Tuesday, July 21, 2009

II Peter 2:4-8 God the Righteous Judge Part III

As we look at this world and see people disrespect God and His word, it’s easy to get discouraged. I would imagine many of you pray sometimes, just as I do, “How long, Lord?” We want to see God’s righteousness and justice become a present reality in the world not just some sort of high and lofty concept. While we wait for that day to come, we can take comfort in the fact that scripture clearly reveals that God has dispensed justice and distinguished between the right and the wrong. Because He has done so, we can trust Him to do it again.

As we saw in the previous post on these verses, God “preserved Noah” who was described as a “preacher of righteousness”. Lot’s story is a little bit different. If you read the account in Genesis, Lot chose to live near Sodom and Gomorrah. He was offered by his uncle, Abram, the choice between the land of Canaan and living near Sodom and he made the choice of Sodom. Now, Genesis tells us that the folks living in Sodom were wicked. So, Lot gets there to Sodom and he’s living there around these wicked people. He sees for himself the sorts of people they are and how wicked they act and what does he do? He continues to live there. Then, a few chapters later he and his family get captured when a local war breaks out between some of these kings. After his uncle comes and rescues him, you might expect him to say to himself “Ok, these people are wicked and the area is not safe with all this warring and strife. We need to move”. However, that’s not what happened. He stayed in this unsafe area surrounded by wicked people.

So, when God brought judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, He didn’t preserve Lot like He did Noah. God “rescued righteous Lot”. Of course, we recognize that Lot was righteous the same way that anybody becomes righteous—he had faith in God. We can commend Lot for that but the fact that God had to rescue Lot tells us something. The Greek word translated “rescued” (rhoumai-4506) means to snatch away from danger. Lot didn’t go willingly, remember—they had to drag him out (Genesis 19:16). He and his family left Sodom though it was not of their own accord but they did make it out before God’s terrible judgment fell on those wicked people.

However, even though he had to be made to leave, let’s listen to what scripture does say about him. As we have noted, Peter writes here in verse 7 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Lot was righteous. The people he lived with in contrast are described as “sensual” (not restraining any of their passions-“if it feels good, do it”) and “unprincipled” (athesmos [113]-not willing to be subject to the rule of law). Peter writes that in this environment, Lot was “oppressed” or worn down by their vile behavior. He was burdened. In fact, Peter in the next verse describes Lot as feeling “his righteous soul tormented day after day”. The word “tormented” translates a word that was sometimes used to describe torture and it also was used to describe testing precious metals with a touchstone. The evil deeds he saw as he lived there in Sodom were a constant, daily source of anguish. While he might not have lived the kind of life that Moses did and allowed his lifestyle to preach the goodness and judgment of God on these people, we can at least acknowledge that he did not allow himself to become contaminated by the putrid lifestyles of the sinner he lived among not did he partake in their “lawless deeds”.

Peter’s point in these verses has been that God does punish sin and redeem those with saving faith. Because He has done it in the past, we can trust that when He judges in the future it will likewise be righteous. We can be thankful that we will not suffer His wrath if we are His children but we should therefore be even more motivated to call men and women everywhere to repent of their sins so that God will forgive them. That is our mission and our privilege.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Lot was super-righteous. Offering up his daughters for gang rape. What a guy!

Joe Blackmon said...

Good point, Drew. He did offer his daughters to the men seeking the two strangers (angels). And David committed adultry and murder. Paul was an accessory to Stephen's murder. God forgives sins and the sinners who commit them.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but this was not the New Testament god of forgiveness.

This was the Old Testament god of rape and murder and genocide and infanticide and war.

And THIS god DESTROYED the entire city of Sodom for being wicked, while saving Lot for being righteous.

Therefore, we can conclude that this particular god (the mean, nasty, tribal god of the OT) was pretty hip to dads who like to offer their daughters up to be gang-bnged by a mob of deranged rapists.

Make a note of it.

Joe Blackmon said...


Proverbs 26:4


Anonymous said...

In other words, you have no answer for me, and prefer to merrily avert your eyes from the savage cruelty of the OT god.

I will make a note of it.

Joe Blackmon said...


Romans 8:7

Add that to your note.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it is duly noted that you still have no answer as to why the god you worship gives its stamp of approval to virgin gang rape. (And as we know, the god you worship knows a thing or two about knockin' up the virgins.)

Joe Blackmon said...

Being called righteous does not mean he was perfect and it does not suggest or imply that Peter overlooked or condoned what he offered to do with his daughters. In the context, Noah was an island of righteousness in the midst of a sea of wickedness. Lot also was righteous particularly compared with the wicked people he lived around. The fact is, even the Sodomites acknowledged this when they said he was acting as if he was a judge over them (Genesis 19:9). As I pointed out above, David was guilty of muder, conspiracy, and adultry. Abraham asked his wife to lie when they went to Egypt. Rahab was a hooker. Thankfully, righteousness comes as a result of faith and it is not dependant on our ability to be "good enough" to get to heaven.

Anonymous said...

So, what on earth could "righteous" even mean in this context?

By what measuring stick did the god you worship judge the pro-gang-rape Lot to be worthy of saving, while every other inhabitant of the town was too wicked to live?

In your cosmology, this is vastly pre-Jesus, so it can't be a modern Fundamentalist Christian measuring stick like: "He loves Jesus, even though he's a sinner."

Similarly, this is before the supposed delivering of the Law at Sinai, so it can't be an ancient Jewish measuring stick like: "He arranged for a priest to rip the heads off six birds, or whatever, and bled them to death on the alter, and then burned their bodies, and made an odor that YHWH just *loves* to sniff at, and by obeying these bananas-crazy rules, he managed to be spared."

So, what could it possibly be?

Sorry, fella, anyway you look at it, this story presents a god who does not really frown so much on gang rape, which is REPULSIVE.

For you, you are stuck. You believe -- for whatever reason -- that this "Bible" is "true," literally, wholly, a big fat "Word of God" that contains no error, and is not open to "interpretation" which is only something that fancy-pants elitist sinners would do.

For me, I am not stuck. I recognize that the book of Genesis was written by a fallible human, in a primitive time, not at all "inspired by God," and for this human, in his culture, daughters were a father's property, and homosexuality was strictly taboo. So it makes sense that such a writer would manage to pen such a nasty little story.

And I can look at the story as illuminating and illustrative of an earlier time, and another culture, but what I cannot do is take my moral cues from it, because it is not relevant to me. And I can make my own decisions about whether or not Lot was "righteous."

And yet: Fundamentalists continue to misuse this and other parts of the Bible -- Leviticus, etc. -- to try to "prove" that same-sex relationships are somehow wicked and detestable. The truth is that human culture has evolved far beyond the tribal mores of the nomadic sand people depicted in the OT, and their taboos -- shellfish, menstruation, homosexuality -- simply need not be OUR taboos in 21st century America.

Similarly, their familial structures -- fathers own their daughters, brothers must marry their widowed sisters-in-law, etc. -- need not be our obligations.

You, Blackmon, seem to understand this when it comes to cultural evolution on other topics (see previous discussion of early Christian restrictions on male and female hair length), so it's high time you and your Bible beating Fundamentalist brethren hit the refresh button and get a modern view on homosexuality.

Joe Blackmon said...

In your cosmology, this is vastly pre-Jesus, so it can't be a modern Fundamentalist Christian measuring stick like: "He loves Jesus, even though he's a sinner."

Genesis 15:6 "Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Righteousness has always been by faith in God. Prior to Jesus arriving on this earth. Prior to the law being given to Moses. Righteousness never came by works but by faith.

so it's high time you and your Bible beating Fundamentalist brethren hit the refresh button and get a modern view on homosexuality.

I will take your suggestion under advisement and give it all the consideration it deserves. Thanks for the comments, Drew.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so "believed in the LORD" = righteousness

What does that mean?

Joe Blackmon said...

Drew, that is a good question and one that deserves a good answer. I'm kinda ties up right at the moment (groceries, fixing lunch for the kids, etc) and want to take the time to answer as best as I can. I will make time to sit down this afternoon and answer you. I just don't want to give a quick 30 second answer to an important question. Can you bear with me for a few hours? I appreciate it.

Joe Blackmon said...

Now, the kind of belief that the passage in Genesis is talking about is what I'd call saving faith. See, here's the deal--God promised Abraham to give him land, Seed (Jesus), and blessing. Abraham was old and so was his wife so he had to choose whether to believe God would give him offspring from which would come the Seed God spoke of which was Jesus.

Now this belief was not some sort of mental assent where he simply acknowledged a fact to be true. It was a belief that changed how he lived. When God told him to sacrifice his son Issac, he was obediant. Scripture tells us that he obeyed God because he figured that the same God that gave him the order would also raise Issac from the dead. That is the kind of belief that is accounted as righteousness--the belief that leads a person to obey God.

Anonymous said...

This question of what constitutes "belief" in a pre-Torah, pre-Jesus society has brought us full circle.

We started out with you praising Lot for offering his daughters up for gang rape, and we end with you praising Abraham for being willing to murder his son.

These two brutal stories are actually two of the (many) reasons that I am not a Christian.

I believe that many stories can be illuminating -- as stories -- but literalist Bible-beaters insist that these stories are literally true. And as literal truth, they are repugnant. Tied as literal truths to all of the other supposed truths of the OT and NT, they result in an incoherent mess of nonsense.

It's okay that Abaraham is about to knife his son in the desert, but it's NOT okay that other surrounding tribes do the exact same thing? It's okay for a supposedly unchanging god to demand that a rape victim marry her abuser in the OT, and then turn right around and say that even mere lust is so bad you should gouge out your eyes in the NT?

It's insane.

And the truth is that we have NO IDEA what "belief" meant to a pre-Torah people, because all we have to go by is the Torah, and it is clearly unreliable. This would-be murderer Abraham, he's depicted as "believing" in a god who walks around on two legs like a man and chats with him like a buddy.

That might have been important to the writers of the early Jewish Scriptures, to think of their ancestor as god's bosom chum, in the flesh, receiving all these grand promises about land, which they can then use to justify their tribes' savage cruelty to their neighbors -- but it's hardly a basis for a modern understanding of how we should live together in harmony.

And if you believe otherwise, then hey, go ahead and offer up your virgin daughters to a horny mob, and bind up your firstborn son, brandishing a knife in his terrified face, because hey -- it'll be reckoned you you as righteousness, I guess.

Joe Blackmon said...


Aye carumba!! Oy vey!! Q'aplah!!