Key verse: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. (2 Peter 3:8)
Since Jesus departed into heaven, and the disciples started to fulfill the Great Commission, every early Christian has been waiting the return of our Lord. It has been almost 2000 years since these events took place, yet Jesus has not come back, leaving many to wonder, both then and now, what could possibly be holding Him up. The world is descending into chaos and anarchy, and Jesus seems to have forgotten His promise. What’s worse, He seems to have forgotten us, in this fallen world.
Peter addresses some of these issues in his second letter to the churches (ch. 3), and says that even in the mid-late 1st century there were scoffers asking “Where is the promise of his coming?” and “all things continue” as they always have. This clash of ideologies has been present since those times. In one camp, we have people who claim that Jesus is returning soon. In the other camp, we have those who say he’s forgotten about His promise.
Peter says that the latter group are ignorant of the fact that everything was created by the word of God. He also mentions the flood in the same thought (v. 5,6). This is important because the same kind of attitude can be seen in the days of Noah. While Noah was building the ark, he preached to people that the world would soon end, and that they should repent of their evil and return to God’s grace. Then, as now, there were scoffers, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24: 36-39).
In other words, Jesus is saying that there is a catch 22 situation. Those who proclaim that the end is near, have no idea when the end will come, while those who scoff demand evidence that the end is near. Neither camp seems to be able to convince the other, because the believers in the second advent rely on faith, and the scoffers rely on skepticism. In order for the skeptics to believe, they must become faithful, and in order for the believers to doubt, they must become skeptics. This situation does certainly happen, and there’s a constant trade-off between the camps, but there isn’t a clear winner yet.
Now, as faithful Christians, we know that Jesus will keep His word. God cannot lie, because everything He says becomes reality. If God tried to lie, and say that the sky is red instead of blue, the sky would become red. If God tried to lie by saying the color yellow doesn’t exist, the color yellow would be gone from the universe. The word of God is immutable, it is truth, it doesn’t change. When Jesus says that He will return, that means He will return. He never gave a date for His return, so we must wait patiently, and try to convince the skeptics that His return is imminent so that they too may taste the reward of eternal life with the King of the universe.
What the early Christians didn’t seem to understand, and this applies to most modern Christians as well, is the timeline that must first complete before Jesus’ return. Jesus points to the book of Daniel as an important part of scripture that deals with date prophecies (Matthew 24:15). There are two big date prophecies related to the end times in the book of Daniel: the 2300 days, and the 1260 days. I will address these in future studies, but for now, it is enough to understand that these prophecies were not yet fulfilled for the early Christians.
This leads me to believe that they either forgot to study Daniel, or they didn’t know what it all meant, as the angel speaking to Daniel does say that the words would be sealed until the end days (Daniel 12:4). This would mean that the prophecies wouldn’t make sense until they become fulfilled in the modern era.
As we will see in later studies, we are living in the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary. In order to understand what Jesus is doing right now, we must understand the symbolism of Leviticus 16 and the earthly sanctuary in general. These are the days spoken of by Peter in his second epistle: God “is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
This delay, then, is for our sake, the inhabitants of the earth. God doesn’t want us to perish into death, but He wants us all to be saved. Brethren, those in the church and those outside, remember the promises of God and that the word of God is truth. God doesn’t have the capability to lie. His very words become reality, so whatever He says is true. Jesus is coming back, and His second advent is near. Keep the faith, remain strong, and prepare for the coming onslaught upon those who have the faith of Jesus and keep the commandments of God.
Prayer: Our heavenly Father, we cannot wait to see you and to be in your presence. We cannot fully comprehend what it will be like to live with you, and have eternal life. We do look forward to find out though, and to discover all the secrets of the universe. We ask that you send us your Holy Spirit so that we may be strengthened against the tide of evil of this world. We ask that our lives will be cleansed of sin so that we may stand in front of you without blemish. We ask that the gospel will reach every living person in this world and that all will keep your word in they hearts so that it may blossom into life. Maranatha, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.