devotion 10-30-14

Good Morning!We had a great time at the Children’s Home yesterday, although it was, admittedly, a really long drive!

2Peter 2:14b – 22

Accursed children! 15They have left the straight road and have gone astray, following the road of Balaam son of Bosor,* who loved the wages of doing wrong, 16but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest darkness has been reserved. 18For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just* escaped from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For 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 that was passed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb,
‘The dog turns back to its own vomit’,
and,‘The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.’

First of all, let me say that there is nothing uplifting in this passage! It is an angry rant; the author is piling insult upon insult in a form of diatribe, or speech-making in which the opponent is vilified. Again, it is reminiscent of today’s politics!

The reference to Balaam and the donkey is an old-testament story children know. The prophet had been hired by a foreign king to prophecy against Israel. God sent the Angel to intervene – Balaam could not see the angel but the donkey could, and the donkey stopped to avoid the angel. When Balaam berated the donkey the donkey spoke. Thus the donkey’s speech warned Balaam against going the wrong way.

The false teachings do not deliver on what they promise – they are waterless springs. They promise freedom but enslave their followers in sin. We can only guess from the author’s diatribe what these people are teaching, except that it is obviously in conflict with what he has taught them. The author says that those who follow the false teachings would have been better off if they had never known Christ’s way at all, than that they have known the way but have been led off, again enslaved in the ways of the world. Have you known someone who was once a faithful or at least a religious person who has lost their faith and become cynical and even mocking and cruel to those who believe? In this way they are worse off than the person who never knew faith at all, for you can see the pain behind their cynicism. The thing is, God never gives up on anyone!

The animal analogies are quotations from Proverbs. (Proverbs 26:11) For a Jewish person to compare someone to a pig is an ultimate insult!

This ends this “rhetorical rampage”, for which I am grateful! (I have referenced Borg and Craddock, “The People’s New Testament Commentary” to get us through this! It is not an uplifting scripture. And I struggled with even including it, deciding to find help in the references and continue, but I am relieved to be through it!)

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