GOD IS LONGSUFFERING
2 Peter 3:8-9 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand year as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
In order for false teachers to discredit the word of God concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ, they preached, Where is the promise of his coming? To instill doubt in the minds of their audiences about Judgment Day, these teachers ridicule the length of time from when this promise was made to the current day. They create doubt in their listeners minds, in a sense, by saying, "If these are the last days, if Christ is truly coming, if Judgment Day is at hand, then why hasn't it taken place already? Why hasn't Jesus already returned to earth? Why has there been such a lengthy delay? If we are truly living in the last days, then why have so many years come and gone and still all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation?" Such is the message of false teachers - scoffers and mockers of God's word.
Peter's reply to this critical objection of false teachers is contained in the lesson text when he says, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years. As human beings, having an average life span of slightly over seventy years, a thousand years seems like a very long time. When a friend or neighbor promises they will do something for you, you have no reason to believe that it will take many years for it to be accomplished - certainly not a thousand years. However, God does not count time as we do. God's time frame is eternity; it is infinity. To God, a thousand years, compared to infinity, seems like a day, compared to the life span of a human being. In his prayer to God, Moses confirmed this thought by saying, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4).
By this delay of thousands of years, no sinner should conclude that they will escape the punishment God has promised for their evil deeds. By the same reasoning, no one seeking salvation by living a faithful, obedient life, should ever doubt God's promise of eternal life in heaven is awaiting them. Be assured - these promises will be fulfilled, but will take place in the time frame of God, rather than that of man. Peter tells us, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. God is not slow, neglectful, or indifferent in fulfilling His promises. Some people are slack in fulfilling their own promises, because they forget their vows, change their plans, or are simply unable to perform them. Not so with God. From the beginning of time, God's plans included salvation for mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ. This promise has been restated many times throughout the biblical era, under the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian ages. Each time it is restated, God's plan of salvation has remained the same. And who dare doubt that God, who created the universe, and all that inhabit it, including mankind, can, and will, carry out this plan to the letter, giving eternal salvation to the obedient, and condemning the disobedient to eternal punishment.
At this place in the lesson text, Peter gives us the reason for the extended length of time before the second coming of Christ and the Day of Judgment. He says that God is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. By providing a way of salvation, it is the will of God that all people should, not only accept it, but also readily submit to those acts of obedience that place one into His grace, whereby they may be saved. Since it is the sincere will of God that all should be saved, He suffers long; He patiently endures, and does not execute immediate judgment against the sinful nature of mankind. Rather, through His forbearance, He extends sufficient time for all to repent of their sins, accept Him as their God and Creator, and His Son, Jesus Christ as their Savior. In the same way, through longsuffering, God desires, and gives an extended period of time for those already within the body of Christ, to return to Him and seek forgiveness, when they commit sin and stray from His will.
False teachers use God's longsuffering to cast doubt on both eternal salvation and eternal punishment that will take place at the second coming of Christ. However, we are assured that God is longsuffering, and what a blessing this is to faithful Christians and to repentant sinners.