Peter’s words were practical in 2:1-3 but the remainder of the chapter is dark as Peter offers three illustrations: One from the angelic realm, and two from their history in Noah and Lot and those could be divided in pre-flood and post-flood. This section has inherent challenges as it relates to interpretation and application. We need to make certain that we maintain the context of this letter as while we examine the illustration which is made more difficult do to the subject matter of the illustration. To do this we need to ask and answer the question from the point of Peter:
- What do these illustrations have to do with false teachers and false teaching that his readers are to avoid?
- What are the teaching points that Peter wishes to convey to his readers?
Last week we took the illustration from the fallen angelic realm and Noah which center around the same incident. I showed you that I believe that the text is about the fallen angelic realm and the incident mentioned in 1 Peter 3:19 and Jude in 1:6-7 and not the fallen angels of the original rebellion as recorded for us in Isa 14:12-15, Ezek. 28:15 and Rev 12:3-4. I made that interpretation based upon the practical observation that satan and his fallen angels don’t appear to be “cast down to hell, delivered to chains” but instead are free to roam the earth. I also said that the interpretation is based upon the grammar of the passage as it is clearly linked the Noah and the flood in verse 5. As noted last week what Peter is writing about is connected to Jude 1:6-7 where we are told that “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” It is here that we see the demonic plot as these fallen angels went after human females a different class of creation stepping beyond what God had designed. It appears that this produced a genetically altered order of being that mixed these two different orders of creation into what Gen 6:1-4 describes “When men began to multiply on the surface of the ground, and daughters were born to them, God’s sons saw that men’s daughters were beautiful, and they took any that they wanted for themselves as wives. Yahweh said, “My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; so, his days will be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilimwere in the earth in those days, and also after that, when God’s sons came into men’s daughters and had children with them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” This mixed race partly human partly fallen angelic warranted the destruction and extermination of all but 8 humans. This fallen angelic apostasy of the divine plan was put forth by satan to make it impossible for Jesus to be fully man as humanity’s seed would have been polluted by demonic seed making human atonement impossible. The point Peter is illustrating is that God’s judgment and destruction does not slumber. Here we see both how God and Peter observe the severity of false teaching as it is linked to the “satanic plot” to taint humanity with demonic seed rendering the whole of the offspring thus effected by this ungodly union unredeemable! False teaching causes those that follow such “destructive heresy’s” unredeemable. The second illustration of Noah as mentioned is connected with the first reference and is also connected to 1 Peter 3:20-21. Peter brings up Noah and his family that was also safely delivered through the flood and the phrase where we noted that in the Greek it was not on the “Ark” saving Noah and his family but the waters of judgment. The very waters that were the extermination of the human race were life to the inmates of the ark. Like following false teaching: Those that drown do so because they are not rightly connected to as Noah and his family were. The righteousness of God judges all who are not correctly related to Him, and it is faith in God’s provision of His Ark Jesus that enables us to sail upon God’s goodness.
The examples are meant to give invaluable instruction to the place and position of the Christian in the midst of dark times. Church history is full of reminders that God’s people will go through difficult times that will shrink our number. God has not called us to popularity, a life of ease. God is not focused upon our temporary happiness; His focus is upon our eternal holiness and that means that we are called to be different. God’s spirit shall not always strive with man (Gen. 6:3) Noah was surrounded by “iniquity” a generation of billions of people where there were only 8 on the planet that walked with God. Where would have those 8 souls been if they sought to be like the world? Where would they have been if they sought to be popular with their neighbors?
Vs. 6-8 Lot
Vs. 6-8 Peter now brings up his 3rd illustration of Lot and his dwelling in the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We would need to go back to Genesis chapter 18-19 to get a better understanding the terrible moral decay that had overtaken that society. We would also better understand the compromise of Lot whom Abram gave the choice of where to settle in Genesis 13:10 even though Abram being the older would have had first choice. There we are told that Lot “saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…like a garden of the Lord..” Then in Genesis in 13:11-13 we are informed of the progressive choice of Lot where initially he chose the plain of Jordan, then journeyed East then traveled further into the cities of the plain eventually pitching his tent as far as Sodom even though he knew that the “men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD”. By the time Abram is told of the pending doom of the two cities in chapter 18-19 Lot is not only no longer dwelling in a tent outside the city he is now dwelling in the city and is a political figure as he is seen sitting the gate of the city. What isn’t immediately apparent is what was the cause of such decay in these two cities. We find the answer that in Ezek 16:49-50 where we are told, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore, I took them away as I saw fit.” Of general observation the story centers more upon Lot whom in verse 8 we are told was (that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds). The point that the Holy Spirit is making is in verse 9 where Peter writes, “then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” For the Holy Spirit’s and Peter’s purposes the use of this illustration is not Lot’s compromise or failure instead he is treated with great tenderness and gentleness as apart from this passage I’m not inclined to describe Lot a “righteous man” as Lot chose his path because it was more profitable in spite of the sinfulness of the cities. Peter’s point is not the folly of Lot that led to this decision but rather how Lot conducted himself in the wicked environment of Sodom and Gomorrah. The point is that like the world prior to the flood society was in a terrible moral degradation and the foulness and ugliness that characterized the world that had turned away from God. And like Noah and his family so too was Lot and his family having to live around a world that surrounded them in wickedness. Peter is pointing out how living in that filth effected Lot.
- One thing that stands out to me in both the examples of Noah and Lot is the severity of the test as seen in the extremely limited part of humanity being asked to be different when compared to the majority of the wicked. The very fact that the believer is such a small number compared to the majority of the wicked increases the difficulty. It seems that these two illustrations serve to identify the difficulty we face to be different then the world we are placed in. Part of our covering our nakedness at our fall is wanting to be liked and accepted by those around us. We simply fear humanity more than we do God! In context to Peter’s letter to these Christian’s who wanted to grow in their relationship with Jesus but were being tempted to go after new experiences and new information to do so; Peter is giving the illustration that the answer isn’t to follow after teaching in verse 3 seeks to make the believer more like the world and less different from it. To do so “torment your righteous soul from day to day”.
- Second at issue is how live a godly life amongst and majority of ungodly. The old nature wants to be liked and accepted. It wants to be popular, a part of the in crowd and we despise being disliked. It’s an easy thing to go with the crowd, or to try to create a crowd so as to not feel different. But we are called to be different and at times we will feel alone in her pursuit of God’s holiness for our lives and such a pursuit will not make us popular with the world and at times even with other Christians. This is brought in greater detail at the end of chapter 2 as Peter makes the general observation in 20-22 “For they escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the later end is worse for them than the beginning.” The point Peter is making is that every professing Christian is not necessarily a true believer. There are people in the umbrella of the church that claim to have believed the gospel but in time of trial and testing shift away from the truth and go back to the world like verse 22 “A dog returns to his own vomit and a sow, having washed, to her own wallowing in the mire.” Religion only has a temporary effect upon us, but it is in a continual relationship with Jesus that we stay true. Religion is swayed by popularity, people and seeks to make following after it pleasing to the flesh. It ought not be a popular then to choose to follow God, there should be no glamour in it, but it doesn’t lesson that it is the greatest decision every made. The Christian is always the one who is called to “stand out” and be “different”. The Christian and the Church that seeks to be popular will become like the world instead of standing out like Lot and Noah. They will soon in words and works witness of our similarities with the world they were called out of. We are not as of yet called out of the world, but we are most certainly not to be of it! We should not be entangled (verse 20) again with that which we have escaped.
- Finally, Peter says like Lord we ought to be troubled by the condition of the world broken hearted over its enslavement. We all have spent far too much of our life enslaved to sin. We also ought to be burdened by its condition and desire to be a hospital and not a hospice. We are to speak the truth in Love to a world in the throes of sin. Our loyalty is to Christ, but our compassion is to those imprisoned and that is why Peter brings up Lot.
Oh, how the Christian and the true church of Jesus need “revival” today, we need to repent and grieve for the souls of the lost, stand out and be different!