Saturday, October 3, 2009

A thousand years is as one day.

In this article I would like to shed a little light on the context of 2 Peter 3:2-4 in its cultural and historical setting.

2 Peter 3:2-4. that you 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 Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to 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 creation."

These scoffers Judaizers and unbelieving Jews abandon God’s gracious gift of salvation by grace were trying to get the Hebrew Christians to go back under the slavery and condemnation of “the old covenant law.” These Judaizers were mocking the Hebrew Christians by saying. "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." These "mockers" were Covenant apostates: familiar with Old Testament history and prophecy, they were Jews who had abandoned the Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Christ.

What thing were continuing as they were since their Jewish fathers died from the beginning of the creation? The “elementary principles” of the old Mosaic covenant of law with is Temple. (Galatians 4:21; Hebrews 9;8)

Peter began his scathing rebuttal of the mockers. ’Peter said that those scoffers knew very well what happened in the days of Noah, how the Lord promised that He would bring the great flood and destroy the old heavens and earth of that day. (2 Peter 3 5) And they also knew quite well that destroyed that heavens and earth with water. However, they were willing to cast aside that knowledge and ignore it, as they made mockery of Jesus’ promise to come and destroy the then present “heavens and earth,” which was “reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment of ungodly men” (verse 7).

Then Peter reminds the Hebrew Christians of the faithfulness of God who keeps His words. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:4) Another beautiful truth that is expressed here is that Peter, reminded them once again of the patience or long-suffering of God. God wanted 40 years for his old covenant people, to come to repentance, so that the salvation, of which Peter and Paul and others spoke, but they only got worse and worse.

In 2 Peter 3:8 we find the statement about "one day being as a thousand years," etc. But please note the verse (does not say one day IS a thousand years with the Lord). In verse 9 we find a “statement that has been long forgotten and almost taken out of the Bible." "The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness" (NASV). The word translated "slow" (Greek "braduno") means just that. The point that Peter is making here is if God sets a time for fulfillment he fulfills on time! He is not slow. Under no uncertain terms does God NOT keep his promises! As the writer of Hebrews says "God cannot lie." (Hebrews 6:18)

Peter was defending the promises of God’s word, especially the promises, against those scoffers who jeer and mock God's faithfulness. He was not in agreement with the them. Peter wanted to assure those brethren to not fall prey to the words and claims of those evil men, because their Master was indeed “coming.” They could count on it! But as for the reason that He had not yet come, this is found in the following (verse 9). Peter said, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward YOU; not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

Peter ministers to the household of faith as he strengthens them. He says, if God promises to do a certain thing in a day, the promise is sure, and it will come on time. If God promises to do a certain thing in a thousand years, the promise is sure, and it will come on time.

It makes no difference to God if the time is a day or a thousand years; He will be faithful, and He will be on time. See the context with the very next verse, God is not slack concerning His promises (2 Peter 3:9a). Verse 9 strengthens the sureness of the time statements in Scripture, not the opposite.
Were did these scoffers get the idea of Christ promise coming in their generation? (Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 24:1-2; 26:62-64 Revelation 22:7-20).

Throughout the New Testament, the word "elements" (stoicheia) is always used in connection with the Old Covenant order. Paul used the term in his stinging rebuke to the Galatian Christians who were tempted to forsake the freedom of the New Covenant for an Old Covenant-style legalism. Describing Old Covenant rituals and ceremonies, he says "we were in bondage under the elements (stoicheia) of this world....How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheia), to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years..." (Gal. 4:3, 9-10).

He warns the Colossians: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, and not according to Christ....Therefore, if you died with Christ to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations - 'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle"' (Col. 2:8,20-21).

The writer to the Hebrews chided them: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elements (stoicheia) of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Heb. 5:12). In context, the writer to the Hebrews is clearly speaking of Old Covenant truths particularly since he connects it with the term oracles of God, an expression used elsewhere in the New Testament for the provisional.

These citations from Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews comprise all the other occurrences in the New Testament of that word "elements" (stoichea). Not one refers to the "elements" of the physical world or universe; all are speaking of the "elements" of the Old Covenant system, which, as the apostles wrote just before the approaching destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A.D. 70, was "becoming obsolete and growing old" and "ready to vanish away" (Heb.8:13).

Peter uses the same term in exactly the same way. Throughout the Greek New Testament, the word elements (stoicheia) always means ethics, not physics; the foundational "elements" of a religious system that was doomed to pass away in a fiery judgment.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheia) will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things are being dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements (stoicheia) are being melted with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10-12)

In light of those things taught in 2 Peter 3:13 we can now understand much better what God said in the other passages Where in the Old Testament does God promise a New Heaven and Earth? The "new heavens and earth" promised to the Israel comprise the age of the New Covenant - the Gospel's triumph, when all mankind will come to bow down before the Lord (Isaiah 66: 22-23). John, recording his vision says the same thing: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth....The first things have passed away....Behold, I am making all things new" (Rev. 21:1-5).

The writer to the Hebrews comforts his first-century readers with the assurance that they have already arrived at "the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22; cf. Gal. 26-28; Rev. 21). Even as the old "heaven and earth" were being shaken to rubble, the early Christians were "receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken," the eternal Kingdom of God brought in by His Son (Heb. 12:26-28). This language is obvious consistent with use of the word “shaken” in the Old Testament.

David cried out to God; to help when his enemies surrounded him. In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears. "Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. (2 Samuel 22:7-8) What happen? God delivered David from his enemy verse 17-18.