A Thousand Years as a Day

Justin Johnson

For centuries, date-setting prophecy experts have used a formula in your Bible to calculate how long it takes God to do things.

It’s found in 2 Peter 3:8:

“…one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8

1 day (Lord’s time) = 1000 years (our time)

Date setters have attempted to calculate the rise of Israel, the Lord’s return, the rapture, and the millennium using this formula.

If the Lord did his work in six days in Genesis, and rested the seventh, perhaps the time of God’s millennial rest is upon us after six thousand years of human history.

When Holy Ghost filled Peter said, “these are the last days”, the formula can alter the meaning of days to say “these are the last thousands of years”.

This may also explain why some people think it takes God a while to answer prayers. Give him a thousand years.

The Calculation Problem

The problem with all this (apart from the historical failure of their calculations) is that Peter reverses the formula in the same passage! There are two comparisons not one.

“…one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8

The other part of the verse says:

1000 years (Lord’s time) = 1 day (our time)

This latter calculation must explain why people say my sermons feel 40 years long, my wife spends a century shopping, and waiting in line at the BMV takes near eternity.

How do you know which calculation to use? According to the “experts”, apparently it is whichever one fits their theory and sells the most books.

…or it could be Peter was not giving a divine date setting formula, and we should be careful to understand the context of Peter’s statement.

Was God Slacking?

Peter was trying to remind believing Israel that God is faithful to keep his kingdom promises to them, even though it had been decades since Pentecost and the kingdom had not come, nor had the Lord returned (2 Peter 1:11-16).

The scoffers mocked God saying that he was slack concerning his promise (2 Peter 3:4). He either forgot or does not have the power to do what he said he would.

Even today, people change the literal reading of God’s prophecies to Israel saying that God must not have meant them literally because of the passage of time. If he did, why are they not fulfilled? (Read more on this here.)

Peter reminds them that God has the power to get things done quickly. He can destroy and create in a single day. He can perform a thousand years of work in one day.

He also never forgets. He remembers a thousand years as if they were yesterday. He has not forgotten his promises to Israel, but is longsuffering to save before the judgment (2 Peter 3:9).

This would have been a comfort and motivation for Israel who was worrying whether God would remember his word. Peter brings to their rememberance the prophets, many of whom died not receiving the promises (2 Peter 3:1-2).

In God’s Time

It is true that God’s time is not our time, and that God appoints times according to his purpose. All things are done “in his times” (1 Tim 6:15).

God has a prophetic timeline and will fulfill his promises to Israel in time, but those times are set by the Lord in his power and have not been revealed (Acts 1:7).

What has been revealed is the fellowship of the mystery of Christ which is the ministry and message of the church today (Eph 3:2; Eph 3:9).

God is not at this time declaring the fulfillment of times according to prophecy, but the gospel of his grace to a world of sinners that need it.

“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” – Romans 3:26

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Published: March 11, 2017
Last Modified: September 15, 2019
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