Part 2: God’s Calculation of Time
In Part One of our topic, I addressed the fact that God’s fullness of time for this present age has not yet come to pass. That is, God’s dispensation of time that he has planned for the return of his Son has not been completed. All of Bible prophecy indicating the signs of Jesus’ second coming must first be fulfilled before that Great Day of the Lord takes place.
As we look at this grand plan, we can see how God operates with a time table that seems almost incomprehensible in human thinking. We are finite beings trying to understand an infinite God. The prophet Isaiah recorded, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isa. 55:8-9. New American Standard Version, NASB).
This being said, believers still seek God’s ways and accept them on the basis of faith. You can’t exactly know how it will all come together now but you know that when God makes a promise, he will in fact complete it in his own time and according to his own design. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” (Acts 15:18, King James Version, KJV). For we understand that our perfect, eternal God calculates time much differently that we mortals.
This is exactly what the Apostle Peter is getting at in our key text. In Second Peter 3:8, he gives the second answer to the skeptics who ask, “Why hasn’t Christ come back yet?” In addition to the first answer regarding the fullness of times, the next answer is, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Our finite, limited mind can hardly perceive this. We view time from the context of a beginning and ending. But our ageless God, on the contrary, views time from the context of eternity. Because he is infinite and unlimited, our God has no beginning or ending from which to gauge time as we know it.
If you take Peter’s words literally, you could say that the passing of time the last 2,000 years has only lasted two days as far as God is concerned. In fact, some take this so literally that if you add the last 2,000 years with the 4,000 years in the Old Testament that preceded the birth of Christ, totalling 6,000 years, it would be like six days to God.
Some assert that since we have entered the third millennium (now, 2017) we are already very close to the 7,000th year or 7th day of God. And you know what God did on the 7th day of his creation, don’t you. He rested or ceased from creating for it was complete. Therefore, in the calculations of some, we are now on the verge of time when God will send his Son to restore all things and give his creation rest when he removes the curse of sin and death.
While this theory is interesting to ponder, we still want to caution those prone to calculating specific times or dates for prophecy to be fulfilled. This mistake has been made in the past and when the Lord doesn’t come exactly when someone predicts it, the world becomes even more skeptical and disillusioned and believers lose faith.
Back in the 1800’s, William Miller made this mistake. He believed that, according to his interpretation of Bible passages, Jesus was going to return on April 4, 1843. Christians all around started getting ready for the Great Day. But when the date passed and the end didn’t come, new calculations led to a new date that Jesus was returning: March 21, 1844. March 21 came and went and still no second coming. But someone found a reference to “the seventh month of the Jewish calendar,” and said this must apply to October 22, 1844. To the shock and embarrassment of many believers, Jesus didn’t come on this date, either. Many of Miller’s followers had to “eat crow” as they say, as they continued to ask just like they do today, Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? (“The Midnight Cry: William Miller and the End of the Word in October, 1844,” Gateway Films/Vision Video).
Oftentimes the secular media point to miscalculations like William Miller made and scoffs at those who believe that Jesus is actually going to return. They might mention some of the biblical references made on Jesus’ birth and second coming. But then they like to question these references by referring to those “experts” who doubt the literal interpretation of God’s Word. To me, this only proves the kind of attitude that Peter said would prevail pointing to the nearness of Jesus’ coming when people would mockingly inquire, “Where is the promise of his coming?”
Interestingly, this same attitude was around when Noah began to build the ark. Peter says, “it escapes their notice, that by the Word of God” the world once came into judgement when it was “destroyed, being flooded with water,” (2 Peter 3:6). Note that today’s cynics find THIS biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood difficult to believe, as well. But, by faith, we believe it really happened. And, by faith, we also believe that Jesus WILL come again and judge the world in righteousness. This time, instead of water, it will be by fire, “kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men,” (2 Pet. 3:7). God has reserved this time according to his own calculation which we eagerly yet patiently await as we faithfully serve him. “Looking for a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells,” (2 Pet. 3:13).
In my next post, I will share a third answer to the question, “Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet?” This will be addressed in Part 3, “God’s use of time.”
Good News to YOU!