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.”
1) Time on this earth is temporary
The time we have in this life is valuable, and every moment of our lives is very important. We all have our own journey of life that we are traversing, and we all are walking according to the steps we take. The journey, however--no matter how much we may not want to continue sometimes--will proceed despite our feelings. In the grand scheme of life, we each have an appointed amount of time that we will be on this earth, and we all are walking towards that end. The reality of death is sobering, and is something that can either be a source of fear, or a catalyst that instills a fear of God and therefore a source of faith. On the other hand, death is a motivation for some; it is used as an excuse to live without restraint or care. Whatever place you think you fall on the spectrum, the reality is the same: we only have so much time within our lives.
The passage from 2 Peter speaks on this concept of time, and that we have to acknowledge it within these mortal lives we lead. While we are constrained to live in this world for a mere blink of time and trudge on toward our inevitable deaths, God is not. God is El Olam: The Everlasting God; The God of Eternity; The God of the Universe; The God of Ancient Days. He is not constrained by anything; literally all things are possible for this Being. Time is in the hands of the Lord, and as Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” God has each hair on our head numbered, and in every living moment in our lives, He is. God simply exists, and when we eventually meet our end on this earth, He will continue to be. Yet, at the same time, God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11)...
This concept of God’s eternal existence is placed in the same context as His patience. Your future existence is already accompanied by the Living God; He has already gone before you and I. This enigmatic characteristic of God is important to consider, because--as stated in the passage from 2 Peter--God is patient with us, despite having all time at His disposal. This timeless being is… patient? It is not a coincidence that Peter prefaces the passage with a backdrop on God’s eternal nature and authority over time, and then follows it by acknowledging a characteristic of God as being patient. God’s omnipresence is placed into the same frame as His patience: God simply exists, yet He is waiting on us to come to repentance; not wanting anyone to perish… I believe taking a look at the life of Jesus Christ will help us break down this dichotomy.
2) Christ lived a fully human physical life on earth like us
When we look at the life of Jesus and consider Him, we see the previously noted dichotomy in action. Jesus, as stated in the Bible, has always existed, and through Him all things were created (John 1:1-3). Jesus is eternal Himself, because He is God. And yet, at the same time, we see in the life of Christ that He stepped out of eternity and entered into a specific time frame of humanity's existence. A Being with all time and power at His disposal, left His eternal glory--hence why Christ says, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5)--and entered humanity to become like us… Why?
It is out God’s boundless and inconceivable love that Christ came down and dwelt among us. Jesus would go on to live out His time here on earth for the very specific purpose He needed to fulfill: giving up His life to overcome the sin of the world, and rising from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father. Jesus’s whole life spent on this earth was entirely centered on that one assignment. We see Jesus acknowledge the methodical timetable of God multiple times before His crucifixion: “Although your time is always at hand, My time has not yet come,” “Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners,” “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 7:6, Mark 14:41, John 2:4). Jesus clearly understood His purpose, and had the perspective of God when it came to His time.
What I believe is very important to glean from this context of Jesus leaving the glory/eternity that He always knew with the Father and entering our world, is the weight that this places upon our time. This immeasurable and timeless God entered into a specific time and place, in order to fulfill His greatest act of love toward us. Jesus lived to His early thirties or so--dying at about 33. The God of the universe lived only 33 years on this earth, and yet, He achieved eternal glory? God places a deep importance on the time that we have in this lifetime; so much so, that God Himself abided in our framework of existence (from what we can understand), and provided an example as to how we should live. We see in Jesus a life entirely and perfectly submitted to God the Father and other people in humility and in servitude--not because Christ was forced to do so, but “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus willingly left the eternal glory He knew so that we could share in it with Him by believing in His name.
3) What we do in this life matters
To continue, God placed an eternal weight to Christ’s life on earth through His sacrifice at the cross, and with that, His everlasting glory. Thus, God fulfilled His promise of salvation in His own time through Jesus; bringing light to 2 Peter 3:8, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.” According to our own standards--or at least, my own--the thousands of years that God took to fulfill His promises in Jesus seem quite long. Just to be honest, a couple thousand years is no blink of an eye for a mortal human such as myself. But this reality speaks to what Peter is acknowledging; that God’s time is different than ours and that He works in higher ways.
When we consider the life of Christ that we just explored, we see that God had placed Himself within our frame of existence, and eternity within our hearts--the core of our existence was made for eternity; for eternal life. And with Jesus as our prime example, we can understand that our existence does not end when we die on this earth. This reality can be found in numerous places within the Bible, and as Jesus says, “have you not read what God said to you: ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31). Evidently, Abraham has been dead for a very long time, yet Christ clearly states that God is the God of the living.
And so, with all this in consideration, what we do with our time has an eternal weight. The end of 2 Peter 3:9 speaks on this, “Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Why would God have to be patient if what we did in this lifetime didn’t matter? The definition of patient from Merriam-Webster is: “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.” We all provide and endure plenty of these moments within our lives at one point or another, for whatever reasons. But blessed as we are, God is patient with us and does not want to see anyone perish.
And so, looking to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example for our lives, we should use the time we have been given to live as He did: to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. In this way we will live the life that God intends for us; to make the most out of the time we have on this earth. And when we do this, we store up our treasures with God; and where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
In every moment of our lives, we have an opportunity to seek the Lord and know Him. God is patient, and His hand is extended to you. Nothing you have ever done in your life can separate you from His love; there was a time at Calvary 2000 years ago when it was paid for in full. God is Jehovah Rapha, “I will heal.” God will heal you; restore you; empower you; give you peace and joy. He will forgive you, and sanctify you; He is Jehovah M’Kaddesh, “The Lord who sanctifies you.” He is El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty, and He is mighty to save. The time we have on this earth is short, but we have a spirit that exists beyond the grave.
When we die, we will come face to face with this God and account for all that we have ever done. How are you living? How are you spending your time? No day is guaranteed; let today be the day of the Lord. In this very moment, we can find God and take refuge in Him. If you are tired or weary; if you long for freedom from the chains of this world; if you want healing from the wounds of your past: find rest, peace, and healing in the Savior--in Jesus the Christ. Accept Him and what He did for you, and allow God to mend your soul and use your time to bring forth His kingdom and purpose. In doing so, you will find more fulfillment, peace, and joy in Jesus than this world could ever offer, a thousand lifetimes over.