Sometimes we wonder why God allows so much evil in the world. We wonder why God doesn’t do something now about the people who are doing evil.
And in addressing the false teachers and their fate, Peter gives us an answer to this.
In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction is not sleeping. (3)
In short, though it seems like God isn’t doing anything and that justice will never come, it will come. Condemnation is hanging over the wicked, ready to drop. And their destruction is sure.
Peter then gives three illustrations of this from the Old Testament.
First there were the angels that sinned whom God sent straight to hell. This is actually kind of unusual, because for the most part, demons are not bound. They are free to roam the earth and wreck havoc. But apparently some demons were so bad that they were bound up and are now being held for final judgment. (We’ll talk more about this when we come to Jude).
Second, there were all the people on the earth in the time of Noah. People who were so bad that, “every inclination of the thoughts of [their] hearts was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5)
And for all the years that Noah built the ark, warning these people to repent, they continued on in their sin, seemingly unpunished. But when the flood came, judgment fell and they all perished. Noah and his family, however, were saved.
Third was the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. For years they lived in utter depravity, such that Lot was afraid that two visitors to the city (who turned out to be angels) would be raped if they stayed out in the open. Ultimately, his neighbors’ actions proved him correct. And so God judged that city, destroying it. But again he spared Lot from that destruction.
And so Peter concludes,
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. (9)
Some points here.
First, though it says that the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials, it does not mean we will never go through them. That bad things will never happen to us. But through them all, God will be with us and see us through. And ultimately, we will find rest with him in heaven.
But as for the evil, they will be judged. Peter tells us that they are being held for the day of judgment, and in the meantime, their punishment has already started.
Nobody likes the idea of hell and eternal punishment. I certainly don’t. But it is reality. Now, the final judgment won’t come until after the millennium in which Christ reigns. But until that time, those who have died apart from God are undergoing punishment for their sins.
And on the day of final judgment, John tells us that they will be thrown into a lake of burning fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
Sadly, if the judgment of Satan is any indication, they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
It’s not a pretty picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s justice.
Justice will be done someday. That’s the hope of judgment. And that’s the fear of judgment.
It’s the fear of those who have rejected Christ.
But for those who have put their faith in him, Jesus says,
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
How do you see judgment day? With hope? Or fear?