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. (II Peter 3:8-9 NKJV)
This statement that a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day with the Lord, should not be taken literal in my opinion. Many have tried to take this verse in the literal sense of time and come up with all sorts of crazy ideas about creation and prophecy.
I think Peter is just trying to convey the fact that God is not confined to time as we are. He is also trying to convey that God's timing is not always our timing. This means that we might think something should happen a certain way at a certain time but God may have a different time table.
Verse 9 has been misused and misunderstood a lot. Many try to use this verse to say that God wants to save everyone. If this is true, and all are not saved, then this verse can not be true and God is a liar.
Others say that God wants all to be saved, and He is longsuffering, waiting for them to come to Him, but when you press these people and ask them if ALL are saved that have died so far, they have to say, "No, not all are saved." So then this would imply that God failed in His mission and Jesus died in vain.
Others would say that this verse means everyone will be saved regardless of what they believe. This is universalism. The Bible teaches that only those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. So this can't be the meaning of this verse either.
The only logical conclusion then is that God has a people in mind that He has elected to bestow mercy on and He is longsuffering, not willing that any of them should perish, but that all of them should come to repentance. This is the only interpretation that fits with the whole of Scripture teaching. Read the following verses and see what you think.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:14-16, 26-30 NKJV)
And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:10-16, 19-24 NKJV). Read the whole chapter of Romans 9. It's very surprising.
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Romans 11:7 NKJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV)
These are just a few passages that show God has a chosen people that He has elected to show mercy on. If you go on any Bible website and do a search on the following words, elect, election, predestination, and chosen, you will find many passages that point to the fact that God has a chosen people, elected before the foundation of the world, that He is going to or has shown mercy on. He will be longsuffering until each and everyone of them have come to a saving knowledge of Him.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” (John 10:29, 31-33 NKJV)
If we take the verse in 2 Peter 3 to mean that ALL will be saved, then we must also say that this verse means that God has given ALL men to Jesus and ALL will be saved. How does this square with the fact that Jesus teaches about Hell? There would be no need for Hell if ALL are going to be saved.
In the same vein, if our verse in 2 Peter teaches that God intended to save ALL people, but we know from Scripture that not ALL are saved, then it makes God out to be a weak God Who can't accomplish what He set out to do and Jesus died in vain for most people.
I can hear someone saying, "Ah, but God gave man free will so that he can choose whether he wants to follow God or not."
Yes, man has a free will to act within his nature.
There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. (Romans 3:11 NKJV)
Scripture says that there is none who seeks after God. Seeking after God is not in man's nature. But man is free to act within his nature. He will only seek God if God has mercy on him and causes him to seek Him. Note in the verse below that it's not by the will of man but by the will of God that people are saved.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 NKJV)
Notice again, in the Ephesians passage above, "having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will", that it is according to the pleasure of His will, not man's will that we are saved.
I am really on a roll here, but I need to get other things done around the house, so I need to end this post. It's just really exciting to me to see how Scripture fits together and how this all makes so much sense!