Tuesday, 21 January 2020
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 2 Peter 1:19
Peter has been speaking of the reliability of the testimony concerning the Person of Jesus Christ. He has reminded his readers of what occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration, and now he states just how reliable these things are, beginning with, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed.”
The Greek literally reads, “And we have more certain the prophetic word.” It can actually be interpreted in one of several ways. Vincent’s Word Studies provides two views to consider –
“We may explain either (a) as Rev., we have the word of prophecy made more sure, i.e., we are better certified than before as to the prophetic word by reason of this voice; or (b) we have the word of prophecy as a surer confirmation of God’s truth than what we ourselves saw, i.e., Old-Testament testimony is more convincing than even the voice heard at the transfiguration. The latter seems to accord better with the words which follow. “To appreciate this we must put ourselves somewhat in the place of those for whom St. Peter wrote. The New Testament, as we have it, was to them non-existent. Therefore we can readily understand how the long line of prophetic scriptures, fulfilled in so many ways in the life of Jesus, would be a mightier form of evidence than the narrative of one single event in Peter’s life” (Lumby). “Peter knew a sounder basis for faith than that of signs and wonders. He had seen our Lord Jesus Christ receive honor and glory from God the Father in the holy mount; he had been dazzled and carried out of himself by visions and voices from heaven; but, nevertheless, even when his memory and heart are throbbing with recollections of that sublime scene, he says, ‘we have something surer still in the prophetic word.’…It was not the miracles of Christ by which he came to know Jesus, but the word of Christ as interpreted by the spirit of Christ” (Samuel Cox).”
What appears to be the case must be taken in light of what Peter says in the next two verses. He speaks of prophecy and the source of prophecy, meaning the Holy Spirit as transmitted through men of God. But Peter has already shown that the Holy Spirit (the Excellent Glory) was there on the Mount of Transfiguration, carrying the word of the Father to confirm the Person of the Son. Both the written word and the voice, which they heard, testify to the same thing. This was seen in Jesus’ words of John 5:39 –
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
Therefore, what appears to be the case is that as certain as Peter was, concerning what his eyes saw and his ears heard, so certain also is the word of God which was written about Jesus. The Source of the word ensures that the testimony in the word is as trustworthy as anything that one’s eyes could behold, and that his ears could hear. When reading the word of God, it should be to the reader as if the voice of God is speaking directly to him.
Because of the absolutely trustworthy nature of “the prophetic word,” it is to be given its due respect. In this, Peter says, “which you do well to heed.” As noted by Vincent’s above, the only Scripture that was considered authoritative at the time was the Old Testament writings. And for Jews today who reject Jesus, or who simply have no idea who Jesus is, there must be an “apples to apples” comparison of Scripture.
One cannot be expected to merely take the New Testament to a Jew and say, “Here, read this, accept it, and you will be saved.” It is true that the saving message of Jesus is found there, but to say this to a Jew, without their acceptance of the foundation of their faith – meaning the Old Testament writings which also actually point to Jesus – would be for them to essentially reject what they had been told is inspired all along.
That would be no different than taking the Book of Mormon to a Christian and saying the same thing. There must first be the understanding that what the Old Testament says already points to Jesus. This is what Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 3. There is a veil over the eyes of the Jews when the law is read. Until they can see that the Old points to Christ and appreciate that fact, the veil remains. This is what Jesus continued to say in John 5:40 –
“But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
The Old points to Jesus. When the Old is read and understood from that perspective, the Jew can then go to the New Testament to see that Jesus is, in fact, the fulfillment of the Old. Then he can find salvation. Unlike the Book of Mormon, which is completely lacking any coherent message in God’s plan of redemption, because it is not God’s inspired word, the New Testament is completely in line with what the Old says. It complements and completes the revelation began in the Old.
Because Jesus can be found in the Old, and when it is interpreted in the light of Christ, it is “as a light that shines in a dark place.” The word translated as “dark” is only found here in Scripture. It is found in poetical literature to indicate dry and parched. The strong heat of the Mideast produces a condition where dust arises which impedes the vision, and everything is obscure. This is what reading the Old Testament without seeing Christ is like. The stories may be fun, curious, exciting, and so on. But without seeing Jesus in them, a person must say, “Why did God even include this here.”
Without Christ as the focus of the Old, there is this type of veil which conceals the light. But once Jesus is seen as the Subject of the Old, the light shines forth. What is otherwise dark suddenly is illuminated. Jesus speaks of this in John 8:12, and Paul says as much in 2 Timothy 1:10.
Once that light of life concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ is understood and believed, a change takes place. Before that, there was only obscurity and darkness. Peter notes that this remains “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” In seeing Jesus in the word, the light breaks forth. Clarity of vision comes about, and the mind sees what was previously concealed. The word translated as “morning star” is also only found here in the Bible. It is phósphoros. It is a compound word signifying the carrying forth of light.
This is certainly a metaphor which speaks of the light of Christ, because it says that this light “rises in your hearts.” In other words, it is what Paul speaks of in Romans 10:9, 10 –
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The rising of this light of Christ brings about belief in the heart. From what was once a dark and mysterious book of various stories and records that made no real sense, there is suddenly clarity which reveals light. The light rises in the heart and the soul believes the words which now make sense. In belief, the conversion occurs, and salvation comes to the soul.
Life application: Without the writings of the Old Testament, which are now combined with the New Testament, the darkness around us is like that of the hours before the dawn – the darkest of all. Without the Bible as a guide, we can only grope through life blindly and our footing is completely unsure. But with the words which form the sentences, and the sentences which form the pages, and the pages which fill the books of the Bible, we have a light which dispels the great darkness of this world and illuminates the path for us.
The psalmist understood this truth, looking forward to the great revelation of Jesus Christ –
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
Likewise, as we wait on the return of Christ, we have the same surety as the saints of old as we consider Scripture, but with the added benefit of the Holy Spirit. He authored the words of Scripture, and He illuminates the Bible for us as we rely on His leading. Let us continue to trust this marvelous gift of God, allowing it to lead us on our walk until the day when our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, returns for His people.
O God! We wait with high expectation for the return of our Hope, our Love, our Lord Jesus. Until that glorious day when the skies are illuminated with His splendor, we thank You for the pages of the Bible which give us comfort and hope. We also thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who leads us through this dark world on the path to our final home. Amen.