Sunday, January 22, 2012

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. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8) In order to truly understand any context of scripture, it must be understood in it's original historical setting. The main principal design of this chapter is to demonstrate, an objection to the scoffers, that the Lord Jesus had not returned.

We will start with 2 Peter 3:2-4 which reads, 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."

Jude 1:18 says there would be "mockers in the last time of the old Covenant. Scoffers is the same Greek word rendered mockers. Now those days of Jude prophecy were being fulfilled.

These scoffers Peter mentioned, are Judaizers and unbelieving Jews that abandon God’s gracious gift of salvation and were trying to get Hebrew Christians to abandon the promise of Christ return. 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 Jews familiar with Jesus promise to return. (Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 26:62-65).

These scoffers were also very familiar with the events of the Old Testament. The argument of Peter, in reply to this is strong Peter began his scathing rebuttal to these mockers. He refers to the destruction of the old world by the flood--a fact that cannot be argued. Peter said that those scoffers knew very well what happened in the days of Noah, how the earth was standing out of the water and in the water. Verse 5 for this is unobserved by them willingly. 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, on the day of judgment of ungodly men” (verse 7).

In verse 8 we find a statement that has been quoted over and over again, but “not like it was originally written.” In 2 Peter 3:8 we find the statement about "one day being as a thousand years," etc. Please note the verse (does not say one day IS a thousand years with the Lord). 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.

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 them. Peter wanted to assure his brethren not to fall prey to the words and claims of those evil scoffers that Christ had not returned as promised. They could count on it! 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; God is faithful, to do what he promised. Verse 8 strengthens the sureness of the time statements made by Jesus in Scripture, they aren't opposing them. Peter was defending the promises of God, not agreeing with the scoffers.

Peter's thoughts are rooted in the Psalms: For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4 This verse amplifies the teaching, saying that no matter how long time is from man’s perspective, it’s like a twinkling of an eye from God’s eternal perspective. Peter draws on these eternal truths to bring home the point that God is certain to keep his promises on time. Apostle Peter’s readers should not lose heart, because God keeps his promise on time.

What are the things that were continuing since the beginning of creation that the scoffers jeered and mocked the household of faith about? (2 Peter 3:4) The system of Moses with its priest hood, and animal sacrifices and the Temple. All these things were continuing when Peter wrote these words.

In fact, these may have been the very same scoffers who were brought false witnesses to testify against Stephen. There we read, Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, "We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.

They presented false witnesses who testified, "This man never stops saying things against (this holy place) and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us." (Acts 6:9-14 New American Bible)

The real purpose of this whole episode, is to introduce Stephen as one who comes against the Temple and the Mosaic law that was handed down to them. The Temple is the holy place mentioned in verse 13. Notice these people were claiming that Stephen said Jesus will destroy this place (the Temple) and change the customs (the laws) that Moses handed down to us." This statement was made long after Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father.

The scoffers Peter writes about were jeer and mocking about the faithfulness to this promise. But what was the reason Jesus had not yet come? The answer to that question is found in a verse that has long been forgotten and completely removed from the context of verse 8 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.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The word translated "slow" (Greek "braduno") means just that. Another beautiful truth that is expressed here is that Peter, reminded them once again of the patience and long-suffering of God. The delay should be regarded as a proof of God, forbearance, and of his desire that men should be saved.

God wanted, 40 years for his old covenant people, to come to repentance, and not reject the salvation, of which Peter and Paul and others spoke of. After those 40 years of patience were over Jesus fulfilled his promise and the things that the scoffers were bragging that we're continuing were destroyed including the scoffers.