How long do you wait? You are at a traffic light. It goes from red to green. The person in front of you is clearly distracted, and your lane is the only one not moving. How long do you wait before you take action? You are seated at a restaurant. Ten minutes pass, and no one has taken your drink order. It is busy but not slammed. They should’ve come to the table by now. How long do you wait before you leave or talk to the manager? While in some cultures time is viewed very differently, for us, we are a very fast-paced society. Our expectations of timely results and actions are very high. So, when we are forced to wait, as in the scenes afore mentioned, we are put to the test. How long will we wait? I bring this up to reflect on the patience of God.
Peter, in his second letter, brings to our attention that in the latter days there would be mockers saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4). These that Peter mentioned were mocking God and using it as evidence to His contrary. However, it is still a question we might ask. How long, O Lord?
Peter reminds us of some facts to help keep things in perspective. The first is that the world has been destroyed once already. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:5-7). We know from genealogies in the book of Genesis that the time from creation to the flood was roughly 1,656 years. How much of that was God’s patience tested?
The second fact is that God does not reckon time as we do. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). We must remember that time is a created construct that He is not bound by. It was hundreds of years from the promises given to Abraham until they were brought to fruition. It was thousands of years before the messianic prophecies were fulfilled. We need to remember God is playing the long game.
Finally, Peter reminds us that we serve a patient God. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God is waiting for us. He hasn’t blown the horn yet. Knowing that He will, Peter reminds us how we should live in holiness for a day that will come (3:11).