The history of God proves his character. Two main facts leap off the pages of 2 Peter.
- Yahweh is a God of compassion and mercy, one who planned ahead for our redemption before he even created the universe.
- Yahweh is a God of justice who will not hesitate to bring sinners to judgment.
Since we’re all sinners worthy of judgment, God’s mercy is a gracious gift to us. It is available to all. All we must do is believe and entrust ourselves to him. His compassion enables us to come clean, to bare our flaws and weaknesses to him, and to cry out for his help. He gives it willingly and freely.
Peter details eyewitness and historical evidence.
Along with others, he heard God’s verbal affirmation of Jesus as Messiah. With their own eyes, they saw Jesus’ transfiguration, his perfect life, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. Hundreds of others witnessed him after he was raised, and many thousands witnessed his life, his teaching, and his miracles.
The testimony of eyewitnesses confirms that the gospel is true and Christ is who he claimed to be, the Son of Man, God in the flesh come to save us. It also confirms the prophetic record. When God promises a Messiah, he sends him.
In 2 Peter 2, Peter cracks open the historical evidence, listing a few accounts of when God brought judgment. As one who is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, God’s patience is long. Yet when he acts, he acts decisively and at just the right time.
The evidence Peter provides are God’s judgment of angels, his judgment of the ancient world with the Noahic Flood, and his judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. “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” (2 Peter 2:6). This was a warning for us, so we would turn to him in humility.
God’s love and mercy is so glorious that we hardly ever turn our minds this direction. We often forget his justice and holiness in contemplating his compassion. Even in the middle of judgment God shows mercy to those who love him and depend upon him for any claim to righteousness. He rescued Noah and Lot from those cataclysmic catastrophes.
Peter explains why he details these hard facts about God. 2 Peter is Peter’s last will and testament, his final word. He wants the church to remember God’s history of mercy and of justice. We can bank on the fact that God is merciful and he is just, because he has proven it in the past. This is the record.
Jesus spoke of these same events. They are historical. They are true. They give us vital information about God that is significant for us to comprehend lest we think he is some permissive, happy-go-lucky, feckless creature. They also keep us from assuming he is a lightning-bolt hurling, capricious, temper-tantrum throwing, Zeus-type god. He is neither.
Because of this past record of God’s character as revealed through his actions, Peter says, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
Yahweh is a God who constantly and continually rescues those who are his. He reaches in repeatedly and saves us from ourselves. He brings refining life experiences to hone off the edges, encouraging and proving to us that we are his as we see the growth he provokes. He loves us enough to save us and to rescue us, and he watches us continually to carry this out as often as necessary.
And he is also just. He will bring sinners to justice. Apart from faith in Christ and the application of his perfect life and his atoning sacrifice, we have no hope.
Since God is just, and he will indeed judge, now is the time to take hold of the hand he offers, to accept his offer of mercy, and to turn to him.
He offers his hand to you. Have you grasped it?
Album by Shai Linne—The Attributes of God, top song “Mercy and Grace” and bottom song “Lord of Patience”
Featured image: Aaron Burden, Sweet Hour of Prayer, Creationswap.com
Photos licensed by Creative Commons.