2 Peter & Judeby Eileen Poh
I suffer from migraine. Sometimes, the pain is so bad that I feel like banging my head against the wall. At times like these, I would say to my husband: ″Can I have a new head?″ Philip would remind me to look forward to the new heaven and new earth, where there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4), and assure me that with my resurrected body, I will no longer suffer any migraine.
In 2 Peter 3:11-13, Peter encourages his readers to look forward to the new heaven and new earth that God had promised in the Old Testament (see also Isaiah 65:17, 66:22). He has just spoken about the heavens disappearing and the elements being destroyed by fire–possibly literal or metaphorical–on the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10). While reiterating this in verse 12, Peter also emphasises renewal in today's passage. On that day, God will fulfil His promise to bring about renewal to His creation by bringing about a new heaven and new earth (v. 13). The coming of Jesus will bring about both destruction and renewal.
In view of this, Peter asks, ″What kind of people ought you to be?″ (v. 11) Then he answers his own question: as we anticipate Jesus' coming, we ought to ″live holy and godly lives″ (v. 11). All that we do should reflect who God is; we are to be holy because our God is a holy God (1 Peter 1:15-16). Our daily lives must be characterised by holy and godly conduct as we wait eagerly for His coming.
Peter bases his exhortation on the anticipation of a new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). By living holy and godly lives, Christians would be the kind of people who will be able to live in that renewed world. This is not a tall order, as Peter has already assured us that God's divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life (1:3).
Then Peter says something rather puzzling: that Christians can speed up the coming of Jesus (3:12). Is this not contradictory to our belief in the sovereignty of God? Doesn't God have His own timetable, and doesn't He alone know when Jesus will come again? Yes, but we have also learnt that God can delay the coming of Jesus because He does not want anyone to perish, but desires everyone to come to repentance (3:9). This repentance, from a human perspective, will hasten His coming. In New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham's words: ″This does not detract from God's sovereignty in determining the time of the End, but means only that his sovereign determination graciously takes human affairs into account.″14
I still suffer from migraine. Each time I feel the pain, I am reminded to look forward to the new heaven and new earth.
How often do you take into consideration the coming of Jesus when you make decisions in your daily life?
Read 1 Peter 1:13-16 and reflect on what Peter says about living holy lives. Is there a particular area in your life that you need to grow in holiness?