Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

2 Peter 3:8-13

8 Dear friends, don’t overlook this one fact: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. 13 But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

The Original Intent

1) What do we learn in verses 8-9 about God’s relationship to time compared to our own experience?

There is no underestimating the importance of context when studying Scripture. This is certainly true with this passage. When Peter compares a thousand years to one day, we must dig a little deeper to understand his purpose. The context of verses 8-9 is the return of the Lord to gather His Church, those who have placed their full trust in Him. Peter reminds the believers that scorners will come and mock the idea of the Lord’s coming return. (verse 4)

Reading Peter’s letter gives us insight into what the Christians were facing as they waited for Jesus. The apostle Paul had also written letters to warn believers of those who would attempt to lead them away from trusting in Christ’s return. (verses 15-16) Peter cautions them to not be swayed by doubters and cynics. He reminds them that God’s timetable is not the same as our human timeline. Peter encouraged them to hold to faith and trust in God’s promises.

Since we live in a physical world, we must be reminded that God works in another dimension beyond the perception of our physical senses. He is from the beginning and operates outside time. (Psalm 102:24-27) This in no way means God is not real, but it does mean He is unseen by human eyes because He is not limited by the physical realm as we are. (John 1:1-4)

Because He is eternal, He sees eternity past and eternity future in a single view. From this timeless perspective, the time that passes on earth doesn’t limit Him as it does us. To God, writes Michael Houdmann, “A second is no different from an eon; a billion years pass like seconds to the eternal God.” (Questions about God page 20)

Thankfully, in God’s patient and perfect “delay”, He is accomplishing His purpose of rescuing the perishing.

The Everyday Application

1) What do we learn in verses 8-9 about God’s relationship to time compared to our own experience?

You have likely heard the saying “only time will tell.” As I have grown older, this has become more obvious. Some of us (namely, me) are quick to respond to certain situations. Assuming too much, there have been times I’ve had to swallow my pride and admit that my initial reaction was unwarranted. These lessons taught me to wisely pause and zoom out of situations. Since humans operate on timetables, it’s often best to take a “wait and see” approach to many things we encounter.

But God is not like us. He is timeless. He patiently waits because He knows His purposes are as good as done even when we have not seen them unfold yet. For humans, clocks mark change. Whenever there’s change of any kind we understand it indicates that time has passed. For God, there is no change and there is no passing time. Knowing God is eternal brings a profound sense of comfort to us mere mortals.

Yet, though separated from time, God is not removed from our existence in this frail condition. Though He transcends time, He is with us now. He created a world that marks days and weeks and years to demonstrate to us that He does not ignore our daily cries or concerns. (Genesis 1:14-15)

“Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here. Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best. Lovingly, it’s part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.” (Day by Day by Karolina Sandell-Berg)

The Original Intent

2) What connection is made in verses 10-12 regarding how we should be living as we wait for the day of the Lord?

God desires to live in close fellowship with His people. (Genesis 3:8Exodus 29:45-46Leviticus 26:11-13Revelation 21:3) To understand the connection between His desire to be with us and our waiting for Him, we keep in mind the character of God. While there are passages of Scripture that are difficult to reconcile with Peter’s message that God wants “all to come to repentance” (verse 9), we must not fall prey to thinking God desires something other than salvation for all people.

Since there is no easy way to tie everything together neatly that is taught in Scripture about God’s sovereignty, we simply must acknowledge the mystery. Therein lies the beauty of this passage. When humans contemplate patience, we think in human terms. Often in our waiting we begin to feel anxious and reactionary.

Peter says God’s seeming delay is not “as some understand delay.” God-like patience helps us – beyond our own understanding – to have a sincere trust in God’s timing. (2 Peter 3:1-2) When God waits on something, it is rarely about how much time has passed or will pass. It is about His glory and our good. (2 Peter 3:15) This reality frustrated the prophet Jonah who knew God’s reputation for patience with sinful people. (Jonah 4:2)

The mission of Christ’s followers is not to calculate the waiting time, nor is it to doubt or attempt to thwart God’s purposes. Our aim is to consistently live holy lives as we obediently follow Him (verse 11) with great expectation of the Lord’s coming.

The specific Greek word (speudontas) in verse 12 for “hasten” occurs only once in Scripture. It indicates an urgency or earnest desire. (Strongs 4692) Based on Peter’s message, we understand that urgent does not constitute impatience.

The Everyday Application

2) What connection is made in verses 10-12 regarding how we should be living as we wait for the day of the Lord?

Waiting patiently is not my favorite thing. I am an instant gratification kind of gal. But waiting for something that is almost certain to be wonderful is in a different category. In fact, waiting for Christmas has always been much more fun than having it come and go. The beauty of waiting for the Lord to return and make everything new is that we can enjoy hope now and then!

Though there’s a tension we must hold, believers should watch for Christ to come today, while planning as though He may not come for a thousand years. As Christ followers, we play a mysterious role in His coming. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole world before Jesus returns.

While I do not understand all this means, it should spur the Christian toward fervency and urgency in taking the gospel to the world, meaning every people group. We should have patience while we wait on our future glory, because we know God is bringing more people into His kingdom all the time. Our endurance is not in vain! (Revelation 7:9-10)

The Original Intent

3) What does Peter mean when he writes in verse 13 about the “new heavens and a new earth”?

If there was a theme for these verses, it would be, “The Promise of God: It’s Worth Waiting For.” Before John declared his vision regarding a “new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21:1, the apostle Peter reiterated Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 65-66) about the day our current heavens and earth will no longer exist as we know it.

In verse 13, Peter explains that after the destruction of our environment, a new place will be created in which “righteousness dwells.” From the context of the passage, we understand that our coming perfected holiness and godliness achieved through Christ will fit in perfectly in that newly created place of perfection. Our current waiting is painful because our righteousness as people of Christ looks and feels so different from those who live ungodly lives. (2 Peter 2:9-10)

We long for the day we will live in uninterrupted harmony with all who love and worship Christ. “The history of this world has been almost entirely a history of sin – of its nature, developments, results. There have been no perfectly holy beings on the earth, except the Savior, and the angels who have occasionally visited. There has been no perfectly holy place – city, village, hamlet; no perfectly holy community. But the future world, in strong contrast with this, will be perfectly pure, and will be a fair illustration of what religion in its perfect form will do.” (Barnes)

The Everyday Application

3) What does Peter mean when he writes in verse 13 about the “new heavens and a new earth”?

I am so thankful Peter took the time to write to the dismayed believers in the early church. He effectively dismantled the arguments of the false teachers striving to confuse and frighten them. It’s a wonderful truth for those of us who wait even now.

2020 was a difficult year for many. It was one of those years that seemed to go on forever. But, dear Sister, we know God is never delayed! There WILL be a day when we live in a new heaven and earth. For now, the followers of Christ should live as if we believe this completely!

We can rest assured that our timeless God will not forget His promise!

“I know the journey seems so long.
You feel you’re walking on your own.
But there has never been a step where you’ve walked out all alone.
Troubled soul don’t lose your heart, ’cause joy and peace He brings.’
And the beauty that’s in store outweighs the hurt of life’s sting.
But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
that there will be a place with no more suffering.
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain and no more fears.
There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more.
But until that day, we’ll hold on to Him always.” (There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp)

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Mandy Farmer
Mandy Farmer
2 years ago

Melody, what a wonderful discussion. Especially, question2 which spurs us on not only to live godly lives but to do our part in spreading the Gospel. And to wait patiently.

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