and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;2 Peter 2:6(NASB)
Peter knew his time on earth was short and wrote his second epistle to remind Christians of the fundamentals of their faith and the need to live godly lives. He longed that his readers would grow in grace and be securely established in Christ, but he also warned of a growing apostasy and a serious decline in moral values, due to licentious living which is often rooted in ungodly teachings and doctrines of demons.
While Paul's main audience were Gentiles, Peter's focus were Jewish believers, and to emphasise the destructive nature of sin and the need to live holy lives while reassuring his readers of God promised protection, Peter often took examples from Israel's chequered history to warn his Jewish audience of the consequences of sin and the inevitable judgement that must follow when man rebels against his Creator.
In this passage, Peter gives three examples of apostate behaviour that ends in destruction. He first describes the angelic rebellion in Genesis, when the angels who fell with Satan took the daughters of men to be their 'wives' and produced half-breed offspring, which angered the Lord. Because of this evil deed, these fallen angels were chained and incarcerated in Tartarus - a place of deep darkness in the lower region of hell.
The second example of biblical apostasy was connected with the flood... when Noah, a preacher of righteousness, was scorned by the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Judgement eventually followed after they rejected God's gracious offer of salvation and all were swept away in the waters of judgement.
In this verse, it is the two ungodly cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that Peter held up as a warning against ungodliness. These citizens experienced God's wrath when fire and brimstone rained down on the rebellious citizens who refused to listen to the truth and escape from the Lord's inevitable judgement, "God condemned these cities to destruction and reduced them to ashes - making them an example to all who would live ungodly lives."
Each of these judgements was used by the Lord as historic examples of God's righteous judgement being poured out on a God-hating, rebellious society. Sin must be punished if God's holy and righteous character is to remain unblemished, but the warning against profanity and vulgarity that Peter cited, has gone unheeded down through many centuries of history. Only a remnant of believers has heeded this call. Man's rebellion today has fallen to a shocking depth of degeneracy and degradation and yet ungodliness is often promoted in the media and celebrated by society.
The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was prideful rebellion and unhindered homosexuality, both of which are an abomination to the Lord and yet which are celebrated with unbridled arrogance. Just as in the days of Noah and Lot, when flood waters engulfed the unrepentant sinners and God's fires of judgement consumed the cities of the plain and their depraved inhabitants, we find the wicked today scoff at warnings of divine judgement and ask mockingly, "where is the promise of His coming?"
But sin must be punished. Whether it is fallen angels, the pre-flood generation, the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah or the godless nations of today, the Lord is righteous and sin must be punished - and the wages of sin is death. For the unbeliever the consequences of their blatant rebellion against God must result in the fury of His wrath being poured on this Christ-rejecting sinful generation - how terrible to fall into the hands of an angry God.
But for those who have trusted Christ for salvation, Peter's warning is a call to live godly in Christ Jesus and not to follow in the foolish footsteps of the world. Those who are saved by grace are to resist temptation and to walk in the unity of the Spirit. It is by walking in spirit and truth, applying God's Word in our lives, worshipping Him in the beauty of holiness, and trusting His living Word, that keeps us pure and prevent us from gratifying the evil desires of the flesh.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah should be a warning of future judgement for the lost. It should remain as an example to ALL, that sin will not go unpunished. But it is also a message of hope to those who believe, for it was only after Lot was rescued out of the city of Sodom, that judgement fell on its unbelieving inhabitants.
For those who believe, this passage is a great comfort as well as an admonishment towards righteous living and godly behaviour... for IF God did not spare angels when they sinned and IF He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah... and IF He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction and made them an example to the ungodly, but rescued righteous Lot... THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.
Heavenly Father, thank You for passages that clearly warn of the consequences of sin and the inevitable judgement that must fall on those who refuse Your gracious message of salvation and condemn themselves to death and hell. I pray for the many lost souls who have not trusted Christ for salvation and are bound for eternal death if they do not turn from their wickedness and be saved. Thank You for Your amazing grace towards Noah, the preacher of righteousness, and Lot who was grieved by the wickedness of his generation - and thank You for Your grace toward me - in that while I was still a sinner Christ died for me and gave His life as the ransom price for my sin and the sin of the entire world. Praise Your Holy name, AMEN.