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2 Peter 1:16-21 Being Certain of Messiah’s Return

The doctrine of the second coming is essential, but how can we be certain that Messiah will return? The short answer is that Yeshua is both Messiah Ben Joseph and Messiah Ben David and that He fulfilled many specific prophecies perfectly at His first coming and will complete the remaining prophecies perfectly when He returns.

How can we be certain the Bible is accurate? As Dr Vodie Baucham so eloquently put it, the Bible “is a collection of historical documents written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses and they report supernatural events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies and they claim that these writings are divine rather than human in origin.” [i]

In 2nd Peter, Peter writes concerning problems arising within congregations including false doctrines, teachers and practises. He contrasts these problems with the dependability of God’s word, the certainty of biblical prophecy and that he was also an eyewitness.

Peter commences this epistle by laying down the fact that he was an apostle. But what precisely is an apostle? An apostle in the full biblical sense of the meaning is someone that was chosen by the Lord, had seen the risen Lord and could perform the signs of an apostle (Acts 1:21-26; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:12). Hence there are no apostles today despite the claims of the ‘New Apostolic Reformation.’ Instead we have the writings of the apostles, eyewitness accounts and Scripture.

The Certainty of Eyewitnesses

In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter contrasts cunningly devised fables with the fact that he was an eyewitness. Fructenbaum in his Bible Commentary on the Messianic Jewish epistles notes that Mishnaic legends were being used by the rabbis as their means of exegesis whereas Peter preached the power of Messiah and referred to when he saw the Shechinah glory of Messiah at the Transfiguration.[ii]

In my lifetime I have seen people make false predictions regarding Messiah’s coming. Others have been unsettled due to so called ensuing apocalyptic calamities in 2000 and 2012 that have come and gone. The ‘Witnesses’ predicted the timing of Yeshua’s return on at least three occasions and have concocted increasingly elaborate and speculative explanations. Nonetheless, our Lord clearly stated that no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). This has led some to question whether Messiah will come at all?

We must not rely on intuition but revelation from God’s word rather than opinion, conjecture, or tradition. If we use the internet, we should enquire whether what is being taught has a grounding in Scripture and whether the author has a proven ministry. Can sound teachers endorse them? Look for a statement of faith and compare that carefully with Scripture and above all take heed that no one deceives you.

Peter was one of a privileged few who were eyewitnesses of His majesty. He had seen the Lord transfigured (2 Peter 1:17-18) and this was a foretaste of King Messiah’s coming glory. Reliable witnesses, both in the Bible and in other contexts, have been essential in corroborating accounts. In terms of dealing with a sinning brother in Matthew 18:16, two witnesses are required. In John 8:18, Jesus explained that the Father bore witness of Him, but in John 5:31-39 He also refers to additional witnesses.

A historian, reporter or journalist of integrity attempts to access primary sources. Ideally, they will travel to a location and report having witnessed an event. If that is not possible then they will interview eyewitnesses. If they want to determine the truth rather than concocting a story, they will enquire whether the accounts corroborate. They may even speak to a secondary source, i.e. someone that has spoken with an eyewitness. Similarly a judge will consider and examine the reports of eyewitnesses and consider their motives and character. Peter, James and John accompanied Messiah in special situations and were excellent sources as eyewitnesses.

The Certainty of the Transfiguration

Peter, James and John were especially privileged to be present at the Transfiguration when Messiah’s glory was revealed. In addition, they heard the Father’s voice from heaven. They were credible witnesses since Peter was later crucified upside down, James was killed for his faith in the Lord and John was exiled to the isle of Patmos for his convictions. Having seen a glimpse of Yeshua’s glory, they would be certain of His return.

When Yeshua had a public mikvah, the Father said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17). In addition the Holy Spirit descended like the form of a dove. The testimony is consistent, the testifiers are reliable and the testimony holds together.

Why did Peter desire to make tabernacles for Moses, Elijah and Yeshua? Many commentaries state that Peter was overwhelmed and was not thinking clearly. Not so. Peter saw Yeshua revealed in His brilliant glory and was anticipating the Messianic Kingdom, hence he set up tabernacles in the hope of King Messiah setting up His kingdom with immediate effect.

Who else was present beside Peter, James and John? Moses and Elijah, thus this was another foretaste of Messiah’s second coming. Moses represents the law and Elijah the prophets and they were impeccable witnesses. At Pesach (Passover) each year a seat is left for Elijah to return since there is an expectation. Since they had seen Yeshua glorified and Moses and Elijah, they could be certain of His return.

Peter, James and John were with Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the holy mountain, but what mountain was that? We do not know and I am glad of that since the mountain could easily have become a shrine of false worship and that was the very thing Peter was challenging convincingly in his second letter. I think that is the reason why, in Jude 9, Michael and Satan disputed the body of Moses. The body of Moses could easily have been worshipped rather than the God of Moses.

The Certainty of the Prophetic Word

We have the certainty of God’s prophetic word. God’s word “is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). The book of the Lord reveals the Lord of the book and points to Messiah and gives us a certainty of His return. In Galilee, people had walked in darkness but had seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). The written word gives light and the living word is the light of the world. Yeshua’s birth, sinless life, authoritative teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension proved He is the Messiah. The eyewitnesses, the Transfiguration and specific prophecy point to His return.

The ‘morning star’ will rise in our hearts but who is the morning star? In Numbers 24:17, Balaam spoke of this star as Messiah. In Malachi 4:1-2, Malachi spoke of the Sun of Righteousness. Zacharias spoke of the ‘Dayspring from on high’ who had visited them (Luke 1:78) and in Revelation 22:16, Yeshua confirms that He is the Bright and Morning Star. He is the light of the world and announced the same at Tabernacles when four giant menorahs brilliantly lit the temple court and Jerusalem (John 8:12; 9:5).

For the believer there is an assurance of the blessed hope of Yeshua Messiah returning. In the early hours of the morning, the morning star is bright when all is dark and it gives hope because light and morning are on the way. Messiah will return and bring light to this dark world.

The Bible is primary, sufficient, infallible, inerrant and authoritative and was written by holy men that were inspired by God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Some will object that when Peter wrote his letter, the Brit Hadasha (New Testament), had not been completed. Nonetheless the Holy Spirit inspired Peter and Paul to counter that. 2 Peter 3:14-16 confirms that Peter considered Paul’s writings which comprise a substantial portion of the New Testament on the same level as the rest of Scripture. Also, John was an apostle and in Revelation 22:18 he warns us not to add or take away any of the words of His prophecy in a way similar to what Moses’ warning in the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).

Holy men were ‘moved’ by the Holy Spirit, which means to be carried, driven, impelled. Prophecy came by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Think of a vessel being moved in the sea and powered by a mighty wind. Imagine trying to sail a boat in the doldrums of the Equator. You need the wind. The Spirit of God inspired the Scriptures and we can be certain of Messiah’s return. Yet as ever, the question remains. Are you ready for when Messiah returns and have you turned to Him and are you following Him?

[i] Vodie Baucham Why you can believe the Bible

[ii] Arnold G. Fructenbaum Ariel’s Bible Commentary The Messianic Jewish Epistles (Ariel Ministries, 2005; Tustin, CA), p398