To deny the coming judgment of God because it hasn’t happened yet is foolish. To profess that it never happened is to be completely ignorant or willfully blind. As we saw when we examined this chapter last time, we observed that the ones Peter says would come mocking the word of God do so by denying the return of Christ and a future judgment and base their claim on their assertion that judgment has never happened. Peter reminded us that, in fact, judgment had occurred and here he teaches us that there is a future judgment waiting to occur and that it will occur—in God’s perfect timing.
Peter tells us in verse 7 that the reason judgment hasn’t happened is that God has not yet given the order for it to happen. Peter tells us that judgment will come “By His word”. In other words, God is waiting, and we will see why as we examine the next few verses in the coming weeks. There is a plan, a predetermined order as to the execution of God’s judgment of sin. God hasn’t given the command. That is why we have not seen the final judgment of God—not because it’s not coming..
In fact, this judgment has been planned long ago, as Peter reminds us. We are told that “the present heavens and earth are being reserved”. In Greek, “being reserved” is a perfect tense verb. What that means is the act of the heavens and earth being stored up or reserved for judgment is a past completed action with ongoing effect. In other words, sometime in the past God set aside the earth and heavens that currently exist for a judgment and the effect of that decision is still in force. There is still a judgment coming, a judgment, Peter tells us, of “fire”.
Furthermore, one might say that the heavens, the earth, and all those who have not professed Christ are in a jail—a holding cell of sorts. They’re “kept for the day of judgment”. What Peter says here is that God has them under guard until the time He chooses to judge them. The setting aside (“being reserved”) and being held (“kept for”) is something, then, that He does to them. He is in control. It’s His court and He will tend to His business when it suits His purpose. Far from proving that a judgment is not coming, the fact that He is waiting to execute His wrath on unrepentant sinners is like the calm before the storm. Everything is still. Everything is quiet. Then suddenly, judgment comes unexpectedly.
However, for those of us who have professed faith in Christ and trusted Him to save us, we don’t have to fear that judgment. Our sins were charged to Christ and He was punished. However, what this verse should do is motivate us to share the gospel every chance we get. There is a judgment coming. We don’t want to see anyone suffer in the judgment. Let us be bold to preach the gospel and announce to everyone that God will forgive their sins if they trust Christ and repent.