2 Peter 3:1-9
“This second epistle, beloved I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Peter now takes the occasion to remind his readers of the words of Old Testament prophets, especially of the second coming of the Lord. He reminds them of what the prophets from aforetime spoke of concerning the Lord’s coming because of many scoffers that had arisen at this point in the history of the Church. These scoffers walk after their own lusts, then even as they do in this generation.
They have forgotten the promise Christ gave to his disciples at the Last Supper where he said to them: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would not have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3) They reason among themselves nothing has changed, since the time of creation, “all [natural] things continue”. Because they are led about by their lusts, they soon rationalize that if the Lord is slack on His promise to return, then they may as well live as lasciviously as they please.
Peter uses the great flood of Genesis 7 as an example to show that God judges on His clock, not ours. It was by the power of God speaking that the earth was destroyed so long ago. It is by this same power that the earth is reserved and “kept in store” until the day of judgment which will come not by water but by fire.
Men of old were ignorant of this fact, as Peter says. I believe it was not the flood itself that they were ignorant of, but their ignorance was in the fact that it was entirely by God’s mouth, that determined whether judgment came or not. Peter cannot stop men from being ignorant of that truth, but he was inspired to write and tell his readers not to be ignorant of another fact: that one day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day.
What does this mean? Why is it important? That statement, a thousand years being like one day and vice versa, shows forth the eternal nature of God. For God, a thousand days might as well be a million years. But on the other hand, if you are a believer who like myself, considers the earth to be no more than six thousand years old, then God we could just as easily say that the past six thousand years of human history have been less than a week for God. So it is easy for God to be long suffering, and He is– especially to His most beloved creation.
Long suffering is one of the characteristics of agape love (1 Cor. 13:4). Let us remember this when faced with those who scoff at the Lord’s return and examine ourselves to see if we are prepared for His coming.