devotion 10-28-14

Good Morning! We are preparing this morning to drive north, to visit the United Methodist Children’s Home, in Enterprise, Fl (near Deltona, between Daytona and Orlando). There are 5 of us going – we hope to bring back pictures and stories! Note: there will not be a devotion sent out tomorrow, as I will be on the road most of the day.

2Peter 2:4 – 16

4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell* and committed them to chains* of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgement; 5and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; 6and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction* and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly;* 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement 10—especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones,*

The author, after saying that the false teachers will face judgment, goes on to give three examples of others who faced judgment. The first example, about angels who sinned and were cast into hell (Tartarus in the Greek), is based on an obscure passage in Genesis 6, which says that the sons of God married human women – this is a strange passage that most people find bewildering, for we believe that God had only one Son. Some think the passage refers to angels. This was the interpretation of a Jewish writing called 1st Enoch, from around 200 BC. In that book those sinning angels are cast into hell and confined in dark pits until judgment day. The writer of 1 Peter assumes that his audience is familiar with that story from 1st Enoch, and apparently gives it the weight of scripture. (First Enoch was not Scripture, but a Mishnah – additional stories written to explain or elaborate on the Scripture.)

The second example is that of Noah – the false teachers add immoral living to their falsehood, and so would be punished as were the evil people of Noah’s time. (This author does not have much mercy, and does not see God as merciful.) But Noah is a story of redemption – God saves Noah and his family; God does not wipe out the human race, as he first intended. God shows mercy, and redeems humanity through Noah.

And third, he speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, God shows mercy – in his argument with Abram over this event, God agrees to spare the city if only 10 righteous can be found. But only Lot and his family are found righteous in all the city. The men of the city attempt to gang-rape the angels God sends to find Lot. In the end, God saves only Lot and his daughters, as his wife disobeys and gets turned into salt.

Using these examples, the author says that God will save and redeem the beleaguered churches and punish the false teachers. His language is strong – clearly angry – as he charges them with depraved lust and arrogant mocking of apostolic tradition. He calls them bold and willful, saying they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones. This is what we would call a “rant”, but was a common form of oratory (speaking) in the day, where either praise or blame were heaped upon a person or group in exaggerated terms. This author also borrows considerably from the letter of Jude – if you read verses 4-6 of Jude, you will find almost direct quotes used here.

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