Advent Devotional: Week Three - Saturday
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:1-9 (HCSB)
"Dear friends, this is now the second letter I have written to you; in both letters, I want to develop a genuine understanding with a reminder, so that you can remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the command of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles.
First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded. But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance."
This passage, which concludes Peter’s second letter, beautifully encapsulates so much of what we seek to remember during the season of Advent. Peter is responding here to an antagonism that has begun to confront the people of God: many years have passed since Jesus’ promise to gather his people and judge the wicked. Peter reminds his readers that this is not the first time wicked people have scoffed at God’s message of impending justice. Peter then offers his readers an explanation for those who may be tempted to wonder why Jesus is taking so long. He explains that what may seem like a long time to us is like a brief moment for the God who holds eternity in his hand. Furthermore, Peter also explains that this “delay” in God’s approaching justice should not be viewed as tardiness but rather as an expression of mercy. Peter indicates that the reason why Jesus has not yet returned is not so much because he is unable to but rather because he is patient with his people—especially with those who have not yet repented.
Think of it this way—when did you turn away from your sin and rebellion against God and turn toward Jesus in faith? When did that happen? Maybe you’re thinking of a particular year, maybe you even know the day, but at someone point you were separated from God and then you were converted. Imagine if Jesus had returned before you were converted. This is the point that Peter is trying to make. Jesus doesn’t delay his justice, he doesn’t delay his glory, he doesn’t delay his righteous rule over all the nations because he’s incapable or distracted or indifferent. He delays his return because he still has people who have not yet repented.
Have you ever shared the gospel with someone? Were they converted? Imagine if Jesus had returned before that happened? That would be one precious soul fewer in his Kingdom. Peter wants us to know that, though we have much reason to rejoice at the thought of Jesus’s return, we have no reason to be discouraged that he has tarried so long. Every day that we are given is an opportunity from God to more beautifully adorn the bride who is waiting for him.
One of the themes of Advent is the anticipation that we feel as we await the return of our Lord. But this is always a hopeful anticipation. Though we may at times experience anxiety from the opposition we face from this world, we can be confident that Jesus will return, that he will gather his people, and that he will put an end to wickedness and injustice forever. And as we wait, let us always remember that every new day is a demonstration of God’s patience—patience with those who have yet to trust in him and patience with us, who are often hesitant to share his gospel with others.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, remind us this season that, as we wait for your return, you are not absent. You are present with us by your Holy Spirit, who empowers us to live for you and take your gospel to those who do not yet know you. Help us to patiently endure trials and affliction by remembering your patience with us when we were still your enemies.
Advent Singing: "The Lord Will Come and Not Be Slow"
The Lord will come and not be slow, his footsteps cannot err; before him righteousness shall go, his royal harbinger.
Truth from the earth, like to a flower, shall bud and blossom then; and justice, from her heavenly bower, look down on mortal men.
Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might, this wicked earth redress; for thou art he who shalt by right the nations all possess.
The nations all whom thou hast made shall come, and all shall frame to bow them low before thee, Lord, and glorify thy name.
For great thou art, and wonders great by thy strong hand are done: thou in thy everlasting seat remainest God alone.