2nd Peter – Introduction
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord
Peter was/is the Apostle to the circumcision; that is, to the Jewish people, especially to those who believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of God. In his first epistle he clearly writes that he is writing to the pilgrims or sojourners of the dispersion (diaspora; galut) – to those Messianic Jews not living in the promised land of Israel, who have been chosen to obedience through the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Pt 1:2) God exiled His people because of the unbelief and disobedience to His covenant and its law. For those of us who do live here now, we also see that although many Jewish people do live here, the large majority of them are still in spiritual exile, still in disobedience to YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.
In his second epistle, Peter mentions that he is writing to them again. Yet, of course, the teaching and exhortations and warnings and hopes in both letters are applicable to all believers, whether Jewish or Gentile. Gentile believers are brought into the commonwealth of Israel. So it is also with the Apostle Paul’s letters: he was commissioned by the Lord to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and that he would also speak to the Jews. All believers need to read the epistles in the New Testament — and the Old Testament, too — as if they are all relevant to themselves, while also paying attention to the details, which may make more or less sense, depending from which background we come, such as male or female.
I find it worth reminding us about Peter’s ministry to the Messianic Jews in particular, that he neither preached nor wrote ANYTHING about keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher, or keeping the holidays. (Neither, by the way, did James, who also wrote his epistle to the twelve Israeli tribes in the dispersion. There are no lost tribes to YHVH, God of Israel!)
Peter wrote his epistles at a time when heavy persecution was about to come upon those who were called Christians, followers of the Christ/Messiah, for their faith in a King who required their primary and utmost allegiance. (1 Pt 4:16) Patriotism to our earthly nation is not the evidence of being a true disciple of Yeshua/Jesus, even if we, in obedience to Him, are usually model citizens or residents or tourists, and seek the peace and good of whatever city or country we live in. (1 Pt 4:15; 2:11-17; Rom 13; 1 Tim 2:1-6; Jer 29:4-7) Peter addresses these issues for believers in the face of severe tribulation for our faith.
He is writing to the Jewish believers in the dispersion. (1 Pt 1:1; 2:11-12, 25; 2 Pt 3:1) The Holy Spirit is maintaining through these Scriptures that the Church and Israel are related, yet distinct. God has not finished with Jews, or with Israel, His chosen people and land: there is no valid “replacement theology”, and believing and obedient Christians have a better hope and better promises by virtue of our new birth from Above by the Spirit of God, already being forgiven for all our sins through repentance and faith in the gospel. We always need the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God to cleanse us, since we are never, in this body this side of the resurrection, perfectly obedient or faithful. Just like Peter!
Peter is writing to us about how we are to practically live in holiness and with love in countries and a world among people hostile to the truth of who Jesus Christ is — even within the churches — as we keep our focus on the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom, and on the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity, where our eternal ‘homeland’ will be.
Peter’s second letter is similar to Paul’s second letters: they are written in view of the failure to live up to God’s holy and righteous standard, and to the evil that is coming into the world and the churches more and more. At the end of the age, which we are living in, these conditions are rapidly coming to their maximum level, which will bring God’s judgments – first in His own household; afterwards to those outside. This in order to obtain for Himself in love a holy, spotless, blameless Bride for the Lamb, and a holy and restored people for Himself. By doing so, the Father’s name will be sanctified and glorified, as will that of the Lord Jesus/Yeshua, and so, too, the saints saved by His grace and power!
Ch 1: Peter states several times that he is reminding us of things that we already know. (2 Pt 1:12,13,15; 3:1,2,5,8) We need to be reminded, because we too easily forget all that God has done for us, and all that He has promised to do. Peter tells us that our best guard against falling away is to actively develop in us by the grace and power of God the divine character – the image of the Son of God, who is the exact image of our Father in Heaven. (2Pt 1:2-11) We are to strengthen ourselves in God. Our hope in Christ is much better than what Jewish people under the Old Covenant expect. Through the gospel, and the New Covenant, we find that our joy in life is knowing God Himself personally – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Ch 2: In the church – the Body of Christ – the same things that happened within Israel also threatens us: false teachers, false prophets come in to try to deceive us, and even by those who supposedly had been “saved”. The primary heresies, which seem to me that these teach, are that YHVH is not the only true God; that Jesus/Yeshua is not God who came to us in the flesh, nor is He physically coming again to judge all unrighteousness and to rule and reign; that YHVH God will not fulfill all of His covenantal promises; that Jesus is not the only way to God the Father; teaching immorality regarding sex, and the unrighteous pursuit and use of money; and that the Bible is not the authoritative Word of God to all people. (2 Pt 2:1; 3:3-7)
Ch 3: Peter also takes us beyond the Millennial Kingdom – the 1000 year reign of Messiah after He returns – to when there will be a new creation of a new heavens and new Earth, where righteousness will dwell. This creation is “very good”; the new creation will be perfect! This creation is “very good”; the new creation will be perfect! Finally! He warns us against complacency regarding the actual return of the Lord, as if nothing has changed, and there are no signs of His coming. Yet Jesus gave us signs to watch for and pray about to let us whom He loves know and prepare for.
We are not to fear persecution, but to rejoice in the glory set before us of being the Bride of Messiah, and of the salvation of our souls and the resurrection of our bodies. Trials and tribulations produce patience and perseverance in the believer, as we learn to put our trust and hope in our Savior. If we do fear persecution in ourselves, all the more we need to strengthen ourselves in God: He is in us, and is with us; our Father loves us with an everlasting love; our Good Shepherd knows His sheep and leads us to life; the Author and Finisher of our faith has gone before us and is now sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us.
Peter did not expect that the Lord would return “at any moment”; he knew that he was going to die soon; and he knew– or, the Holy Spirit, who inspired Peter’s words and quotes, knew — that the Lord’s longsuffering would last for about 2000 years, or about two days. (2 Pt 3:8-10; Hos 6:1-3; Ps 90:4)
How are we to live knowing these things? Both of Peter’s epistles are looking to the end of our life of faith, the end of our life without seeing but believing – that we would be a praise to His name at the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all shall see Him and submit to His good and righteous rule and authority, in the love of the Father. (1 Pt 1:7, 13)
There is much theology in Peter’s letters, and he was not a ‘learned man’. But there is a practical side to theology, which every believer should process: knowing God is the assurance of our salvation.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, November 10, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Our very real and personal God
I was recently struggling with a situation that made me feel desperate to hear from the One who could see further down the road than I could. I felt like a soldier who needed specific instructions from the commander detailing what I should do and how I should do it. I guess what I was needing the most was assurance that God was with me even though I felt fear of the unknown future.
During this time, I came across the story of Joshua when he had just succeeded Moses as the new leader of the children of Israel. But Joshua was about to do something his predecessor had never done. He was about to lead the people of Israel into the Land that God had promised to all their forefathers was theirs to take. So here was Joshua walking in a new position and into a place he had never been. I love what happens next- God shows up! But not in the same way He had revealed Himself to Moses. He reveals Himself to Joshua in a way that was personal to Joshua. The captain of Israel’s armies met the Captain of heavens armies and received the affirmation he needed that God was with him. (See Joshua chapter 1 and chapter 5:13-15). Directly following this encounter, Joshua courageously fulfilled what he was called to do.
This is not the first time that God personalized His encounters with people. David was a shepherd who had spent many years with his father’s sheep. When David was in sin with Bathsheba and had not yet repented, God sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke him in a way that David would understand. He used an analogy of a thief stealing the only beloved sheep of a poor man in order to slay it as a sacrifice. David could most certainly experience anger for someone doing such a thing and it was then that God could reach his heart by saying, “You are that thief”.(See 2 Samuel 12). But David knew God in so many personal ways that He said of God, “You have searched me and You know me…You are intimately acquainted with all my ways”.- Psalm 139:1&3.
One more example that rises above all others in regards to how God reveals Himself in a very real and personal way is through the sending of His own Son in the form of a man. Yeshua, the Word of God, was made flesh and He lived among His people. (See John 1:14). Could there have been any more personal way for God to relate to man than by becoming one? That is mind-boggling to me.
But this is the God we serve. One who is so holy, so perfect, so above all, yet His desire is for us to know Him personally. And the more we know Him, the more we can in turn reflect His nature and character to others in a very real and personal way. He came through for me in the midst of my struggle and I know that because He is no respecter of persons, if you seek Him, He will come through for you too.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, October 25, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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But, it’s not fair!
PARASHAT TOLDOT (OFFSPRING)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 25:19–28:9
This week’s reading opens with a description of the genealogy of Isaac:
Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.”
In our portion this week, we find a very interesting prophetic word that God gives to Rebekah, which helps explain the events that followed after the birth of Esau and Jacob. From the womb, both children were struggling with each other. As Rebekah went to seek the LORD, He told her very clearly that the older shall serve the younger. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to us today, but in the biblical times, this would have been very difficult to accept. In ancient times, there was a tremendous amount of respect and honor for the eldest child – he inherited everything and was the one who all other siblings looked up to. It’s safe to say that all the hopes for the family’s future were set upon him!
But, God sees things very differently than we do. From the beginning, God chose Jacob, the “younger” child, to bring His blessing to the world. In Jacob’s name, which is “Ya’akov” in Hebrew, there are some hidden treasures which we can find in Genesis 25:24–26:
When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.
What is the significance of the heel in this account? The Hebrew word for “heel” is עקב(akev), from which the name יעקב (Ya’akov/Jacob) is derived. This is yet one more hint of the “seed” that would be the source of blessing that was promised through Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. The name here is not coincidental, as it reminds us of Genesis 3:15, where the “seed of the blessing will crush the serpent.”
I’d like to offer another interesting observation about Jacob’s name. Another possible meaning of “Ya’akov” can be “to follow or to observe”. God chose Jacob (Ya’akov) to be the one who would follow Him and faithfully observe His commands.
It is amazing how the Word of God points to the same person (the Seed) from the beginning! His plan is whole and was complete even before time began. We can take incredible comfort in our God’s sovereignty and rest in His capable hands. God never makes mistakes.
Be encouraged in Him today!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Everyone is affected somewhere by pornography, abortion, sexual harassment, homo-les-bi-trans, divorce, adultery, pedophilia, carnal entertainment, seductive advertising, and so on. Sometimes I also feel “abused” by this whole metro-sexual mess (“Me Too”). Pictures I don’t even want to see seem to “pop up” and appear everywhere.
Everyone wants to do their own “thing” but nobody wants someone else to do his or her “thing” to them. They say, “I have a right to do whatever I want.” They don’t ask, “What is the right thing to do?”
It seems to me there is only one way out of this moral confusion and sexual labyrinth: A man marries a woman; they love one another; they stay loyal to one another; they raise their children together; they teach their children to do the same.
It sounds kind of over-simplistic. Yet I’ve tried to think through all the myriad other possibilities, and none of them seem to work. Every other option causes enormous damage – emotionally, socially, physically, economically and morally…
God is called our “heavenly Father;” we are His children. Yeshua is called our heavenly bridegroom; we are His bride. We men should be loving fathers to our children and loving husbands to our wives.
Marriage and family only work when they are filled with this kind of gracious, generous, self-sacrificing love. Divine love can heal sexual deviance. Faith, marriage and family all seem to fit together into one picture that is both healthy and natural.
Wouldn’t that just seem to make things work out okay?
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, November 7, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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We must stand with and pray for the Christians of Egypt
Completing an 11-day swing to three Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — on Sunday evening I met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of all the Protestant churches in Egypt. We met in Cairo in the office of His Holiness the Pope.
I expressed to both leaders my deepest condolences for the horrific terrorist attack against Egyptian Christians on Friday in Minya. ISIS jihadists killed seven Christians and wounded 18 more, including children. They were returning from a child’s baptism celebration. Overall the security situation in Egypt has been improving. But this was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt this year.
In addition, I briefed both leaders on the work of our Evangelical Delegation in the region, and particularly on our meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Pope Tawadros welcomed the Crown Prince to the church he shepherds earlier this year in an historic and unprecedented moment. I had mentioned to MBS when we met with him on Thursday that I would be seeing the Pope a few days later. It should be noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK also met with MBS earlier this year in London, which was also unprecedented and very encouraging. (see pictures below.)
Please keep the Christians of Egypt — and all Egyptians — in your prayers as they battle terrorists and extremists and work to transform their society towards a safer and more prosperous future. The Bible is clear: God loves Egypt. We should, too.
Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of 10 novels and five non-fiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold. He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com), a non-profit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.” He and his wife have four sons. They made Aliyah in 2014 and now live in Israel and the United States.