2 Peter 3:5-7
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old…
I. First, take this statement AS A GENERAL PRINCIPLE, "that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years," etc.
1. In opening up this general principle we remark that all time is equally present with God. Childhood, manhood and old age belong to creatures, but at the right hand of the Most High they have no abode. Growth, progress, advancement, all these are virtues in finite beings, but to the Infinite the thought of such change would be an insult. Yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow, belong to dying mortal, the Immortal King lives in an eternal to-day. This is a subject upon which we can only speak without ourselves fully understanding what we say, but yet, perhaps, a metaphor may tend to make the matter a little simpler. There is a river flowing along in gentle slope toward the sea. A boatman is upon it; his vessel is here; anon it is there; and soon it will be at the river's mouth; only that part of the river upon which he is sailing is present to him. But up yonder, on a lofty mountain, stands a traveller; as he looks from the summit he marks the source of the river and gazes upon its infant stream, where as yet it is but a narrow line of silver; then he follows it with his clear eye until it swells into a rolling flood, and he tracks it until it is finally absorbed into the ocean. Now, as the climber stands upon that Alp, that whole sparkling line of water adorning the plain is equally present to him from its source to its fall; there is not one part of the stream that is nearer to him than another; in the long distance he sees the whole of it, from the end to the beginning. Such, we think, is the stream of time to God. From the altitude of His observance He looketh down upon it and seeth it at one gaze; taking in, not at many thoughts, but at one thought, all the revolutions of time and all the changes of ages, and seeing both the thousands of years that have gone, and the thousands that are yet to come, as present at one view before his eye.
2. The text teaches us next that all time is equally powerless with God to affect Him. A day does not make any particular change in us that we can notice. But if you take fifty years — what a difference is perceptible in any of us! But as a day seems to make no change with us, so, but far more truthfully, a thousand years make no change with God. Ages roll on, but He abideth the same. We need be under no apprehension that God will ever be affected with weakness through the revolutions of time. The Ancient of Days, ever omnipotent, fainteth not, neither is weary. And as time brings no weakness, certainly it shall bring no decay to God. Upon His brow there is ne'er a furrow; no signs of palsy are in His hand. And as no weakness and no decay can be brought to God by time, so no change in His purpose can ever come through revolving years. To that whereto He hath set His seal He standeth fast, and what His heart decrees, that will He do. Moreover, as there can be no change in His decree, so no unforeseen difficulties can intervene to prevent the accomplishment of it. As long as there is a work to do, He shall do it; as long as there is an enemy to conquer, that enemy shall be overcome.
3. Yet further — no doubt the text intends to teach that all time is insignificant to God. Within the compass of a drop of water we are told that sometimes a thousand living creatures may be discovered, and to those little creatures no doubt their size is something very important. There is a Creature inside that drop which can only be seen by the strongest microscope, but it is a hundred times larger than its neighbour, and it feels, no doubt, that the difference is amazing and extraordinary. But to you and to me, who cannot even see the largest creature with the naked eye, the gigantic animalcule is as imperceptible as his dwarfish friend, they both seem so utterly insignificant that we squander whole millions of them, and are not very penitent if we destroy them by thousands. But what would one of those little infusorial animals say if some prophet of its own kind could tell it that there is a creature living that could count the whole world of a drop of water as nothing, and could take up ten thousand thousand of those drops and scatter them without exertion of half its power; that this creature would not be encumbered if it should carry on the tip of its finger all the thousands that live in that great world — a drop of water; that this creature would have no disturbance of heart, even if the great king of one of the empires in that drop should gather all his armies against it and lead them to battle? Why, then the little creatures would say, "How can this be; we can hardly grasp the idea?" But when that infusorial philosopher could have gotten an idea of man, and of the utter insignificance of its own self, and of its own little narrow world, then it would have achieved an easy task compared with that which lies before us when we attempt to get an idea of God.
4. I think we ought also to learn from the text that all time is equally obedient to God. You and I are the servants of time, but God is its sovereign Master.
II. GOD'S ESTIMATE OF A DAY. He can make a day as useful, and to Him it shall be as long as a thousand years. I think this is one of the most brilliant of the Church's hopes. We have been saying," How many converts have been made by the Missionary Society during fifty or sixty years?" and we have said, "Well, at this rate, how long will it be before the world is converted?" Ah! "At this rate"; but how do you know God's rate? God can do as much in a day as has been done in a thousand years that are past, if so He wills it. Only let Him will it, and there shall be one day written in the records of the Church that shall be equal in achievements, and in triumphs, to any thousand years of her history recorded aforetime. This should lead us to remember that when God speaketh of judging the world at the day of judgment, He will find no difficulty in doing it. Two hundred judges might find it difficult to try in one day all the cases that might be brought before them in a single nation, but God, when He holdeth the great assize, shall be able to convict every guilty one, and to absolve every penitent, and that, too, in one day.
III. GOD'S ESTIMATE OF A THOUSAND YEARS. A day is to Him as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. "How long, how long?" the saints under the altar cry. "How long?" and the saints at the altar here to-day take up the same wailing notes, "How long?" But He answereth, "I am not long. What if I have waited and the time is long to you; yet it is not long to Me." God bids you think for a moment, that if you really measure aright, it is no lengthened period of time that He has made the vision to tarry. For see you first, the time that has elapsed since Christ's crucifixion is not long compared with eternity. Then, again, when ye say that God is long in the accomplishment of His great purposes, remember that He has no need to be in hurry. Whatsoever you and I find to do, we must do it with all our might: for there is neither work nor device in the grave whither we are hastening; but God liveth for ever. Besides, there is an advantage in His being slow — it tries our faith. To win a fight when it lasteth but for an hour, what is there in it? One gallant charge and the foemen have fled. Comrade, but that is a battle worthy to be written with your Waterloos and your Marathons, when hour after hour, and day after day, valour disdains to succumb, and patience endures the fight while foot to foot the soldiers stand. Further, it is well that God should thus be long, because He is unravelling revelation. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to loose the seals, and to open the book for us, and year after year He reads another page, and yet another in the Church's history. If Christ should come to-day, if we should have no more conflicts, no more trials, then we might suppose that the book had come to its brilliant golden finis; but if it keepeth on a thousand years to come, so much the better: the glowing eyes of angels wish not for the end of the story, and the bright eyes of immortal spirits before the throne, when it shall be all over, shall not regret that it was too long. No, let it go on, great Master; let a thousand years run on; our loving hearts will patiently bear it, as though it were but one day. And more: the victory of Christ at the end will be all the greater, and the redemption all the more glorious, because of this long time of strife and confusion.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: