When the apostle Peter comforted his readers, saying, 'one day with the Lord is as a thousand years', is it possible that he was not giving them a statement about the length of time that it could be until their Lord's return on the clouds?
We have seen previously that the term 'thousand', whether it be 'a thousand', 'one thousand', or 'the thousand', is a very significant term indeed! Throughout Scripture, it can be seen that, even when it is a physically literal number, it most often has a greater spiritual significance, or referent. Although there are various ideas about what Peter actually meant by this statement, it is widely accepted as a time statement by people on both sides of the 'aisle'. Some might use this to say something like, 'see, in God's timing, it hasn't even been two years', or, on the other side, one might ask the question ( jokingly, of course ), 'does that mean that Jesus' millenial reign only lasted one day?'
What if Peter wasn't giving his readers a time statement, as much as he was comforting them with the fact that they soon would be with their Lord?
Near the end of his first letter to the Thessalonian Church, in I Thessalonians 4:17, the apostle Paul comforted his readers with similar words, telling the that they would thus be 'always with the Lord'! Might Peter have simply been echoing his brother's words of comfort, reminding his readers that they would be 'with the Lord', no matter how different from their selfish yearnings God's own timing was? As we've noted in several like passages before, most notably I Corinthians 15:33 & 34, sometimes there is a short passage ( a verse or two ) which almost totally changes the perspective of the larger passage ( usually a chapter ), and even the context, smack dab in the middle ( or thereabouts )! Maybe verse 8 of II Peter 3 is such a passage!
Now, in context, II Peter 3:8 is undoubtedly a 'time statement', but really, it is so much more than that! Sure, on the face of it, interpreted in a woodenly literalistic way, and without the context of Scripture, this 'text' can be used ( and IS used ) to 'prove' that just because Jesus hasn't shown His face for 2,000 years, it doesn't mean He's not coming; obversely, it can also be used to prove that 'the thousand year reign' in Revelation 20 could have occurred ( or will occur ) in a single day; both concepts are rather ridiculous and quite beside the point!
The whole of prophetic Scripture points to a day when God dwells once more with His people, 'walking and talking' with them as He did with Adam in the Garden! The apostle Peter, as did the apostle Paul, is simply reminding his readers of this amazing fact, and comforting them with the thought that the Day is very near, 'even at the doors!'
The words 'one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day' is more likely a reference to the fact that, as they follow the pattern of patience that God set for them, the reward would be eternal; whether it was a day or a thousand years, they would be with their Lord!
Isn't that a wonderful relief? To understand that Peter was comforting his readers with the fact that they would soon be 'with the Lord', rather than telling them that the Parousia Jesus had promised 'that generation' might not occur for thousands of years! What an understanding and a relief that must have been; 'God is not a slackard or a liar!' 'Those men of God who have been telling us that the Day is near were right; we will be 'with the Lord' in His good and most excellent timing!'
Rejoicing in His Presence,
Charles Haddon Shank