But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
I’ve got to be honest with you… I find it difficult to understand precisely what Peter is saying about a thousand years and a day here unless he is saying God does not recon time like humans. When God views time, He sees the whole continuum of time from the beginning until the end. His working is on a different timetable and whether it’s a day, a thousand years, or whatever – God will do His work in His ways and in His timing. Verse 9 points out that regardless, God is being patient with us and He will take whatever time it takes to accomplish His will.
The text is often used by premillennial dispensationalists to teach a coming or Parousia of the Lord that is far off into the future and a postponement of the kingdom of God to be fulfilled in the Millennium.
One issue, in my opinion, of the matter of time here is the dating of the writing of this epistle.
Peter is writing here a second time (see 1 Peter) seemingly to counter an argument continuing to go on in the church.
This verse, in the larger context of 2 Peter 3:3-13, Peter is writing about scoffers in the last days who are mocking the works of God and that things go on indefinitely apart from God. Apparently the audience of 2 Peter was disappointed that Jesus had not yet returned (3:8). The argument is that Christians around the time Peter died (the mid-60s) were still expecting Christ to return at any moment. Because Jesus had not come back, an explanation was needed to understand why Christ had not yet returned. By inference we should not be waiting around for God to fulfill His promise of a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (v. 13). Peter points out that the world of that time (prior to the flood) was deluged and destroyed by God and the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. In between (“the last days”), Peter says we should be living holy and godly lives. It doesn’t matter what the time frame is… we are to use this time to do what God put us here for.
Some might interpret this passage to mean that a day in Gods time is a thousand years and if the last “day” of God’s plan is 1,000 years, then it logically follows that the preceding six “days” would amount to 6,000 years – a total of 7,000 years. The first 2,000 was called the day of chaos, the next 2,000 years was called the day of the Torah, the next 2,000 was called the latter days.
Personally, I don’t think that’s Peters point about a day being like a thousand years – he wasn’t defining the expanse of time that mankind will live on this earth.
What is the 7th day? Rest – or the Millennium reign. God took days to create everything and took the 7th day as rest.
In Hebrews 4:4-11, the seventh day of the week is pictured as a type of peaceful “rest” on earth, which will follow Christ’s return.
There does appear to be a period of a thousand years sometime in the future where those persecuted and killed for their faith come to life and reign with Christ.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. )This is the first resurrection. – Revelation 20:4,5
The “thousand years” of Revelation 20 also present a problem for the preterist interpretation. The various “millennial” interpretations aside, preterism must fit this thousand-year period in the first century. Some preterists insist that it refers to the time from Christ’s ascension to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Others take it as the time from 70 to 73 (the fall of Masada) and others to 132 (the Bar Kochba rebellion). In any case, it is difficult to understand “1,000 years,” symbolic though it may be, in terms of such a short span of time.