2 Pet 3:1-8 is a passage that assures us that the coming of the Lord Jesus is soon. However, according to verses 3 and 4, the closer we get to the Lord’s coming, the more skeptical people are that he will come. “In the last days scoffers… (say) Where is the promise of his coming?” For example, Matt 24 is about the coming of the Lord. This chapter deals with the signs of his coming and warns the people living in that generation to be ready [Matt 24:44]. Because no one knows the day and hour of his coming [Matt 24:36], some will say, “My lord delayeth his coming,” [Matt 24:48], and they will quit looking for him [Matt 24:50].
Though no one knows the exact day and hour of the coming of the Lord, the Bible assures us that he will come. Peter reminds us “to be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets,” [2 Pet 3:2]. There are over five hundred unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of Jesus. Even “the apostles of the Lord,” have commanded us to look for his coming. Here are a few passages referring to his coming: 2 Pet 1:16; 1 Pet 1:7, 13; 1 Pet 4:7, 13; 1 Pet 5:4; Titus 2:13; 1 Thes 1:10; 1 Thes 2:19; 1 Thes 3:13; 1 Thes 4:14-17; 1 Thes 5:2, 23; 1 Cor 1:7; Acts 1:9-11; etc.
In Matt 24, Jesus gave us certain signs that give us a clue as to the general time of his coming. The closer we get to it, the more signs become apparent, like the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, the Jews fleeing Judea, the false prophets showing great signs and wonders, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the stars falling from heaven.
We also know from this passage in 2 Pet 3, the general time of his coming. It is figured from “the creation,” [2 Pet 3:4]. Peter wrote, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” [2 Pet 3:8]. Well, there were six days of creation, followed by the seventh day, which was a day of rest. If each day is equivalent to one thousand years, then we can figure the general time of the Lord’s return from “the creation.”
Adam was created in 4004 BC. See our post on the Significant Dates Gleaned from Genesis. If each day of creation stands for one thousand years, then day one of creation is equivalent to the thousand years from 4000 BC to 3000 BC. Day 2 stands for 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Day 3 from 2000 to 1000 BC. Day 4 from 1000 to 0 BC. Day 5 from 0 to 1000 AD. Day 6 from 1000 to 2000 AD. This would make day 7 the thousand year “day of the Lord,” which is a day of rest [Heb 4:1-11]. Therefore, we are certainly very close to the Lord’s return, because we are now at the end of the 6th day. It’s time for the 7th day of rest.
You might be asking, “What if Israel had accepted Jesus as their Messiah when he came the first time? How would you reconcile the days of creation with his coming since the day of rest would have followed very shortly after he ascended after the 4th day?”
Well, Peter explains this in verses 4-7. “The beginning of the creation,” [2 Pet 3:4] is Gen 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In the beginning of the creation, the earth was “standing out of the water,” [2 Pet 3:5]. Notice Ps 24:1-2, the earth was “upon the seas.” In Ps 136:6, God “stretched out the earth above the waters.” But in Gen 1:2, the earth was “in the water,” [2 Pet 3:5]. It was “overflowed with water,” [2 Pet 3:6]. It was flooded.
The flood of 2 Pet 3:6 is not Noah’s flood, but rather a flood that preceded the six days of creation. In this flood, the world “perished,” [2 Pet 3:6], requiring the creation of Gen 1:3 – Gen 2:25 to restore it. In Noah’s flood, the world didn’t perish. God destroyed everything “in whose nostrils was the breath of life,” [Gen 7:21-23], except for those who were in the ark. There was no creation, only reproduction, following Noah’s flood and vegetation began to grow of itself.
The flood of Gen 1:2 left the earth “without form, and void,” [Gen 1:2]. If you think about it, God never created anything without form and void. The earth “without form, and void” is the result of destruction, not creation [Jer 4:19-27, see v. 23, specifically]. So, there had been something here that God created and later destroyed.
God removed the waters from this flood in a single day [Gen 1:6-8]. They “hasted away,” [Ps 104:5-7], and are now “above the heavens,” [Ps 148:4]. These are the sea between the second and third heaven. The waters of Noah’s flood, on the other hand, “returned from off the earth continually,” [Gen 8:3]. It took over 270 days for these waters to gradually dry up.
So, there is a time period between Gen 1:1, “the world that then was,” [2 Pet 3:6] and Gen 1:2, the beginning of the creation of “the heavens and the earth, which are now,” [2 Pet 3:7]. And if we had to guess how long this was, I would guess 2000 years, making the time of the Lord’s first coming 6000 years from the creation of “the world that then was.” You see, if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, the tribulation would have begun after his ascension, and the Lord’s return and millennial reign would have begun shortly thereafter. Thus, Peter’s timetable in 2 Pet 3:8 would still be right.
Following the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on earth [Rev 20:1-7], the heavens and the earth which are now kept by the word of God [2 Pet 3:7; Heb 1:2-3] will burn up with fire. This happens “against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men,” [2 Pet 3:7] which takes place at the white throne judgment [Rev 20:11-15].