Will the World End in 2017?

Bible Book: 2 Peter  3 : 1-18
Subject: Jesus, Return of; Judgment; End Times; New Year
Introduction

2 Peter 3:1-18: (NKJV)

"Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.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. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead 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 done 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, where righteousness dwells. 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. 15 Bear 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. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."

We have now entered a New Year, as we have done for all the years we have lived. A New Year keeps coming, one right after the other. One day, however, the earthly measurement of time will end and we will not celebrate New Year's Day again on this earth. Could the year 2017 be the year Christ returns and time as we know it on this earth comes to an end? Certainly it is possible.

When we open the passage before us in 2 Peter, we read some of the most exciting and distrubing pages found in God’s Word. This scripture is about the time of the end and it is as if lightening leaps from the words as we read them, for they declare a time soon to come when the fury and glory of the Lord will be revealed as in no time before. This scripture tells us about the coming of the Lord, the end of the world as we know it, the blessings of the saints in eternity and the Kingdom of Christ established forever.

It is true that many do not believe the Word of God as it speaks of end time prophecy, but surely as a Christian you and I can sense that we are moving toward something amazing – something fearful for those who do not know the Savior! God does not lie, and all He has said about the future will come to pass.

Songwriter and musician John Mayer wrote a hit song entitled, "Waiting for the world to Change." More than that, we who know Christ as Lord and Savior are waiting for the One who will change the world!

There is a somewhat humorous story of a man went to a hotel room about midnight, after an all day business meeting with an important client. He was so exhausted that he sat down on his bed, took off his right shoe and dropped it loudly to the floor. Just then he realized how thoughtless that was since someone in the room below him might be trying to sleep, so he took off his other shoe and gently placed it on the floor. About two hours later someone woke him up with a knock on his door. He went to the door and there stood a bleary eyed man who said, “I am from the room beneath you. I need to get some sleep, would you please drop the other shoe so I can quit waiting for it.”

The world is waiting for the a loud shoe to drop.

Will it be a collapse of the great bull run we have in the stock market lately?

Will it be a war, perhaps nuclear in nature, with North Korea?

Will it be a virus for which we have no known antibiotic - one as bad as the black plague?

No matter what happens, the child of God has the promise of God's presence with us here and our presence with Him when this life ends. You might say that we Christians are waiting for something to happen, but more than that, we are waiting for someone to come - our Lord Jesus Christ. As the time grows nearer for our Lord's return, our world grows ever more strange and foreign to those of us who know the Lord as our Savior. Our world is more religious and less Christian than at any other time in Christian history. Satan has always had a counterfeit religion and more people have fallen for it in our day than any time before. In fact, the Bible said it would be like this.

It was just a few years ago that the Age of Aquarius, believed to be a new world order when all disease would be conquered, pleasure would reign for all, war would end for good and love would prevail, was held out as the world’s great hope. Well, it never came to pass. The New Age believers were scammed by the old devil's lies! There will be no end to war, hatred, selfishness, crime, and disease till Jesus comes back and sets up His kingdom!

Don’t get me wrong, there is a new world coming, and it is nearer than you can believe. It will not be long till Jesus comes in the clouds of glory and then will come to pass the Biblical prophecy, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.”

In this day, many people are involved in the occult, including but not limited to channeling, Satanism, voodoo, astrology, and numerous eastern religions. Government leaders, movie moguls, Wall Street tycoons, and the average guy on the street believe a lie concerning the time of the end. Muslims claim the twelfth Imam is going to arrive and set up an Islamic state. Others just live for the pleasures of this world.

The Bible informs us that a vast majority will be surprised when Jesus comes, for He will arrive as a “thief in the night." The Bible puts the time of the end like this, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10). This tells us that Christ is coming to clean up the mess that sin has created. Some people think that the most difficult mess to clean up in this world is all the nuclear waste from weapons and energy plants around the globe. That would be child’s play compared to cleaning up the sin problem that mankind has created. The green movement is huge around the world, and I believe we should take care of the planet God has given us, however, the biggest mess on earth is not soft drink tabs and plastic bags. The biggest mess is the sin problem and the tragic consequences it has wrought on the earth. Jesus will come to rid this world of sin and its results.

When the time of the end comes, all the satellites that feed our worldwide televisions will melt. All the GPS gadgets that guide people to their destinations will fail. Our digital age will be destroyed. The Bible states that the elements themselves will be melted down. God will do this and from it He will bring forth a new heaven and a new earth to be inhabited by the saved of all the ages. The Capitol Building in America will be destroyed. Every military headquarters on earth will cease to exist. Banks, schools – and, yes, even Walmart - will be no more! We have all heard about the housing meltdown – well, there is coming a real housing meltdown – literally! Most people give their entire lives to things that will be gone in a moment. That is very sad, indeed. It is true what the poet said,

"Only one life, twill soon be past,

Only what's done for Christ will last."

The church used to be captivated with the idea of heaven and the kingdom to come, but in recent years heaven has fallen out of favor. Our attention has turned to prosperity and pleasure, and a lot of preaching has emerged to scratch itching ears that wanted to hear it. Let me tell you, it won’t be long till we fall in love with heaven anew. As this world grows ever more wicked and anti-Christian, we will long for our Savior to come for us. We will say as John did from the Isle of Patmos, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"

Let's look at three things regarding the coming of Jesus Christ and the end of current world order...

I. The Message of His Coming Comforts Us

A. He is coming to Rescue us

Look at verses 3 through 7 in 2 Peter 3. Here we see that we are living in a world hostile to the Lord and to those who serve Him. The world scoffs at the idea of a coming Savior and a coming judgment. In such a world, Christians must not be surprised when things in this life are not working out for us as we wish. After all, this is not our final home. All of us who know and love the Lord must live in this sin-cursed world till He comes for us. He wants us to have joy here, for He told us Himself that He was giving us His joy, but He also said that in this world we would have tribulation.

One day, child of God, He is going to take you home to be with Him. He is coming to rescue you.

i. When He saved you, He took the world out of you.
ii. When He comes again, He is going to take you out of this world.

He will bring about this great victory by setting up His Kingdom forever. He rules over His Kingdom at this very moment, but the fullness of His Kingdom has not yet occurred. The final Kingdom will be ushered in by the Lord when He comes to take all true believers to be with Him.

The first time Jesus came He was not given the kingdoms of the world. He came to His own and His own received Him not. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the Wilderness, the devil falsely promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him. Jesus rebuked the devil and promised His disciples that in a time to come He would set up the Kingdom under His authority forever.

You see, the first time Jesus came he was placed in a manager; the next time He comes He will come in majesty and splendor.
The first time He came He was rejected; the next time Jesus comes He will reign and rule.
The first time He came He wore a crown of thorns; the next time He comes He will wear the diadem of sovereignty.
The first time He came men took the Lord in their hands; the next time He comes men will be in His hands.
The first time He came He was crucified; the next time He comes He will be crowned.
The first time He came He stood before Pilate; the next time He comes Pilate will stand before Him.

Look at Luke 1:31-33 and note the special prophecy by Gabriel: "31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

You can see that everything Gabriel prophesied has come to pass except one thing - as yet the Kingdom has not yet been set up on earth forever. But it will come to pass! Be assured that Jesus will come and He will reign. Don’t be discouraged, child of God, Jesus is coming. He will rule. He will reign. He will rescue us from this evil world.

“What a day that will be, when Jesus I shall see,

When I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace,

He will take me by the hand, and lead me through the promised land,

What a day, marvelous day that will be!” (Lyrics Jim Hill, member of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame)

Yes, what a day that will be!

B. He is coming to Reward us

When He comes to set up His Kingdom, he will give us work to do in His name. Heaven is not like a retirement community in the Sunshine State, where the residents play suffle board and Canasta all day. Heaven will be a place where we are given responsibilities in the service of our Lord. No one knows for sure what that service will be. We may well serve Him on new planets and in new places beyond our Universe, but our energy will be boundless and our service will be perfect. What a marvelous time that will be. Do not be discouraged with the problems of this life, for one day you will be rewarded.

Harry Ironside tells of working for a shoemaker when he was very young. The leather used to make the shoes was soaked it water before being applied to the shoes. To make the leather perform at its best, the leather had to be pounded to remove the majority of the water. This was a very boring and difficult task - pounding, pounding, pounding the leather to remove the water. Harry Ironside watched a competitor making shoes and noticed that he took the leather right from the water and attached it to the shoes. He commented to the competitor that this was not they way he was taught to make shoes. The competitor said, “Yes, but the people come back for shoes more often this way.”

In other words, the competitor was deliberately preparing the shoes in such a way as to make them wear out more quickly so the customer would come back to buy another pair of shoes. Harry raced back to his boss and told him what he had seen. His boss said, “Harry, I am not making shoes for money, I am a Christian and I am making them in a way that pleases Jesus, for one day I will answer for this work.”

Ironside said that he learned a great lesson that day. This is exactly what the Bible teaches us. We should be faithful for we will one day face our Lord as believers and we will be blessed to serve in greater or lesser ways due to our faithfulness here.

Now this leads directly to our next thought...

II. The Message of His Coming Compels Us

This biblical truth is meant to stir up a hope in us - to keep us from being anchored to this world!

A. The Destruction that Compels Us

Everything human beaings are attached to - all that people hold precious, all that they labor a lifetime to obtain and enjoy - will be dissolved in a sudden flame!

Note 2 Peter 3:10-13:  "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 done 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, where righteousness dwells."

Try to imagine it: All Wall Street firms, all corporate offices, all banks, all computer headquarters - gone! The United Nations will vanish. State and federal capitol buildings will burn in a moment. Fort Knox and all its gold will disappear. There won't be manufacturing plants, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, airplanes, trains. There won't even be any ashes left!

The Greek word for “dissolved” used by Peter in this passage means to “loosen, break up and melt down.” In other words: God is going to break up the party! He will tear people loose from people everything they sought after in this world, and then melt all earthly things in a burning flame of heat!

In Revelation 14:14-16 we read, “I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one ‘like a son of man’ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.’”

Yes, there is coming a day of harvesting by the Lord. He will harvest the souls of the earth. So we should be compelled to go out into the highways and find those who do not know the Lord and share God's message of love and salvation with them.

I know that many people find the message of judgment to be cruel and they are repulsed by the idea. But, what they miss is the love in this message. Anyone who knows of a coming disaster, and does not share it, is actually the one who is cruel. The doctor tells the patient of a tumor in order for the patient to seek treatment. Government agencies warn of coming tornadoes or hurricanes to cause people to seek shelter. Parents warn their children not to play in the street to keep them from the horror and mayhem of being struck by cars. The ones who warn are not cruel; to the contrary, they are loving, thoughtful and kind. Our Lord sends a warning because He loves you. He sent a Savior to redeem you from this fallen world. He has provided the way of escape. Those of us who proclaim the warning are not evil, mean and unloving. We are merely passing on the Word of the One who sent the initial message - the Lord Himself! Don't shoot the messenger - listen to the message and accept the way of escape!

B. The Dedication that Compels Us

First, we look at the dedication of our Lord while He was on this earth. His life and sacrifice compels us to do our best. He gave His all for us and we are compelled to give our all in service for Him. Paul wrote, “The love of Christ compels us.” Indeed, it does! God is not going to create a new world without having a people to inhabit it. And in every generation He has preserved a people whom He will translate into His wonderful new kingdom. This world is not our home, so let us all represent the One who saved us with faithfulness!

Believe it or not, Peter says we are to earnestly desire the end of the present world. You may think that this sounds morbid! Yet the apostle writes that we are to anticipate the dissolving of this evil age: “Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat...” (2 Peter 3:12). Things will be so bad on earth that Christians who remain till that time will desire more than anything for Jesus to come!

This truth also is meant to stir us up about the kind of people we are to be: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...” (verse 11).

I ask you: When you read these words about a great fire coming and a new world where righteousness will reign be established, do you rejoice? Someone here in this service today may realize that these passages are absolutely true, yet you know that you are not ready if these scriptures were fulfilled today. You can be. That is why Jesus came, lived, died and rose. He came to save us so that we can be ready to meet Him. You don’t have to miss out on the wonderful promises God has made regarding heaven. You can be sure that every true believer is saved and will be kept from the awful judgment coming to this earth. God’s has a plan to save all who believe upon Jesus and to preserve them.

Look at what the Lord says to you, “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8).

Look again in Psalm 37:28, “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever.”

We need to see one New Testament passage. Look at 2 Timothy 4:18, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever.”

The word "preserve" here means to guard, protect, keep, make safe, place a hedge about. God is saying that He will guard you, protect you, keep you, and make you safe! The world, the devil, time, and even death cannot separate you from Christ! (Romans 8)

C. The Destiny that Compels Us

The lost are destined to destruction, and that should compel us to warn them. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:11 and following. Here we see that we are to persuade men that they should come to Christ.

The destiny of the saved should compel us. When we think of what it will be like the in Kingdom, we should be motivated to share the gospel with others. It is wrong to know where water can be found and not tell your neighbors who are dying of thirst. We see this message of coming judgment as a means of prompting us to share our faith with others.

Conclusion

Are you ready for the Lord to come? When the Prince of Wales was making a tour of some seldom visited areas, he decided to stop at a workman's home. The next day the laborer said sadly, “I never expected him, nor did my wife. The house was untidy, and I hadn't even washed. We shall never forgive ourselves. If we had only known he was so near, we would have set things in order and been better prepared to receive him.”

One day the great Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, is going to suddenly appear. Although we know not the exact day or hour, He has promised it will be soon -VERY SOON! We must be ready for His coming or be ashamed and face the judgment. And, let me add, even if you are not alive on this earth till He appears to bring this ultimate judgment, your death will take you immediately into His presence. Man has an appointment with death - an appointment he must keep - and after that, the judgment will be swift.

The Christian is to be constantly watching for His return. We must be faithful, even when the way is tough and the hardships abound. An anonymous poet put it like this:

One little hour of watching for the Master,

Eternal years to walk with Him in white;

One little hour to bravely meet life's duties,

Eternal years to reign with Him in light.

One little hour for weary toils and trials,

Eternal years for calm and peaceful rest;

One little hour for patient self-denials,

Eternal years of life where life is best.

Will the world end in 2017? Only God knows the answer to that question, but as we enter into the year 2017, let's be ready for the world to change - for the Lord to change the world forever.