Saturday, 1 February 2020
… then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 2 Peter 2:9
The words here tie all the way back to verse 4, For if God…then the Lord knows. Everything between the two has been an explanation of the first part. This verse now shows the contrast. God does know how to deal with all things – both sinner and saint included. A logical progression of Peter’s thoughts is –
* If God didn’t spare the angels which sinned, but rather cast them to hell and delivered them into chains as they await judgment, and
* If He didn’t spare the entire ancient world (the pre-flood world) with the exception of Noah and his family, but instead took away the breath of their lives, and
* If He didn’t spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, but instead turned them into ashes (ashes to ashes, dust to dust we say…), condemning them to destruction for their ungodliness, but
* He spared Lot, a righteous man whose soul was tormented by the ungodliness and oppressive wickedness around him as he dwelt among them, then
* The Lord also knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and
* The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust under punishment for that great day of judgment.
With this understood, Peter’s words which begin the verse are, “then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.”
It is interesting that he began with “God,” and then says, “the Lord.” The last time the term “the Lord” was mentioned, it was clearly speaking of Christ Jesus who is said to have “bought them,” meaning that He died for their sins. This same Lord, who is God, is fully capable of doing what needs to be done for those who seek after Him, meaning “the godly.” The word signifies one who is devout.
Peter was speaking of the ungodly, those who are not devout, and the consequences for their unholy attitude and choices. However, there are those who are devout and who truly desire to pursue God. God knows this and is able to deliver them from the same temptations that those who are not godly pursue with reckless abandon. It is a note of grace in the midst of many verses which speak openly about God’s wrath against unholiness in the world in which we live.
For those who are ungodly, of them Peter says that God knows how “to reserve the unjust under punishment.” It is a present participle, meaning that they are already under the sentence and punishment. When their lives ended (such as those in the Flood of Noah and those at Sodom and Gomorrah), their punishment was just beginning, and it is ongoing at this time, even as they await “the day of judgment.”
The idea of being punished before the day of judgment may seem unfair on the surface, but these people have already been judged. Their wickedness was evident, and they died in their sins. The day of judgment is not something that is necessary for God to determine guilt or innocence, but it is rather something for all to understand God’s holiness.
Until they stand before the Source of all goodness, righteousness, and holiness, they only have themselves and their twisted sense of morality by which to evaluate their actions. But someday, all will come before God and will see what the standard of holiness is. At that time, all of the punishment they received, or will ever receive, will be realized as being wholly deserved.
Life application: A good way of looking at Peter’s words is to know that we are living in a fallen world and surrounded by moral decay and perversion – even the influence of demons. Despite this, the Lord can keep us from falling into the same pattern as those around us, just as He did for Noah and for Lot. More than that, when we mourn over the perversion of our society, we have the assurance that our faithfulness is not in vain. God will judge the unrighteous and vindicate our steadfast and heartily maintained attitude of righteousness in Christ.
You, O Lord, are a Rescuer of Your people and a Defender of the weak. You look away from the proud, but give grace to the humble. May You be with us as we walk the difficult path of righteousness in this troubled and fallen world. We look to You for guidance, and so be our Guide all the days of our lives. Amen.