Building on his assertion that the promises of God are sure, Peter transitions from his talk regarding Noah and the Flood to speaking about the Lord’s return. It is a natural transition and one that the Lord Himself used when speaking of His imminent return:
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38).
The point that Peter is making by drawing these two events together is clear. Since the Flood is true, so must be the Lord’s return. Because either God’s Word is as sure as God Himself, or none of it is true.
The parallels between the two events are unmistakable.
Noah told his people of an unprecedented event: a flood. Whether his people had ever seen or experienced local flooding, is unclear but Noah was certain – because God had told him – that a flood that would cover the earth was imminent. We, like Peter, also speak of an unprecedented event: The Lord’s return which includes something called the “rapture” where the Lord will call all of His saints home to Heaven before He sets foot on earth to bring about its final judgment. It sounds incredible in the true sense of that word, but like Noah, we know it to be true because God has said so in His Word.
Noah made unprecedented preparations for this thing called the Flood. He built an ark, a floating vessel larger than anything anyone had ever seen. I say “floating vessel” because the ark was not built to sail. It was built to float. So, to onlookers not only was this a huge undertaking, it looked hugely impractical. The ark was a gigantic, unpowered cargo vessel. Who builds a vessel of that size that doesn’t even sail? Someone who knows that a global flood is coming and is intent on surviving. We are preparing for the Rapture, the next event on God’s prophetic calendar. We are telling others to be prepared for this day and promoting an event that outside of Scripture sounds impossible. Why prepare for an event that sounds so improbable? Because God says it will happen.
The Flood was a sudden event. Yes, there was ample warning leading up to it, but when judgement day came, it was like an explosion. Peter reiterates the Lord’s warning when he tells us “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10a). Yes, there is plenty of warning, but when it comes, it will catch everyone by surprise, which is why we must always be prepared and give the message of the gospel with a strong sense of urgency.
The one huge difference that Peter notes between the Flood and the Lord’s return is in the manner and extent of judgment. The Flood destroyed the earth with water and wiped out all land creatures with specific focus on man. When the Lord returns the second time, He will destroy the earth with fire. Its heat will be so intense that it will destroy down to the elemental level:
“…the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:12b).
This second global judgment will leave nothing untouched. All will be destroyed. This is because this current world will be so corrupt that God will choose to start over:
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
Peter’s strongest exhortation is to believers: “Seeing then all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11)? This call to holiness and godliness is not just because we as believers need to have worshipful lives in response to a holy God, but also so that our lives are in contrast to a lost and dying world. They need to see that this message we preach and this God we trust makes a real difference.