The dangers of being 'willingly ignorant'by Pastor Henry
II Peter 3:3-5: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.
This passage in II Peter really sums up the attitude that many (sadly in the church as well as the world) have adopted. We often look for catastrophic weather signs, potential peace treatises, and Middle East unrest as signs that the return of Christ is near-and rightly so. But stop for a moment to consider what Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote in the passage above. One of the hallmarks of our generation is that of scoffers in the world and more disturbingly in the church! Peter qualifies the reason why they are scoffing-it's because they're walking after their own heart's lusts. Is it any wonder that some scoff and scorn at the notion of Christ's return? For those who are not living for God, but enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season-why would they want the Lord to return? We know that the first time Jesus came as a suffering servant, but the next time He will come as a Judge and a conquering King. The Lamb of God will come in great power and glory as the Lion of the tribe of Judah!
Paul told young Timothy that one of the major signs of the end times would be that men would be "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." I'm not against good clean, wholesome entertainment (which is becoming increasingly more scarce by the way), but we are a pleasure driven culture and a pleasure driven church. We want Christianity to be convenient for us. The call to "take up the cross and follow me" cannot be heard by our modern generation because we have heaped to ourselves teachers, having "itching ears" and desiring to hear fables rather than biblical truth. Of course I can't paint everyone with a broad brush, and there are certainly the faithful still among us. Most pastors that I know really dread the summer months because they know that three-fourths of their congregation will be missing in action during this time. Am I against taking a family vacation? Absolutely not! We need a respite from this stressful world at times. But far too often, rather than having our minds focused on heavenly things, we become preoccupied with the next big trip or the next pleasure indulgence. I find myself battling these same temptations on a daily basis. This writer is not immune to battling the love of pleasure.
But the evil goes beyond the temptations of pleasure. Let's look again at the passage and notice something else. Not only are people walking after their own lusts, but they are saying something. What are they saying? "Where is the promise of His coming?", "For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were since the beginning of creation...". Jesus Himself said it is an evil servant that says in his heart "my Lord delayeth His coming." I think Western society is probably more guilty of this than anyone. Yes, it speaks to all of creation, but here in the West, we have an arrogance that says "tomorrow will be just like today." We have such short memories sometimes. Our lack of historical study is woeful when really pondered. All it takes is just a minimal study of world history to learn that all empires eventually come to an end-even the most prosperous of societies.
But unfortunately, the deception goes even deeper than that-it has crept into the church. In some ways it is the most exciting of times for prophecy watchers because of all the fulfillment in the last 100 years or so. But there is also a danger that we must be on guard against. Because we do have such short memories and attention spans, we lose sight of the fact that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day. Because in the early 1900's as we began to see prophetic fulfillment accelerate, preachers once again began to sound the alarm that Jesus was soon to come. They were not wrong in doing so, but because of this we now have people in the church who say things like "well I've heard that all my life", "my grandfather thought Jesus would come in his lifetime, and his dad thought Jesus would come in his lifetime." Because of this, some have become hardened to the fact that things can and will change. Jesus made the statement that the tradtions of men can make the Word of God of no effect.
Because of this great tempation God directs the reader of scripture back to one of the greatest events in human history-the flood in Noah's day. Jesus linked the two events (Noah's flood and the 2nd coming) by saying "as it was in the days of Noe (Noah), so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man". Notice Peter says that they are willingly ignorant of Noah's flood. It's one thing to be genuinely uninformed about a situation and to fall into a snare unexpectedly. It's quite another to be willingly ignorant of a fact. That speaks of a heart attitude that says "I know this is what the bible says but I'm just not going to worry about it-surely it won't happen in my lifetime." No doubt, that's what the generation of Noah believed. It had never rained before, so no doubt they said something like, "things will always be the same, that mist will continue to come up from the earth and water the ground-that Noah guy sure is crazy." Of course if we've read the story of Noah, we know how it ends. After many years of ark building, and no doubt hearing the reproach of his peers, the rains finally came and carried them all away. There's a reason that God wants us to remember the lesson of Noah's flood. Just because things haven't happened yet, doesn't mean they won't. God had promised that Jesus would return again for His church. But He didn't just stop there, He gave us signposts to watch for as we see the Day approaching.
Let me ask you today-are you ignoring the signs of the times? Have you said in your heart that it won't happen in your lifetime? If so, you've fallen into the same trap that ensnared the people of Noah's day. Present conditions are not an accurate indicator of future events. Just as Noah, a preacher of righteousness according to the scriptures, built an ark to the saving of his house by faith-so we too must sound the alarm. No man knows the day nor the hour, but Christ said we could know when it was so near it is "at the doors." I implore-no I beg you today to join me in my prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you that you have promised us an escape from the tribulation hour that is coming upon this earth. Please help me and all of the readers of this site and their family members, loved ones, co-workers, neighbors, and friends to never be willingly ignorant of the promise of the coming of Jesus. We also pray that that we would be found worthy to escape all these things and to stand before the Son of Man not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which comes by faith in Jesus. Let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober. It is in the name of Jesus that we ask. Amen