You Can’t Change Biblical History
Clear evidence from the past that Christ will come in the future
2 Peter 3:5-7
It’s trendy today to alter history. From the crazies who deny the Holocaust, to modern politicians who don’t wear a mask at dinner or the hair salon, everyone is altering history–recent history and ancient history. TV shows are the worst. Back in 1993, one show that began to shameless warp history was Dr. Quinn, Frontier Feminist, inserting every modern issue of today into the western frontier, and solving it with an anti-God, anti-Bible solution. The facts of history are being rewritten, altered, abused and denied in front of our eyes.
The rewriting of history, this revising of what is true and what is false, the loss of an objective understanding of what was true and fact in the past is an attack on Christianity. Our faith is not founded upon mysticism or speculation–our faith is based on historical fact. It’s a historical fact Christ is God who was born a man. It’s a historical fact that Christ died on the cross for the sins of His children. And it is a historical fact that Christ physically rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven. If we begin to doubt all history, then we will begin to doubt our faith. God teaches us in His Word these Christ events are real and actually did happen.
The false teachers of Peter’s day were challenging historical fact and distorting God’s Word. They were denying the return of Christ and one of their key arguments was to assert that history continues on the same, year-after-year, century-after-century–nothing ever changes. That proved to them that Christ won’t radically come back and judge the planet. In doing so, they have rewritten biblical history, which is filled with God intervening into history on a worldwide, cataclysmic level.
Open your Bibles to 2 Peter chapter 3 and follow along with your outline. If you are new with us, we are working our way verse-by-verse through God’s Word and find ourselves in the last letter written by the Apostle Peter to some churches in Asia, which is modern day Turkey. These churches were experiencing intense attack by false teachers, and these errorists were insisting that Christ was not coming again. So Peter writes in verses 1 and 2 . . .
#1 The return of Christ is CERTAIN Verses 1 and 2
Read verses 1 to 2, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” Peter shouts in verse 1, “WAKE UP and REMEMBER–Christ is coming back in judgment.”
This is clearly taught in verse 2, by the Old Testament prophets, by Christ Himself and by the apostles in the New Testament. Look at these three references out of hundreds. Micah 1:3, “For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.” Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” Matthew 16:27, “The Son of Man is going to come…and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”
If Christ is not coming back, then throw your Bible away, because His return as King to judge the entire world is everywhere in your Bible. Peter says, “You are not rejecting me if you don’t affirm the Second Coming of Christ–you’re rejecting the entire Bible. And by doing so, you are rejecting God because the Second Coming is certain, guaranteed by hundreds of Old Testament and New Testament promises.” But in spite of the clear teaching of God’s Word, in verses 3 to 4 . . .
#2 The return of Christ is CHALLENGED Verses 3 to 4
False teachers attack believers with intimidation through mockery, flaunting their so-called freedoms by living immorally, and attacking their thinking with logical arguments. Peter describes these attacks in verses 3 and 4. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and 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.’”
And now in response to those attacks, in verses 5 to 7, Peter proves the false teacher attacks on biblical history are a lie. To say that everything always continues the same, in a uniformitarianism worldview, is actually a joke–especially if you casually look at biblical history. So today, Peter affirms in verses 5 to 7 that . . .
#3 The return of Christ is CLEAR Verses 5 to 7
Here are the first of Peter’s arguments in support of the imminent return of Christ. Peter has already affirmed that the living Word of God guarantees the return of Christ in verses 1 to 2, even though the false teachers argue against Christ’s Second Coming in verses 3 to 4. So now in verses 5 to 7, Peter will defeat the false teacher arguments beginning with three major historical proofs. These proofs verify that history is not a constant, but under God’s control. History does not universally remain constant, but is continually directed by the Lord’s sovereignty. His providence guarantees the Second Coming of Christ.
Are you looking forward to your future? The return of Christ is what makes today bearable for the struggling believer. Christ’s return helps you to understand what is happening in the world right now. The return of Christ will satisfy all those who are longing for justice. The Second Coming strengthens your hope for the future. And today, the Bible proves God’s intervention into history, which champions the return of Christ.
Verse 4 is when the false teachers sneered, “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.” And now, Peter responds in verses 5 to 7, as you read it with me, knowing that Peter is informing his readers that the pattern of history proves that God Himself interrupts the natural course of this world–which then destroys their verse 4 argument and champions the Second Coming of Christ. Friends, when Christ returns, He will radically interrupt the natural course of this world.
As we read, look for Peter’s three proofs in verses 5 to 7. “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, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
Peter’s three proofs are that God has and will radically intervene in history in the 1) CREATION, the 2) FLOOD, and 3 FUTURE JUDGMENT—three verses, three points. The false teachers were critically wrong about Christ–they were teaching a false gospel, a false salvation, that if followed would lead those who embraced it to Hell. So Peter uses strong language to prove their error.
First The CREATION of the Universe Verse 5
“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.” John Piper states, “The first thing the false teachers ignore is that the world was made by God and that its order hangs on His word. If they were willing to think about this, they would realize that the course of natural events is no more locked into one pattern than God is. If God is free to speak a new word, then nature is free to change. We need to guard ourselves against the pseudo-scientific notion that nature is a law unto itself. It is not. The laws of nature are the tireless whisperings of the Almighty. And [I LOVE THIS] if He should choose to raise his voice, the cataclysm will come.”
So how does Peter refute the foolish verse 4 argument of the apostate scoffers? They shout their opinions, “God does not interrupt the operation of His stable creation!” Therefore, they wrongly conclude, “The promise of Christ’s coming is not true!” since that would interrupt creation. All Peter does in response is remind them of what God has already done in the past. Peter presents the evidence that the false teachers deliberately ignore.
Look at verse 4 and 5. This is what Peter says at the beginning of verse 5, “For when they maintain this”–referring to verse 4 and their uniformitarianism theory. Verse 5, “it escapes their notice”–meaning they willfully forget. The word for “escapes their notice” in Greek is to keep something hidden, to keep something from gaining attention. This is willful ignorance. The false teachers, in their quest to avoid the doctrine of judgment (and be accountable to God), deliberately ignore two obvious, historical, divine, cataclysmic events.
I’ve seen this first-hand. These so-called experts, whether scientists, theologians, or philosophers, are selective with their data. They ignore the facts, they distort the truth–then they mock you like you are a child if you believe the Bible. Peter says they deliberately ignore. The heretics in Peter’s churches refused to remember two major divine upheavals–the work of God in creation (verse 5) and the universal flood (verse 6). The course of natural events is no more locked into one pattern than God is. Notice how Peter slams the door on these heretics.
God created the heavens and the earth by His word. See verse 5, “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago.” Do you remember Genesis 1? The phrase “and God said” occurs nine times in Genesis 1. Not only was all creation made by the word of God, but it is held together by that same Word. You know Colossians 1:16 and 17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Our Lord Jesus not only created all things, He is currently sustaining all things–Peter says in verse 5, by His word.
Peter’s argument is obvious–the same God who created the world by His Word, can also intervene in His world and do whatever He wishes to do by His Word! It is His Word that made the world, and the same Word that holds it together–and the same Word at any time can intervene in the world, because His Word is all-powerful. God is holding this world together then and now.
It is His will which determines whether it continues or ends. It is His will which created this world, His will which judged this world with a flood, His will which determined His first coming to redeem His children, His will which determines when He will return for His Second Coming, and His will which will judge this world with fire. His Word, His will runs this world.
Spurgeon says it better, “Admire the power of God’s Word. It was by the Word of God that the heavens were made. It was by the Word of God the earth was drowned. It was by the Word of God that it has been preserved ever since and will be preserved until, by that same Word, fire shall come to devour all the works of men. As surely as Noah’s flood came, so surely shall there be a burning up at the appointed season.”
Creation was God stepping into the emptiness and bringing the universe into existence, not by uniformitarianism, but by an instantaneous, explosive 6-day creation. Everything has not continued in the same consistent, unvarying evolutionary process. The false teachers cannot change biblical history. History is His story. All of Scripture, including Genesis 1 and 2, supports a recent creation and a young Earth–one created out of nothing in six consecutive, twenty-four hour days. The phrase in verse 5, “existed long ago” does not imply billions of years. Genesis and the rest of Scripture strongly support several thousand years to describe the biblical creation event.
In six 24-hour days, the entire universe was created mature and complete. The end of verse 5 describes it this way—”the earth was formed out of water and by water.” The earth was formed between two realms of watery mass. During the early part of the creation week, God collected the upper waters into a canopy of water, or it was water into the atmosphere around the whole Earth, and the lower waters into underground reservoirs, rivers, lakes, and seas. Peter focuses on the water, because built into His creation is the tool of its destruction. These existing waters become the reservoir for the universal flood judgment.
Because they loved their sin, the false teachers willfully ignored the historical evidence and disregarded the biblical accounts. As a result of their self-induced blindness, the false teachers discounted two monumental God-events in history–the creation and the flood. The Bible proves God’s intervention into history, which champions the return of Christ.
Second The Universal FLOOD Verse 6
“Through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” False teachers also intentionally ignore that this world did not continue as it had from the beginning of creation. Peter argues God brought judgment on the world with the flood of Noah’s day, which completely destroyed the world and completely destroyed the argument for uniformitarianism (verse 4). Everything dramatically changed at the flood–animal eating habits, the environment of the earth, the longevity of mankind and more. The flood proves that uniformitarianism from verse 4 is wrong.
Sadly, some Christians seem embarrassed to talk about a universal flood, partly since every nature program and science class disses it. Those who do talk about the ark describe the flood as if it was a fairy tale instead of historical fact. But the apostle Peter, inspired by God, uses the truth of the universal flood in his writings more than most preachers today. The world at that time was well warned.
Enoch hinted at the flood by naming his son Methuselah, which means “when he dies, it shall come.” Methuselah lived for nearly a thousand years (exactly 969 years), then as Enoch’s prophecy slumbered in people’s thoughts, Noah was born. At God’s command, Noah began to build the ark in Genesis 6. A time was set–120 years. This gave Noah enough time to build the ark and to preach to a hard-hearted world. The ark was a sign of judgment soon to come. The death of Methuselah was a sign. The preaching of Noah was a sign. Still, pre-flood humanity chose to be “willingly . . . ignorant,” just like the scoffers of 2 Peter 2–willingly ignorant.
For a century, life continued just as before, with no further warning, until the ark was closed and the first raindrop fell from the sky. Then water emptied on the earth for 40 days and nights, and the fountains of the deep broke open and flooded the entire planet so completely, the highest mountain peaks were covered by over 22 feet–and everyone except Noah’s family died on Earth. Verse 6 says, “The world at that time was destroyed.” The Greek word destroyed describes killing, annihilation, and perishing. Destroyed is the same word used as one of Satan’s names–the destroyer, Apollyon.
The flood was a cataclysmic event. In fact, the Greek word in verse 6 translated flooded, “flooded with water”, literally gives us our English word cataclysm. The flood was cataclysmic! The people living on Earth probably never saw a rainstorm, but it occurred just as written. Their scientists back then could have argued, just as the verse 4 scoffers argued, “Everything goes on as it did from the beginning.” Life is uniform, so nothing unusual or different will happen.
So they teach, Christ is not going to come back and interrupt this constancy to judge the entire world. But the truth is, God has the power to break into the world any time He wants. By His Word, which is His will, God can send water to drown or fire to burn whenever He pleases. Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” The false teachers of 2 Peter rejected biblical history. Because of their lust-driven hedonism, they became the forefathers of today’s revisionist historians. The false teachers deliberately deny both the creation account and the flood–two catastrophic events which easily disprove their uniformitarian viewpoint.
Charles Spurgeon states, “Just as God destroyed man and swept away sin with water once,” He will do it again with a different element–the next time fire. The Bible proves God’s intervention into history, which champions the return of Christ.
Third Future JUDGMENT Verse 7
“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.” Peter proved his point–God has demonstrated He can and will alter the course of history in judgment. In the past, God did it with water in verse 6. In the future it will be with fire in verse 7 at the coming of Jesus Christ. If the false teachers weren’t so blinded by their own lusts, they could see how foolish it is to deny the coming cataclysm of Christ’s return.
My friends, are you convinced God can and will interrupt the course of history? Yes? If you are, then you’re ready for Peter’s application found in verse 7. The same Word which created and sustains the world, the Word of God has reserved this world for a future day of judgment with fire. In Genesis 9:8 to 17, God promised He would not destroy the world again with water. Every rainbow is a reminder, no more worldwide judgment by water.
But there is a certain judgment coming and this coming judgment will be by fire. God promises everywhere, Isaiah 66:15, “For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” Second Thessalonians 1:7 and 8, “To give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
Second Peter 3:7, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire.” Reserved for fire is an unusual phrase. It means to store something, to put it in your treasure room, to have it in your storehouse. Wow–don’t miss what Peter is saying. God already told you in verses 5 to 6 He already had the water needed to judge the world by universal, worldwide flood, all ready in the heavens and under the earth.
Now God is telling you in verse 7 that God already has the fire needed for the future judgment by fire, already stored up and ready to release at His will, by His Word. “Chris, is Peter talking about atomic bombs?” Modern atomic science has revealed that the elements that make up the world are stored with power. There is enough atomic energy in a glass of water to run a huge ocean liner. Mankind has discovered this great power and the threat of atomic destruction still weighs heavy upon humanity.
Yet Peter is not describing men who destroy the world by the fire of atomic bombs–no, it is God who will push the button at the right time and burn up the old creation and all the works of sinful man with it, before Christ ushers in a new heavens and new earth to reign in glory. Peter says, just like the water reserved for the flood water judgment, the fire is also reserved stored away for the worldwide, universal fire judgement. And God does not lack for the means to kindle these end-times fires.
John MacArthur says, “In the present universe, the heavens are full of stars, comets, and asteroids. The core of the earth is also filled with a flaming, boiling, liquid lake of fire, the temperature of which is some 12,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The human race is separated from this fiery core in the earth by only a thin 10-mile crust. Far more than that, the whole of creation is a potential fire bomb due to its atomic structure.
Every erupting volcano reminds you, you are seated on a raging furnace just beneath the surface of the earth. Oxygen is highly flammable, and it is all around us! Every atom carries a furnace of doom within its tiny heart. Start screaming friends—there’s nowhere to run. Right now, our Lord holds these fearful fires in check–but not forever. Verse 7b adds, “They are kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Those fires are literally being preserved, “kept for the day of judgment.”
You will stand trial for your life before Christ, who knows the thoughts and intentions of your heart. Nothing is hidden from Him and His judgment will be just and perfect. This judgement is already on God’s calendar, and nothing will stop it from coming. No amount of money will buy your freedom. No argument will deliver you from sentencing. All the lawyers in the universe will lose your case before God, except one.
There actually is one who loved you so much, he paid your penalty and took the punishment your crime deserved. And His name is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. He chose to die for your sins and take God’s wrath you deserved in Hell on the cross, rose from the dead and lives to provide salvation to those who turn to Him alone. And if you’re not in Christ, if God’s righteousness does not cover you and God the Spirit indwell you, then you are, verse 7, “ungodly”–meaning you will be, verse 7, destroyed.
Destruction is a Greek word used of the ruin of a sinner. Destruction is one of the strongest words in the Greek language to express the final and irreversible doom of the lost. The word occurs twenty times, being used of Judas and the Antichrist–both were called “the son of perdition/destruction”, signifying perdition their fitting destiny. The word destruction doesn’t refer to loss of being, but to an eternal loss of well-being.
Peter wipes out the alleged evidences in verses 3 and 4 with the fact that in the past, God has intervened in the course of history in verses 5 to 7, and God will do it again with the Second Coming of Christ. The same Word which created the world and brought the flood also records the promise of Christ’s coming hundreds of times in both Old Testament and New Testament, verses 1 and 2. The Bible proves God’s intervention into history, which champions the return of Christ.
But these wily critics of Christ’s coming are not done yet. Their attack continues. Next, they will say if Christ is coming, then why does He delay so long? They will mock, did God change His mind? Is He indifferent? You will hear Peter’s blow-your-mind answer, using God’s character, next week.
TAKE this HOME
A. God is capable of anything He WANTS
Our Lord has broken into time and radically changed the direction of history. And Christ Jesus will do it again. God is sovereign, friends–He is totally in control. Like in Job 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” That means when planes fly into the Twin Towers, God allowed that. That means when a Soviet Wall comes down and instantly there were eleven new nations created in a single day, God was in charge of that too.
So when Christ chooses to introduce the Day of the Lord and begin the end times events, He will choose to do so at the perfect time. And on a personal scale, whatever is happening in your life, Christ always does what He wants. If you’re His child, even when it is painful, He allows only and always what is best for you. This promise is only for born again believers. Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He is working all the details of your life for your good and His glory.
B. Are you EMBARRASSED by the CREATION and the FLOOD?
Satan is a liar and this world has systematically undermined creation and flood truths. Listen, expositionally, Genesis 1 only allows for a six literal 24-hour day account. Biblically, the entire Bible also refers to a six literal 24-hour day account and calls it true. And theologically, if you don’t accept a six literal 24-hour day account, then you’re forced to embrace some form of evolutionary process. If you believe God oversaw some evolutionary process, then you must also embrace death before the fall (meaning all kinds of animals died in the survival of the fittest in an evolutionary process before Adam and Eve).
To believe that then erases the Gospel truth that death is actually caused from the sin of Adam. Expositionally, biblically and theologically, biblical history is true. To be embarrassed by creation and the flood is to be ashamed of Christ, since He was the one who created the world, judged the world, and taught both creation and the flood.
C. Are you living each day as if it were your LAST?
When Christ returns, the Bible says be ready now. Matthew 24:44, “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” Ready means, are you daily prepared? Are you keeping short accounts–like not letting the sun go down on your anger? Are you using your time wisely, your money for God’s glory, your service in hope of reward?
Are you living daily without regret, saying what needs to be said with grace and kindness to your brothers and sisters in Christ, with your spouse, children and parents? Born again Christians live ready for Christ to come, as if today were their last day.
D. Judgment is coming, and the requirement is holy PERFECTION
I rewrote Spurgeon with this–the flood judgment was in consequence of sin and a declaration of God’s wrath against sin. So will it be with the judgment of fire. Humankind will not cause this fire–no, God intends to purge this material world from all traces of sin. The world has been defiled with sin, and before He makes it into a new heaven and a new earth, He will cleanse it by fire.
Under the Levitical law, the cleansing of temple vessels which had been defiled was accomplished by passing them through fire as an illustration of the intense energy needed to remove sin and to declare the Lord’s hatred of sin. So God confirms His great hatred for sin by dissolving this world in fervent heat. In the past, God destroyed millions over His hatred of sin. In the future, God will destroy millions over His hatred of sin.
God hates your sin just as much. Unless you embrace Christ’s death on your behalf for your sin on the cross, you will know the burning heat of God’s wrath forever in Hell. Today, you must exchange all that you are for all that He is. Turn from your sin in repentance and depend on Christ by faith and follow Christ as Lord.