Book of 2 Peter, part two

I’m a little sad because this will close out my deep studies of Peter for a while.  However, I’m also excited because I know that there are countless more awesome books and people in the bible and I can’t wait to dig into the next one and see what God reveals in it.  I have prayed several times over the course of my studies and just thanked God for using a man like Peter.  I can’t wait to meet Peter in heaven, I think he’ll be a delightful person to visit with!

If you’d like to listen to the praise and worship music I was listening to while writing this, you can do that by CLICKING HERE.  I’ve really been taken with these Bethel.tv worship sessions on Youtube, they’ve been a huge blessing to me.

VERSES THAT JUMPED

I mentioned in part one of this look at 2 Peter that a big focus of this book of the bible is to warn against false prophets and false teachers.  He’s talking about this very thing in the following verses as he gives an incredibly strong condemnation of these false teachers and blasphemers.

2 Peter 2:12-14  But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

Man, when Peter gets going he paints such vibrant pictures with his words.  They are blots and blemishes!  This is such an informative way to describe these people.  He’s saying that these people are stains, they’re dark spots that foul things up around them.  But I think what really jumps out here is where these false teachers and false prophets and blasphemers are.  At the end of verse 13 he says they do these things “while they feast with you”.  To look at that phrase through modern eyes, it’s saying that these people are at dinner with us.  These could be people you encounter at a church dinner, or maybe a seemingly great teacher who you invite into your home for a meal.

And who do they entice?  Unsteady souls.  We live in a world filled with unsteady souls.  It’s horrible to think of losing people to darkness and to sin, but it angers me deeply to think of losing people to a false teacher who says he’s teaching the word of God but really isn’t.  Chances are, you know an unsteady soul.  Maybe a friend or maybe a family member.  Someone is going to find some way to get to them.  Either the devil, or a false teacher.  But I’m so thankful that there’s another option, and that option is God.  I pray for those close to me who are lost, but I know I need to do more.  I need to make soul winning an activity, not just a prayer.  Instead of just sitting back and praying and hoping that the unsteady souls find their way to the Lord, I need to step up and do as much as I possibly can to make that happen.  Because we live in a time of false prophets and false teachers, of that there is no doubt.  And it’s only going to get worse.

I was reading in the book of Mark earlier today and Jesus warns of this very thing.  He speaks of false ones coming and proclaiming to be him.  Jesus even says these false prophets and false christs will perform signs and wonders as they look to lead people astray.  For me, I’m going to stay on guard and put teachers and prophets under a biblical and prayer microscope.  Do their words line up with the bible?  What does God say about these teachers and prophets when I pray about them?  Because I don’t believe we’re talking about red robed evil priests here, I think it’s going to be easy to be led astray.  I think that if we don’t hold steadfast to the truths of God, if we don’t stay studied in His word, we put ourselves at risk to being led astray.  It was a problem even 1,950 years ago, as Peter wrote this book of the bible to warn against it.

There’s another verse here that sort of deals with the same thing.

2 Peter 2:21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

There’s a saying that says “ignorance is bliss”.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that knowledge is a responsibility.  It’s something that overcame me early on in this renewed walk with God.  Knowing now of God’s holiness, knowing fully his desire for me to be holy, I find the idea of sinning to be so much worse than it used to be.  My deeper knowledge of what it means to be a true follower of Jesus increased the gravity of the sin in my life.  God wants us knowledgeable.  He wants us close, He wants us trying to follow the example Jesus set for us.  But keep in mind the responsibility that comes along with that.  Peter warns in the above verse just how serious it is to know the way of righteousness only to turn away from it.  We should move forward in our faith, never backwards.  Backwards is our sinful habits, our selfish uses of our time, our hardened hearts.  God desires to lead us out of our old lives and into His glory.

As I close out this look at 2 Peter, I’m forced to confront one of my deepest and absolute fears.  The end of the age, armageddon, tribulation, the entire book of Revelations, these are things that I’ve spent the better part of my life living in fear of.  I mentioned in a recent blog how God has worked on me in this regard, and I’m so thankful to be able to say that my issues with these things have lessened greatly.  But I’d be lying if I said I was completely okay with it.  There is still a part of me that’s apprehensive of the afterlife and of the massive and crazy series of events that will happen at the end of the age.  So imagine my surprise when I discovered something new about it all here in 2 Peter.

2 Peter 3:9-10 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

So let me focus first on the part of this that fills me with joy.  Peter is speaking here about the return of Jesus and the triggering of the end times.  In verse 9 he addresses the fact that it’s not like God is moving slow, it’s that he’s showing incredible mercy on his people.  I think this is such a powerful and key thing to understand about the nature of God.  He wants every single person to be saved.  There’s not one person alive today that God wishes hell upon.  He is sitting there, patiently waiting, the end of the age ready to be unleashed, hoping not just for some people to be saved, but for ALL people to be saved.  What a beautiful peek into the heart of God that is, and what an uplifting affirmation that is.

So now, let me focus on the part that fills me with awe and a little bit of fear.  The heavens (sky and stars and planets and so on) will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.  I dug into this verse, hoping to find that it’s just some metaphor and doesn’t relate to an actual destruction of the universe.  One of my most trusted study guides, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, did not give me the answer I wanted.  It says that this is a literal verse talking about the destruction of the universe.  Here’s a direct quote.  “All matter will be destroyed in what resembles a universal nuclear holocaust.”  Another study book I use, the Halley’s Bible Handbook, says that this may happen as an explosion from within or possibly due to a collision with another heavenly body.

I’m familiar with a lot of end times stuff.  Plagues and earthquakes and judgment and all that, I’ve heard of those before.  God blowing up the universe, that’s new to me!  I wish I was perfectly at peace with all of this, and I trust and believe in faith that one day I will be, but for now this remains something that’s not easy for me to handle.  However, I can say that it inspired something within me.  This verse really drove home for me the importance of focusing on Godly things.  After an adult life spent focusing on material things and selfish desires, this verse makes it pretty clear that those things are all going to get blown away anyways.  Peter addresses this, too.

2 Peter 3:11  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

What will endure a universal nuclear holocaust?  The God things.  His people, His commandments, His love.  So what should I be spending my days focused on?  My television?  Or the word of God?  My video games?  Or spreading the word of God to those who may need to hear it?  The God things will endure.  God’s people will endure.  I still enjoy TV shows and video games, but they don’t dominate my thought life anymore.  And on days when I’m living right, they don’t dominate my waking hours.  The more I make the God things the focus of my life, the better my life gets, anyways.  It’s not like it’s a negative thing, or like it’s some great sacrifice.  God honors it.  So in a way, this verse about the explosion of the universe has worked towards goodness in my life.  It’s helped me keep my focus more on the Kingdom of God and less on the kingdom of man.

And before you think that God’s just gonna blow it all up and not deliver something great in it’s place, here’s the final verse out of 2 Peter I want to share.

2 Peter 3:13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

God is the ultimate promise keeper.  He’s never made a promise that He didn’t keep.  And Peter reminds us here, that God has promised us new heavens and a new earth.  A place where righteousness dwells.  I’ve got great teachers in my life at Capstone Church, and one of those teachers really brought me so much peace about this recently.  God’s not going to take away this earth and this life and replace it with something worse.  If he’s going to blow up the heavens in the sky above, how much greater and more amazing are the new heavens he creates going to be?  God is a promise keeper.  God is someone that loves his people.  And He will make for us an eternal dwelling that is sure to be beyond our wildest imaginings.  A place where righteousness dwells, a place devoid of sin, devoid of sadness, devoid of pain.  I may not understand everything about the end times, and I definitely need to pray about it and study it more, but I trust God with my whole heart.  And through that trust I feel my fear diminishing, because He’s not going to lead me into some sad, terrible existence.  He’s not going to strip away the good things I love in life.  Things like lively conversation, laughter, and creativity.  But Peter paints a clear picture.  We will see an awesome display of God’s ultimate power at some point as he does away with the old and makes the new.  The power it will take to accomplish this feat is unimaginable, but that’s the magnitude of the God I love and serve.

So there you go friends.  I know I’ll return to the writings of Peter at some point and through the wondrous nature of the bible I know it’ll reveal new and deeper meanings to me when I do.  But for now, I say goodbye to the lovable fishermen known as Simon Peter.

For prayers this time around I want to pray for God to steady our hearts and our souls.  Let us never go backwards in our faith and our walk with Him, let us never be definable as those unsteady souls that false prophets look to deceive.  God, we pray that you our hearts and our souls and our minds stay focused on you, on the God things.  The things that shall endure forevermore.

I thank you to any of you who read this far.  I prayed the above prayer with you and in agreement with you.  Whoever you are, know that God loves you no matter your current circumstance.  I love you guys, too.

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