One Day Is Like 1000 Years
July 20, 2020 • Jamey Escamilla
I want to show you something. Here’s a very famous passage of scripture that I’m sure you’ve heard before:
2 Peter 3:3-9
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
What do you think this means?
Many people believe that that Peter is talking about a time that’s still waiting to happen – a time where the heavens and the earth are destroyed in fire.
They believe that this “day of judgment” will happen when Jesus comes again in the future, after the church has been raptured off the earth.
But I want to look at it a little closer with you.
Notice how Peter says that in the last days, people are going to be saying things like:
“You guys have been saying forever that the Lord is gonna come. But where is he? It’s been a long time now, and life goes on and on as usual, but you’re still preaching that Jesus is coming any day. Maybe you guys missed it!”
Peter then goes on to say:
“Oh, believe be, He’s gonna come! You guys shouldn’t forget that a thousand years is like a day to God. Even though it seems like a long time to you, it’s not a long time to God. He’s really just giving you guys time to repent before he does come.”
It’s pretty easy to see what Peter is saying here. He’s basically warning them that the Lord’s coming, the day of judgment, will come at a time they least expect it.
So now, I want to invite you to be a little more curious with me, and dig a little deeper into this.
Here’s a question for you:
When you think of this Day of Judgment or the coming of Jesus, which book in your Bible automatically comes to your mind?
The book of Revelation!
Many people see this book as describing a bunch of crazy things that are going to happen in our future during the Great Tribulation.
Let’s see what this book says about this “day of judgment” and this “coming” that Peter talks about.
Check out these scriptures from Revelation:
Revelation 1:1 - The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.
Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.
Revelation 3:11 - I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.
Revelation 22:10 - Then he said to me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.
Revelation 22:12 - Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work.
Ummmm…. Wait a minute.
Here in Revelation, it says that the Day of Judgment was coming soon… at the time John wrote it.
… But we, 2000 years later, are still saying that it hasn’t happened yet.
Why does Revelation say that the Lord was “coming soon” if all this stuff wouldn’t happen for at least another 2000 years?
2000 years doesn’t seem very “soon” to me. It wouldn’t make sense to tell your friend that you’ll be at his house soon, and then not show up for thousands of years.
Keep that in your mind for a sec.
So Peter says that the Day of Judgment is coming, and then Revelation says that it’s coming soon.
Here’s what some other scriptures say about this Day of Judgment:
1 John 2:18 - Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last hour.
Hebrews 10:36-37 - For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
James 5:8 - You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.
1 Peter 4:7 - The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer.
Romans 13:11-12 - Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
If the Lord’s coming was in “a very little while”…
… if it was the very hour of his coming…
… if the day was near…
… and it was near during the time of the writing of these letters…
… isn’t it possible that it already occurred at a time closer to the disciples? Why do we say that it’s still in our future?
Because the coming of the Lord and the end of all things are not what most people think they are.
Today, when many people think about the book of Revelation or the “coming of the Lord”, they think of a time in the future when Jesus will literally fly down from the sky for his second coming and the world is going to come to an end.
But is that what the book of Revelation is about? Is that what the writers of the New Testament thought the coming of the Lord was?
Think about it. How can we get around all of these scriptures that say that the time was near? That it’s the very hour? That it was going to happen in a “very little while”?
What are these scriptures really talking about?
All these scriptures are actually talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This is when the Lord “came” in judgment on the nation of Israel and ended the Old Covenant system.
Phew. That was a lot. Let me slow down and briefly explain what I mean.
Before Jesus died, he warned the Jews that he was going to “come” in their generation (Matthew 23-24). This meant that God was going to bring divine judgment on their nation for rejecting Christ. He would do this by bringing the Roman army to destroy their city and temple.
When this happened, it would be the end of the age, meaning, the end of the Old Covenant age, or the end of the Law and the priesthood system of Moses.
The writers of the New Testament knew that Jesus was going to “come” before their generation ended, and they were already seeing the signs that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24.
So as you can see in all the scriptures above, they would warn and encourage their readers that the Lord was coming soon to avenge them, so that they would not lose hope and keep living for Jesus.
Then war broke out between the Romans and the Jews in the late 60’s, and this led up to the destruction of Jerusalem and their temple in AD 70. Millions of Jews were killed. War, famine, pestilences, and false Messiahs were common in those days.
This is called a “preterist” view of the endtimes in the Bible. It’s what I believe makes the most sense. It’s why they said the coming of the Lord was “near”.
Because it was near… to them.
But let’s ask the question again. “How can people believe that all this stuff is in the future if the scriptures clearly say that it was coming “soon” in their day?”
When you tell someone that the coming of the Lord had to have happened back then because the scriptures speak of it coming very soon, this is when they’ll go back to our original scripture in 2 Peter.
They’ll usually respond like this:
“No, no, brother. You gotta remember. One day is as a thousand years to the Lord. God stands outside of time, so millions of years is like a blink of an eye to Him. You gotta see things through His perspective.”
Sounds convincing, right?
Most people start with the belief that God is not fazed by time. But then we go back to 2 Peter 3:8:
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
People use this verse to explain that words like “soon”, “near” and “at hand” are not what they seem to be when it comes to the Lord’s coming.
So, here’s the argument summed up:
I say – “The Day of Judgment happened in AD 70 because the writers of the New Testament spoke of it as being “near””.
Others say – “They said that it was “near” because 1000 years are like one day to the Lord. You have to see these scriptures through God’s view of time.”
… So when the Bible says “near”, it means “near” according to the way God looks at time, not “near” in the way we humans see time.
I just don’t agree with that, and I don’t think that view makes much sense.
So I’d like to look at 2 Peter 3:8 and tell you why I don’t think we should use it to explain away words like “near” and “soon”.
Problem #1 With This Argument
2 Peter 3:8 is not a formula to calculate time in the Bible
There’s no reason for us to think that it’s biblically wise to use this scripture to stretch out words like “soon” and “near” in the Bible.
This scripture and its context don’t hint that we should use it this way, and there’s no other place in the Bible that tells us that we should calculate time this way.
In context, the scripture is just saying that time is not a factor to God. What we think is a long time, God thinks of as a short time. This is true. It’s right there in 2 Peter 3:8.
But the problem comes when we arrive at all of the other scriptures listed above that talk about the Day of Judgment coming “soon”, and then apply 2 Peter 3:8 to them in order to place them farther in the future.
Problem #2 With This Argument
We don’t honestly apply this “2 Peter Time Principle” to other scriptures
If we’re going to use this scripture to stretch out time in prophetic scriptures that talk about the end times, then why don’t we use it to tell time in other scriptures?
Check out Daniel 9:2:
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.
So, Daniel was reading the book of Jeremiah that says that the Jews would be in Babylonian slavery for 70 years. He “understood” it this way.
He knew that it was coming to the 70 year mark, so he goes on to tell God, “Hey, it’s time for us to get out of this place. 70 years are almost up.”
My question is, “Why didn’t he think that the 70 years would take a lot longer, maybe 70000 years, since time is calculated differently with God?”
One day is like a thousand years to God, after all.
Jesus said in Matthew 26:18 that “my time is at hand.” Does this mean that he was going to be killed possibly thousands of years later?
It can’t mean that. He was crucified only a few hours after he said this.
But Jesus is God, right? Surely he would know how to properly tell time using his own ‘2 Peter formula’.
The problem is that we only apply the ‘2 Peter Time Principle’ to scriptures if it strengthens something we already believe. If it doesn’t, we ignore it.
Problem #3 With This Argument
We can never know what God is talking about when he speaks of time
If 2 Peter 3:8 means that “soon” really means “a long way off” because his day is like a thousand years, then we can never really know what any prophetic scripture means when it uses time.
When God is speaking and references time, we would have to assume that the opposite is true.
1000 years are like a day, and a day is like 1000 years.
A long way off means near, and near means a long way off.
Problem #4 With This Argument
It goes against literal, common sense
There are many times in the Bible where God uses words like “near” and “soon”. When we read the Bible, we read over these words quickly and it registers in our minds exactly the way it should according to common sense – something is going to happen “soon”.
But when some people get to the above scriptures about the Day of Judgment coming “soon”, we abandon common sense and twist the scriptures to fit our end time belief.
“Well, 2 Peter says that 1000 years are like one day to God, so I’m going to use this scripture to explain all of these “Day-of-Judgment-being-near scriptures”, even though grammar, language, and common sense tell me what these words mean.”
Problem #5 With This Argument
Why would God plainly tell us in all these scriptures that the Day of Judgment is “near”, but expect us to look at things through his timetable and see that it’s really a long way off?
Why wouldn’t God just say, “I’m just going to tell them that it’s a long way off and speak to them in a way that they can understand so they won’t get this wrong.”
God is not the author of confusion.
I find it hard to believe that God would speak to us in parables and ways that we can understand, and take time to expound scriptures with us so that we can understand, but then use the word “near” when it really means “thousands of years”.
Problem #6 With This Argument
Some people use 2 Peter 3 this way simply to explain something they already believe
Many people believe that the Day of Judgment is still in our future.
Because they first believe this to be absolutely true, then all of these “near” scriptures MUST have some type of explanation, other than their normal, common sense usage.
There’s just no other alternative for them.
“This is all about the Great Tribulation in the future, and it hasn’t happened yet, so there MUST be an explanation for these people saying that it was “near”.
Oh wait! 2 Peter 3:8 says that 1000 years are like one day to God. Ahhhh, so there’s the meaning. When they say “near”, it really means thousands of years in the future because that’s how God sees time.”
But this is flawed, because the only reason we’re interpreting these scriptures that way is because we first already believe that the Day of Judgment hasn’t happened yet.
So our preconceived beliefs force us to use 2 Peter 3:8 this way. This is why we don’t interpret any other scriptures that use the word “near” this way.
So, in summary
We need to stop using 2 Peter 3:8 to explain “time scriptures” that appear to go against what we believe about the Day of Judgment.
Maybe they “appear” to go against our beliefs because they actually do.
If it walks like a duck…
While 2 Peter 3:8 is saying that a thousand years to us is just like a day to God, that doesn’t mean that we are supposed to interpret time indicators in any scripture in the way that God sees time.
I believe that when they wrote words like “soon” and “near”, they just meant “soon” and “near”.
I’ll see you “soon”!