American churches, for the most part, ignore prophecy as if it isn’t relevant. But there is a direct link between prophecy and daily living.
The Apostle Peter had this to say about the importance of keeping the destiny of the earth in mind on a daily basis:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? (2 Pet. 3:10-11)
I have been a Christian for 26 years. Yet, I’ve never heard this passage preached or discussed from the pulpit. Not once. But Peter is abundantly clear that what we think about the future affects what we value in the present.
He tells us that the physical things we see in this world will be burned with fire on the Day of the Lord: cars, houses, TVs, computers, cell phones, money, clothing, food, etc. So should we act as if these things are most important? No. Living out the love of Jesus in righteousness is what’s important. Our “things” are primarily meant to be means to advance the gospel.
A Modern Parable of Prophecy and Daily Living
The following true story forms a modern parable about this concept:
The young couple prepared to buy their first house, scrimping and saving for years. When they had saved enough for a down payment, they searched for the right house. Finally, they found just the right house to be “home.”
But as the day approached to close on the house, a powerful hurricane was spotted in the Atlantic. The couple cancelled the closing to wait and see what damage the storm might do to the house. The seller pleaded with the couple to close before the storm, even offering to lower the price.
But the couple wisely waited. And when the storm struck, it severely damaged the house. If they had closed on the house before the storm they would have bought a soon-to-be damaged house.
The couple had foreknowledge that a storm was coming and the house they wanted to buy might be damaged. We have foreknowledge that everything physical will be destroyed. It is the same concept. Placing a high value on things that will eventually be destroyed in the end is foolishness.
Why Isn’t This More Commonly Taught?
I can only speculate why a pastor might not preach on this topic. A primary reason might be that this passage focuses our attention on the end times – and not only that – but specifically on the destruction and judgment of the end times. This is not a popular topic in today’s church. The majority of churches believe “it will all pan out” in the end times no matter what you believe. For this reason, they don’t pay any attention to end times teachings.
However, this passage clearly shows that what we think about prophecy and daily living are directly related.
A second reason this passage isn’t popular is that it causes us to devalue the things of this world. In a nation where many of our churches operate like businesses with a focus on the bottom line, encouraging a “prosperity gospel” drives their “business profits.”
Additionally, if this passage was more commonly taught, parishioners might question the extravagant lifestyles of some pastors and many of our opulent churches.
Hastening the “Coming” of the Day of the Lord
This passage also contains interesting theological points. Peter continues:
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Pet. 3:11-12)
This set of verses contains two truly unique ideas. The first is that it seems to say Christians can “hasten” the return of Jesus. Now the Greek word used in this passage (spoudontas) can also mean “earnestly desire.” In my opinion this is probably a better translation.
Obviously the Father has set the Day of Jesus’s return by his own authority. Our actions (prayer and evangelism) can “contribute” to the coming but cannot actually hasten the Day – the time is appointed. Despite this, it is a common teaching that our evangelism could somehow “bring back the King.”
Although we cannot actually cause Jesus to return sooner by our actions (He will return with or without us), we can contribute to this day and participate in the return of Jesus. We have been given the opportunity – to work diligently to remove some of the barriers to His coming by helping to fulfill the Great Commission. (Matt. 24:14)
Additionally, of great interest to me, is the phrase “the coming of the Day of God.” The Greek word translated “coming” here is parousia which is universally applied to the arrival and continuing presence of a person. This is the most common term in the New Testament to refer to the return of Jesus. Yet here it is modified by the Day of the Lord (Day of God in this instance) which is a concept not a person. This is a unique usage.
So why did Peter use this term in this way? To me, Peter is linking the parousia of Jesus found in these other famous rapture passages (Matt. 24:27-31, 1 Thess. 4:15-17) to the Day of the Lord and the judgment of the wicked by fire that immediately follows His coming. This is yet again, another proof for a same day rapture and fiery judgment and same day rapture and onset of the Day of the Lord.
So in conclusion, keeping all of prophecy in mind is one key to knowing how to live today – in righteousness, faith, and testimony. It is easy to let the things of this world take precedence over what is truly important. But being mindful of the future helps us devalue what is less important.
Additionally, even if you are not vocationally involved in the preaching of the Word and can’t control what is taught from the pulpit, peppering your speech with prophetic allusions is useful. We are all called to testify to the Word after all, and knowledge of what will happen (as per the Word) is a gift which we should share with others.