TODAY’S SCRIPTURE 2 Peter 2:1-22
Why does a police officer write speeding tickets? When the blue lights are in our rearview mirror, we tend to get cynical about the officer’s motivation for pulling us over. Maybe the department is trying to raise some money in fines. Perhaps the officer has a quota to meet and it’s the end of the month. Maybe his ex-girlfriend drove the same color and model of car that I do. It’s easy to look at the ticket and assume a negative motivation. Would it change your feeling about that officer if you knew that his child was hit and killed by a speeding driver?
Sometimes we get cynical about Hell. Why did God make such a place? Atheists love to try to paint Hell as some sort of outdated injustice that must be left behind in our modern enlightenment.
Peter reveals a very different motivation behind divine punishment. In 2 Peter 2, he uses a series of “if statements” to make a point. Here’s an exercise: underline the “ifs” in verses 4-8 and look for the concluding “then” in verse 9. “Then” introduces the point of the passage — and the motivation for God’s punishment of sin. Here’s the preview: God punishes sin because He loves His people!
Think about it: What sort of parent would sit idly by while someone abuses his child? Even an atheist has a hard time imagining that a Hitler could escape justice. God cannot stand sin. It is an affront to His holiness and it is repugnant to His love. God created Hell because sin needs punishment if He is going to protect and love His children.
John Barnett wrote that, “A hard look at this doctrine [Hell] should fist change our view of sin. Most believers do not take sin as seriously as God does.”² Hell reveals the seriousness of sin, the justice of God, and His love for His people. It even reveals His respect of mankind’s free will. God does not force His love on any who do not want it.
Let’s not be cynical. God is not a traffic cop who is working on some quota. He is the Lord of the universe who wants everyone to love Him but understands that not everyone will.
Today, I will…search the Scriptures for an example of God’s judgment as an act of mercy to His people.
²John S. Barnett, Living Hope for the End of Days: 365 Daily Devotionals from the Book of Revelation (Tulsa, OK; Müllerhaus Publishing Group, 2009) 438.