Isaiah 61: Do these words sound familiar? If you go to Luke 4, you will see these words begin Jesus’ ministry in Luke’s gospel as he proclaims good news to the poor. The words in Luke 4 come from Isaiah 58 and 61. Jesus saw his mission revealed clearly in the words from Isaiah. These words are a message of hope for the hearers then…when Jesus proclaimed them and for us today. The hope was in God responding to Jerusalem with hope in reconciliation. More importantly, God’s capacity to save Israel is far greater than Israel’s capacity…and ours…to turn away. And in Psalm 117, the shortest chapter in the entire Bible, comes a reaffirmation of the same God when we hear the words, “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever!” Now that is a real message ofhope!
2 Peter 2: Amid this great hope comes a great caution – there are many “out there” who will try to tell you all sorts of things…even about being a Christian. We live in a culture, not unlike the cultures identified in our Bible, where we can sometimes get our priorities mixed up. There are those – even those who would call themselves followers of Christ whose teaching has deviated from that of Jesus. Jesus calls out false teachers repeatedly in the gospel narratives and the same threat was seemingly important also in 2 Peter. There are many who will try to draw you to them in this chapter, we see what might be that of a Most Wanted Poster – a detailed description of these false teachers with the intention of readying you and I to be on the look out for them and avoid their teaching.
Devotional Thought: Today, tolerance seems to have become the major focus of the culture around us and something that all too easily creeps into the church itself. How many times have you heard someone say to you or someone else, “judge not lest you be judged”. After reading 2 Peter there may be even some who read this who say, “wow, that Peter is really harsh”. I want you to think about this for a moment…why then did this particular chapter make it into this book we call the Bible? (You can also read Jude and see similar thoughts) If you believe, as I do, that God by his Holy Spirit inspired the writing of these words then you have to ask yourself which way you want to think about this subject. I believe that these words…all of them – even as judgmental as some may think, are there to cause followers of Jesus to stop and think about what they hear and read – so that you and I can spot these false teachers wherever we are and avoid them like the plague.