Anticipating the End, Part 2

Rev. Steve Hartman on 2 Peter 3:3-15


On this Second Sunday of Advent, we will continue to focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ and the difference that can make to the way we live now.  

The Apostles Creed affirms that when Jesus returns in His Glory he will set all things right by exercising judgment on both the living and the dead.  This final settling of accounts will be a good thing for all creation, but the scriptures are clear that Christians have the privilege and obligation to participate in that "setting things right" even here and now.  Our offertory sentence from 1 Timothy tells us that we should do good and be rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share, because doing so is laying up treasure and "a firm foundation for the coming age, so that [we] may take hold of the life that is truly life.” What we do today matters here and in the future!


Advent is a term which stems from Latin ‘adventus’, or “coming.” It is a time for Christians to consider both Christ’s first coming to the world as a real baby and his glorious second coming.  It’s also a time to reflect on important foundations of the Christian faith, including the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth.” 

For some it comes as a surprise that we should direct our attention to the second coming of Christ and not just the first coming.  However, down through history, Advent has been understood as a time to look towards Jesus’ final triumphant return before looking back to and celebrating his first coming.  About this alternate  "the last shall be first" movement from the future to the past (from the second coming of Christ to focusing on the first coming of Christ), Robert Webber has said, “We are seeking a vital personal encounter with Christ in this Advent pilgrimage.  We are seeking to move from the “old life” lived under the power of self-centered human nature to the new life lived under the power of the Holy Spirit.”   May our Lord make that truth the center of our lives this Advent season!

3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.


The Bethlehem Candle

This week we light the second Advent candle in the Advent Wreath, traditionally called the Bethlehem Candle. Bethlehem reminds us that God comes to us in the simple and small––God’s statement that He does great and wonderful things from humble beginnings.