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.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. NIV)
The Apostle Peter invites us to see the moving of history as God sees it. Peter addressed two questions and concerns the people had about the Lord’s coming: Will this coming be worth the wait? And what should I be doing in the meantime now while I wait?
The people in Peter’s time were impatient. They saw time from a mere human perspective and needed a bigger understanding of God’s purposes. The fact of the matter is that God’s timing is different than ours. There are two words for “time” in the New Testament: chronos and kairos.
Chronos is where we get our English word “chronological.” This is time measured by the clock and is the way much of our lives are governed. The other term for time, kairos, is seasonal time. Kairos is not determined by the clock but is event oriented.
God is not time-oriented in the sense that we are, that is, God is not ruled and controlled by the clock. God is event-oriented, which is why the Lord’s understanding of time is that a thousand years are like a day, and a day like a thousand years. In other words, God measures time differently than most Westerners do. When the Bible says Christ is coming soon, it means there are no events left in the course of history except the Day of the Lord, the return of Jesus, to judge the living and the dead.
I admit I am a clock-oriented guy. I also confess that my wife and girls are not. They are much more event oriented than me, so I suppose when it comes to time, they are the godly ones. After all, the seasons will continue to come and go but a clock will eventually die, that is, when its time is up.
I cannot begin to count how many hours of my life have been spent waiting on my wife and girls. I used to get frustrated and impatient because I thought they should be clock-oriented, like me. Yet, over the years, I have learned to accept this reality. Now I take the time of waiting and read. I have read a lot of books over the years through my waiting. I used to want to time travel because of wasted time, but that is all in the past now.
A clock-oriented guy like me needs to grasp that God has all the time in the world. God serves no clock. Clocks are merely playthings for the Lord. When God wants a hot time, he just puts a clock in the oven. I, however, tend to get antsy, impatient, and frustrated, believing that God must operate on my time schedule. However, what looks like divine tardiness to me is really something else.
God seems slow in keeping divine promises. But the truth is, the Lord takes all the time in the world because of divine mercy. While I am beating my chest trying to get everyone on my time deadlines, God beats up the clock, just to kill time.
In the face of so much that is not right with the world, we might wonder why God is not just stepping in and taking care of all the evil and unjust situations on this earth. What we view as a lack of mercy is, in fact, sheer grace on God’s part – patiently waiting for all kinds of people to confess their guilt and shame and come to Jesus. God is waiting for that lost soul to make their way to forgiveness. You cannot bear your secrets with a clock around because time will tell.
Whereas I tend to think I am waiting on God, God is waiting for me, too. What should I be doing in the meantime while I wait? We ought to be living holy and godly lives as we look forward to Christ’s coming and speed its coming. Yes, God is the One who is waiting on us. Do you know the time of the Second Coming? No, me neither; we have not met yet.
The holiness and peace of God’s people will influence the timing of the Christ’s return. When God upends our current situations, it is time to get a new set of circumstances. In other words, since God is an event-oriented God, the Lord has all the time in the world to wait on us to be the kind of people we need to be.
The fact that we are two-thousand years removed from the first Advent of Christ probably does not speak very well to the church in general. It will do no good to sit on our watches so that we can be on time. God is still waiting for a lot of folks to come to repentance, as well as the church to take up her mandate of making disciples.
God is gracious and does not bully us or strike us with lightning when we disobey. Rather, God is patient, wanting us to approach and receive mercy. The Lord is waiting for us to avail ourselves of divine help to live holy and godly lives. Holiness simply means to be separated from evil and attached to God. Godliness means to live a worshipful and spiritually disciplined life. Our Lord’s patience means deliverance from all that disconnects us from Jesus so that we might rightly attach ourselves to Christ.
Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—”Welcome Home!” How did his wife know? No one had called her, and the crew themselves had not expected to leave so quickly.
Robins relates, “When I walked into the house, my wife came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. ‘How did you know?’ I asked. ‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once I knew the war was over, I knew you’d be home one of these days. I knew you would try to surprise me, so I was ready every day.'”
In the history of redemption, the war has been won. There is only one event left on God’s calendar: The return of Jesus. When a clock stops ticking, it just hangs around. That is not what the Lord wants. Throwing the watch across the room will not make time fly; Jesus will come when he comes. Meanwhile, our focus is on living holy and godly lives as we wait….
Even so, come Lord Jesus.