There are people with shaky faith. The scoffer’s words may rattle the weak strands of faith they have. Weak faith or not they still have to choose where they will cast their allegiance. Peter will give argument to help, but the individual still must hear the words of God and make their own choice. Peter told the reader of the scoffer’s approach. Peter told the reader what the scoffer deliberately overlooks. Now he tells the reader what to deliberately remember.
“8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:8-1–ESV)
Don’t constrain God
What fact did Peter say we must not ignore? Time in God’s experience is not the same as time in ours. The scoffer looks through the window of a few generations (himself and his forefathers) and foolishly announces that since God has not done a thing he promised he will not do the thing he promised.
Peter says, “Remember! Remember!” God is outside of our frameworks. Time is one of the frameworks we live in, but God made that long ago. The scoffer says that since God has not acted in the way they want God is irrelevant. To expect God to function in our framework is unwise. That is an attempt constrain God, to put God in a box we can get our arms around. It does not work.
Deliberately remember: God is not bound by time
A Question and a Practical Application. Are you putting God, the creator, into a box that he created? God does not experience life as a created being. To get God out of a box you put him look at eternal things, remember the creation, remember the future and check your own thoughts.
Remember God’s character of grace
The reader can identify with what the scoffer says when they try to say God is slow. Since the reader experiences life in the framework of time and may have struggled years or decades the reader can be drawn with cords of familiarity to the scoffer’s opinion. The reader may find themselves thinking, “Hmmm, that makes some sense.”
Into that fog though comes Peter’s clarity. God is not slow. God wants all men to escape perishing punishment. To to that men and women must repent from their sins, their rebellion. When God says, “Enough!” and sends his angels down to bring conclusion to earth as we know it those who have not repented miss their opportunity1. God loves all the people on the earth and he does not want to consign any to punishment. This is the reason that Peter employs to counter the time-scoffer.
Peter’s argument is so excellent. It is gentle and it is true. It fits. It is a breath of fresh air into the toxicity of argument. The fumes of unbelief choke, but the wind of grace blows them away.
Deliberately remember: God’s character of grace.
Remember God’s character of holiness
The righteousness of God will be the final order of all things. God’s holiness is constant, steady and it has a relevant inevitability for humanity. The day of the Lord, Peter says, is not a figment of some prophet’s imagination. It is real and its arrival will be unheralded. Time ran out on the characters in Noah’s day. Time has run out on countless others. God would not have it that way.
God prefers that all come to repentance, but God does not force that issue. God does not make humans do things his way, but he requires humans to accept his invitation if they are to be part of his household. Those who do not accept this offer do not, as is commonly stated at funerals, go to a better place. Those who had no inclination to the things of God in this life do not go to God’s house (aka heaven) when they die. They go to the place where selfish desires have their ultimate expression (aka hell) and it will not by any means be pleasant.
Deliberately remember: God’s character of holiness.
Key considerations in this section:
- It is foolish to extrapolate the way we experience time to God
- My feelings on life do not change the way God exists
- Don’t try to put God in your time box (constraint)
- Be on the lookout for those who would declare God irrelvant by using partial truths
- Don’t forget God’s character