God’s view of time is different from the way we think of it in our day-to-day lives. What does this mean for us?
In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter has been discussing the return of Christ. Some doubted He would ever return. The Lord Jesus will return to earth, as promised, but in God’s timetable. His word promises that He will return (Acts 1:11), but He has delayed that return “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (3:9). There is a plan to His delay, and it has to do with the offering of salvation worldwide.
Jesus was asked, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matt 24:3). After giving a number of catastrophic signs, Jesus concluded with a categorical statement: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations [Gk. ethnos, or ethnic people groups], then the end will come” (24:14).
Chapter 24 deals with the horrible days of “great tribulation” (24:21), which will begin after Jesus returns to rapture all the believers living on earth (1 Thes 4:15–17). The fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20), which mandates that the task of the church is to make at least some disciples in every people group on earth, defines when Jesus will return.
As of 2011, there were approximately 1,640 unreached people groups with no gospel message in their language. These “nations” must become the priority of the global church. This must be why Jesus is delaying His return. Jesus waits for the church at large to complete the one thing He told them to do: “Make disciples of all nations (ethnic people groups).”
Why does Christ not return? He is committed to letting every language group on earth hear of His sacrificial death on the cross before He returns. Peter literally writes, “Stop letting this one thing escape your notice,” because he wants us all to recognize that there is a purpose to Jesus’s delay.
We are getting close. At the beginning of the opening of the seven-sealed book in heaven or at the beginning of the tribulation, there are already some from “every tribe, language, people and nation [ethnos]” (Rev 5:9). Someone accomplishes the mission! Will you be a player? Pioneers and translators are still needed. Will you pray for this mission?
“Father, I want every day to be as important to me as a thousand years. Help me see every encounter as part of Your divine purpose, and give me courage to make them count for Your kingdom purpose.”
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