The Timing of God

Many of the Christians who lived in the first century thought that Jesus was going to return within a few years – within their lifetime.  And yet, it has been almost 2000 years since Christ ascended into heaven after His death and resurrection and He still has not returned.  The apostle Peter anticipated this delay of Christ returning.  2 Peter 3:3-7 “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.  But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  Peter warns us that unbelievers will say that Jesus really isn’t going to return; the earth and the people in it are going to continue on like they always have continued.  But Peter points to the time before the flood.  People then thought nothing was going to change but God chose to destroy the world with a great flood; people were unprepared and died in the flood.  In the same way, even though it seems that everything now is just going to continue as always, there is going to come a time when God will destroy the heavens and the earth with fire.

Then Peter makes us an appeal.  2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  Don’t forget that the Lord is not like you and me; we live less than 100 years here on the earth but God is eternal.  He has always been and will always be.  Time does not mean the same to God as it does to us.  If He waits a few thousand years before Christ returns, that is like a few days to Him.  He isn’t breaking His promises.  God is very patient and longsuffering with us.  He is not willing that anyone should perish but He wants to give everyone the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. What a loving and merciful God we have!

I think that all of us pray for God to help us in our time of need.  There are physical and spiritual things that we need in our life.  We want God to rescue us; we want Him to help us.  There is direction we seek for decisions we must make.  Sometimes we pray for other people.  We want help and answers right away.  But often God’s timing in answering prayers is different from our timing.  He doesn’t usually provide answers as quickly as we would like.

We must be patient as we wait for God.  Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  We must keep our hope for the fulfillment of His promises.  We must be patient in the tribulations that we must endure and not give up.  We need to continue steadfastly in prayer.  Keep praying and don’t stop.  Consider Luke 18:1-8 “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.   Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’   And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,  yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said.   And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”  Jesus taught us to keep praying for answers and not lose heart.

A key to understanding God’s timing is trust.  We must commit our way to the Lord and trust Him that He will fulfill His promises.  Psalm 37:5-9 “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret — it only causes harm.  For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”  Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Lamentation 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

God’s promises are sure.  He will answer your prayers.  Also, Jesus will return some day.  2 Peter 3:10-13 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.   Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  I encourage you to be holy in conduct and godliness and wait patiently for the Lord.