May 7, 2018
2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)
8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
Let’s start by clearing up one thing: “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord” is not a key to the secret math formula for predicting Jesus’ return. It’s a simile: a figure of speech where two unlike things are compared using like or as to make an emphatic description.
No one knows when it will be. Not even Jesus (see Mark 13:32). Peter is saying that what seems like a long time to wait for us is not all that long to God. In fact, God is being patient.
But why? Remember at Advent we looked at how Jesus coming back is a good thing? No more war or cancer or poverty or Twitter trolling? Why wait? In fact, we often pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
What’s evident here is that God has more patience than we do because, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (v. 9).
His patience is for the sake of the lost. But did you catch who his patience is with? I didn’t notice it, either.
“No, he is being patient for your sake.”
God is not being patient with them; he’s being patient with us.
Peter’s letter is written to believers. Why would God need to be patient for our sake if we already believe? Just come on and get us out of here, Lord!
God is being patient with us because we’re the ones who are supposed to share the good news with those who would otherwise be destroyed. God is patience for the sake of the lost, but he is patient with us because we’re the ones who are supposed to be calling them to repentance.
Remember how Peter started his letter: “In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-6)
God is being patient with us so we grow to have “love for everyone.” That includes the false teachers in all their greed and idolatry. But if I’m honest, it’s easier for me to say, “Come back quickly Lord and give ‘em their comeuppance!”
But the Lord is waiting for me to love them now so they’re also ready when Jesus returns. In a sense, God’s patience creates an urgency for us to share the good news.
That changes the whole game because I wonder… when Jesus does return, how is he going to judge you and me on this one?
Better not wait a thousand years – or another day – to find out.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being patient with me. In your patience, help me sense the urgency of the gospel. And give me the courage to share it in holy love. In Jesus name. Amen.
What does it mean for you that God is waiting for us before he returns? What is the Holy Spirit possibility for you now that you know this?