The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
Peter’s Words Of Encouragement
Peter used the above words to encourage believers and counter the skeptics who didn’t believe Jesus was ever coming back. He reminded believers of Jesus’ promises to return and God’s mercy to give people time to repent. Just a few verses earlier he refuted the skeptic’s accusations that everything was the same as it had always been and reminded them that God had destroyed the world once by flood and that destruction would come again, the next time by fire.
Many skeptics remain today. Some still scoff at believers who are looking forward to Christ’s return. They believe either that God doesn’t exist or that He certainly isn’t in control of what’s going on. Immorality is rampant. Strange religions and false teaching abound. But God in His mercy delays Jesus’ return so that we have time to pray for others to repent. He is being patient for the sake of those who are still lost.
The Promise Of His Return
Elsewhere in scripture, Jesus encourages us with multiple promises of His return. We find one of these promises in John 14:1-3. He says that He is going away to prepare a place for us and that He will come back for us one day.
In First Thessalonians chapter 4, God’s penman Paul tells us that Jesus will return to get us and take us back to heaven with Him. At the end of this First Thessalonians passage, He instructs us to encourage one another with words regarding His return.
God knows His children and He knows their needs. He provides (1) encouragement for the believers and (2) an opportunity to repent for those who are not yet believers. There will be time enough, and He will not return the Savior until the fullness of time has come.
There will always be skeptics in this world, and we pray for them during this time that God is exercising His patience. Remember, God is not slow in sending Jesus back to us and setting up His Kingdom here on earth; He is patient for the sake of the lost. Why? Because He wants none to be lost but all to be saved.
The Old Testament boasts of numerous prayers that might make us feel a bit uncomfortable today. Some of these old prayers seem to be rather demanding or even a little arrogant. Perhaps those Old Testament “pray”-ers knew before the writer of Hebrews that a true believer can approach the throne of God with boldness.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. —1 Chronicles 4:10
Many of us are familiar with the famous prayer of Jabez in 1st Chronicles 4:10 (above). In his prayer, Jabez wasted no time in formalities but jumped right with what he wanted God to do for him: to bless him and enlarge his territory.
Nehemiah: A Man Of Prayer
Nehemiah was another man of God who prayed often that God would remember him for doing what was right. This was a man who continually followed God’s ways and led the people to do the same. He stood up against the evil and opposition of the day, shared his resources generously with God’s people and completed the job God gave him to do. It was because Nehemiah was so obedient to God that he could pray with such boldness and expect God to remember and reward him.
It’s interesting to note that nowhere in the Old Testament do we see any of God’s chosen people asking to be taught how to pray. They seem to be well acquainted with prayer without any formal instruction. They were also very acquainted with the God they were praying to. That’s the key. When you know someone intimately you can be honest and straightforward with your requests.
Maybe if we sometimes feel uncomfortable with the boldness and straightforwardness of some Old Testament prayers, it’s because we are not as intimate with God as they were. Maybe we need to put more effort into obeying God’s Word and then the boldness will come naturally.