Here is the outline of a message I preached this morning at Grimsby Bible Church. Since it is a relatively obscure text I though it might be helpful to those who might be studying this section of God's word.
Learning From History
Grimsby Bible Church
November 9, 2008
Text: 2 Peter 2:4-11
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell (Gk. Tartarus), putting them in chains of darkness (or gloomy dungeons) to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) – if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord."
In these verses Peter wants to teach us 2 things: (1) The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and (2) he knows how to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment (9).
To prove and establish these truths he takes us back into biblical history to (1) the fall of those angels who rebelled against God, (2) the worldwide flood that happened in the time of Noah, and (3) to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rescue of Abraham’s nephew Lot from those wicked cities.
1. The fall of the angels who sinned.
a. We do not have much information about this event. Here, Jude 6, Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28.
b. The angelic beings were created before humanity. And they rebelled prior to Genesis 3.
c. Why they fell remains a mystery—although it’s likely linked to the pride of Satan.
d. Many angels did not corrupt themselves—referred to as elect angels (1 Tim 5:21).
e. No salvation was provided for the angels that did sin—i.e. God did not spare them.
f. Rather they were consigned to the deepest regions of hell, chained with darkness until the day of judgment. This does not mean they are not active on earth, it speaks of their irrevocable sentence. Their doom is sure. There is no hope. They are given over to sin.
g. These fallen angels are meant to be a frightening spectacle. No hope. Chains of darkness. Held for judgment. How thankful we should be for John 3:16 and 1 John 4:10!
2. The worldwide flood in the days of Noah.
a. Peter speaks of the Genesis flood (6-9) as a historical reality and not legend.
b. In that catastrophic event God wiped out all human beings but 8 (Noah and his family).
c. Noah is described as “a preacher of righteousness” who called people to repentance.
d. No human being escaped except those God chose to save. And while God has promised never to destroy the earth by a flood, he has told us he will destroy it by fire.
e. Because many years have gone by, and this has not yet happened, many doubt that it will ever happen. But just as they failed to listen to Noah and perished, so they will perish in the end unless they take to heart and obey the message of the gospel.
g. This event should lead is to take refuge in God. There is no other safe place.
3. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rescue of Lot.
a. More words are used to describe this event than the other two put together.
b. This is because it is especially exemplary. God made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly (6). God burned them to ashes—destruction by fire!
c. One day this world is going to be burned and purified by fire. The Bible teaches this.
d. But not everyone died in the destruction of the twin cities of the plain.
e. God was merciful to Lot (cf. Gen 19:16). Lot was a righteous man living in a depraved environment and his righteous soul was tormented day after day by what he saw/heard.
f. But the Lord rescued him and the Lord will rescue those related to Abraham by faith.
And so we learn from history that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. The question then becomes: Who are we? To what category of people do we belong? Are we godly or unrighteous? Have we known God’s mercy or not?
At this point we could be done... but we are not. In verses 10-11 Peter goes on to make an extra point.
· In the exercise of his judgment — this is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature (flesh—cf. Jude 7) and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings (cf. Gen 19; 6:1-4); yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord.
· The combination of false teaching, corrupt desires (immorality), and arrogant pride are very offensive to God, and such people call down upon themselves the special judgment of God.
· Why add this additional point?
o To warn us to cling to the truth, to walk in purity, and in humility.
o To encourage us that biggest trouble makers will not last long.
· History, especially biblical history, is important. Bible stories are not just meant to amuse. They are meant to instruct and teach and challenge us. God is immutable and true to his word. We can count on him to do what he has said, both positively and negatively.
· Profiting from history requires faith, just like everything else in the Christian life. Do we believe God? Believe him enough to alter our behaviour? Believe him enough to obey when no one else shares our perspective? (cf. Noah/Lot) Believe him when surrounded by bold and arrogant people?