Peter says that worldly people will scoff at the idea of God coming in a fiery judgment.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
It’s true that each day the Sun rises and sets exactly where expected. The water cycle continues, the food chain continues, the moon’s phases continue—there is no evidence that nature is slowing down or falling apart. But, mockers are conveniently forgetting some things.
For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:5-7).
These mockers are do not wish to recognize three things: God made the world with nothing more than the power of His voice, God can use the same power to unmake the world, God has the willingness to unmake the world. He demonstrated that willingness through the flood of Noah’s day. When God says the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, we had better believe Him!
There are more lessons from the flood of Noah’s day we can apply to our expectations of the final judgment. In Noah’s day, God provided the means of escape. Peter says:
…the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ… (1 Peter 3:18-22).
God gave Noah the plans and the skills to fashion a chest which would bear its occupants safely through the destruction. Sadly, only eight people were saved. It had never rained before (Genesis 2:5-6) so Noah’s warning of a flood likely was met with mockery, too. But during the construction of the ark, the world had a tangible sign of what God was planning. The world could marvel as the animals “came to” Noah (Genesis 6:20). During the last week (Genesis 7:1-5), the world could watch as Noah loaded up the animals and their fodder, and then his own family.
In Matthew 24:36-39, Jesus points out that the sudden surprise of the unprepared in Noah’s day is like the sudden surprise of the unprepared in that day.
…The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
For now, God stands at the vehicle of salvation beckoning. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Any who will enter the body of Christ through belief and baptism will be saved. Christ alone will bring you safely through the judgment. Hurry; for soon it will be too late!
It took me a long time to notice this detail. Noah didn’t winch up the door when he was ready; “the Lord closed it behind him” (Genesis 7:16) in an act of finality. One might imagine that, until that moment, the vehicle of salvation was still open, and all who desired could climb on board. Sadly, they scoffed and went about their lives. When the rains fell and the waters rose and the ungodly pounded on the door, it was too late; even if Noah wanted to open it, God Himself had shut the door.
Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, “Lord, open up to us!” then He will answer and say to you, “I do not know where you are from” (Luke 13:25).
More than a year later, the ark came to rest on solid ground, and the land dried out enough to exit. God provided a new world for His people. We too have every reason to look forward to the “new heavens and a new earth” prepared for those who pursue godliness.
…What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:8-12).