God and Time

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

- 2 Peter 3:8

Our study of 2 Peter 3:1–7 has again reminded us that the false teachers in Peter’s day denied the reality of the return of Christ. In order to help believers refute this falsehood, Peter begins to explain God’s relation to time and His purposes in delaying the return of Jesus so that our confidence in the second coming might be strengthened. Today we will briefly consider verse 9, but we will focus our attention on the teaching found in verse 8.

While Peter’s audience had not necessarily accepted the teaching that Jesus would not return, it is clear that this idea was causing some distress to his original audience. In verse 9, he reaffirms the fact that the Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises as “some” (the false teachers) count slowness. Apparently, the false teachers claimed that since Christ had not yet returned in their own day, He would never return at all.

It is not too difficult to see how such an assertion could trouble the original audience. After all, the New Testament does predict an imminent return of Christ, and in places it even seems that Jesus was supposed to return within the lifetime of the apostles (for example, 1 Cor. 15:50–57). Viewed from our own relation to time, this seeming delay of Jesus’ return can indeed cause doubts among believers.

However, as today’s passage tells us, we must always remember that God’s relation to time is very different from our own. For Him, a day is like a thousand years and vice versa (2 Peter 3:8). This is hard for us to comprehend fully, but it is clear that what seems to be a very long time for us is not really long at all for God. In the light of God’s eternal existence, a thousand years is nothing.

That Christ has not yet returned even today may trouble us at times. Yet we must not doubt His promise. From the perspective of God’s relation to time, the return of Jesus is always imminent, and it is His perspective we must take. We do not know whether Jesus will return tomorrow or thousands of years from now. However, we do know that in the light of eternity, the expectation that Jesus could return at any moment remains true for every generation.

Coram Deo

We gain a helpful perspective on prayer by remembering that God’s relation to time is different than our own. It can be easy to grow impatient when God takes years to answer prayer. If we are not careful, we can even get frustrated that God seems to move so slowly. However, knowing that God relates to time differently than we do helps us remember that He always acts at the proper time. Pray knowing that God is not slow but always acts at just the right moment.

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 90
Eccl. 3:1–8
Isa. 46:8–11
Rom. 5:6
Rev. 1:8

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