The apostle Peter chimes right in with the prophets of old. There’s coming a day of revelation and reckoning, a day of utter ruin and fabulous restoration. Evil will one day be destroyed and the rescue of creation will one day be complete. As Buddy Holly sang, “That’ll be the day!”
“Yeah, that’ll be the day!” Such is the attitude of those who think the universe is all there is, was, or ever will be. Even Christians have a hard time believing Jesus will appear. Harry Chapin sang, “All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown.” We think of life as a mere circle, like a videotape on continuous loop, the same cycle of birth, growth, decay, death playing over and over again. Surely, it won’t stop. Why should it?
Well, because of God! He created it all. That means, of course, that He is owner and manager of it all. Thus, He can do whatever He wants with it. His rights are exclusive.
When I sell an article to a publication, I usually sell my right to sell my creation someplace else; i.e., if Lookout buys my essay, I can’t sell it to Christianity Today-not, at least, until after the article’s been printed. But when God dipped his quill in the inky blackness and wrote creation into being, He sold us nothing. He just loaned it to us. He retains exclusive rights as creator. Thus, “the earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants belong to the Lord;for He laid its foundation on the seas…” (
This means that if the Lord wants to shake the foundation, He can do it! As a matter of fact, from time to time, He does. You’ve heard of the Great Flood. It covered the earth. Only eight people survived. It could just as easily have been zero people. But God the Maker is also God the Preserver. He sustains what He created.
Every creature in the forest is mine, the wild animals on all the mountains. I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends. If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you? All creation and its bounty are mine.” (
Somebody gave me advice on living, “Where ever you go, be there!” In the face of a child and an old man, in the sky above and the sea below, here, there, and everywhere, God is there–focused, active, holding everything together.
What the Bible says about God it says about Christ. When we’re talking about the One, we’re talking about the other. Thus, speaking of the Son of God, the Bible says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (
We didn’t make it. We don’t hold the exclusive rights to creation, much less the power to hold it all together. What, then, makes any of us think it must necessarily go on and on?
Of course, this isn’t to say that the earth and humanity won’t last another 20,000 years. According to Peter’s thinking, though, from God’s perspective that’d be less than a month!
It’s different with us, isn’t it? We swim against the flow of time. Time lays heavy on us. We sweat under the tyranny of the urgent. Or we simply get bored. But time is no problem to God.
As the great lion Aslan said to Lucy, “Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again.” “Please,” said Lucy. “What do you call soon?” “I call all times soon.” God is not on our timetable. Which means He’s never late! He destroyed the earth with water once. He’ll do it again with fire. When He’s ready.
He’s not slow. He sustains what He created because… He is mercifully patient.
Naturally, some mistake His patience for non-existence or apathy. I read a book that followed a high school graduating class through later life. Each member told his story in his own words. One fellow ended up a cab driver. It seemed that life had brought him nothing but trouble. Broken relationships. Broken dreams. He said, “They talk about the Good Lord. I don’t believe in the Good Lord. He’s never been good to me.”
The truth is, that man didn’t know how good he had it. I say that with no smugness. I say it with fear. If we knew how millions of people on this earth really live-in the most abject poverty, riddled with disease, racked with deformity, selling the bodies of their children, selling the soul they don’t even know they have for a drugged haze-if we stood and looked steadily at the evil that shadows much of this world, what they tell us and we don’t hear, what they don’t tell us-I think many of us would be tempted to say there is no God.
One reason some of us aren’t all that excited about the appearance of the King is that we shut our eyes to the radical evil that pervades this world. We’ve insulated our selves with junk food and barricaded our minds with a 100 TV channels. Who needs the “Good Lord” when things are going so good in the good old USA? Why, we can even afford the luxury of complaining!
We want God to act, to show Himself, to take off the business suit and glasses, pull open His shirt and take charge! Are we sure we want that to happen? See, God is not only patient with His world, but with His people. When Peter writes, “He is patient with you,” I assume he means whoever’s reading what he wrote.
“Get out of my face. I need my space.” That’s the well-known teen-ager’s attitude. It’s also an adult’s reaction when the burning truth gets too close. Well, God is accommodating the teen-ager in all of us. For now He chooses to give us all time and space. For now.
Do we believe Him? Do we believe He will do what He promised?
Maybe that’s the wrong question. Do we care whether He will do what He promised? Lots of people believe things without really caring about them. That’s why I’d much rather talk with some agnostics than with some Christians. I’d much rather talk with somebody who cares enough to talk about God, even though he says he doesn’t believe, than somebody who acts like he has God in his hip pocket!
I’d much rather talk with a child who’s view of the universe isn’t cut-and-dried like an adult’s, who hasn’t had the wonder bled out of him. Years ago, my wife taught a class of young girls about Jesus. When one child heard that Jesus was coming back, she asked, “He is? Really? Jesus is really coming back?” She was delighted at the thought.
Bruce Fong tells about a home for retarded children. The children had been taught to pick up after themselves. Everything in the home was clean and neat-save for one big picture window facing east. The glass was smudged and dirty. The children had been told that Jesus was coming from the east. So eager were they to see Him, they pressed their hands and faces to the window.
It’s usually those who have nothing else to cling to but Jesus who want to see Jesus.
Do you want to see Jesus? Do you ever wonder what it will be like when we do? Imagine. The light of God that wears the face of a man touches the earth. It’ll be like a match on dry paper. The air itself catches fire and, suddenly, every raging, cursing demon is exposed, writhing in agony. But we don’t notice them. We only have eyes for the King. The graves open, the dead rise. The fireball rolls over the living, searching them, trying them, changing them. The power of God pulls His own up, up into the air. Below, the flames rage. There’s screaming, wailing, as the fabric of reality tears open and everything that is untrue falls through that hole into blackness.
The hole closes. The wound heals. Finally, the wound heals! And back down to earth the conquerors come–a new earth underneath a new heaven. Finally!
That may not be the way it happens. But it will happen. We can boil Peter’s passage down to two words: Trust. Obey. But we won’t obey Him unless we trust Him, and we won’t trust Him until we care.
Gary Robinson is Preaching Minister at Conneautville Church of Christ in Conneautville, PA.