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Last week Peter gave us a science lesson as he made three arguments that support the fact that God is involved in the day to day lives of us and the world. His three arguments were that God was involved at creation; involved in judgment at the flood, and He will be involved when judgment comes by fire in the future. This morning, Peter explains why his readers should press on regardless of the delay in Christ’s return.
2 Pet. 3:8-9 says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Peter provides a key to understanding God’s time in relation to our time. Some have used this verse as a secret decoder key to determine precisely the date of the Lord’s return. Others have used it in an attempt to prove the earth was created not in literal days, but over thousands of years. Peter uses the same verb, “forget” in v. 8 that he used in v. 5. He says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved.” Notice the contrast from the mockers. They forgot the facts and it colored their worldview. When you allow anything other than the Bible to establish and maintain your worldview, you’re in trouble. The mockers forgot the implications of a God created existence and subsequent involvement and wrongly concluded that Jesus would not return and no judgment would come. They ignored the holy prophets and the apostles much like many people in the church today. A recent Barna survey reported about 46% of people attending church said their life had not changed as a result. 88% of Americans own a Bible and 80% think it’s sacred, yet 61% said they wished they read it more. Of course, reading the bible at all would be included in that 61% statistic. Get started today and begin your journey getting to know the one and only true God. When we allow the Bible to develop our worldview, we won’t think like the world.
So what aren’t we supposed to forget? Peter says, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” The reality is that the passing of time for God is not the same as the passing of time for us. The false teachers and the mockers forgot this valuable truth and concluded the Lord wasn’t coming again. This notion isn’t new because Peter refers to Ps. 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.” As I get older, I notice my energy level is going down, my injuries don’t heal as quickly as they used to. The years have taken a toll on my body. But no matter how much time passes on earth, God has no birthdays; God does not get old; He doesn’t get weak or frail. So when we complain about God’s timing or His apparent lack of response to us, we have to remember that He is not on our time schedule. God does not wear a watch or refer to a calendar – He is beyond time. So if time doesn’t affect God, we shouldn’t get too excited about an apparent delay in the coming of Christ or any other perceived delay in His operations. Rest on the truth that He is coming again. Remember the words of the holy prophets and your apostles. This verse clearly indicates a comparison of God’s time used to refute the false teachers. It would be a gross injustice to Genesis and to God to use this text to say that it took God 6000 years to complete His creation. It also wouldn’t make sense for the Day of Judgment in v. 7 to last 1000 years. Peter is using an analogy.
So why is there an apparent delay? Hasn’t everything progressed to the point that God will send Jesus back? Are there any prophecies yet to be fulfilled? The short answer is yes, there are some things that still must occur, but 2 Peter is not a book of prophecy, it’s a letter encouraging his readers to live a life of authenticity, to hold the Scriptures as our guiding light, to persevere against false teaching and mocking from within the church and out. So what gives? Peter’s reasoning in v. 9. The promise is from v. 4 and is the promise of His coming. God’s ultimate desire is to reconcile His creation with Himself. Since time is not a factor for God like it is for us, He is not slow like we think of slow. He is patient and His patience is directed at you and me. People often talk about God as a vengeful and angry God, but really He is not. Many Scriptures tell us that He is slow to anger. The idea of God on His throne waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us isn’t consistent with His desire to see us enter into a relationship with Him through Jesus. Peter says that God does not want, “Any to perish” and He wants, “All to come to repentance.” There is a ton of debate about what this verse means. Well, what does it say? Perish refers to eternal judgment and repentance refers to what is necessary for eternal life. God’s desire is for no one to face eternal judgment and for everyone to do what is necessary for eternal life. That does not mean that all will escape judgment and it doesn’t mean that all will do what is necessary for eternal life. Peter is referring to what God desires, not what actually happens.
I wonder if the last person on earth has heard the Gospel yet. Is God delaying so we have more time to tell people about Jesus? I know for sure He is not delaying His return so we can be busy with the things of the world and ignore His desires. We all need to be about God’s business because eternity cannot bear our disobedience.