Chapter 3: Peter’s Warning
The epistles of the Apostle Peter are like a miniature Bible. Peter gives the bad news, but he also gives you the good news. He issues the warning, but he wraps it in the most magnificent hope we could ever have.
Peter was the chief apostle for good reason. Studying his epistles helps us understand how spiritually qualified he truly was for that position. God inspired him to give a view of the whole Bible that is remarkably comprehensive and quite deep.
The second chapter of Peter’s second epistle is extremely serious. The chief apostle has a scathing warning to deliver to the Church of God.
He immediately talks about vicious predators secretly coming in among the people of God: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily [secretly or surreptitiously] shall bring in damnable [or destructive] heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
This is an end-time prophecy for the Laodicean churches and can afflict the very elect. As Jude said, teachers had already crept in. These predators are sneaking in among the brethren for dishonorable purposes. They float around, tossing out their bait of damnable heresies, waiting patiently for someone to bite.
Can God’s people recognize destructive heresies when they hear them? Can they comprehend how deadly such critics are? Do they know how to handle such problems? Are our ministers teaching them how to deal with this deadly deceit?
God tells us such problems will be among us! That is for certain.
These individuals are “even denying the Master who bought them” with His blood, or “denying the Master,” as Lange’s expresses it. They throw off God’s government—because they can’t do their dirty work within its confines. They deny their Head! They’re not denying a man in an office. God says they’re denying their heavenly Master, who should be ruling them! These people are proud and arrogant—not humble. They refuse to be taught!
These heresies are extremely damaging to God’s people. The rsv calls them “destructive heresies.” That is frighteningly emphasized by the fact that 95 percent have turned against God. Some of the most exalted men in God’s Church have come to accept such pathetic beliefs that it’s embarrassing! Someone got to them with destructive heresies!
Considering where many of the Laodiceans will end up, those heresies simply could not be more destructive! Peter prophesied that “many” members would be deceived.
Are false teachings contagious? “And many shall follow their pernicious [or destructive] ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (verse 2).
This is not about the way of the pcg—it’s about the way of the truth. You can and must prove what is truth and what is not truth.
God wants to know if you are grounded in the truth. If so, you can detect a false teacher, rebuke and expose him.
We are teaching God’s truth—not the ideas of men.
We are here to teach the way of truth. When someone speaks against that way—the way of our Father—God’s sons should stand up and be counted! That’s my Father you’re talking about! This is a family matter! We should take it personally!
We have a wonderful opportunity to represent our Father and teach the way of truth. If someone takes that truth away, we must be willing to fight to get it back. We want to distribute our Father’s message to the world! If we love Him and Jesus Christ, we will finish their Work.
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (verse 3).
These men are phony—they speak feigned words. They are like a peddler or used car salesman—but they are making merchandise of you!
God tells them in clear terms: You may be asleep—but your damnation is not! You may be blind—but my justice is not! Everything God has prophesied will come to pass just as He has said.
It is truly horrifying how successful these rebels have been: Many—to the tune of 95 percent—have followed their destructive ways!
Spiritually, that is a mega-disaster. It is truly a shame on God’s people.
The Angels That Sinned
At this point, Peter begins to paint a picture trying to communicate the scale of the tragedy within the Church of God.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [that is, restrained them to this Earth], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Lange’s says that darkness is the highest degree of darkness.
This is what people are following who go after destructive heresies: demons that are in chains of darkness!
This is the horrendous world Satan and the demons inhabit. And this world worships them.
God didn’t spare the angels that sinned. Those demons will receive severe judgment. They await “the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13). They have that black future oppressing and weighing on them, and their best “relief” seems to come from the trouble they can cause God’s Church. They also love to see humanity suffer.
The parallel passage in Jude 6 says that the angels “kept not their first estate.” Lucifer and one third of the angels failed to rule this Earth with God’s government. They were dissatisfied with what they had; they felt God was withholding something from them and wanted higher offices. Once they let that thinking take root, it gradually grew until they all rebelled and fought against God and the righteous angels.
Lucifer disagreed with how God was ruling the universe. He was lusting for more power. He didn’t like God’s government based on His law. Those rebellious thoughts got out of control.
Do we back and support God’s headquarters, or do we disagree with how God is ruling His Work though men?
Satan’s thinking can afflict God’s people and God’s ministers. Satan injects it into all of us. We must guard our minds and make sure we expunge those thoughts, because if they take root, we will slip into serious spiritual peril.
If you simply grow in grace and knowledge of God’s Word, you will be in the right office and position. Concentrate on growing spiritually, and let God worry about how you are used in the Body.
A Preacher of Righteousness
“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).
Noah faced a world literally filled with evil—“every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Christ said that just before His coming it was going to be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). Also Daniel discussed “the latter time … when the transgressors are come to the full” (Daniel 8:23).
So today we face the same evil human nature that Noah encountered. That is another indication that Peter’s epistles are for today.
Peter showed that Noah’s time was a type of what we experience today. Noah only had his wife, three sons and their wives with him. And it is not clear just how much support he got from his immediate family members. But Noah knew that God and the Word were with him. He knew that was all the support he needed—he couldn’t fail if his faith was strong!
It takes a lot of courage to be so alone yet stand up for God. But let’s not feel sorry for ourselves because we are a little flock. Remember Noah.
Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” He had a commission, as God’s Church does today. In addition to building the ark—a project that earned him nothing but scorn—Noah proclaimed God’s righteousness! The word righteousness in 2 Peter 2:5 refers to God’s righteousness. Strong’s Concordance defines preacher as “a herald, i.e. of divine truth,” or a messenger of the authority of God.
But no one believed Noah—not even one other family. In the world around him, people’s thoughts were on evil continually. Noah was the opposite—his thoughts were on righteousness continually. Of course he sinned, but he was a man of righteousness who was severely persecuted by a world of absolute evil. Quite a man.
You have to respect and admire Noah. Not only was he righteous, but he went out and proclaimed that righteousness!
That is what we must do as well. It’s not enough to win a court battle and gain the rights to Mr. Armstrong’s literature. God gave us all that wonderful revelation so we would proclaim it to an evil world! He wants us to show the world where its real hope is.
Noah’s message was also similar to ours today: a message of warning. The Philadelphia Church of God proclaims a Noah message.
The End of All Flesh
In Genesis 6:13, during Noah’s day, God said, “The end of all flesh is come before me ….” And so it has again. We face another end—this time, Christ is going to cut it short just before every human being would be killed.
Today, we talk about our number one problem being human survival. Anyone with a little foresight can recognize that this world’s problems cannot be solved by men—but still they are unwilling to listen to God.
God is going to take mankind to the point where people will know there is no hope in man and they are willing to heed God’s Word—the Bible. The experiment of human government will prove itself a grandiose failure, and people will begin to recognize that they do need God’s help.
What a world that will be! When human arrogance has been leveled, people will be humble and childlike, ready to be taught by God!
But to reach that stage, mankind must experience destruction just short of destroying all humanity—every man, woman and child.
We need to help people understand that this world is about to end—just as in the time of the Flood!
Noah believed what God said about the end of all flesh—enough to proclaim it to the world. This must be a part of our thinking. It must be real to us, as it was to Noah. Our hearts must be in God’s future world, not Satan’s present world. Then we will become like Noah, who defied Satan’s civilization and proclaimed God’s righteousness! Virtually alone, a son of God fulfilled his God-given commission!
For Noah’s labors, God saved him and his family physically. In the midst of the frightfully bad news, Noah and his family were spared. That is good news—a big benefit of doing God’s Work as He commands. Rewards always accompany obedience to God. We too must proclaim God’s warning today to be saved physically—everybody else faces the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord!
Sodom and Gomorrah
Peter’s warning continues: “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6). According to Strong’s Concordance, the word ensample means “an exhibit for imitation or warning.”
Why did Peter use the example of Sodom and Gomorrah? I don’t think he fully knew. This warning wasn’t for the first century; it is for the end time, about which Christ prophesied that no flesh would be saved alive if He didn’t intervene!
God inspired Peter with this end-time message in order to impress on our minds that this sick, Sodom-and-Gomorrah world is about to perish in fire—nuclear fire!
An older Webster’s dictionary defined sodomy this way: “Sodom (Genesis 18:20); any sexual intercourse regarded as abnormal, as between persons of the same sex, especially males, or between a person and an animal.” Sodom was known for some of the most vile sins ever committed by men—men who were made in the likeness of God and are here to develop His very character.
Today, we have become so “sophisticated” that sodomy, or homosexuality, is regarded as good, rather than the abomination God says it is (Romans 1:22-32).
The Bible is clear in its condemnation of the sins of Sodom (Isaiah 1:10; 3:9; Jeremiah 23:14)—and of the certainty of those sinners being severely punished (Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 49:18; Lamentations 4:6).
Are our nations afraid? No, but they shall be before it is over!
Civilization faces nuclear annihilation—and yet the most important thing on the minds of many people is the drive to legitimize and legalize homosexual “marriage”! Does that provide hope in the face of nuclear destruction? It is extremely foolish to ignore the looming dangers in order to pursue such immorality. People think that if they get caught up in these evil desires, they can forget about reality and about what God says.
God gives us a specific New Testament example in Peter (and Jude) of what happens if a city or nation is polluted with homosexuality. It is going to be destroyed the same way that depraved Sodom and Gomorrah were—huge cities are to be left in ashes!
Do we see how urgent our message is?
This sin of sodomy reaches the peak of twisting the human mind. God’s total destruction of great cities shows how God feels about people being defiled by homosexuality.
The extreme punishment fits the extreme of family crime.
Most professing Christians say they believe in the New Testament. Here are specific examples with horrendous warnings from God. Still, mankind scoffs at God’s thunderous voice.
Any person who honestly studies the Bible, knows that God labels homosexuality as an abomination!
Homosexual “marriage” is the antithesis of true hope! Satan knows that. He deceives people into thinking it is freedom to get entangled in something like that. Oh—how this world needs freedom! But not the false freedom of sin, which is actually slavery.
Family is the most sacred of all institutions. When a family obeys God, it produces strong, beautiful children. When those children are taught God’s way, they just amaze you. Strong families are the backbone of a nation. When families fall apart, nations fall.
Marriage and family are God-plane relationships that prepare us to enter our marriage with Jesus Christ, and our place in the Family of God. It is man’s only hope.
Distorted and queer Satan hates that! He wants to obliterate family! He wants to destroy marriage and blot it out forever! He never had the opportunity to enter God’s Family and be a son. That is the potential of human beings only.
Lawless Satan is the motivator behind the same-sex marriage movement, which is defying God to His face! Under Satan’s influence, families have become sick—and they are producing Sodom and Gomorrah.
Christ said that “by their fruits you shall know them.”
You cannot understand the magnitude of this sin unless you understand God’s master plan for family!
We must comprehend what we are dealing with. We are witnessing the twisting and destroying of the gospel of God!
The gospel is the good news of the coming Family of God. Satan is trying to blot out any hope of understanding the Family gospel. He has sold people on the idea that they can twist and distort family any way they please and it won’t matter.
That is not what our Creator says! He turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes—as an example for us—to warn us of how He would punish for that sin!
Is there a greater physical warning in the Bible than this?
When two angels, appearing as men, came to the city, the men of Sodom wanted to have sexual relations with them. Even when those evil men were struck blind, that didn’t stop them—they kept right on coming! Can you reason with people like that? No more than you can reason with the homosexual movement today—they don’t retain God in their knowledge, so God has given them over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28). That is the sick result of such burning lust.
Even churches that claim to represent Jesus Christ openly advocate homosexuality—saying the Bible is silent on the issue or, worse, approves of it. Some claim that King David and even Jesus Christ were homosexual! We ought not be too disturbed when people like that disagree with us.
People try to make homosexuality look loving, balanced, solid and sound-minded—but they are defying God, and they will end up in ashes!
More and more, the courts in biblical Israel are approving of sodomy. It’s being pushed and pressured into young and impressionable minds. Isaiah says, “the whole head is sick” (Isaiah 1:5). Israel is full of Sodom-and-Gomorrah sin—and it is about to witness Sodom-and-Gomorrah destruction!
Very soon, our cities will be leveled and our people exterminated if they don’t repent!
The history of Sodom and Gomorrah cries out a severe warning. When cities become steeped in homosexual depravity, look out: They are about to be destroyed by fire!
God didn’t spare the sinning angels—He didn’t spare the sinners in Noah’s day—He didn’t spare the sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah. God does not spare people who commit such vile sin. He obliterates them and everything around them!
Peter prophesied of the Sodom and Gomorrah society we are living in today. We can become dulled to homosexuality and other immorality in this world if we are not careful. As the Bride of Christ, do you feel the same way Jesus Christ does about it?
God “spared not” the sinning angels. And He “spared not” the totally depraved world in Noah’s time. He obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. God gives us these destructive examples of our universe, world and cities reduced to ashes to drive home the point that the nations of Israel today are also about to become ashes! The nuclear bombs are about to fall!
Do we believe God?
God spared not in the past. And our nations are going to be spared not.
The lesson is that God does not spare sinners. And if mankind doesn’t finally repent, they will become ashes forever in a lake of fire.
Sin has no future!
God chose Israel anciently to set a righteous example for the nations of the world. But it failed miserably.
Where are the nations of Israel leading the world today? Into Sodom and Gomorrah! So God is using the Church today to set an example of how God commands His people to live.
Soon the whole world will learn that lesson.
“And [God] delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation [conduct] of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). God delivers just people. Lot had a rough time living in the wicked city of Sodom. Vexed in this verse means he was grievously pained by the appalling homosexuality that saturated his surroundings.
“(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)” (verse 8). This word vexed means tormented. The people’s sodomy (and other sins) tormented him because of his righteousness.
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (verse 9). God knows how to destroy and how to deliver. He physically delivered Lot and his daughters. He delivered Noah and his family. He will deliver His people from the disasters to strike in this end time. And He will destroy sinners.
That is God’s message to our time, and great cities will become ashes unless people heed it! God is about to obliterate all but the tiny few who heed God’s message.
We must fulfill our commission! We must tell this world what is coming and why!
Satan has gotten in our face with this evil. The sons of God ought to be at least as bold as he is—for God. What is highly esteemed in this world is an abomination to God. We must stand up and tell this world what God says!
Of course, as with the Flood, there were a few spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: Lot and his daughters were brought out. The same will have to happen in the near future—God will have to pull His people out if we are to be saved. We will have to be taken to a place of safety.
God’s people have two hopes—a physical hope and a spiritual hope.
Of course, we don’t want to emphasize the physical over the spiritual, but it is nevertheless an exciting hope. We are physical beings, and as we see the storm gathering, we could get fearful and depressed if we don’t see some way to escape it (Revelation 12:14).
God’s ministers must make not only the place of safety real to people, but the need for the place of safety—because of the approaching cataclysm, which will be worse than the Flood, worse than Sodom! Can you imagine our great cities becoming ashes? This is Christ’s warning for our day!
Jude, in his epistle, also talks about the examples of the Flood and Sodom. In both of these instances, there is a great physical hope for God’s people if we can stand alone like Lot and Noah. Most of God’s people have chosen instead to go along with the world—a choice that may be easier in the short run but leads to unimaginable misery and death!
Lot and his two daughters fled Sodom. His carnal-minded sons-in-law mocked the warning they received and were left behind. Lot’s daughters had to leave their husbands-to-be to be saved physically!
In the future, we will all need that kind of faith. In some cases, we may have to walk away from family. In fact, we will probably all have to leave behind some people we are close to.
It takes strong faith to follow our Father. Will you have the faith to pick up and leave anybody for God?
It is always painful to lose people. The chances are very high that we will physically lose those we leave behind when we go to the place of safety. Of course, losing a son or daughter physically is very temporary. But in order to do that, our minds cannot be mired in the present—they must be firmly set on the future. The future is everything!
Lot’s wife could not reconcile herself to the idea of her world being destroyed. Human nature loves this world, and that is why people keep trying to save it. But there is nothing in this satanic world to love, apart from the incredible human potential. We must get beyond the longing of Lot’s wife, or we won’t have the faith we need to flee! We cannot look back.
Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and was turned to a pillar of salt. She still yearned for the sodomite lifestyle.
She left a powerful warning for God’s very elect today. This evil world must have no appeal for us. Our desire is to get out of Sodom. We must have the desire to flee. Huge metropolitan areas are going to be left without an inhabitant. God’s protection must be real to us.
This world is a sinking ship. We must get our minds off worldly ways and onto our commission. There should be nothing in this miserable, evil world that we want. We should only want to finish our commission, so we can create a new world with God!
Few Are Saved
Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives—eight people—were spared in the Flood. Lot and his two daughters—three—were saved from Sodom.
What is so shocking about these examples is how few God has been able to save physically!
Peter makes this point: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:18-20).
While Noah was proclaiming the message, God had to wait and watch how the people responded. This verse emphasizes the fact that, while many were warned, few were saved.
That is how it is in this world: In times of crisis, only a few remain with God.
God’s true Church will never have a large number of members as many other churches have. That is reality.
But realize: That won’t be the case for much longer. We are about to witness a revolution!
After the Flood, there was a small revolution—but soon a worldwide revolution is coming. The world will be virtually destroyed again, and then Christ will return and revolutionize this Earth!
God’s few must believe that, if we are to be delivered.
Many believe that God and Satan are in a contest for winning souls. But look at this history—in Noah’s day, eight were saved; in Lot’s day, three were saved. God really lost those battles, didn’t He?
No, He did not! God didn’t lose at all. He is allowing mankind to go its evil way during this 6,000-year period. The world is not yet judged; its judgment is coming.
Right now, God is working with just a few.
There are always a few God can use, who will stand up and proclaim God’s righteousness in the midst of indescribable evil—when “the transgressors are come to the full,” as the Prophet Daniel described it. One man against the world—10,000 saints (Jude 14) in a world of 7.8 billion people—so few, but backed by the power of Almighty God!
Our message is not just a global message about a nuclear holocaust. It’s also about ruling this Earth and the universe, which the angels were unable to do.
The only person God can save today is the person who can stand alone—as Noah did! God calls “one of a city, and two of a family” (Jeremiah 3:14). For our courageous Work, God will give us a headquarters position forever! (Revelation 3:12).
Like Noah, we must walk with God. That means being filled with God’s precious righteousness and proclaiming it—as Noah did.
God is building the team that will usher in and prepare for the very return of Jesus Christ to this Earth—an event that is coming fast!
Our Noah Work
Peter’s use of Noah’s example contains two messages: one about the destruction of an evil world, the other about a little remnant that stands up to that evil world and is protected.
Christ said this end time would be as it was in Noah’s day—man’s thoughts are again on evil continually. Of course, we must give God’s warning message—but there is another message of great hope for God’s people. You can look at Noah’s example and see that God saves a few.
God’s people must back and support our Noah message. It is a message about the end of the world and of man’s rule on Earth. It’s about standing alone and using the power of God!
Why does God contrast world destruction with eight people? He is speaking directly to us, to encourage us to face what is coming!
It doesn’t make any difference if we’re alone physically—God’s saints know they are never alone!
What encouragement God gives us. We must trust our Father, just as children trust their parents. He knows so much more than we do, and He is working out His perfect plan.
God’s Work has always been a work of faith in the face of odds. It requires spiritual courage, which is the highest level of faith.
Look at our college, for example. It is small and unaccredited in this world. It takes faith for a young person to come here. But those who come recognize that this is the only college that will survive into the Millennium! They come here out of a desire to join us in fulfilling our commission to the world. That takes gigantic vision!
If we see what God is doing, we recognize that His royal college is preparing people for world rulership! It is accredited by God!
In His true Church, God is training personnel for His eternal headquarters—individuals who can work with Jesus Christ and know His mind and His strategy and how He operates—individuals who simply believe God and can be trusted to do just what He commands—individuals who deeply, passionately love God and wrap their lives around His plan and purpose!
The depravity in society today is a sign that it is about to become ashes. That is an unpopular message. We need all the courage and all the power of God to follow Noah’s tremendous example and do this job.
Peter had to correct a government problem within God’s Church.
“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (2 Peter 2:10).
We should be an example of obedience to Christ and His government. We need to measure ourselves according to God’s government and God’s law. That applies to me as much as to anyone else—when I am wrong about something, I want to know. We are not here to promote ourselves, but to promote the truth of God and our Head, Jesus Christ.
Peter is speaking of people who despise government—or lordship, it could read. One commentary says, “They resist and reject the kingly glory of Christ.”
And they are inside the Church. Primarily, God is referring to the Laodiceans.
Just because we may speak favorably toward God’s government doesn’t mean we have the deeds to support those words.
One of the Laodicean churches has eliminated the scripturally based ministerial ranks that Mr. Armstrong used; all ministers are local elders in their respective areas. That sounds so equitable and loving, but they are rejecting God’s government. The thinking is that if everyone has the same rank, there won’t be any competition in the ministry. But that is just carnal reasoning—and they are without excuse! God taught them His government—as He did Lucifer. If God isn’t behind it, it drives Him right out of the Church!
How could you convince the men who made that decision that they despise government? It appears it will take more than words to reach them—but God will somehow get them to recognize that they hate His government.
“But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (verse 12). These individuals are like “brute beasts.” How? Animals have no potential for eternal life—they just live for a short time and die. Likewise, a person who doesn’t use God’s Holy Spirit will have no eternal life.
Mankind was made to live forever. But if men don’t repent of their sins and submit to God’s government, their future is the same as brute beasts!
Fifty percent of God’s people have already been prophesied to have that ignominious end. We all must deeply repent to receive the gift of eternal life.
God even calls what is considered the greatest religion on Earth a beast. That is because it supports a political beast—not God.
Why should we be impressed by rebellious men who will die like beasts? We should honor God by looking to His leaders like Noah.
In the book of Revelation, the most fearsome war-making machine this world has ever seen is also called a “beast,” and it is guided by a religious “beast” (Revelation 13, 17). It too will last only a short time and then die forever! They have no more value than beasts if they don’t repent.
“Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord” (2 Peter 2:11). The righteous angels set a good example for us in respecting God’s government. Satan has been condemned to the blackness of darkness forever. But God still leaves him on his earthly throne until Christ returns. The angels respect that office.
Jude gets even more specific on this subject. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9).
The archangel Michael has had many battles with Satan. However, he has always respected Satan’s office.
There is a reason why Peter and Jude discuss Satan and the demons in the context of sodomy—they are behind it! And Satan is behind those Laodiceans and others who despise God’s government!
As Mr. Armstrong used to say so often, “government is everything.” Satan is the antithesis of God’s view of government.
The archangels, Michael and Gabriel, work behind the scenes for God’s very elect against Satan and the demons.
This world will never have peace as long as it remains in the clutches of carnal human governments. It speaks evil of what it doesn’t understand. It doesn’t know God or understand His government. Only the government of God can save us.
None of us has any potential unless we rid ourselves of human nature. Human nature simply will not accept the rule of God. People will not listen to a Noah or a prophet of God today, so they have to deal with weapons of mass destruction and human annihilation!
Sons of the Flesh
Peter continues his condemnation of the Laodiceans: “And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time” (2 Peter 2:13). Normally people commit their rebellious deeds in the shadows of the night, but these are brazen rebels. They revel in sin at high noon.
“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin …” (verse 14). They are hooked on sin like heroin—like the homosexuals in Genesis 19. Their willpower is destroyed. That is what sin does to a person—it saps you of the will to live righteously.
“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray”—the Laodiceans had the right way but forsook it—“following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet” (2 Peter 2:15-16). These people had the right way, but then forsook it. Jude also uses the example of Balaam—and it is a very apt illustration of what has happened to the Laodiceans.
Peter refers to him as “Balaam the son of Bosor.” Bosor means flesh. Balaam was actually a son of carnality. He loved the way of Satan—of this world. He thought he was a godly man, but he was actually mad—so mad that God inspired his ass to speak to him and tell him about his madness.
It’s as if God is telling these false prophets that they have less wisdom than a donkey!
That is what we are dealing with spiritually! Look at the ideas the Laodiceans are promulgating. Some of them are truly asinine, considering what those people of God once knew!
“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (verse 17). Water represents the Holy Spirit. God’s people should be full of that living water! It should flow into and out of our lives every day. But the Laodiceans are dried up of that life-giving Spirit.
The blackness, or “mist of darkness,” hangs over them. This chilling horror hovers over them every day.
“For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error” (verse 18; rsv). This is talking about people who have “barely escaped”—that is, they are new in God’s Church.
Satan is subtle. He has different messages for different people—he knows our weaknesses and how to attack us specifically. He knows how to reach prospective members. God’s ministers must be watchful and help equip the brethren in areas where they are weak, so they can withstand these attacks.
The Law of Liberty
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).
James 1:25 talks about God’s “law of liberty.” These individuals promise freedom and liberty—but they never talk about the “law of liberty”! They offer a false freedom—a lawless liberty, which is really slavery. They talk about love, but it is a shallow, meaningless love, not grounded in God’s law.
The U.S. Supreme Court has offered sodomites “liberty.” Instead, they should be giving them the law of liberty. They themselves are servants of corruption and rebellion. By that logic, a heroin addict is free, because he can do whatever he wants!
People say homosexuality is freedom—but it is actually destroying the vision of the Family of God. Pornography rakes in billions of dollars in the U.S. each year because it is protected as “free” expression—but it is actually shattering families and enslaving people to sexual addiction, poverty and all kinds of problems.
No wonder God has to topple the U.S.—this nation is polluting and corrupting the whole world through television, movies, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.
If we’re going to talk about liberty, let’s talk about the law of liberty—a law directed by the government of God.
You can’t teach the law to carnal people unless you have the government of God, and people come under that government in a childlike and submissive way.
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). We really need the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The word knowledge in this verse is not gnosis, from which we get our word knowledge; it’s epignosis. Epi means intense or intensive; it expresses a more thorough participation in the knowledge. As Mr. Armstrong always said, if you don’t put your heart in this Work, you won’t grow. Epignosis is knowledge that directs your life—it is intense knowledge that causes us to want to give our lives to this Work. That is the kind of knowledge we need, Peter says, if we are to escape “the pollutions of the world.”
This knowledge causes us to submit to our Lord, or Master, and then let Him empower us with His Holy Spirit and become our Savior. People in the world talk about their Lord and Savior all the time, but they are just empty, meaningless words.
The Laodiceans had that knowledge—but then lost it and got entangled in the world again.
God is going to judge them harshly for turning their back on Him and returning to sin.
“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (verses 21-22). What an ugly picture—and a frightful fate to befall God’s people!
The Laodiceans are blind! How else can you explain their rejecting the transcendent reward God is extending to them? What obstacle prevents them from accepting this masterpiece of God’s creation—God re-creating Himself?
The Last Days
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3).
The rsv reads, “First of all you must understand this ….” Why is this emphasized by Peter?
Lange’s Commentary says that this is referring to “the last of the days.” That is, the farthest or uttermost. This is similar to what the Apostle John described as the last hour (1 John 2:18; rsv). And the times are growing rapidly worse.
Lange’s explains: “‘[T]hey shall come in the spirit of scoffing, as scoffers, walking, etc.’ [‘They will not only be scoffers, but they will come in scoffing, like those of whom the psalmist says, that their delight is in cursing, and that they clothe themselves with it, as it were, with a raiment (Psalm 109:16-17) ….’]”
Satan has been cast down and is full of wrath because his time is so short (Revelation 12:12). Demons are racing around like mad dogs, stirring up all kinds of rage. It intensifies as Satan’s spirit permeates humanity. People become clothed in a scoffing spirit.
In this end time, people are in a spirit of scoffing. They don’t realize it, but by being like this, they are fulfilling prophecy!
Many today scoff at God and at the Word of God. For example, when the Bible condemns homosexuality—so clearly that anybody can understand it—even religious leaders who claim to represent God stand up and say it’s good. There will be a reckoning for that! God holds ministers accountable more than other people—and that is true many times over of God’s true ministers.
In the last days, 2 Peter 3:3 says. You can see that Peter’s thinking was focused on the end of the world. We, too, need to get our minds on the end of the world. It didn’t happen in Peter’s time—but it is about to happen today! We are living through the last few minutes of mankind’s rule over this Earth!
Like Lot’s wife, most people cannot face the fact that this world is about to end. Even as they read daily headlines about the proliferation of terrifying weapons of mass destruction, they scoff!
Christ said it would be like Noah’s time in these latter days. But evil men scoff today at the Bible teaching about Noah and the Flood (2 Peter 3:4-7)—just as they did anciently. They scoff at Christ’s words.
They willfully refuse to see.
How can God reach their hardened minds?
God’s very elect must tell people what is coming. We must endeavor to get them to face reality!
As we do so, they will fight it. But when it is all over, they will say, There really was a prophet of God in our midst. They will recognize their own foolishness for rejecting the message of God.
First of all, though, God’s people must understand deeply that the era of man ruling man is about over. Mankind’s end is near, and we all need to understand that to our core.
What insight Peter gives us into what God expects us to accomplish!
The Sabbath Rest
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
What does that really mean?
“Be not ignorant,” Peter wrote. Don’t let this fact escape you. He really emphasized this. Why? What’s so important about it?
God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Our destiny is to become members of His Family, so God wants our minds oriented toward eternity. But eternity is a towering concept, so Peter tries to break it down for us.
We are preparing first of all for a thousand-year Millennium. After that, we will begin the process of spreading God’s government out into the universe and to eternity!
This is a universe-size concept. We must not live in the present. We must live in the future—as God does.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
We must have faith in our great God—He will keep His promise of this wonderful world that is to come. If we believe that, we know that God’s Kingdom is almost here!
A thousand years is like a day to God. He views 7,000 years as a week. The 7,000-year plan of God is typed by the seven-day week.
To understand what Peter is really saying, we need more perspective on this truth.
“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths [holy days] ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Exodus 31:13-14). The Sabbath is extremely important to God. He takes it very seriously.
“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord … It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days [a type of the 6,000 years of mankind’s rule] the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day [a type of the coming Millennium] he rested, and was refreshed” (verses 15, 17).
Is this the kind of Sabbath we keep?
God created the Sabbath by resting, and it refreshed Him. He looked at His creation and at the human beings He had made in His image and likeness. He considered His master plan, and how those first six days of the re-creation were a type of the coming 6,000 years He would allot to mankind’s rule on Earth. Then He thought on that seventh thousand-year period, during which He will usher in His Kingdom and govern the world. He meditated deeply on that future—and the way He kept the Sabbath really inspired and encouraged Him! He was lifted up and refreshed! He looked back on His creation, and He looked forward to the time when He would be able to give all mankind rest from sin! He anticipated being able to refresh all of mankind with the Millennium and the rule of Jesus Christ.
This begins to give us an idea of what Peter was really talking about in his epistle!
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). That rest is the Millennium, which is typed by the Sabbath—a millennial rest from sin. We must not fall short of attaining it!
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it [without faith, God’s Word won’t truly profit anyone]. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day [the Millennium] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief” (verses 2-6). We must believe!
“Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day [ancient Israel didn’t receive this promise]. There remaineth therefore a rest [margin: ‘keeping of a Sabbath’] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (verses 7-10).
God’s people need to cease from their work on the Sabbath—as all mankind will in the Millennium. Man will cease from his own works!
We must keep the Sabbath day this way—and look forward to the time when the whole world will be celebrating it. Mankind will see that a thousand years is as a day, and they will have a vision that will truly refresh and inspire them: a vision of the plan of God!
Look back at the physical creation and God’s transcendent plan to re-create Himself in man, and look to that glorious future, and you can understand more deeply what Peter means by saying, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Let’s keep our minds on this wonderful and inspiring future!
Proper Sabbath-keeping helps us think like God! We labor spiritually on the Sabbath to etch this vision into our minds. The Sabbath is a day for building hope!
I believe Peter could have said, “Just keep the Sabbath the right way, and you’ll begin to think this way yourself: a thousand years is as one day.”
If we don’t keep the Sabbath properly, we’ll never think like God. And if we don’t think like God, we will never be able to complete the job He has given us.
The Sabbath pictures the culmination of God’s 7,000-year plan. As we keep it, we see the outcome of today’s events, and we expect the world to change! That is what we live for! We know that 6,000 years is like six days to God—and it is about over!
The Sabbath should energize our vision and our understanding of why we are here on Earth. It keeps us happy and motivated and moving forward. You will never build the hope Peter is talking about without proper Sabbath-keeping. Without the Sabbath, we are stuck in the present. With a proper Sabbath, we are refreshed like God, ready for the challenges of the coming week.
We must always keep ourselves focused and thinking like God. The Sabbath is the primary way to do that in the week, as it gives us more time to do the spiritual work that keeps us looking to God and looking toward the future. It fills us with His hopeful vision.
Have a bad Sabbath, and you’ll have a bad week. Have a good Sabbath, and you’ll think of 1,000 years as a day!
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:12). The word hasting could read, “hasting the coming” (see King James reference). Strong’s defines hasting as “to ‘speed,’ i.e. urge on (diligently or earnestly) ….”
The Greek word for hasting is used six times in the New Testament—each time it means to make haste.
Can we hasten the Day of the Lord? I believe we can. The Bible discusses “time being cut short.”
God’s Work can’t end until it is finished. But if we are intensely urgent, we can do it in less time. We must do all we can to end this nightmare world as fast as we can.
The whole world groans as it waits for the sons of God (Romans 8:19-23). It certainly appears to me that we can end that massive groan quicker by working harder.
May God help us to do all we can.
Peter grew quickly and became the chief apostle. He wanted all of God’s people to follow his example as he followed Christ.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18; rsv).
That is a message filled with hope!