PETER AND THE END
Peter believed that “the end of all things was near,” and that Christ was outside the door ready to surprise the world. Their suffering itself was evidence that judgment had begun at the family of God and was being purified to face the Judge of the saved and the unsaved. The saved were the reborn or newly born in the spirit called the living and the dead were the unconverted. On Judgment Day, the saved shall be rewarded or claim their inheritance and the unsaved shall be punished, and give an account of what they had done (I Peter 1:4; 4:5). The highest goal of the saved will be the “salvation of their souls” (I Peter 1:9). Peter did not expect large numbers to survive. He based it on the idea of being saved by water — very much like the judgment during the flood in the days of Noah when only eight people were saved by water. His analysis of baptism played a similar role. He gave this reason, “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also –- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (I Peter 3:21). Water united the believer with the risen Christ symbolically and secured his salvation.
Water also was symbolic of creation and judgment. Peter gave this interpretation on water. “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming promise? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens and the earth were formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heaven and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” “But in keeping with this promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (II Peter 3:3-7, 13). The reference to a new earth endorsed the Jewish apocalyptic view that there was a new Israel in the promise where Peter and the apostles would govern the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). A similar belief was propounded in the Book of Revelation where the apostles and the twelve tribes shall enjoy a millennial reign of peace where there would be no more interference by any hostiles (Revelation 20-21). All this was kept in heaven and it would be disclosed when Christ is revealed (I Peter 1:3-7). Before that new world can begin, God will deal with those that have misled the world.
Peter had a bleak picture of judgment. He used Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah to illustrate the severity of God’s punishment for those that rejected His ways. “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did nor 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 filthy lives of lawless men (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 godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.”
“They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots of blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed –- an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey –- a beast without speech –- who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness” (II Peter 2).
The fated people are false teachers that have misled their followers and robbed them of the salvation of their souls. “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them” (II Peter 2:21). “Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth in disrepute” (II Peter 2:2). Misleading people that hung on to Jesus was unforgivable. Peter echoed the words of Jesus penned by Mark 9:42-49: “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.”
I was about six years old when I pulled on a blower and watched my father salt the fire until two ends of iron melted into one. Sin is no joke. Sin is mortal! Sin separates us from each other and from God forever. We must not let sin consume us.