“4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9–ESV)
If #1: God did not spare angels
Angels are spirits. Angels were created, and while we typically consider them to be good beings not all are. Angels were able to sin at some point in their existence. From Revelation 121 it is held that one-third of the angels rebelled and went with Satan. Some are free to roam the earth and from this passage some are already in hell.
If #2: God did not spare antediluvian3 world
The world before Abraham4 was not immune from rebellion. There was a flood of ungodliness and God brought a flood of cleansing. Noah, his family and a host of created things were preserved.
If #3: God did not spare cities of the Patriarchs
Certain cities before Israel became a nation5 were eliminated for their ungodliness. That was an example of punishment for sin.
If #4: God rescued the distressed Lot
The godly are distressed by evil. Sometimes the godly are trapped by evil and it seems that Lot was in that category. God though he was going to punish the cities where Lot was living did not bring the punishment onto Lot as he did the ungodly. There are many other features that surround this event, but Peter is not calling those features into account here.
If God did…then God is…Do you buy it?
The Big Then: God knows how to rescue the godly
Oftentimes those who are godly have lives intertwined with the ungodly. Sometimes this is because of their choices (Lot) and sometimes it is just how circumstances seem to have played out (Noah). These categories pertained to the men and women who would receive the letter from Peter and these categories pertain to us. God sees and knows what is going on in his world and can disentangle it all. The godly are not beyond rescue. Peter does not give any shape of how the rescue will be effected. That as as variable as snowflakes and fingerprints. That is not the point. Peter just says that God knows how to do it.
Peter and the other 10 disciples had wanted to know answers of the future. In Acts 1:6 they asked Jesus if he was going to restore the Kingdom of Israel. They wanted specifics, but that was not theirs to know, nor Jesus’ to elaborate upon.
For us faith is about looking at things like Peter shows here. See how the men and women of the scriptures have experienced life and God’s grace. Then believe it. When one sees what God has done one still has to say “yes” to faith.
Another Big Then: The unrighteous don’t wiggle away from punishment
While the ungodly may have moments where they clearly escape accountability this is not the end of the story. The unrighteous may look to the outsider (the righteous) like they are fine, good, and well, but we must not forget that sin does not satisfy, but deceives and beckons on to further wickedness. At the end of that line is both the judgment of God and the pleasure of Satan. The ungodly are held kept under punishment and will come to a final judgment.
Key topics in this section:
- God is real, present and knows what is going on
- Angels and humans held accountable for sins
- Righteous Noah preserved
- Righteous Lot rescued
- God rescues godly from trials
- The unrighteous do not get away with it
- Learn about God from what he has done.
- Apply your knowledge of God to your own trials and don’t despair
- Harsh tone for the rebellious, the sinner. Help for the righteous.