God’s Timing

by Terry Wane Benton

"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8).

Where is the promise of His coming?” (II Peter 3:4) is the question Peter has been addressing. The argument that all things continue as they were from creation was addressed and proven false (II Peter 3:4-6). Now he turns his attention to God’s timeless nature to help us deal with the question of why He has not yet come.

The issue here is that God does not view time in the same way as did the scoffers. Christians should not forget that the eternal nature of God allows Him to look over the years of man and see all of that history as if it were but a day, and God is also so all-seeing and all-knowing so that each day can be as a 1000 years to Him. To man, the trials and crucifixion of Jesus were 2000 years ago, but to God, it is fresh, as just yesterday, to Him. Time is our zone and our concern, but not God’s concern.

God’s relationship to time is far different than ours, so we can’t rush God because of our impatient spirit. He has always existed (Job 36:26) so that we cannot comprehend infinity forward and backward. Peter has probably been impressed with Psalm 90:4 that says, “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” Why is Peter telling his reader this? To remind them that scoffers question the amount of time that has transpired as though God is as anxious about time as humans are.

We should reflect a moment on God’s gracious plan that started into action around 6000 years ago. Bringing Christ into the world was promised and prophesied, but it was 4000 years of human time in arriving but planned by God from eternity (before time began). If God was not in a hurry to bring Christ into the world for our redemptive needs, we should consider that God wants the gospel of grace to be preached for “ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7). He would not bring Jesus in after 4000 years of human time and then give that gospel only 40 years to help bring many sons to glory. After Jesus’ rich provisions came to be ours in AD 33 and the apostles were set forth as examples of His grace, He wanted ages to come” to see “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Scoffers did not take into consideration that God’s plan extended way beyond that generation to ages to come. Don’t get into doubting God based upon how much time we think He should limit Himself to. Man’s impatience does not trump God’s longsuffering. Remember that!

There was in the plans for that generation the judgment on Jerusalem that would bring about His vengeance on Judaism (which was on strict time schedule), but the time of Jesus' personal coming which ends the earth is in an unknown time (Matthew 24:35-36) (not on a strict time schedule). They knew that they were only three years away (at the time Peter wrote his book) from the visitation upon Jerusalem, but they had no clue about the timing of the personal coming that ends the heavens and earth and mortality. Jesus gave clues of timing for the visitation upon Jerusalem, but of the passing away of heaven and earth, he said, "no one knows." So, his coming against Jerusalem? Strict time schedule. His coming to end the heavens and earth bring on our immortality? There is no definite time schedule.

Some want to run the two events together and make the two kinds of comings one and the same. But Jesus did not put the two together within the same timeframe. The mistake of the scoffers is that they did not carefully see that Jesus had spoken of "all these (signs) things" were geared for knowing what was for "this generation" (Matthew 24:34). All the signs would be fulfilled in "this generation" which means it has a definite timeframe for that generation listening to Him. He says something else after giving the time markers for that generation. He said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35). This is now a new topic to separate the concept that the coming on Jerusalem is not to be confounded with the end of heaven and earth. "But of that day and hour (the day and hour of the passing away of heaven and earth) no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36).

Confusing the coming on Jerusalem with the coming to destroy the heaven and earth may have led to the scoffers' question of "Where is the promise of His coming?" but it did not mean the final and personal coming of the Lord was within the 40-year countdown of that generation, which would play out within three more years from the writing of II Peter. The final heaven-and-earth-removing coming is not tied to the same timing as the fall of the temple in Jerusalem (AD 70). Therefore, God is not worried about making it happen in conjunction with the fall of Jerusalem. God can stretch that coming out as long as His longsuffering desires. Time is nothing to Him.

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