16 September 2020

2 Peter 3:1-7

Where is the promise of his coming? (v. 4)

Psalm: Psalm 119:145-160


It is clear that many in the Early Church lived with a strong sense that the world was about to end. Everything that they understood about God's judgement and promise seemed to point to it. Some even sold all their possessions and gave the money away. It must have been an extraordinary time to live with such an expectation; a mixture of fear, hope, and excitement. 'Maranatha!' 'Our Lord Come!' But he didn't, not in the way they were expecting. There were no angels in their legions come to conquer the earth and impose the rule of Christ the King. There was no fire and flood, and end time terrors. How could they make sense of this apparent failure? Peter reflects with them that the very mockery they receive for the absence of the end time is in itself a sign of the end times! But he also puts their longing for God's will to be done within the greater time frame of creation itself. God's been around a long while and the future is still God's!

As the Early Church grew it changed. The sense of an imminent end faded, although it has returned to the Church at different times over the centuries. Our understanding of a second coming has sometimes been swept into a believe that God has already come as well as 'will come'; God who is present in Christian fellowship, or in the gifting of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Our present moment is put in the context of the Ancient of Days; of creation and the vast distances of time and space. It too is exciting, frightening, and full of hope. Christ is both the one who is present now and was present in creation, for through him all things were made. He is also the one who will come; the beginning and the end. Of course, this is hard to understand as Peter clearly indicates, but understanding is only part of our wonder, and with such grand themes we can rest in our "present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1) as well as a confidence in the future glory that is to be.

To Ponder:

  • Where do you sense God's 'imminence' – God's presence in the world now?
  • Where do you long for God's coming – to bring justice, peace and love?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Mark Wakelin was born in Norfolk and taken to Africa as a baby by missionary parents. He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Church.

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