Insignificance Of Time
“But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”
If we were to create a god after our own imagination, then we would be tempted to put time restrictions on this god. Every religion on the face of the earth has a concept of an eternal god or spirit. Everyone simply assumes that there need be no proof that God is without end in His existence. Eternality is the definition of the existence of God.
Therefore, Christians must not forget that God is timeless. He is not bound to determine the occurrence of events by time. Peter’s illustration of the timelessness of God brings to mind Psalm 90:4: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past.” When God makes a promise, man is confined to wait as time passes until the fulfillment of that promise. However, from the viewpoint of an eternal God, when the promise is made it is as if it is already fulfilled. There is no “waiting” with God, for God is not confined to time.
Peter’s point here is that because we are limited to consider time between promise and fulfillment, we must not lead ourselves to believe that God either thinks or behaves as men. What God has promised, He will do. What we might consider to be slowness on the part of God to fulfill His promise does not confine God to feel the same as we do concerning time.
Peter’s point in his statement in reference to God is to encourage the discouraged. Regardless of the mockery and scoffing, they must be patient. God is about to deliver the faithful from their persecutors. James said the same thing in reference to the finality of the Jewish mockery that would be taken away with the consummation of national Israel. “Be patient, brethren, until the coming [presence] of the Lord” (Js 5:7). James continued, “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (Js 5:8). The presence (coming) of the Lord meant that judgment was upon the generation of Peter and James.
Timeless Patience Of God
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness. But He is longsuffering toward you, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Though this principle is relevant throughout history, in the historical context in which it was written we must interpret the statement in reference to the unbelieving Jews. From Pentecost to consummation in A.D. 70, God gave the unbelieving Jews forty years to accept His Son. He was extremely patient with those, who upon first context with the message of the gospel, did not accept His Son as the Messiah.
Paul expressed this same concern over the salvation of his fellow Jews. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rm 9:3). If Paul felt this way about his fellow Jews, then we can only imagine how God felt because He had preserved the heritage of faith since the days of Abraham, almost two thousand years. So until the fullness of the Gentile opportunity was completed, God was patient with the Jews (See Rm 11:11,12). Therefore, in the preceding statement, God is assuming that those who were persecuted by their fellow Jews should also be patient. The judgment of the mockers was near. Relief was coming. The persecuted must be patient until God unleashed judgment.
God is not slow (“slack”, KJV) to bring about His promise. He does not desire that men perish. In this historical context, perish is a reference to the genocide that was coming in A.D. 70. The Greek word here for “perish” is apollumi. It means “to loose away,” or “to destroy.” God does not want people to be banished to destruction in the great judgment that will come upon all those who do not obey the gospel, either in time in reference to Israel, or at the end of time in reference to ourselves (See 2 Th 1:7-9).
God desires that people repent. He desire that each person responded to the gospel of His Son’s atoning sacrifice (See Ez 18:32; Jn 3:17; At 17:30; 1 Tm 2:4; Hb 2:9). Because God is so patient, we can conclude that we do not serve a mean God. We do not seek a God who seeks to eternally destroy man from His presence. We serve a patient God who is timeless in His desire that people turn to Him through obedience to the gospel.
[Next in series: Aug. 30]