Wednesday, December 30, Christmastide

Reader: “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord,” 

Response: “and a thousand years is like a day.” 

Scripture:  2 Peter 3:8-13

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:

A passage such as this, helps us put the nativity in context. The birth of Jesus introduces the “earthly portion” of the redemption, the re-creation plan of God. In Peter’s epistle, he is addressing a viewpoint held by some in his day and many, many people including Christians in our day who doubt a literal, visible, glorious reappearing of Jesus Christ. Peter has written this second epistle to warn them yet again. It’s very clear that those in the early church believed Jesus would return during their lifetimes. But he did not return. 

Peter’s letter helps us get outside of our human perspective and reasoning. How so? He reminds his readers that time is relative. Our God is in time and at the same moment , wholly apart from time, in a sense, above, outside and beyond time. Remember, “In the beginning God created . . .” In that one statement we see that God is uncreated and beyond time altogether. What seems to us like a long delay in God’s time is but a present moment. We need to be able to think in other dimensions than our earthly ones. 

To make this point I’m going to try to condense a C.S. Lewis illustration. Imagine you are writing a novel. In your story, Mary is sitting in a chair reading a book. There is a knock at her door (in your novel.) At this point in your writing, you decide to go get a drink of water, which you do, then are distracted, grab a cookie and empty a waste basket. You come back, sit down, eat the rest of your cookie, pick up your pen and begin writing again. Your story continues. . . Mary put down her book, got up and answered the door. 

Now as someone reads your novel, the time you spent in getting a drink, eating and emptying the waste basket appears nowhere in your novel. The time frame in the novel and the time frame in your getting a drink are in two different worlds. This example is a rough idea of what Peter is getting at in saying a thousand years are as a day and a day as a thousand years. (This idea is also why God can hear a million prayers at the same time giving complete attention to each one.) 

So time is one factor. Peter also addresses the delay factor making clear that God is desirous of giving people time to repent and receive salvation, not wishing that anyone perish because the Day of Judgment is final. Peter also exhorts people not to become complacent in their waiting. By saying Christ’s return will come as a thief in the night, it means without warning, catching us by surprise. 

I’m reminded of the days of Noah when the flood came without warning and destroyed the entire world with the exception of those in the ark, an ark Noah and his sons had labored to build over the span of 100 years! Do you think there were any days when they wondered if a flood was really going to come, since people didn’t even know what a flood was? Was there any ridicule of Noah and his family? Surely so. Just like there is ridicule from some people in our day concerning the return of the Lord as a fantasy and not something to be taken literally. God’s word says unequivocally that the Lord will return as he promised and establish the new heavens and new earth filled with God’s righteousness. 

When you see the exactness of all of the Old Testament prophecies in predicting the coming Messiah and when you read what Jesus said about his return and when you understand the relative nature of time in earthly and heavenly dimensions, I would believe exactly what the Scripture records. There is also a basic pattern throughout the Bible and it is this: there is an awful lot of waiting for fulfillment. E.g. the Flood; Abraham/Sarah and all the infertility issues throughout the Scriptures; 400 years of slavery in Egypt before the exodus; Joseph waiting 13 years to get out of prison; 40 years in the wilderness; 400 years of silence between the Testaments; fasting 40 days in the wilderness then temptation; waiting for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and so forth. Then you look at your own experience and all the things you are praying about, much of the Christian life has to do with exhibiting faith as we wait. But when God acts . . . !!

Music: “Star Carol” Nathan Pacheco

Bonus:  “A Spotless Rose” Paul Mealor

A spotless rose is blowing, sprung from a tender root,

Of ancient seers’ foreshowing, of Jesse promised fruit;

Its fairest bud unfolds to light 

Amid the cold, cold winter

And in the dark midnight.

The Rose which I a singing whereof Isaiah said,

Is from its sweet root springing in Mary, purest Maid;

For through our God’s great love and might

The blessed babe she bare us 

On a cold, cold winter’s night.

Prayer:  Let nothing disturb you, let nothing dismay you; all things pass: God never changes. Patience attains all it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.     ―Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582), Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.51