Look Forward (An Advent Lesson from 2 Peter 3:1-10)
by The Rev. David R. Sincerbox Daily Lectionary Readings for November 30: AM – Psalm 146, 147; PM Psalm 111, 112, 113; Isaiah. 1:1-9; 2 Peter 3:1-10; Matthew 25:1-13
Our word “Advent” comes from a Latin adventus, which means “coming.” The Latin, in turn, translated the Greek word parousia which referred to the “coming of the king.” Christians of an earlier era would refer to Jesus’ First Advent as well as his yet to be Second Advent.
Advent is a season in the church calendar in which we look forward in anticipation to the celebration of Jesus’ First Advent but also look forward with reflection, reverence and repentance to the time when he will come again. Advent is a time to watch and to wait.
The parousia in Roman times referred to a visit from Caesar. Before the Emperor would make his appearance, a herald went before him and announced that he would be coming on a visit to the selected city. All of its citizens came alive and cleaned the city’s streets, hung banners, cooked food for a royal feast and made ready for the pomp of the emperor’s visit. John the Baptist was the herald who announced that Jesus had come into the world. His first coming was as a humble servant. But Jesus the Christ is now the reigning Caesar of this universe and when He comes again, He will come in splendor as the conquering king. He will appear in the clouds and will be visible throughout the whole earth. He will come on a white horse during a prolonged trumpet blast that will shake every mountain and valley and terrify those who persecuted his saints and scoffed at him. He will come escorted by legions of resplendent angels and with thousands upon thousands of resurrected believers clothed in white.
We like the citizens of the ancient city that the Roman emperor visited are to make ready and be alert for the appearance of our king. We are to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all,…so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness…” (1 Thess. 3:12).
Yet as avidly as we look forward to the Second Advent while waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this end-time event never seems to appear. Even shortly after the ascension of Jesus, believers wondered why the Second Advent was delayed. The Apostle Peter thus reminded them and us not to forget “the predictions of the prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” (2 Peter 3:2). Scoffers are surrounding us, saying, “Where is he? If he’s truly who he claims to be, why hasn’t he shown up? Everything just keeps percolating along, nothing really changes” (3:4). Peter tells us that these scoffers overlook the fact that God created this world, that God judged this world long ago with water, and that God is storing up the “heavens and earth that now exist” for “fire,” for the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (3:7).
The venerable fisherman then reminds us that God’s time keeping is not our time keeping. He says, “with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day” (3:8). The Lord waits patiently because he desires that none should perish. If there is one person yet receptive to the gospel, this person will hear and respond before the truly awesome pomp of our coming king will commence. Titus 2:14 tells us that as Christ has redeemed us to be his people, we are to be zealous to do good works. These works involve declaring to those who are in desperate need of God’s grace that God has come in the flesh in his First Advent and that soon he will come again in his Second Advent. Peter then ends this portion of his epistle with the statement (3:10): “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” As we wait patiently for our Caesar to come in glory, let us work diligently to bring others into the blessings of both Advents.