Keep Jehovah’s Day Close in Mind
“In the last days there will come ridiculers.”—2 PETER 3:3.
1. What sense of urgency did one modern-day Christian have?
A FULL-TIME minister for more than 66 years wrote: “I have always felt a keen sense of urgency. Armageddon has always been, in my thinking, the day after tomorrow. (Revelation 16:14, 16) Like my father, and his father before him, I have lived my life as the apostle [Peter] urged, ‘keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.’ I have always viewed the promised new world as a ‘reality though not beheld.’”—2 Peter 3:11, 12; Hebrews 11:1; Isaiah 11:6-9; Revelation 21:3, 4.
2. What does it mean to keep close in mind Jehovah’s day?
2 Peter’s expression “keeping close in mind” in reference to Jehovah’s day means that we do not put it off in our minds. We should not forget that the day when Jehovah will destroy this system of things as a preliminary to establishing his promised new world is very near. It should be so real to us that we see it clearly, as being immediately ahead of us. That was how real it was to God’s prophets of old, and they often spoke of it as being near.—Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15; 2:1; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14.
3. What evidently prompted Peter’s counsel regarding Jehovah’s day?
3 Why did Peter urge us to view the day of Jehovah as though it could come, so to speak, “the day after tomorrow”? Because some had evidently begun to ridicule the idea of Christ’s promised presence during which wrongdoers would be punished. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) So in chapter 3 of his second letter, which we will now consider, Peter answers the charges of these ridiculers.
Warm Appeal to Remember
4. What does Peter want us to remember?
4 Peter’s affection for his brothers is shown by his repeatedly addressing them in this chapter as “beloved ones.” Warmly appealing to them not to forget what they had been taught, Peter begins: “Beloved ones, . . . I am arousing your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”—2 Peter 3:1, 2, 8, 14, 17; Jude 17.
5. What did some prophets say about Jehovah’s day?
5 What “sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets” does Peter urge readers to remember? Why, those about the presence of Christ in Kingdom power and about the judgment of the ungodly. Peter had earlier drawn attention to these sayings. (2 Peter 1:16-19; 2:3-10) Jude refers to Enoch, who was the first recorded prophet to warn about the adverse judgment of God upon evildoers. (Jude 14, 15) Other prophets followed Enoch, and Peter does not want us to forget what they wrote.—Isaiah 66:15, 16; Zephaniah 1:15-18; Zechariah 14:6-9.
6. What sayings of Christ and his apostles enlighten us about Jehovah’s day?
6 In addition, Peter tells his readers to remember “the commandment of the Lord and Savior.” Jesus’ commandment includes the exhortation: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down . . . and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare.” “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.” (Luke 21:34-36; Mark 13:33) Peter also urges us to heed the sayings of the apostles. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote: “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.”—1 Thessalonians 5:2, 6.
The Desires of Ridiculers
7, 8. (a) What kind of men are those who ridicule God’s warning messages? (b) What do the ridiculers claim?
7 As noted before, the reason for Peter’s admonition is that some had begun to scoff at such warnings, even as Israelites of earlier times had mocked Jehovah’s prophets. (2 Chronicles 36:16) Peter explains: “For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires.” (2 Peter 3:3) Jude says that the desires of these ridiculers are “for ungodly things.” He calls them “animalistic men, not having spirituality.”—Jude 17-19.
8 The false teachers who Peter said “go on after flesh with the desire to defile it” are likely among these ridiculers who are without spirituality. (2 Peter 2:1, 10, 14) They mockingly ask faithful Christians: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.”—2 Peter 3:4.
9. (a) Why do ridiculers try to undermine the sense of urgency that permeates the Word of God? (b) How is keeping close in mind Jehovah’s day a protection for us?
9 Why this ridicule? Why suggest that Christ’s presence may never occur, that God has never intervened in human affairs and never will? Well, by undermining the sense of urgency that permeates the Word of God, these animalistic ridiculers seek to lull others into a state of spiritual apathy and thus make them easy prey to selfish seductions. What powerful encouragement for us today to remain spiritually awake! May we keep close in mind Jehovah’s day and always remember that his eyes are upon us! Thus we will be moved to serve Jehovah with zeal and maintain our moral purity.—Psalm 11:4; Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12; 12:27; Zephaniah 1:12.
Willful and Despicable
10. How does Peter prove that the ridiculers are wrong?
10 Such ridiculers ignore a vital fact. They deliberately ignore it and try to cause others to forget it. Why? In order more easily to seduce the people. “For, according to their wish,” Peter writes, “this fact escapes their notice.” What fact? “That there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Peter 3:5, 6) Yes, Jehovah did rid the earth of wickedness during the Flood in Noah’s day, a fact that Jesus also emphasized. (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26, 27; 2 Peter 2:5) So, contrary to what ridiculers say, all things have not continued “exactly as from creation’s beginning.”
11. What premature expectations of the early Christians led some to ridicule them?
11 Ridiculers may well have mocked faithful Christians because these had as yet unrealized expectations. Shortly before Jesus died, his disciples “were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly.” Then, after his resurrection they asked whether the Kingdom would be set up right away. Also, about ten years before Peter wrote his second letter, some were “excited” by “a verbal message” or “a letter,” reputedly from the apostle Paul or his companions, “to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.” (Luke 19:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Acts 1:6) Such expectations of Jesus’ disciples, however, were not false, only premature. Jehovah’s day would come!
God’s Word Is Dependable
12. How has God’s Word proved dependable in its prophecies about “the day of Jehovah”?
12 As noted earlier, pre-Christian prophets often warned that Jehovah’s day of vengeance was near. A miniature “day of Jehovah” came in 607 B.C.E. when Jehovah executed vengeance upon his wayward people. (Zephaniah 1:14-18) Later, other nations, including Babylon and Egypt, suffered such a “day of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 13:6-9; Jeremiah 46:1-10; Obadiah 15) The end of the first-century Jewish system of things was also foretold, and it occurred when Roman armies devastated Judea in 70 C.E. (Luke 19:41-44; 1 Peter 4:7) But Peter points to a future “day of Jehovah,” one that will dwarf even the global Flood in magnitude!
13. What historical example demonstrates the certainty of the end of this system of things?
13 Peter introduces his description of that coming destruction, saying: “But by the same word.” He had just said that “by the word of God,” the pre-Flood earth stood “out of water and in the midst of water.” This situation, described in the Bible’s creation account, made possible the Deluge when the waters poured down at God’s direction, or word. Peter continues: “By the same word [of God] the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:5-7; Genesis 1:6-8) We have Jehovah’s dependable word for it! He will bring an end to “the heavens and the earth”—this system of things—in the fiery wrath of his great day! (Zephaniah 3:8) But when?
Eagerness for the End to Come
14. Why can we be confident that we are now living in “the last days”?
14 Jesus’ disciples wanted to know when the end would come, so they asked him: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” They evidently were asking about when the Jewish system would end, but Jesus’ answer focused primarily on when the present ‘heavens and earth’ would suffer destruction. Jesus foretold such things as great wars, food shortages, earthquakes, disease, and crime. (Matthew 24:3-14; Luke 21:5-36) Since the year 1914, we have seen the sign being fulfilled that Jesus gave for “the conclusion of the system of things” as well as the things the apostle Paul mentioned would identify “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Truly, the evidence is overwhelming that we are living in the time of the end of this system of things!
15. What have Christians tended to do despite Jesus’ caution?
15 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been eager to know when the day of Jehovah will occur. In their eagerness they have at times made attempts to estimate when it might come. But by so doing, they have failed, as did Jesus’ early disciples, to heed their Master’s caution that we “do not know when the appointed time is.” (Mark 13:32, 33) Ridiculers have mocked faithful Christians for their premature expectations. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Nevertheless, Jehovah’s day will come, Peter affirms, according to His timetable.
Need to Have Jehovah’s View
16. What admonition do we wisely heed?
16 We need to have Jehovah’s view of time, as Peter now reminds us: “However, let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” How short by comparison is our life span of 70 or 80 years! (2 Peter 3:8; Psalm 90:4, 10) So if the fulfillment of God’s promises seems to delay, we need to accept the admonition of God’s prophet: “Even if [the appointed time] should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Habakkuk 2:3.
17. Although the last days have continued longer than many expected, of what can we be confident?
17 Why have the last days of this system continued longer than many expected? For a fine reason, as Peter next explains: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Jehovah takes into consideration what is in the best interests of all humankind. His concern is with the lives of people, as he says: “I take delight, not in the death of the wicked one, but in that someone wicked turns back from his way and actually keeps living.” (Ezekiel 33:11) So we can be confident that the end will come at just the right time to fulfill the purpose of our all-wise, loving Creator!
What Will Pass Away?
18, 19. (a) Why is Jehovah determined to destroy this system of things? (b) How does Peter describe the end of this system, and what will actually be destroyed?
18 Because Jehovah truly loves those who serve him, he will wipe out all those who cause them distress. (Psalm 37:9-11, 29) Noting, as did Paul earlier, that this destruction would come at an unexpected time, Peter writes: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.” (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:2) The literal heavens and earth did not perish in the Deluge, neither will they during Jehovah’s day. What, then, will “pass away,” or be destroyed?
19 Human governments that have dominated mankind like “heavens” will end and so will the “earth,” or human ungodly society. The “hissing noise” perhaps indicates the rapid passage of the heavens. “The elements” that make up today’s decadent human society will be “dissolved,” or destroyed. And the “earth,” including “the works in it,” will be “discovered.” Jehovah will thoroughly expose the wicked acts of men as he brings an entire world system to its well-deserved end.
Keep Focused on Your Hope
20. How should our lives be affected by our knowledge of the events that lie ahead?
20 Since these dramatic events are at hand, Peter says that we ought to be involved “in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” There can be no doubt about it! “The heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” (2 Peter 3:11, 12) The fact that these dramatic events could begin to occur tomorrow should affect everything we do or plan to do.
21. What will replace the present heavens and earth?
21 Peter now tells us what will replace the old system, saying: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17) Ah, what grand relief! Christ and his 144,000 corulers will compose a “new” governmental “heavens,” and people who survive the end of this world will make up the “new earth.”—1 John 2:17; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3.
Maintain Urgency and Moral Purity
22. (a) What will help us avoid any spiritual spot or blemish? (b) What danger does Peter warn about?
22 “Hence, beloved ones,” Peter continues, “since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace. Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” Waiting with eager anticipation and viewing any seeming delay of Jehovah’s day as an expression of divine patience will help us avoid any spiritual spot or blemish. Yet, there is danger! Peter warns that in the writings of “our beloved brother Paul . . . are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”—2 Peter 3:14-16.
23. What is Peter’s concluding admonition?
23 False teachers evidently twisted Paul’s writings about God’s undeserved kindness, using them as an excuse for loose conduct. Perhaps Peter has this in mind when he writes his parting admonition: “You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard that you may not be led away with them by the error of the law-defying people and fall from your own steadfastness.” He then concludes his letter, urging: “Go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 3:17, 18.
24. What attitude should all of Jehovah’s servants embrace?
24 Clearly, Peter wants to strengthen his brothers. He desires all to have the attitude expressed by the faithful 82-year-old Witness quoted at the outset: “I have lived my life as the apostle urged, ‘keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.’ I have always viewed the promised new world as a ‘reality though not beheld.’” May we all live our life in the same way.
How Would You Respond?
□ What does “keeping close in mind” Jehovah’s day mean?
□ What do ridiculers deliberately ignore, and why?
□ For what reason have ridiculers mocked faithful Christians?
□ What point of view do we need to maintain?
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Keep close in mind Jehovah’s day . . .
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. . . and the new world to follow