Have we wandered off?

2 Peter 2:1–11

It says in Genesis 12:1, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation.” This is God speaking to Abram.

God had promised Abram that if Abram obeyed God then his descendants would become a great nation. In contrast we have seen that 400 years before the birth of Jesus, Abram’s descendants were few. After the exile in Babylon, there were only 50,000 of them. By the time Jesus was born, they had multiplied to around 2 million. Rather than a great nation, the descendants of Abram constituted a minor Roman colony.

It is possible to look at this picture and wonder if God had forgotten his promise. In fact that is what happened to many of the Hebrews, and they left the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is also possible to conclude that God is a creation of vivid human imagination, and many have also chosen that path. His promise did not come true because he is not real, according to this way of thinking.

We choose to see things a different way. We start by understanding God and his purposes. Is it God’s purpose and desire to have lots and lots of people who are descendants of Abram? Is it God’s purpose to make them into the greatest nation on earth and to rule to world through them?

Psalm 8:3–4 says, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

The answer to the psalmist’s question is that man is the expression of God’s love. Man is the image of God. God is love. When God spoke out his love, the universe was created. Man was created to be the highest and most perfect expression of God’s love. That’s why after creating mankind God said that it was “very good!” Everything else was good, but we were very good.

What does God call the people who are created in his image? He calls them his children.

1 John 3:1 – “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”

We are his children. We were created out of love to be his children. His purpose is to have a parent-child relationship with us. By this we obviously don’t mean a flawed and distorted parent-child relationship like the ones we see around us.

God’s purpose is to have the ultimate perfect relationship of love with his children.

God’s purpose is not to have lot’s of abandoned children. He didn’t create with the purpose of filling the world with orphans. God had a purpose when he created. His purpose hasn’t changed since. What has changed is us. We changed. We became fallen people. We became rebellious and stained with sin.

Because of us, God has another purpose. It is a temporary purpose. In order to fulfil his primary purpose, God has a secondary purpose. This purpose is to restore his children to their original state of sinlessness. This is called salvation. Salvation is the means to an end.

What does knowing God’s purpose do for us? It means that we are better able to understand his reasons and his ways. We are more prepared to cooperate with his purposes.

Take for example the Christian church today. What does God want for the church in Korea? Or for the church in your country? Does God want big churches packed with thousands of people? Is that God’s purpose? If we think that is God’s purpose we are likely to seek all the ways we can go out and bring people in. But what if God’s purpose is different?

When we look at the history of God’s people, we see how particular God was. God carefully selected Abram from all of humanity in the same way he selected Noah. God has always looked for people who would be close to his heart.

In order to pursue his purpose, God was willing to give up a whole generation in the wilderness. He even left Moses outside the promised land. Later on, God deliberately removed all of his people from the promised land and brought back only 50,000.

Why did God do this? It was to pursue his purposes. It was to gather a people who would be in close relationship with him, and share that relationship with others. Anybody who didn’t have that close relationship with God and led others away from God was a block to God’s purposes.

So in our reading today we find in verse one that the problem was false prophets and false teachers. These people “teach destructive heresies” and lead people away from the truth. So God condemns them. Rather than lots of people, God wants only those with pure hearts who are willing to have a relationship with him.

Peter’s stark warning in verse four is that if God didn’t even spare the angels, why would he spare us. God did not spare the ancient world, he saved only Noah. Noah was the one man who walked with God. “So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood.” (verse 5)

When God destroyed Sodom (verse 7) he rescued the one righteous man, Lot.

Peter describes a certain kind of people who are ‘like unthinking animals’, and who ‘delight in deception’ while pretending to be holy. Peter says these people ‘have wandered off the right road.’ They are useless, he says in verse 17: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind.”

God doesn’t need them. In fact, they hinder his purposes.

God would much rather have 50,000 faithful people than millions of Abram’s descendants.

Today, when we talk about Abram’s descendants, we mean Christians. Paul says the true descendant of Abram is the faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Romans 9:8 – “This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.”

God would not have exiled the Hebrews if they had been obedient, but when they followed their own ways they became a stumbling block.

Jesus didn’t go around persuading whomever he could to be a disciple. In Luke 6:10 we read that he spoke to 5,000 people. In verse 40, Jesus said, “it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life.” They began to complain and grumble at his hard teaching and then many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand.”

In verse 66 it says, “At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.” In another place (Luke 14:26) Jesus said you should “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters.”

We are well advised to be careful about our own situation. We listen to the words of Peter and take note of the exiles of the chosen people. We believe in only one Lord Jesus, who is the only way to salvation. Our attitude toward God does matter, and being a Christian isn’t just about going to church once or twice a week.

How we live matters incredibly. Our actions and morals matter. Good actions will arise out of a healthy relationship with our Lord Jesus. Love matters, and Jesus tells our lives should be filled with the expression of that love.

God did not spare even the angels. He will not spare us, either. We are the children of the promise, and God will keep his promise. But his promise came with a condition. We have to obey. The people in a relationship with God will get the promise. These people are his children, and he will bless them so that they can bless all nations.

This is what God is passionate about. This is what God cares about. This is why he created us as his children, in his image.

Amen 아멘

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About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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