Why Hasn't Jesus Come Back Yet?

 One of Jesus’ pivotal teachings is that he would bring an end to the world as we know it.

Jesus made this promise over 2,000 years ago. The early church was convinced that Jesus’ return would be imminent because he said that he would be “coming soon” (Rev 22:12, 20). 

Now here we are all this time later and Jesus still hasn’t returned. What’s the hold up? Why is there a delay?

What is so exciting is that Scripture gives us a direct, explicit answer to this very question; we don’t have to make an inference or an implication. Peter shares God’s direct answer to this question in the third chapter of his second letter.



The “Hold Up”  — More to be Saved

The explicit answer is found in verse 9 (with some important context to strengthen his rhetoric),

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

It seems as if the Lord is taking a long time to return. Viewing this as a “delay” or a “holdup” really is misconstrued; it’s not a negative delay as much as it is positive, patient waiting. 

The verse says that it seems as if the Lord is slow to return, because he is patiently waiting for his wish to be fulfilled, “that all should reach repentance.”

This verse, alongside other verses like Ezekiel 18:23, shows that God does not want anyone to experience his wrath but he truly wants all to be saved.

God has not yet returned because he is waiting for more to be saved. This verse does not say that all will be saved but rather he wishes that all should repent and that none should perish. As verse 7 says,

“Stored up for fire, [ . . .] kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly”

And, 

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. . .and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” v. 10

In God’s control and people’s own wills, God waits to return so that all who will be saved shall be saved. Its a simple but perplexing truth. 

The Criticism — It Won’t Happen

We hear the critics’ voices that Jesus’ return won’t happen. Truthfully, we can believe them.

“Scoffers will come in the last days. . . [saying], ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep [previous generations died], all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” – 2 Peter 3:3a, 4

Peter says this criticism will (future tense) be in the “last days.” Therefore, the fact that we hear this criticism now means that it is the last days (arguably, the last days have been ongoing since Jesus came to Earth).

This criticism does make a valid point — Jesus said he would come back quickly. Though we know that it's more of God’s patience than it is a delay, why does it seem like that he delays?

“Do not overlook this one fact . . .that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 8

Ever hear this verse? This verse points out that God’s timetable does match ours, because he wishes and is waiting for more to be saved. His return is not delayed, but God is waiting for the appropriate time to return.

Contrast what Peter tells Christians not to overlook with what the critics do overlook,

“They deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago. . .the world that then existed was deluged [flooded] with water and perished. But by [the same token] the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment.” 5-7

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In the same way that the Great Flood unexpectedly destroyed the world of Noah, God’s fire will unexpectedly destroy our present world. Critics ignore the fact that God’s judgment already has been ravaged against a world who believed life would carry on as it always has (Matt 24:37, Luke 17:26). 

God’s end time judgment and return mirrors the judgment of the Great Flood. Christians should not be influenced by the skeptics but remember that God’s timing is not a hold up.

What Now? — Holy Living

Now that we know why the return hasn’t happened and have uncovered the accusations of skeptics, we beg the question, “what now”? What do we do in the meantime?

We are so blessed that this passage also tells us exactly what we should do while we wait. It is even more incredible that it tells us how we can spur the Lord’s return to occur sooner.

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? [Live] in a holy manner of life and in godliness, expecting and hastening the coming of God’s day.” – 11

And,

“Since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” – 14


In one sense, this verse does not actually mean holy living and godliness will lead to God returning faster, but in another sense the verse means what it says. As we live holy lives, it displays that we are eagerly awaiting the return. If we are not living in holiness, it means we are not as eager for God’s return as we should be. 

Living a holy life will also spur God on to bring about the finality of Salvation to a quicker outcome. God’s return is determined and controlled by him, but he also gives us an incentive for holiness—it will not only cause us to yearn (and mourn) that he has not returned, but it may actually make the time until his return pass by quicker.

TL; DR

God’s seeming delay to return is not a delay as much as it is patient waiting for the opportune time.

God has not returned yet in order that more would be saved, because he wants no one to perish (but not all will be saved, many will perish).

In the same way that the Great Flood unexpectedly interrupted people’s daily lives, God’s end time judgment will suddenly end life as we know it.

We can yearn for and spur on God to return sooner by living holy lives.


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