Monday, November 17, 2014

DIVINE RESCUE (2 Peter Chapter 2)

2 Peter 2:9, “…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.”

I saw in the news the other day that someone called 911 to order a pizza.  Dispatchers get those kinds of goofy calls from time to time, but for those in genuine distress the 911 dispatch system is a wonderful thing.  A dispatcher and trained rescue workers stand prepared to respond so that people in need might be delivered from a host of troubling circumstances.

There is no 911 to call when it comes to our spiritual troubles.  Instead it is God who stands on the other side of our pleas for help.  Trials are an inevitable part of life (Cf. John 16:33).  It’s good to know that God knows how to rescue the godly from trials. 

The Greek term translated rescue in this verse means “to draw or snatch to oneself and invariably refers to a snatching from danger, evil, or an enemy.”  The term emphasizes both the greatness of the peril and the power exercised in the deliverance from it.  The basic idea might be compared to a soldier responding to the cry of a wounded comrade in battle.  He runs to his aid and with exertion drags him away from the hands of the enemy. The verb, as it is used here, is in the present tense indicating a continual action.  The suffering Christian can rest assured both of God’s awareness of his plight and God’s ability to rescue him from it no matter how perilous it might be.

Peter draws on a couple of examples to illustrate his point.  God “rescued righteous Lot” (Cf. 2 Peter 2:7).  Lot was unaware of the plight that was soon to befall the city, but God sent two angels to deliver him (Cf. Genesis 19:1f).  His subsequent rescue is vividly described in Genesis 19:15-16: “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.”  But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”  Noah was likewise “preserved” from the great flood of which he was previously unaware through the intervention of God (Cf. 2 Peter 2:5).  Peter’s argument in this passage is from the lesser premise to the greater.  If God was able to rescue Lot and preserve Noah, then He is able to rescue us also.

On the other side of the equation stands the fate of the ungodly and the false teachers Peter warned of.  God knows both how to rescue the godly and how “to the keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9; Cf. Jude 14-15).  “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Peter 2:3).  God will most assuredly accomplish His alternative purposes both with respect to the godly and the ungodly.

Charles Spurgeon once commented on God’s rescuing ability: “The godly are tempted and tried.  That is not true faith which is never put to the test.  But the godly are delivered out of their trials, and that not by chance, nor by secondary agencies, but by the LORD Himself.  He personally undertakes the office of delivering those who trust Him.  God loves the godly or godlike, and He makes a point of knowing where they are and how they fare.  Sometimes their way seems to be a labyrinth, and they cannot imagine how they are to escape from threatening danger.  What they do not know, their LORD knows.  He knows whom to deliver, and when to deliver, and how to deliver.  He delivers in the way which is most beneficial to the godly, most crushing to the tempter, and most glorifying to Himself.  We may leave the "how" with the LORD and be content to rejoice in the fact that He will, in some way or other, bring His own people through all the dangers, trials, and temptations for this mortal life to His own right hand in glory.  This day it is not for me to pry into my LORD's secrets but patiently to wait His time, knowing this, that though I know nothing, my heavenly Father knows.”

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