20-2 The Judgment Of AD70
Such false teaching
was something which Peter was prophesying: " There shall come...scoffers...saying..."
(v.3). But now the tenses change to the present: " for (because)
this they willingly are ignorant of..." . Even then these
brethren had shut their mind to Bible based reasoning, refusing to consider
the power of God's word as exhibited in the Old Testament. It was therefore
only a matter of time before they started speaking forth false ideas.
They had willingly forgotten (R.V.) that it was through God's word of
command that the earth arose out of the water at the creation, and by
this same word of God the water was commanded to overflow the earth again
at Noah's time, taking the world back to how it was before creation- a
sphere covered in water. " Whereby the world.. was overflowed
with water" (v.6) thus refers to the word of God by which ("
whereby" ) the present world was created, by commanding the waters
to recede to let the dry land appear (Gen.1:9). Peter had previously made
the point that the promised judgment of God in Noah's time was delayed
in order to allow the maximum scope for repentance by that wicked world
(1 Pet.3:20). The false teachers were ignorant of this fact through having
forgotten what they once knew- i.e. that a similar delay was being experienced
by their generation in the coming of the Lord's day. Because of this,
they were now squarely matching those who mocked Noah.
We have shown earlier
that the times of Noah are a definite type of the 'last days' of the Jewish
system leading up to AD70. " The world that then was...perished...the
Heaven and the earth which are now, by the same word (of God) are...reserved
unto fire" (cp. water; v.6,7). Thus Peter equates the " world"
with the present " Heavens and earth" , implying that a "
Heavens and earth" were destroyed in Noah's time. It was " all
flesh" that perished (Gen.6:11-13). This indicates a clearly figurative
interpretation of " Heavens and earth" as meaning an order of
things. This line of argument has yet to be answered by Pentecostals,
Catholics and others, over-enthusiastic to see in these verses a destruction
of God's own perfect dwelling place as well as this beautiful planet.
The quotation of Is.65:17 in v.13 should also be brought into play with
such people- the new " heavens and earth" is a new system of
things to come upon this (already) beautiful earth. The literal heavens
and earth were hardly destroyed in Noah's time.
Elements of this prophecy
refer to the ending of the Jewish system in AD70; the world of Noah "
perished" (v.6) as the Jewish world would. The same Greek word occurs
in Heb.1:11 concerning the 'perishing' of the Jewish heavens and earth
due to the unchanging ministry of Christ. This would indicate that the
Law itself was in some way ended in AD70, although of course it was 'taken
out of the way' on the cross (Col.2:14-17). The same word for " perish"
occurs in 2 Pet.3:9 in the context of God's punishment of the wicked within
the ecclesia- He is unwilling that " any (of them) should perish"
. Jude 11 matches this by warning the same class of how their prototypes
" perished in the gainsaying of Core" . It appears that the
judgments which were to bring the Jewish system to a close would therefore
be the same as those which would punish the false teachers. We can conclude
from this that many of the first century false teachers were Jews or Judaist-influenced.
It is to be expected, therefore, that the punishment of the Gentile world
at the second coming will also be the means of judgment inflicted on the
false teachers of the last days. Several times in 'Eureka', Bro.
John Thomas gives reason for believing that the rejected saints will be
punished by literal fire (of limited duration, of course) along with the
nations which comprise the latter day beast. If the location of this punishment
is shifted away from Europe (as Bro. Thomas suggests) to Israel, then
this fits in with the general thesis we have been developing in this study.
" By the same word"
" By the same word"
of God that had caused the earth to rise from the waters and later called
the waters over the earth, " the heavens and the earth which are
now...are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment" (v.7).
That there must be some reference here to the passing away of the Law
and the Jewish system associated with it is shown by the allusion here
to Mt.5:18: " Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall
in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled" . Our Lord's
fulfilment of the Law was primarily on the cross, but the fact that 2
Pet.3 speaks of the Jewish heavens and earth passing away in AD70 indicates
that the finishing of the Law did not come into full effect until the
destruction of the temple. This explains the many hints throughout the
New Testament that the believers kept some parts of the Law prior to AD70.
2 Thess.1:8 speaks of
the Lord Jesus coming " from Heaven with his mighty Angels, in flaming
fire taking vengeance" on those who had rejected the knowledge of
God, and had consciously disobeyed the Gospel of Christ. This connection
not only underlines the fact that both AD70 and our last days are spoken
of in 2 Pet.3, but also proves that the " heavens and earth"
which suffer fire are representative of individuals. Hence Peter's description
of the day of " fire" as being " the day of judgment and
perdition of ungodly men" . 2 Pet.2:9 uses the same Greek word for
" ungodly" as in 2 Thess.1:8 to describe the false teachers;
and it occurs an impressive six times in Jude's letter concerning the
same people. The warning that judgment would no longer be delayed shows
that " the day of judgment" which came on the Judaizers must
refer to AD70. But there can be no doubt that " The day of judgment
and perdition of ungodly men" must refer ultimately to the second
The idea of punishment
being " reserved" is continuing a theme of the preceding
chapter. " The angels that sinned" were " reserved"
unto judgment" (2:4), the responsible people to whom Lot preached
are " reserved...unto the day of judgment" (2:9), and
thus for the false teachers of the first century too, " the mist
of darkness is reserved for ever" (2:17). As the first two
examples received judgment in this life and also a 'reservation' of future
punishment, so the sinners within the first century ecclesias would receive
a punishment at the manifestation of the Lord in AD70, and also at his
second coming. This explains the dual reference of 2 Pet.3 to both these
periods. The theme of judgment being " reserved" adds weight
to Peter's plea for his readers to realize that God was not suspending
judgment indefinitely, but that despite an apparent delay in meting it
out, judgment was without doubt reserved for revelation at a future date.
The continued emphasis on God using the agent of His word to do this must
be connected with Peter's request for us to give more careful attention
to Bible study (3:12,15,16). It will be by the Word and our attitude to
it that we will be judged at the last day. As the word of God would be
the agent of destruction for the unworthy, so it could bring salvation
to the righteous. We have earlier suggested that the language of creation
used here may echo the idea of the new creation in Christ. " By the
word of God the heavens were of old" suggests the account of the
new creation in Col.1:17- and " the word of God" is a title
of Christ. Thus as Christ had brought about the new creation, so He was
capable of punishing (in AD 70) and destroying (at the second coming)
those parts of it which failed to reflect His glory.
The attitude of willing
ignorance by the unworthy can quite easily be adopted by us. " Beloved,
be not ignorant (as those of v.5 were) of this one (Greek 'other')
thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand
years as one day" (v.8). In addition to being acutely aware of the
fact that through the power of His word, God would certainly bring about
" the day of judgment" at some time (i.e. the reasoning of v.5-7),
Peter bids us be aware of one other thing- that God can collapse and expand
periods of time as He wishes. Not only can one of God's " days"
be a vast expanse of time to us in human terms, but also one of our brief
days can be turned into a thousand years by God if He wishes.
This principle is illuminated
by appreciating that Peter is here quoting Ps.90:4. This prayer of Moses
was bringing before God the miseries of the condemned generation in the
wilderness, and pleading that God would repent of His decision to bar
them from entering the land (Ps.90:12-17).
After all, Moses had
previously changed God's declared purpose of destroying Israel and making
of him a nation; and had not God declared to him that He was willing to
show Moses the fact that His purpose could be changed in accordance with
human behaviour (Num.14:34 A.V.mg.)? Thus Moses had every reason to try
to change God's plan again through prayer. Against this background Peter
is reasoning that if Moses could try to pray for the days of punishment
for Israel to be shortened and for their sin to be overlooked, then we
too can find reason to pray for the shortening of the days until the Kingdom,
and for God's mercy upon the sinners of the new Israel. There are a number
of significant parallels between Peter's argument and Ps.90:
language of 1 Pet. 1:24; Is. 40:6-8 re. the first century Jews
And for the enthusiast:
Ps.90:16,17= Hab.3:2 (re. the second coming)= 2 Pet.3:12,13.
It is quite possible
to translate 2 Pet.3:8 as " One day with the Lord is as a thousand"
, which would suggest another Psalm allusion- this time to Ps.84:18: "
A day in thy courts is better than a thousand" . In this case Peter
would be saying 'By all means be aware that a day of judgment and condemnation
will surely come, as outlined in v.5-7; but beloved, do be mindful too
of the wonderful reward. Just 24 (12?) hours of perfect fellowship with
the Lord, unmarred by our sinful nature, is worth a thousand years of
this life!'. Truly an inspiring thought, and a motivation to come to appreciate
the righteousness of God.