Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #331 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Peter 3 today and our focus is on Is the Return of Jesus Taking Longer than Expected? + Doubters Who Scoff at the Second Coming.? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Like 2nd Thessalonians, 2nd Peter is also quite focused on end-times related subjects, and today we have an explanation for an enigma that has troubled Christians for centuries. I love to read the writings of ancient Christians, and have built up a collection of writings by early church fathers that numbers in the hundreds. Now, before you get too impressed, know that I am not talking about original editions, or anything, but modern reprintings and translations of ancient works combined with tons of digital resources from Logos and other resources. One thing you note in scanning through all of those writings of Christians for the last few hundred years is that some Christians in almost every century since the first century believed that Jesus was soon to come back. I suppose if we went back to the late first century as time travellers – if such a thing were possible – and somehow communicated to the churches that we were from the year 2021, and that Jesus hadn’t returned, I imagine some of them would be astonished, and yet when I read 2nd Peter 3, I realize it is not astonishing at all that the Lord has tarried. Why not? Because God does not reckon time in the same way that we do, says vss. 8-9:
8 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. 9 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. 2nd Peter 3:8-9
I do not know exactly what Peter is communicating here, and I doubt he fully understood it either, but one way of reading this passage – quite a literal way – is that it has been less than TWO DAYS since Jesus left the earth. Yes, I know it has been almost 2000 years, but – if what Peter is saying is to be taken in a literal sense, then with God almost 2000 years is somehow, someway like almost two days. Mind-blowing and fascinating, when you think about it. This is one of the most prescient statements in the New Testament, in many ways – it seems quite clear that the Holy Spirit – who inspired these words from Peter – was aware that it would be quite some time – a very long time, in human terms – before the Second Coming happened. And, as He explains it to us through Peter – Jesus is not being SLOW in returning – He is being PATIENT. And, praise God for that!! If Jesus had come back before 1972, I wouldn’t have existed. If he had come back before 2001, then none of our children would have existed. If he had come back before 2011, then our youngest daughter Phoebe would not have existed. Thought of this way – I sure do appreciate the Lord’s patience, even as I often pray, “Maranatha” (Come, Lord Jesus)
Pastor John Piper has some interesting thoughts on God’s timing and the skeptics’ scoffing in light of this passage:
This can change our attitude in praying. God’s timing is often odd, which is not surprising since “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8). The Lord can pack a thousand years of impact into one day, and he can take a thousand years to do a day’s work. In the one he is not taxed, and in the other he is not hurried. As Peter says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness” (2 Peter 3:9).
So it’s not surprising that “a well-timed help” might be different from God’s perspective than it is from ours, but his perspective is always best. It is always grace to us. It should always be trusted for what it is and when it is….
[In this passage,] Peter is answering the criticism that Christ has delayed so long that we can’t really believe he is coming back. Peter’s answer is that from God’s experience of time it hasn’t been very long. I doubt that it is a biblical notion that God is outside time. But since he is immortal and does not age and does not forget and sees all history at a glance and is never bored, clearly he does not experience time like we do. But even so, since we are in God’s image, there is in us something like God’s experience of time. The older we get the faster it seems to go. How many older people say, “It just seems like yesterday I was in school.” “It just seems like yesterday we got married.” “It just seems like yesterday the kids were young.” And not only age, but joy makes us experience time like God. If you are bored at a program, it seems to drag on forever. But if you go on a vacation for a couple weeks and have a terrific time, you come to the end and say, “It seems like we just got here.” Every moment was rich and full of unself-conscious life (like a thousand moments packed into one), and you were so taken up in the joy and beauty and love of those weeks that you never paused to be self-conscious about the passing of time. And at the end of those weeks, it was like yesterday that you arrived. When Jesus comes back and stands on this earth to make it his own, he will say, “It just seems like yesterday that I was here.” O people, do not be deceived. It is no argument against Christ’s second coming that 1,950 years have passed since his departure. From God’s experience of time it is as though Christ arrived at his right hand the day before yesterday.
John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1997), 71–72.+ John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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