A Millennium: Not too Short. Not too Long.
With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.2 Peter 3:8
Our relationship with time is usually strained. In fact, we often regard time as an enemy. That is not a very nice way to live. But how many people have enough time to do the things they want to? How often do we have enough time to read all the articles of a magazine that we want to read? It’s a common complaint: Time is an enemy because it is always too short to do the things we need to, let alone, to do the things we want to.
But that is only half the problem. We often experience the very opposite thing too. While on one hand schedules cruelly expire before the work they require is done, we, on the other hand, also often complain about how slowly time passes, and we become impatient.
If a person is ill, distressed or in crisis, it may happen that someone will try to comfort him by saying, “God meant this for your good. You need to be patient. Wait for God.” But where do we find the strength to wait for God? A good time for God to end our trouble would be right now! But God usually has a different idea. We must wait patiently.
It is one of the most common complaints in the book of Psalms. We read more than twenty times people protesting because time is going too slowly for them. The Psalmist cries out again and again, “How long will it go on like this?” And this impatient protest does not just sound from the earth. It is a protest sounding from heaven itself! The saints call out from under the altar, “How long, sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge their blood?” The saints speak there with utmost reverence, but they are impatient nonetheless.
Both the feeling of frustration because we don’t have enough time, and that of impatience because time is going too slowly, are feelings we have because we are creatures of time. But God suffers neither of these. He does not get frustrated because time is running out on him. He scheduled a mere six days to create the entire cosmos, and he completed it like clockwork. Peter says that with God a day is as a thousand years. Imagine that you had a thousand years to do all the things that have been scheduled for today, and a thousand years for what you plan to accomplish tomorrow. It’s something like that with God.
On the other hand, God never becomes impatient because time is going too slowly for him. Peter brought this argument forward against those people who said that God will never honour his promise to call an end to the ages and bring about the new world. The covenant community had waited so long that it was unreasonable to wait anymore, they said. Peter replied: But from God’s point of view, the promise to return in glory was made only yesterday, or the day before, because with God a thousand years is as a day.
People are so excited these days about the expiration of another millennium. It seems like such an immense measure for us human beings. A thousand years for us is like, well, a thousand years – a terribly long time. And a day is so terribly short.
Our first duty as human beings is to have dominion over the earth, and all created things. Time is one of those created things. We need to make time our servant, not our master; an ally not an enemy. But we cannot obtain a relationship to time like God does. God created time so he cannot be subject to its limitations, whereas we will always remain subject to time. We need to schedule our duties in a reasonable fashion and diligently work to accomplish them – be good stewards of our time so that we might serve our Lord effectively. We need also to be patient as we await the things we hope for. And we will learn patience when we wait with vibrant faith for the things upon which we set our hopes.
We can make time our servant and ally if we have a vibrant faith, because it makes us more diligent to use our time wisely, and it enables us to patiently wait for the things we believe in. May our faith enable us to obtain a good relationship to time.