Some people view the promise of Christ’s return in the same way. They have attended church long enough to read the passages or hear sermons about the Return of Christ. But when they consider the amount of time that has passed, they begin to wonder if Christianity is based on the same kind of broken promises I received from that would be buyer. They have seen other religious people make promises about the future with the same results. As they consider the length of time since our Lord Jesus made his promise, they begin to mock any who still believe it.
After reading 2 Peter 3:1-9, you may be thinking that these doubters had been waiting several hundred years. But this was not the case. They had been waiting a mere thirty years. It is sad to report that their unbelief affected some within the community of faith. So, Peter wrote this portion of his letter to address the return of Christ.
Remember the promise (1-4).
Someone has said that few people need to be informed. What they need most is to be reminded. This was true of the believers to whom Peter was writing (see 1:12-15). They knew that the Lord Jesus had promised to return. There is no doubt that Peter had recounted his experiences with the risen Savior and his promise before the ascension. But as these believers faced the ridicule of the mockers, they needed to be reminded of this great promise (Acts 3:19-21). They also needed to remember that the prophets and apostles had prophesied about the mockers as well (Jude 17-19).
These mockers were known for two characteristics. The first characteristic was their preoccupation with lust. Without the Holy Spirit to produce self-control, and without the knowledge of the unsearchable riches of Christ, they sought for fulfillment in the carnal pleasure. Paul spoke about such people and his description was not very appealing (2 Tim. 3:1-9).
There is something sobering about the return of Christ. It puts everything else into perspective. Having the finest clothing, houses, or cars isn’t that important next to the possibility of Christ returning at any moment. But it is not so with the mockers. They laugh at the promise. “Where is the promise?” is another way of saying, “Are you an idiot? Nothing has happened.” As they looked back in history, they saw a generation pass away and there were no signs of Christ’s return getting any closer.
Recognize the ignorance (5-7).
After the first few readings, I was oblivious to what Peter was saying here. But as I continued to read, the idea hit me. Peter is comparing Christ’s words of promise to the words which culminated in Creation and the Flood. The mockers are ignorant that God’s words never fail (Isa. 55:11). When he spoke, the earth and the sea were created. He promised Noah that he would send the Flood and it eventually took place. Yes, a hundred years passed before it happened, but it did happen. The same one who created the world and caused the Great Flood, is the same one who promised to return for his own. He is also the same one who will one day destroy the physical world with fire.
Mocking doesn’t take very much intellect. It is an easy pastime. But it takes something more to back up what you promise to deliver. God has done that in the past and it is strong evidence that he will do it again. Though the mockers enjoy their merriment now, they will one day know the truth.
Respect God’s timing (8-9).
Those of us who are believers are confident that Christ will return some day. But we may wonder what is taking him so long. We are happy that he waited long enough to save us and our family members, but what is keeping him now? Peter answers these questions in verses 8-9.
God’s timing is much different than our own. We tend to complain when things take too long. Take for instance a visit to a Taco Bell near Wickliffe. It took over ten minutes to get our order of food. That should be a crime! But contrast that with the service provided by the Taco Bell in Madison, Ohio. These people know how to provide quick service. As I was completing my order, I asked that my #6 Chalupa meal include a soft taco instead of a crunchy one. The cashier turned to the worker making our meal and found that the meal had already been made!This is the kind of service we expect from everyone nowadays. But it is not necessarily God’s way of doing things.
Peter reminded his readers that God doesn’t view time in the same way that humans do. One day with God is as a thousand years. And a thousand years with him is as one day. This is beyond our comprehension. But when we think through time with God’s perspective, it really hasn’t been that long since Christ ascended into heaven.
What to people, including scoffers, may seem like a long time is to the Lord very short. The present Church Age has lasted, in God’s eyes, not quite two days!—Bible Knowledge Commentary
But there is a much more understandable reason for the Lord to wait so long. God is not “slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness” (ESV). He should not be viewed as a forgetful person who will eventually get around to it when he feels like it. God has a real plan for putting things off for almost two thousand years. He is waiting for us! In other words, there are still some of the elect left who need to be saved and he is not willing that any of his children be lost.
Think back to the three parables told by our Lord in Luke 15. While others talked about the time he spent with sinners, Jesus was on a mission. While not all would respond favorably to his message, he knew those who needed to be saved. So, he sought for them as did the shepherd who was missing one of his flock (15:1-7), the woman missing one coin (15:8-10), and the father who had lost his prodigal son (15:11-24). These parables are wonderful pictures of the love our Lord has for his own.
Now you know why God has waited so long. He has put off his Son’s return for what might be considered “a few days” for the sake of his elect. As you think about God’s longsuffering toward us, how can you be a part of God’s wonderful plan? Could it be that God is waiting for you to speak to that final person who needs to be saved? We do not know how long God will wait, but let us rejoice in his loving patience toward us and then be faithful in proclaiming the gospel to as many as possible.