of Jesus:
II Pet 3:8-10 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Many scoffers suggest that it is vanity to watch for the second coming of Christ, and the ensuing Day of the Lord simply because Jesus said it will occur like a thief coming in the night. They theorize that since no one knows when a thief will come that is a futile effort to watch for him. But they entirely miss the whole point of Jesus discourse on his sudden coming. Jesus commanded us to “watch” so we could be “clued in,” and not be overtaken unaware when he returns. I often refer to Jesus command to “watch” as the eleventh commandment, and obedience to its dictates means that we will not be caught up in the snare that will engulf the whole world after he appears, and the Day of the Lord commences. (Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.)
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Jesus reiterated this same theme in his letter to the church of Sardis. If we refuse to watch, as he commanded, it is more likely that we will be caught unaware, and not be ready to meet our Creator and Judge. For some, it could mean that they are simply playing the role of Christian, and have life, but are dead spiritually, and have failed to heed the warning signs of his imminent appearing, and the fact that we all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (II Corinthians 5:10) Peter’s letter (verses 15-18) isn't implying that listening to false teachers could cost you our salvation. The phrase "fall from your own stedfastness" describes a state of mind rather than a state of being. Peter is warning us not to let false teaching confuse us about the certainty of the Lord's return, thereby depriving ourselves of our hope in the coming Kingdom and the sense of security this “blessed hope” brings us. His message is offered as encouragement as we see the Day of the Lord approaching, and assist us in growing in the knowledge of our Lord, and his destiny. He affirms this message in verse twelve.
II Peter 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
The word “hasting” used here in conjunction with the attitude of watchfulness for the coming of the Lord is not a word that should instill fear and trepidation. The Greek word “speudo” for hasting, infers that the signs portraying the Day of the Lord is near, should cause a strengthening in the hearts and minds of those who faithfully watch for his return. Many people wrongly assume that hasting means that we can speed up, or usher in the Day of the Lord by some action on the part of the Church. This is not the case.
Peter used the analogy of earthly time to make a comparison to God’s over-veyance perspective of our human travel in the cosmos. Peter used a phrase that is recorded in the Psalms, and likens a thousand years of linear time to a mere day in God’s eternity. (Psalms 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.) Peter’s analogy of time comparisons (1000 years : 1 day) is intended to convey that although many years have passed in earths domain of time progression, and generations have come and gone, it has been but a mere evening in God’s view. The 1000 year : one day also has inspired theories, rooted in Jewish teaching that two millennia (two days in eternity) will pass, and then the Messiah will come on the third dawning (3rd day) of the 3rd millennium. While this theory has some merit, it is not the purpose of Peter’s letter. Peter was highlighting the fact that the Day of the Lord was a certainty, and that the elapse of time did not offset the fact that the Lord was slated to come, and come quickly. Thus Peter exhorted his readers to contend for righteousness, and to strive through the trials of their faith that they might be found unto praise and honor at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:6-7)
The disciples and Christians of the First Century all expected Jesus to return very soon. Indeed this has been the hope of the true church in every generation. For the unrepentant who reject Christ's rule over them now during the present Day of grace, the fast-approaching Day of the Lord will be a time of terrible retribution, judgment and eternal destruction. For God's people it will mean final purifying, fulfillment, and reward. The Apostle Paul describes the parousia ("presence," or "appearing") and the epiphaneia ("shining-forth" or second coming) of the Lord as a single event in his First letter to the Thessalonians. In our earthly time frame these two events (the rapture of the church and the second coming in power and glory) are separated by the seven years of the tribulation period
Some theologians argue that the Rapture is a myth because Peter seems to intimate in verse ten that the Day of the Lord will bring an end to the world. They theorize that the Day of the Lord is synonymous with the end of the first heaven and first earth as depicted in Revelation 21. Peter actually infers that the after the Day of the Lord commences, it will culminate with the passing of the old things, and the beginning of the new heaven and the new earth, with a New Jerusalem. The inclusion of the phrase in verse ten, “in which” covers the entirety of the 1000 years, which is but a day in God’s perspective. The phrase, in which” does not indicate that the sudden appearance of Christ at the outset of the Day of the Lord causes the immediate destruction of the world. Peter’s quote is as follows:
II Peter 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
In truth, the Day of the Lord (Jehovah) is a thousand year long era. The Day of the Lord is that period of time when God openly intervenes in the affairs of men, executing his judgment and his blessing. It will begin with the translation of the Church and will terminate with the cleansing of the heavens and the earth preparatory to the bringing into being of the new heavens and the new earth. The order of events begin with: (1) the rapture of the Church just preceding the beginning of the Day of the Lord (I Thess 4:13-17); (2.) the fulfillment of Daniel's seventieth week (Daniel 9:27), the latter half of which is the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21; see Rev. 7:14); (3.) the return of the Lord in glory to establish the millennial kingdom (Matthew 24:29-30); (4.) the destruction of the beast, the false prophet, and their armies, which is the "great and terrible" aspect of the day. (Rev. 19:11-21); (5.) the judgment of individual Gentiles according to their treatment of his brethren, the Jewish people (Zechariah 14:1-9; Matthew 25:31-46) and the judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 20:34-38); (6.) the millennial reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:4-6); (7.) the satanic revolt and its judgment (Revelation 20:7-10), (8.) the resurrection and final judgment of the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15); (9.) the destruction of the present earth and heaven by fire preparatory for the future "Day of God" (II Peter 3:10-12); and (10.) the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17-19; 66.22; II Peter 3-.13; Revelation 21:1).
Unfortunately the Day of the Lord will catch many people unaware, and they will indeed fall into the “snare” that is coming upon the world. We must always remember the warnings of Paul concerning the “man of sin” that is to come when the Lord suddenly appears to take away his bride, and sets the stage for the Day of the Lord. The Antichrist will exert extraordinary powers of deception, and be empowered with a strong delusion to compel the world to believe a lie, unto their own damnation. God has forewarned us about this evil day through his prophets, and yet, men continue to be willingly ignorant of its imminence.
Proverbs 1:22-32 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners (scoffers) delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
(Day of the Lord) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
But to the wise and faithful servant, Peter offered these words;
I Peter 2:9-10 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
It is obvious that Peter was referring to the Rapture! Peter and Paul were in Rome together at the end of their lives, and both were incarcerated in the Mamertime prison while awaiting execution. Peter was manacled upright to a post for 9 months before being crucified upside down. Paul, being a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Between them 47 prisoners and an untold number of guards and jailers were converted to Christianity. It was their final tribute to the Lord while on Earth and they labored at it till the day they died. The Second Coming of the Lord was just as real to Peter as His first coming had been. Remember, Peter had been an eyewitness on the Mount of Transfiguration, and watched as Moses and Elijah spoke with the Lord about it. Peter believed that the words of the prophets provided even greater certainty, since they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Take Peter's advice, and be mindful of the words of the Holy prophets about the Day of the Lord.
Where is the promise of his coming? It’s in the prophetic word of God.
And when you see all these things begin to take place stand up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
Where is the Promise of His Coming?
By: Darrell G. Young