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Does God have an alarm clock?

Columbia Biblical Studies: Tuesday, July 1
Columbia Biblical Studies: Tuesday, July 1
Marina Shemesh

Today’s bible study is 2 Peter 3:8-9: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Time is an extremely difficult concept to understand. In the nineteen sixties, there was a contest offering $10.000 to anyone who could adequately define the word time. Thousands upon thousands of people worldwide did their best to come up with definitions. The answers undoubtedly ranged from childish and meaningless to scientific and virtually unintelligible. Yet, there was no winner. It was found that no human could truly define time.

Here time seems to be the central there of our bible verse and, here, time can be a day or a thousand years. Is seems as vague and indefinable in Second Peter as it is for us. Time is that unidentifiable concept of passage through the universe, that elusive measure that cannot be measured in terms of God’s time or of ours.

Later, God’s time and human time are addressed. The scoffers ignore the fact that judgment is God’s business and will be done in God’s time. What humans experience as a long delay can be viewed another way. Paul reminds the reader’s that in God’s sight a day may be like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day, so calculating the fulfillment of the prophetic promises on the basis of the human calendar should be abandoned.

The character of God is portrayed throughout the bible as patient and long-suffering. God’s behavior toward Nineveh in the Book of Jonah is a classic example. Rather than doubting or scoffing, the church should be grateful that what has seemed a delay in the return of Christ and its attendant judgment is in reality an expression of God’s patience and grace. With this line of argument, Paul concludes his attempt to silence the false teachers and to rehabilitate the teaching about the second coming of Christ.

Lord, let us not be impatient. Let us know that God will act in his way and in his time, whether it be one day or a thousand years. There is so little that we know O gracious father, and so little that our human minds can comprehend. Help us, O Lord, to wait eagerly, yet not impatiently for your return, knowing that all will happen as foretold in God’s time.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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