To show the nature of God’s judgment upon the false teachers of the second chapter of his second epistle, Peter pointed to three examples of God’s judgment upon mankind. His first example of God’s judgment, which fell upon the angels or messengers (patriarchs) of God, pointed to Satan (through the leaders into whose hands he vested his authority – see Revelation 13:2). Peter’s second example of God’s judgment was the Noahic Flood, which points to the world. In his final example of God’s judgment Peter mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah which cities God destroyed because of their extreme wickedness, and this judgment corresponds to the flesh (cf. Jude 1:7). It is this third judgment that will be the subject of this blogpost.
In Genesis 19 Scripture tells us that the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven. While the Genesis record reveals several types of sinful behavior that was prevalent in the cities, fornication, rape, violence, intimidation etc., it doesn’t specify the reason why God judged the cities. Nevertheless, the Lord told Abraham that he intended to investigate the cities to see if their sin was as grievous as the cries that had come up to him (Genesis 18:20-21). From this statement Abraham understood that God intended to destroy the cities (Genesis 18:22-33). We have to come to the New Testament to understand why Sodom and Gomorrah were sentenced to be destroyed.
Peter tells us that Lot was a righteous man (2Peter 2:7), and day by day he was tormented by the wicked behavior of those all around him (2Peter 2:8). Lot was one of the city’s judges and sat in its gate (Genesis 19:1, 9), so he was privy to many evil matters that might have otherwise escaped his attention. In 2Peter 2:6 we discover that Lot was being worn down by the pressure of Sodom’s wickedness, because dealing with it day by day was a source of great stress. The wickedness of the people was great continually, and Peter points to it in order to show how stressful it was for believers in his day to live under the influence of the false teachers, who had entered into the assemblies of God in Asia Minor (2Peter 2:6-8; cf. Genesis 6:5).
Genesis 19:10-11 tells us the angels blinded the men of Sodom at Lot’s door. The act of blinding these men corresponds to the Lord’s judgment upon the patriarchs who sinned and were cast into tartarus or chains of darkness (cf. 2Peter 2:4). Not only so, but the blinding of those men also reminds us that all men who don’t glorify God when they know him have their foolish hearts and minds darkened. Such blindness occurs as God withdraws from men’s wicked lives. Such people, whether they are leaders or not, are unaware of the evil effect their wickedness has upon their own lives and that of others (Romans 1:21). Therefore, they will never recognize their coming judgment.
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their great wickedness (2Peter 2:6; cf. Genesis 18:20-21). However, the occasion of his judgment was accelerated by Sodom’s attack on Lot and the angels, just as in the New Testament God’s judgment upon the wicked immediately follows their attack upon those he called to be his disciples (2Peter 2:1, 3). Jesus prophesied that his followers would be persecuted (Matthew 23:34), but judgment upon their enemies would follow (Matthew 23:35-39; 24:1-2). Jesus also claimed Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, and that would occur at his coming (Matthew 24:29-30; cf. Daniel 7:13-14), i.e. his coming into his heavenly Kingdom.
Whenever God is described as coming in the clouds of heaven, it indicates he is coming to judge the wicked and reward the righteous (cf. Jeremiah 4:13; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15; Isaiah 19:1). In this study of Peter’s epistles we have found that there had to have been a single source for the Church’s common trouble in Asia Minor during the first century AD, and my understanding points to Annas, the high priest in Jerusalem, as the authority behind their persecution. It was Jerusalem’s plan to destroy the church of God in the Diaspora and bring them under the power of the authorities there. Paul tells us that God’s people (the Church) are collectively the Temple of God, and to reach out to destroy God’s Temple has its consequences (1Corinthians 3:16-17). Jesus predicted he would come in the clouds of heaven to judge the high priest who judged him and destroy the Temple and Jerusalem (Matthew 26:64; cf. Daniel 9:26).