Is the Parousia Going to Happen?
“Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the Word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same Word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” – 2 Peter 3:3-10
This is a super long text, but it just can’t be split up in answering the charge levied by mockers. Since nothing has changed, these mockers say, the Parousia isn’t going to happen! The Apostle Peter was answering a very serious indictment from deniers who said Jesus was never going to fulfill His promise to return. “Parousia” is the notable Greek word for “the return” of Jesus Christ.
The “evidence” given by these first century folk, who imitate mockers from every century since Christ gave His promises, is that everything has been uniform from the beginning and there is still no sign of Him coming back.
They say there has not been any change to what is in the universe or always has been. Peter, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, speaks into every century since Jesus made His promise, and says there certainly is change; and you, unfortunately, ignore what change there was and the change that will certainly take place; and that “soon.”
Uniformity in the creation, or in what exists, is known as Uniformitarianism, and with most every scientist is a settled fact. This means, essentially, that everything in earth and universe processes are alike from the beginning, or if there ever was a beginning, right up to today.
This allegedly settled understanding enters into all scientific formulas of matter and energy in research of the earth and the universe in which our planet resides.
The carbon dating of anything on earth or in the universe is dependent on uniformitarianism as a settled fact. We are talking about dating which considers thousands, millions and billions of years. If this concept is not settled fact, such dating may possibly be inaccurate.
2 Peter speaks in this text to the whole concept. There are those who mock the promise that Jesus Christ is going to return as He promised. He even had the temerity to say it will be “soon.” The mockers question, “How can that be?” Two millennia, these deniers say, have in fact already passed and still no return.
They continue, “Everything remains the same from the beginning and will, infinitely, into the future. His coming purportedly means everything comes to a complete stop, and nothing like that has ever happened in the past or will likely in the future. The sun rises and sets and life continues as it always has. So, no more spurious talk of Jesus’ coming. It just isn’t going to happen.”
The Apostle Peter declares this is not the case. By the Holy Spirit he claims the universe was created long ago and this creation was the greatest of changes from what had been before: essentially nothing, but God.
At some future time, after the universe’s original creation, the earth was formed “out of water and through water.” You know the great search of man today in interplanetary space is the search for water and, consequently, for the life water produces. But nothing of water or life has been found beyond earth to date.
And then within earth’s history, “by means of the word of God through water,” the world that existed was completely deluged and animal and human life perished. A universal flood covered the earth destroying all such life except what was preserved on an ark of wood built by Noah and sons as the Bible describes.
The Scriptures do not say, per se, but this cataclysm drastically reformed the earth’s landscape, and in some manner altered the atmosphere. In any case, the length of years men lived was vastly abbreviated to an eventual average of 70-80 years from hundreds of years; certainly not uniform with what had been.
Even the variableness of time is certified by the Peter-statement, “one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” This is why the Bible can say “the Lord is not slow in fulfilling his promises as some count slowness.” In other words, your idea of time is not so concrete. The Lord will return, and this will be, according to Him, “soon!” A mystery to us, but in God’s view, right on target.
Finally, at its end, the whole of creation, earth and universe, will be destroyed by fire. “The heavens will pass away with a roar. The elements will melt and dissolve.” Can you even imagine such?
Peter’s message to the mockers is that all is not uniform through history; not pre-human history, nor flood, nor post-flood history, nor the history of the certain end to come.
What has all this to say to you? Neither the past nor the future can be described as monolithically the same. The Sovereign Lord actually controls it all. We and our planet are in God’s all-powerful hands. And what He has declared will come to pass exactly as He has revealed in His Word.
God is the uniform One; He changes not. But He does orchestrate changes in His creation. He alone directly intervenes. Much can be discovered scientifically through the principle of uniformitarianism, but it is not monolithic. Only God is, and His plan is inexorably unfolding.
“God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year; God is working His purpose out, and the time is drawing near; nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”
(1st verse of Arthur Campbell Ainger’s hymn, “God Is Working His Purpose Out,” 1894)
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