Today is Inauguration Day for the President of the United States. Inauguration may be an odd-sounding word, but it has a definition that perfectly matches today’s occasion in Washington DC. To inaugurate means to officially start something that’s been anticipated for a while. Most of the time, the ball has already started rolling by the time we inaugurate something or someone. But the inauguration is still a big deal, because that’s the ceremony that nails it down and declares that it has begun.
1: to induct into an office with suitable ceremonies
2a: to dedicate ceremoniously : observe formally the beginning of
b: to bring about the beginning of
from the definition by Merriam-Webster
In the case of the President of the United States, his taking office has been a foregone conclusion ever since last November’s election. So today’s Inauguration Day is a day of celebration for some, a day of mourning for others, and a maybe just a passing interest for those who don’t feel strongly either way.
The Bible refers to another kind of inauguration, one that is much more important and far-reaching than the beginning of an American presidency. The Bible repeatedly mentions a future time in which God will officially begin his Kingdom and rule over everything forever. In that day, God will wrap up all loose ends, judge all the humans that have ever lived, and restore his creation to a perfect state. This future time has various Biblical names, such as the day of the Lord, day of God, and day of judgment, among others.
However, even though the Bible refers to this future inauguration of God’s Kingdom, the Bible also declares that God is actually the King over everything already. It’s just that God is choosing not to begin the full extent of his perfect rule just yet. That perspective agrees with our current experience, because we know that the present world is far from perfect. We see so much corruption, selfishness, greed, suffering, and death. We see the innocent suffer sometimes, and the guilty go free. We see disaster and tragedy happen to the best of us. So why doesn’t God go ahead and end all of that? Why doesn’t he bring in his full Kingdom right now?
It seems that Simon Peter was addressing similar thoughts as he finished the letter we now know as 2 Peter. When Peter wrote the letter, it had been decades since Jesus had lived, died, rose again, and left the earth, promising to return. Peter was facing the end of his life, and he knew he would soon be put to death because of his belief in Christ. Peter wrote these words to remind his readers of why the day of the Lord had not yet come:
Dear friends, don’t overlook this one fact: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. (2 Peter 3:8-12 CSB)
The day of God must come someday, and when it’s time God will bring it to pass. But God is currently delaying the inauguration of his Kingdom because he wants more people in his Kingdom. He’s wanting others to change their mind and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ so that they will be reconciled to God before the day of God comes. For without Jesus, none of us can stand before God’s perfect judgment and make it into his Kingdom. But if we are trusting in Jesus, then we don’t have to fear the day of God; we can actually celebrate the coming of that day, and look forward to that day when Jesus will be officially proclaimed the Lord of all.