“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).
What does that really mean?
“Be not ignorant,” Peter wrote. Don’t let this fact escape you. He really emphasized this. Why? What’s so important about it?
God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Our destiny is to become members of His Family, so God wants our minds oriented toward eternity. But eternity is a towering concept, so Peter tries to break it down for us.
We are preparing first of all for a thousand-year Millennium. After that, we will begin the process of spreading God’s government out into the universe and to eternity!
This is a universe-size concept. We must not live in the present. We must live in the future—as God does.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
We must have faith in our great God—He will keep His promise of this wonderful world that is to come. If we believe that, we know that God’s Kingdom is almost here!
A thousand years is like a day to God. He views 7,000 years as a week. The 7,000-year plan of God is typed by the seven-day week.
To understand what Peter is really saying, we need more perspective on this truth.
“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths [holy days] ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Exodus 31:13-14). The Sabbath is extremely important to God. He takes it very seriously.
“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord …. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days [a type of the 6,000 years of mankind’s rule] the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day [a type of the coming Millennium] he rested, and was refreshed” (verses 15, 17).
Is this the kind of Sabbath we keep?
God created the Sabbath by resting, and it refreshed Him. He looked at His creation and at the human beings He had made in His image and likeness. He considered His master plan, and how those first six days of the re-creation were a type of the coming 6,000 years He would allot to mankind’s rule on Earth. Then He thought on that seventh thousand-year period, during which He will usher in His Kingdom and govern the world. He meditated deeply on that future—and the way He kept the Sabbath really inspired and encouraged Him! He was lifted up and refreshed! He looked back on His creation, and He looked forward to the time when He would be able to give all mankind rest from sin! He anticipated being able to refresh all of mankind with the Millennium and the rule of Jesus Christ.
This begins to give us an idea of what Peter was really talking about in his epistle!
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). That rest is the Millennium, which is typed by the Sabbath—a millennial rest from sin. We must not fall short of attaining it!
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it [without faith, God’s Word won’t truly profit anyone]. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day [the Millennium] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief” (verses 2-6). We must believe!
“Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day [ancient Israel didn’t receive this promise]. There remaineth therefore a rest [margin: ‘keeping of a Sabbath’] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (verses 7-10).
God’s people need to cease from their work on the Sabbath—as all mankind will in the Millennium. Man will cease from his own works!
We must keep the Sabbath day this way—and look forward to the time when the whole world will be celebrating it. Mankind will see that a thousand years is as a day, and they will have a vision that will truly refresh and inspire them: a vision of the plan of God!
Look back at the physical creation and God’s transcendent plan to recreate Himself in man, and look to that glorious future, and you can understand more deeply what Peter means by saying, “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.”
Let’s keep our minds on this wonderful and inspiring future!
Proper Sabbath-keeping helps us think like God! We labor spiritually on the Sabbath to etch this vision into our minds. The Sabbath is a day for building hope!
I believe Peter could have said, “Just keep the Sabbath the right way, and you’ll begin to think this way yourself: a thousand years is as one day.”
If we don’t keep the Sabbath properly, we’ll never think like God. And if we don’t think like God, we will never be able to complete the job He has given us.
The Sabbath pictures the culmination of God’s 7,000-year plan. As we keep it, we see the outcome of today’s events, and we expect the world to change! That is what we live for! We know that 6,000 years is like six days to God—and it is about over!
The Sabbath should energize our vision and our understanding of why we are here on Earth. It keeps us happy and motivated and moving forward. You will never build the hope Peter is talking about without proper Sabbath-keeping. Without the Sabbath, we are stuck in the present. With a proper Sabbath, we are refreshed like God, ready for the challenges of the coming week.
Wemust always keep ourselves focused and thinking like God. The Sabbath is the primary way to do that in the week, as it gives us more time to do the spiritual work that keeps us looking to God and looking toward the future. It fills us with His hopeful vision.
Have a bad Sabbath, and you’ll have a bad week. Have a good Sabbath, and you’ll think of 1,000 years as a day!
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:12). The word hasting could read, “hasting the coming” (see King James reference). Strong’s defines hasting as “to ‘speed,’ i.e. urge on (diligently or earnestly) ….”
The word hasting is used six times in the New Testament—each time it means to make haste.
Can we hasten the Day of the Lord? I believe we can. The Bible discusses “time being cut short.”
God’s Work can’t end until it is finished. But if we are intensely urgent, we can do it in less time. We must do all we can to end this nightmare world as fast as we can.
The whole world groans as it waits for the sons of God (Romans 8:19-23). It certainly appears to me that we can end that massive groan quicker by working harder.
May God help us to do all we can.
Peter grew quickly and became the chief apostle. He wanted all of God’s people to follow his example as he followed Christ.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18; Revised Standard Version).
That is a message filled with hope!
[Excerpted from The Epistles of Peter booklet.]