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The RELIGIOUS ADIEU to GOD!
The Ultimate Miscreancy
See Ch. 2 above
It is time to reflect. In Chapter 2 above, we have seen the contextual and verbal mangle which entangles those who seek authority to add their voice or words to those of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. In the last Chapter, 3 above, we have seen the subtlety which can occur in careless treatment of scripture with certain ideas added and impressed into, and some de-emphasis of its own rigours, till you get quite a different life - like an ill-run household allowing unauthorised intruders. Drugs soon proliferate, or worse, and disease follows.
That, however, is only part of the abuse of the historic program, to release (that is the biblical word, in II Peter 1:19-21, for GOD's gift of His word - rather like a news 'release' today, except that this is uniquely divine in source, splendour, power and provision, as we say in Ch. 2, in expounding the text), unloose, provide the word of God by God's own inexorable procedure and deposition. Instead, what is of a person's own mind (the 'idios' to which Peter refers in II Peter 1:20), heart or even ... organisation, or 'church' (cf. II Peter 2:1), this is presented instead, both illicitly and often.
By such spiritual adventurism, such additives, such new release is then added to the divine release. What is to be expected but divine wrath for this wresting of His word of grace and mercy, by men; for it is like those who grab the provisions sent to some afflicted famine area, and either use them up in their own illegal way, or even prevent others from having them.
What is it like ? It is like the President releasing the text of his message, for his news media employes, to disseminate, and then finding that these people, although ostensibly his employes, are in fact adding and interpreting his message to the point that it is now some composite of their flair and findings, with his own words, so that all he can do is repudiate the result.
This is precisely what God does in II Peter 2-3, following the announcement in II Peter 1:19-21, of what He has been about in providing the scripture from HIS OWN mind, power and deployment. He condemns the other mode to the point that the pages almost blister! It is just like Matthew 23 and Jeremiah 23, but more of this anon. In fact, II Peter 1 at the end, with II Peter 2-3, is in some ways like a divine exposition of Jeremiah 6 and 23. In all of these, there is an examination of this type of false prophet addition, or subtraction, or synthesis, or syncretic messing about with, or even bypassing of God's word.
He is the Great Deliverer from sin (I Peter 2:23ff.), and no less from the squalor of subversion, which befouls the purity of divine mercy, detracts from His grace, imbues the words of deity with the evil of man, subverts the Gospel and libels the Lord. That it does this at times, by even pretending that its intrusion is authorised, or that its presumption is grace, renders the condign judgment the more obvious in its application, its necessity the more apparent.
Thus in all these places, in the New and the Old Testament, there is just such in focus of just condemnation, of outrage at intrusion, of contrast of His own word and that of man, which though it is given with some measure of appeal, is yet deplorable lese-majesté, the antidote to divine mercy. Since God loves mercy, this falsification and fraud, He loves not at all!
We may go further. Even the language in these New and Old Testament sites has no small similarity, just as the atmosphere is the same! It is, after all, the ONE GOD, who speaks, whether in Peter or Jeremiah.
As we have seen, and needfully, since the prediction of Peter comes to a climax in II Peter 3, in the last days, our own (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), there is a massive divine censure on the attack on His word, for that is what it is. In II Peter 2-3, this does three things chiefly.
It reviews firstly, what God has done in the past to word-stealers (as in Jeremiah 23:30), who dare to tread in His name, as if they possessed Him, whereas they are as people possessed, themselves! (cf. Hosea 9:7). Then it characterises such stealers, in any era, with a divine thunder which makes the roaring of the waters in a storm, seem but a gentle lapping by comparison. Thirdly, the Lord indicates that even in the midst of such depravity as this, such defilement of His divine word by ANY kind of utterance to touch, mould or make it, other than its very own self, as it was granted by Him at the outset, there is an escape.
The ark was a prototype of such deliverance, and the same passion to deliver from false shepherds, false prophets, word invaders of the Almighty's own diction, remains with the Lord. He acts now as then.
As to the scope of such action, as II Peter 3 shows, to culminate in the 'last days': we have seen to include that of the sects; that of the papal presumption and infidelity; and that extending even to 'modernism', that cultural captivity of the scripture which many 'churches' forwarded earlier in the last century, and which some as if still dreaming, continue to fondle, despite its dismissal with other disproven theological junk (cf. Ch. 1, above, as marked).
Nor is this all: it proceeds beyond that passé phenomenon which Satan used so often to grab churches, their endowments and their history, sometimes even to press them into his own service. It has moved into post-Modernism*1 to various and devious ways of dismissing parts of the Bible, the very acme of the 'idios' from which Peter in II Peter 1-3, distinguishes the biblical authority so vehemently, in the name of the Lord, whose word it is by divine power, provision and sourcing! We have seen something of this exemplified in Ch. 2 above.
Some such assaults on the Bible, are more thorough-going than others, but all have the same result in their very active trends (cf. neo-orthodoxy and neo-evangelicalism*2). We shall move further into this realm as we proceed in this Chapter.
All of this is the predicted plague for the future in general, and the 'last days' in particular, as written by Peter in his chapters 2-3. That the events of our own day exactly fulfils its specifications, both in kind and in time of occurrence, it will be one of our delights to show also, later in this chapter. The spiritual pathology in our planet through distortions, intrusions, confusions, conflations, dilations that seek to replace, work over, lasso, invade the word of God, is undoubtedly reaching plague proportions at this time, in parallel to the augmented energies of the storms, cyclones, typhoons, which disguise them as they will, the news commentators cannot remove from the scientific agenda. More energy, higher temperatures, more water from melting, make up a system with more destructive force, so that records are being broken and awesome prospects are being narrowly missed (as in the case of the US oil refining capacities in the line of the latest of the storms, which were threatened, a disaster from which they were but narrowly delivered).
In such cases, whether in driving a car, or other, a narrow miss is not amiss if treated as a caution, to take care! The care here ? that of the word of the living God, to take it as it is, trust it, and walk accordingly in one's life, spiritual and vocational, which in turn should be an application of the former.
Thus this passage in II Peter, and especially its basic premiss concerning the word of God, the word of man, and the divine objections to the latter, which foists itself into His own word, deserves even more attention, for long have the stalactites of confusion been given enhancing chemicals for their growth. Marvellous is the fulfilment of all that the Lord has said, hitting us now so that it is becoming impossible unless one be deaf, not to hear it.
ONLY GOD IS AUTONOMOUS:
THE BIBLE IS NOT AUTOGENOUS
BUT WHOLLY INSPIRED, THE GIFT OF GOD
AND KINDRED CORRUPTIONS OF GOD'S WORD
The text, the context, the translation and the truth
II Peter 2, in its last verses, we found in Ch. 2 above, has this:
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed
as a light that shines in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
knowing this first, that not any prophecy of Scripture comes into being
as a matter of an individual's own release,
for not by the will of man did prophecy arise in old time,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
That is partly, but not entirely, the rendering of the NKJV. It appears the best rendering.
You can translate 'is of private origin' or 'of private interpretation' or 'from an individual's interpretation' of the truth, 'of its own release'. The Greek word used by Peter indicates freeing, setting loose, so that either God's release of it or man's acceptance/receipt of it can be in view; but in either case, it is NOT private, as to origin, being divine; and it is NOT manipulated by man, but he was driven to do it. God did not settle for mediocrity with the inhabitants of the creation, as if constrained by economic, physical or psychological circumstances (little, things you are UNDER); for God is under nothing, except in the clouds of comedy which are often tragic obscurantist follies, made by man; and even then, it changes Him and His word not a whit.
That is indeed part of the message of this segment of I Peter, which is reflected in I Peter 1:22ff., which reinforces what has been indicated in the above verses, now before us.
This began the translation matter in Ch. 2 above. In this Chapter, it will be assumed that the reader has imbibed the various points relative to the Greek, there made.
It is quite fascinating as you pursue it. In His divine negative in II Peter 1:20, we find that NOT ANY PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE IS of the 'idios' kind. At once Peter shows that the reason that this may be asserted is this: that it came in ancient times NOT at all by the will of man, but by divine, directive dynamic.
That follows, is clear, and Peter uses the well-known features of the past, for his audience, namely the prophecies of God, and their divine diction, with their divine protestations concerning their unique divine status and absolute assurance as to fulfilment (cf. Isaiah 44-45, 48). That is the way it has been; that is the manner of arrival of what we now call, 'the Old Testament', or they might call, the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets, or on occasion, the Law and the Prophets, or just the Law.
So making the generic principle, Peter says this IS the way of the release, the manner of the provision of prophetic scripture. Paul in I Cor. 2:9-13, gives a precisely similar and parallel account of the matter, for the apostolic Age, that where scripture was being produced for the New Covenant. The divine thrust, covered both substance and expression (cf. SMR Appendix D). This is what the apostle Paul indicates here: nothing is free to vary on its own: it is the word of God, the identical point to that from Peter.
It thus becomes of great interest to ponder the meaning of this NOT IDIOS, not of their own nature, aspect concerning the way the scriptures have come. This is the emphatic negation.
As we have seen, the concept bears a considerable opportunity for translation, but the idea, in the context, both of all of scripture and this local one, is quite clear. The GENERAL principle of how it comes, the prophetic word in SCRIPTURE, is statedly based on the particular way in which IT DID COME, through the prophets of old. It was NOT according to their will (v. 21), and it was not a matter of self-generation, self-origination, having some thing or buzz within you which you loosed, released or brought out into the open.
There are many expressions in English, with its million or so words available, to deal with this thought. Thus the prophetic word, in I Peter 1:20,
DID NOT COME INTO BEING BY ITSELF
DID NOT COME UNCOMMISSIONED
DID NOT REACH EXISTENCE ON ITS OWN
IS NOT SET INTO EXISTENCE ALL BY ITSELF
IS NOT RELEASED BY ITS OWN ACTION
IS NOT AUTO-GENERATIVE
IS NOT AUTOGENOUS
IS NOT THE WORK OF AN AUTODIDACT
IS NOT SELF-MOVED, SELF-MADE.
WHAT IS it then ? the question naturally comes.
FIRST, Peter declares, let us make it even clearer. The WILL of man had nothing to do with its arrival.
Yes, but what then ? This then, continues Peter, THE HOLY MEN OF OLD SPOKE AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. That is what is authentic. BUT just as there were false prophets in THEIR days, so will there be in DAYS TO COME.
It could not be more logical,
coherent, carefully translated, sequential. The rest merely emphasises and
adorns this fact.
There is nothing nearly comparable with this simple, single reality of the teaching.
That is the nature of the assertion (v.20), based as it is on the immediately following and stated GROUND for the assertion (v. 21), in terms of what happened with the prophets of old.
This then is what moved them, the ones who wrote, and in generic terms (II Peter 1:20), moves the writers of scripture, this model their base. When heaven releases news, prediction, prophecy, unloosing it from its celestial haven for the terrestrial use, this is the manner of it. THAT is why it is ABSOLUTELY reliable (which was the preceding logical step, which led on to this declaration of KIND in v. 20, and of the STABLE ORIGINAL MODE, in v. 21, on which this in turn rationallly rested.
Thus it came from Him who sent it, releasing it as He also in judgment released the waters of the flood; and though that was for judgment, this is for blessing. So does the apostle move through the terrain of truth, as he develops the issue.
It accordingly did NOT come by some kind of internal action of the minds or heart or will of the writer; it DID come by the mighty moving power of God. There was no interaction with synthesis; no, no IDIOS, no internal, subjective, thrusting beam of man's making joined in the action. God moved; many spoke. It was NOT the will of man which secured the prophecies' release; for it was the driving power of the Holy Spirit which did this, free from such intrusion. It was the "spirit of Christ within them" which "signified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow" - as Peter announced in I Peter 1:11. That is his persistent theme.
We return then to II Peter 1:19-21.
As we move at once in context to II Peter 2:1, we find the particle 'de' used. This signifies a close and intimate correlation with what had gone before. It is as if Peter said something like this: While we are on this topic, this theme, on this irregular, rebellious self-made prophetic topic, in terms of the negatives just given, as to what prophecy is NOT, a few notes are in order. Thus remember the 'false prophets' from your reading of the Law ? They are not just an Old Testament phenomenon. They are also for the FUTURE as well!
There'll be a plague of such spiritual declivities, false activities, 'idios' type bents, personal intrusions will be in profusion: such is the message of II Peter 2:1. They will come from within spiritual bodies, they will produce what will be destructive heresies, severing all relation with the Lord whom once they acknowledged, inviting swift destruction. The Lord who bought them ? so they said... What a joke! This was their language when they were first awakened, like the case of the rejoicing for a season, when the word of God hit the shallow ground in Christ's parable; but it was not of the heart. It was mere talk, the speech of tasters who never swallow, singers whose tune changes, unregenerate, a mockery of their own former empty words.
It is a bitter and sharp warning to careless enthusiasm, very reminiscent of Proverbs Ch. 1!
Thus we move to the opposite of the work of producing scripture by the Holy Ghost, a phenomenon present most famously as in Jeremiah's expositions, and Ezekiel's, and find that it is simply false prophecy. There is, then, true and there is false prophecy; and from the true has come scripture; while the false has produced diverse works of spiritual infamy, of which Peter gives some examples - Balaam a chief performer (II Peter 2:15).
The message of Peter proceeds. Great then as was the corruption of the old world in Noah's day, God yet commissioned an ark for the deliverance of this people - parallel case is that of Lot - and God overthrew such rebellion as that of Sodom in categorical and memorable terms.
Yes, He knows how to deliver from self-willed propounders of their own thoughts, who presume into the arena of the divine (II Peter 2:4-9), illicit performers, repudiators, arrogant, layer on layer of folly resulting: people unspiritual, leaving the right way or even the natural way for adverse and perverse follies. It is their own words that they deliver, release, unloose, pre-emptively, for they are clouds bearing no rain*3. They LOOK like one thing, but do another.
With great-sounding phrases, they deliver their own thought, ideas, words, with spurious claims and foolish content. They promise, like the false prophets, the very liberties which they cannot deliver (cf. Jeremiah 20:1-6); and are themselves still bound in sin. Ignoring the divine realities, they dupe with their own generalities and self-authored intrusions, dreams and devices from their own hearts (as in Jeremiah 23:16, II Peter 2:10,16,18). The liberation of which they dream, they cannot deliver, for scavenge from within, and they are disjoined from what must come from above, the word of God itself, becoming the scripture.
That of course is what was defined for the New Testament, by the church many centuries ago (cf. SMR Appendix C); and this feature is part of the topic of Peter.
Thus does Peter continue his presentation. Scriptures of old are the basic premiss, known to all (1:21). Apostolic scriptures are of this type, controlled wholly by God (1:20). This was and has been the mode of divine release, contrasted to the uttermost by dabblers, heart-sharers, principle-pushers, who put their own pitch, perception, additives into the scripture, or even instead of it , as if it had some sort of pseudo-celestial elevation, or even divine scope. Yet they but contrast with the authentic in all of this meddling, and as the WORD of God is infinite in its divinity of source and control, so these words of false prophets inherit a catapulting calamity. As divine wrath exposes the madness of such prophets, they move with their own so precious force, releasing but their unclean dreams, to find not the target of truth, but the sea of shame.
So far from commissioning such deluded sallies, God is set immovably against their presumption with which they speak of what is far above them, of what they do not understand (II Peter 2:12).
As we move into II Peter 3, we see thebilious bubble, alien to all Bible movement expanding into its inglorious consummation. There will be a desire to evade the very fact of judgment, a denial of the universal flood, and a uniformitarian flavour (to use our contemporary phrasing), as if it always went on all by itself, as if God were apart from man, as might be a man living apart from his wife. The world however continues (that 'house' has not been yet taken down), and man continues and the word of God continues (cf. Psalm 50); and there would be no continuance for man, if the word of mercy were in retreat. Instead, it encompasses the earth, and the earth wobbles and trembles as foretold, and the trend continues as it must, while natural forces in barbaric hands, not knowing God, seek more of the levers (Romans 1:17ff., II Timothy 3, Matthew 24:12, Daniel 7:25, 12:4).
Verses 3-5 deal with such a development. Such scoffers, mockers were always to come; and of this they had been told before: this they should REMEMBER! Such things will come into churches, among the very disciples themselves, waving their idiotic warrants before the bemused if not hypnotised eyes of those who should know better than to listen to such irrational rampagings (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!).
The wonder is this, that there are those who would like to use this divine denunciation of invaders of scripture, trying to mix their 'idios' words with the God given words of the scripture-writers, released by divine fiat. Romanism appears amongst them, as if the prohibition were an invitation, the denunciation were an annunciation and the exclusion were a bond to be broken, a fiat to be outfiatted.
However, the irrationality of trying to make interpreting scripture to be assigned to some only, or one only, because it is God-given, as is to be found in the basing of v. 20 on v. 21, is just as foolish a logical lapse, something that simply does not follow, an irrelevance, as is the move to wrest the autonomy of God, here the prevailing subject and theme, and that throughout His WORD, in the scripture, and turn this, by a spiritual putsch, into power to alter, add or subtract. It is as if to say that BECAUSE my signature is NECESSARY and its presence is the whole point for my operating account, therefore it is open to other hands. This is not merely irrational, but ridiculous, contemptible comedy, whereas gravity and care is needed. It is tantamount to verbal manipulation which could succeed only where hypnosis or some spiritual equivalent is in view.
It implies that although the topic is the engendering of scripture, its authority because of its Author and His mode of declaration through man, and the emphasis is that it is not self-engendering, by itself or any other self, but the work of God: yet we may move with silent feet to another portion of the house, and talk freely by a sort of impudent carelessness, of interpreting what it means with the authority of some non-scriptural writer! Yet God does not say so, nor does He give any such direction whatsoever; indeed, it is against such action that He fulminates with a divine and righteous indignation in the negations in Ch. 2 to come, in II Peter!
HOW indeed could this word of the prophets be what Peter claims for sure guidance, if in fact it were so deficient as that, to need some guide to authorise what it is to mean; and how could its authority, declared derivative from its mode of assembly, as the basis, become a non-authority, dependent on a non-assembler in some later age! Not merely is this not stated, not only is it not declared, not only would it be a breach of logic to make it so, contrary to the sequence from 1:19-21, but it would digress by repudiation, and act by oblivion of the very warnings to come, no less than of the logic in the sequence in our text itself.
Is there then no limit to the perversity of rebellion against the Lord, that His warning becomes His assent, His contrast becomes the basis and His reasoning becomes invalid, to allow papal pretension, or any other intrusion from the profusion of the confused, and the callow premises of those who declare, though not sent, and run with the divine release, though He did not send! It is just this against which, both in Peter and Jeremiah, the Lord speaks with a dazzling contempt*3, as if by lightning. Yet many refuse to see, and are rather stricken by it, than illuminated.
Let us however return to the text as it is, and what it is declaring as we move from II Peter 1:29-21 to II Peter 2.
As to the release of scripture, this
is how it always was, and it is like this that it proceeds (v. 21).
Those called, who were sent and ran
with the word of God, these imbued and
As to the release of foreign dreams, unrighteous ramblings,
the product of false prophets,
the other option, the fallacious substitute,
famous for folly and foulness from the days of Elijah,
yes and noted before from as early as Deuteronomy 32:
these are fallacious fiasco, hot air (II Peter 2:18), bombast and arrogance (2:10),
and to be avoided at all costs, delusive channels to abominable pits (3:2-14).
These words of false prophets, as
described by II Peter 2-3,
parallel the word to Jeremiah from the false prophet Pashur,
whose accursedness shortly became apparent (Jeremiah 20),
the type and exemplar of people who would intervene and interfere
with the granted word of the ONE GOD and ONE LORD.
The attacking words are similar to those to Jeremiah from Zedekiah, the false prophet.
Acting as if assured that it was he who was sent,
that he was the final arbiter of Jeremiah's words,
he was nevertheless a cultural captive, royal fawner
and untrue forecaster, who made certain papal-style adjustments,
feeling his superiority as the final arbiter.
The result for him was then forecast with the same liberty that came to Jeremiah
throughout his faithful career. It was a rebuke set in such a way that ONLY the Lord could implement it. This may seek amazing; but when you know God, you come to realise that there is no limit to His power, whether to rebuke or to bless, and that just as not a word of Samuel, the prophet, 'fell to the ground', so the Lord both leads and enables His prophets to whom the word of God indeed came, and this is but an example of His fidelity (cf. Isaiah 44:21-26, I Samuel 3:19).
This result like all those from the prophetic word that is scripture, that select and sovereign company by which the Lord has spoken categorically to all mankind, HAD TO HAPPEN. With the death penalty for failure, obvious indeed was intrusion (Deuteronomy 13,18), and this the more when the words were practical, immediate or semi- or even remote distance.
The death penalty is not applicable in the last case, on earth, to be sure; but the invalidation would be the same. However it is not so (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9, The Pitter-Patter ... Ch. 4), but the more you test, the more time moves, the more the word of God being ahead of it, is fulfilled.
NO prophecy of scripture is autogenous; it is the gift of God. It happens in its time, near or far. This is the empirical fact.
It is well to hear this account of the confrontation between Jeremiah and Zedekiah, the true and the false, the emissary and the defaulter, the one who ran because sent, and the one loosed only by his own imagination: from II Kings 22:24-28, to gain the flavour of the dissavour.
"But Zedekiah the son of Chenanah went near, struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said,
Which way did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?"
It was not difficult to have this
unholy swagger, since what the king wanted to hear, the one on
whose favour the false prophet might rely, being equipped with unbelief in the living God and blindness in perception of what was divinely desired, it was precisely this that he gave. To the will of God, he was immune, as one inoculated; to the will of the king, he was exposed and sensitive, as one who smells a savour. He gave what was desired; and with it came death to the king, who refusing to be warned by the truth from the lips of Jeremiah, went to his doom, a rebel misled by a rebel, teacher and taught in shame.
The point however was not how to be a successful citizen of Israel, esteemed by the king, but what was to be done in the forthcoming battle, in which, contrary to his guru-style surmising, the king was killed, despite his devious trickery. This is an additional testimony. Not satisfied with the truth, the king decided to force things to his own will. Thus, that royal personage tried against righteous King Jehoshaphat, his ally (most mistakenly, as Micaiah made plain enough) a stratagem. It was this: he would dress in a common style, leaving only his 'brother' king distinguished by his robes in the battle, for those who would try to kill a king!
This stratagem failed by that divine counsel, here clothed in providence, which led to the death of that royal personage from an arrow not even directed at him!
God is not mocked, and his servants know Him. Micaiah did not need to parley with this arrogant assumption of Zedekiah, with that papal-style pronunciamento which he pronounced; for the false prophet evidently imagined that he had the last word concerning the word of God, that he could make his own adjustments or additives of any kind.
Which WAY, he asks, did my
power from God reach you, as it moved from me to you! In himself, it was assumed,
lay the final
say. The answer was to lie in the outcome for him, fearful in a hidden chamber
because of his manifest failure to prophesy, a mere devious and deceived
What then have we found in this ? Having been summoned as a true prophet, which he was, Micaiah, irrespective of peril, pronounced the due consequence of this intrusion into the word of God, this second hand to come into its divulgement, this forbidden folly against which the Lord has spoken for millenia, and spoke then. Let us hear him.
"And Micaiah said,
Behold, you will see in that day,
when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.
And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and convey him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son and say:
Thus says the king,
Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.
And Micaiah said,
If you return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me.
And he said, Listen, O people, every one of you."
Notice the assured certainty of Micaiah, who was not only speaking with the backing of the power and the wisdom of God, but with the compassion, for he had shown in his parable (), that it was to his death that the king would go, and that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. Thus the Lord made clear that it was He, for all who would listen, His word and history being in their everlasting accord.
What did it mean for Micaiah ? It was this. If, that is, the King HAD come safely back, here was the simplest of tests of the authenticity of the unpopular but accurate prophet, Micaiah. If he were wrong, death could be visited, perhaps with some relish by his enemies on him. But if the thing went as he, a prophet of the Lord summoned to give account from the Lord, had said, then of course this would be simply one of the indices of his faithfulness, something of which Jehoshaphat was obviously aware, when he insisted on having him specially called to prophesy.
The second opinion, more blustering,
had the king's approval; but there was no scope for man to determine outcomes,
and the false prophet failed, as do all of our present day ones, predicting this
or that wonder, as the world sinks consistently further into the pageant of
horrors forecaste, every contrary dream, soon a memory of folly. Things move;
the stream flows; the tide has its operation, and God has told us what is to be.
It is therefore wise to repent and to seek Him; but whether in this or that day,
few are those chosen.
Invasion of the word of God, investment of it with a second opinion, another hand, a co-adjutant, this is forbidden in the realms of the ridiculous. GOD speaks: what is the chaff to the wheat, and if the lion roar, who can but hear.
It is then to this realm that Peter turns, after his announcement of the nature of the majestic revelation of the living word of God, Jesus Christ, and then from this, to the fact that this confirmed the words of prophecy in scripture, sure because of the way they came, of Him who gave them. As to these, in turn, based always as they were based in the Old Testament on the supervening, supernatural power to donate this word, of the Holy Spirit, they are certain.
SO does the phenomenon and fact of ABSOLUTE REVELATION, first in Jesus and then in prophetic scriptures, move to their nature, and the underlying Old Testament base for their authority. We are in the realm of the absolute, because God, because of His speech, shown to be infallible by the mode of its origin, as shown in the Old Testament, and contrasted at once with what breaches this integrity, false prophecy, an alternative way of reaching 'prophecy'.
As to THIS, however, this fraudulent substitute, where it is autogenous, and man acts as if autonomous, deceived in his aspirations: it is the opposite. This is the captive word, the well-known way of breaching the conditions which make scripture what it is. In this realm, Peter continues at some length, giving example after example of turning from the authentic to replace it with the fabricated, with failing faith and impudent disregard.
Such is the topic of Peter. The TIME is wherever scripture is written (up to about 100 A.D.), the topic is what is NOTHING OTHER than scripture itself, the THEME is what GOD has said, and that in which He will TOLERATE NOTHING as interlude, interpretation or dissertation, which in any degree is OTHER than what is written.
NO ONE can without meeting the wrath of God, go past it, be past it, invent something for it. It is worse than a moron changing a doctor's prescription, whether just a little or a lot. It is more than body defiling; it is spiritual ruin that you face when you add the cheek of your so estimable 'idios' to the word of God, in any way. The word of God is pure, seven times refined. It is for this reason, we find, that if Paul the apostle, by his own direct declaration, should ALTER the Gospel, make it DIFFERENT in any way, from the God given Gospel he had ALREADY preached, that he too would be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). Even he could not re-interpret, re-compose, re-commit. AS it was, so it MUST be; for when the lion roars, you do not attempt to make a substitute by some sonic recording device. You LISTEN!
That is simply the way with the word of God, always has been, always will be: it is His. KEEP OUT!
We must now the more carefully consider what it was that was PUT IN!
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SEQUENCE
IN THE DIVINE DECLARATION ABOUT DIVINE DECLARATION
The criterion, base, epicentre of this earthquake of divine revelation, is this first of all torrid, then torrential power of old, which presented scripture to the divinely chosen recipients. Its thrust, as of a lava flow to occupy the eye , is the irresistible power of the revealing God.
That is the time line site for all comparison.
It is this on which it all rests. CHRIST was revealed by overwhelming supernatural power in His divine majesty while on earth (II Peter 1:15ff.). IN so being revealed, and acting in His mission, He fulfilled the scriptures which, thus confirmed, have certain inherent qualities of their own. They have for example the quality of being reliable without limit as to time, even to the end of the Age, even till Christ comes and filling His people with all fulness, His name on their foreheads, brings His people to the point in the sure haven of heaven, where they know (Him) as they are known. This quality of the prophetic scriptures, together with their confirmation by Him, makes them have a singular reliability, and one which is to be USED, as the dark ages before His coming, bring out their ashen wickednesses.
What then is the nature of this prophetic word, which He so fulfilled and so confirmed as shown in II Peter 1:19 - we have THEREFORE the word confirmed, and also in Matthew 5:17-20, for example ? In the former case, it is the ACTION of fulfilment that is chiefly in view, in the latter, Christ's personal confirmation in word. Both cohere, conspire together.
Its nature ? that of the prophetic words ? It is this: that it has nothing in the wide world, or in any inner world for that matter, to do with the vehicle who being willingly trusting, received them. Nothing of the idios kind, the intimate and subjective and natural side is at all in these!
That is not the nature of scripture per se! (1:20). Of course not, for if it were, how could these words of God have achieved such unparallelable results in Christ's messianic sojourn on earth, so accurate, so commanding, so sovereign, so adopted, so accepted, so fulfilled! NO. Indeed these divinely given words have nothing to do with the will of man at all (1:21a, cf. Acts 4:25. I Peter 1:25. II Peter 3:2). In fact, these scriptures came when men who were holy were driven into diction by the divine, the deity in operational speech.
The vicious dogging which came WITH THEM in old times, the gutteral roars of squalling hounds spiritual assailants, stirred by the sound of the word of God, is just the sort which will come now. Indeed, to change to the medical metaphor, the hot blast of resistance and resentment at God and His word, this will indeed blister into acute corruption as the Return of the Lord comes near (II Peter 2:1ff., 3:1ff.). There is without doubt a certain vehemence and vigour, relentless hostility apparent in Peter's coverage of these things (cf. II Peter 2:1, 12,14, 3:3).
Those who engage in such things, steaming out the words of their own sham instead, or in collation with those of the Lord, like static or worse: thes are the most despicable of derelicts in the spiritual realm, comparable to Sodom, Gomorrah in wickedness, their judgment evocative of that of the old world: it is all of a kind. Such is the testimony of Peter concerning false prophets, those who do not RECEIVE AS IS, what God has said in the scripture, but insist on their own ... contributions, concepts and on proliferating them.
Despite all this, Peter gives hope. God saved His people from that very inundative judgment then, in the ark, and knows perfectly well how to save them now. But REMEMBER what you have been told, take it all to heart, and do not dare to resemble the false prophets who, then and in time to come alike, move like dark stars into dangerous collision courses with the sun of truth (II Peter1:15, 3:1-2)..
THAT is the sequence, to which the translation gives and must give attestation.
Just as there was a DOUBLE negation in II Peter 1:19ff., so that firstly it is not of someone's or something's own intrinsic nature, that the thing comes, when scripture comes into being, the issue from the ultimate base logically in v. 21, and secondly, it is not of someone's WILL, but from the redoubtable dynamic of the Lord, so in II Peter 2:1 the same sort of thing occurs. Here there is the evidencing of a DOUBLE REBELLION on the part of those fulfilling this negative side of vv. 20-21.
In the first chapter then, there was the exclusion of both the personal engagement as part of the scenario, personal contribution, and of the WILL of man, so that there was no INTRUSION of the personal side of things at all.
In the second chapter, what then is to be found in the false prophet side but just this. Initially, we learn that what was EXCLUDED when scripture arose, was downloaded, was released by the Lord, so that the prophets given it were commanded, commissioned, were sent and ran, to use the terminology of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and what is reflected in II Peter 1:20, is what is here INCLUDED. The authentic lacks what the spurious uses as its very specialty!
Such will and work is precisely, of course, what IS included when false prophets hawk their wares (and 'hawk' is precisely the point in II Peter 2:1!). The trouble is that instead of giving goods for money, they make YOU the goods ('make merchandise of you'). The deceived and misled victims have a double place here. They are what is fraudulently acquired by the false prophets, and they also PAY the money! Topsy-turvy indeed is this malady, but that is just what disease, pollution, infection and defection does!
But what is the DUAL contribution to match the dual negatives in 1:20-21, noted earlier ? This is found in two time-line features. Of OLD, there were false prophets, exhibit A, and in times to COME, there WILL BE false practitioners, false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing, exhibit B. Where the conditions of truth were fulfilled, there scripture came; and there is a double negation of the way it DID NOT come. Then in II Peter 2, there is at once a double AFFIRMATION of the NEGATIVE feature of fraud: it is common in the past, it is to be common in the future, but it is to be pandemic as the end of the Age, when the day star arises in your heart, comes to be.
Indeed, it all has a time, and a sequence, both in thought, in logic and in time. There is to be a positive plague of this type of anti-authoritarian (authority in this case ? God!) meddling, as the end draws near (i.e. as in Matthew 24:12), and it is to be uniformitarian, naturalistic and mere formalistic concerning the Lord (as in Malachi 2:8-9,17 and in Zephaniah 1:12). This is precisely what Paul also foretells of the end phase of the Age, in II Timothy 3:1-5. That then is found in II Peter 3, as the apostle comes to the point of strongly impelling this warning, inscribing it into the memories of those concerned, to pass on.
Thus, as in the logic base of II Peter 1:21, for the scope of that section of Peter, there is the insistence that the Holy Ghost did all this work, the will of man inoperative in the divine diction, as God self-articulated, made all other involvement not only irrelevant but constitutive of a trinitarian invasion, as if to attack, assault and seek a take-over of the Lord Himself (as in Revelation 12).
Such roaming of the explosive desires of flesh, the intrusive thrusts of the personality of man should always be excluded in this divine domain, removed entirely from the status, reliability, nature and origin of the prophetic scriptures.
Trying to quarry in this mine is like entering a high-danger uranium power plant, one promising power but vitally perilous to entry, one where tampering, involvement, efforts to do this or that or add or subtract or put a new perspective into the management or tracery of electrical transmissions and reading would not be so much illegal, as insane (Hosea 9:7), spiritual irrational, as one were PLEADING with the judge for a lingering death penalty, which of course this type of physical folly could well secure, with no intervention at all of the law! Surely these (false prophets) arose (same base word, as in 1:20, from ginomai) ALSO in former times, and they shall arise in future times.
This, in other words, was always a duo, and this feature will continue till the end. But what is the relevance of bringing up false prophets in this way ? It is that precisely what is EXCLUDED in the ISSUANCE of prophetic scriptures, is what these people INCLUDE. They illustrate in person, what is excluded in principle, but included it in practice.
That then is the nature of this assemblage of teaching in Peter, and it cannot be otherwise, being tide in vocabulary, in positives, negatives, sequence, logic and illustration, right through to Ch. 3.
THE AGE GROWING OLD, THE LOVE GROWING COLD,
THE RETURN OF CHRIST JESUS, GROWING NEAR
When, then, you come to II Peter 3, you find that false prophets in this most cohesive utterance, in days future to Peter, and at the climax, in the very last days of the Age, as in the last days of Israel, so of this world before the Judge returns, will become active. Their transgression of the conditions of scripture's formation, in their own erratic, despotic, variously debased way, will reach new depths, producing an alternative option to be followed by many, the option of death because of the mockery (3:3-5,10ff.), fraud and fiction mingling with shame.
These scoffers as in the days of the prophets who were (as with Amos, Jeremiah, so reviled) ignore the provisions of the divine mercy.
This is inherent in their so gross dynamic towards subversion of the obvious and well-attested nature of actual scripture, the actual Bible, the actual word of the living God which they seek to confute, to confront, to subvert, and for which to provide substitute in their own chosen forms of arising, of dreaming, of releasing their own principles, programs and quasi-divine utterances.
Such irrational, irreverent dreams are to be avoided, for this whole world is under judgment, and as to what happened to commandment-ignoring Sodom, to those of the sin-maxmising Age of Noah: this is but a prelude for the universal judgment to come, not merely physically, but spiritually. In this realm, it is objectively necessary to realise that the time for the return of the Lord, to be measured in something of the order of thousands of years from His crucifixion, though delayed in mercy and in outreach to many souls, is now drawing near (Luke 21`:24ff., Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8). This time has not been held back in procrastination, but in grace.
It is a time that will come, and like many times, when it comes, it will not stay nor tarry, nor will its advent need repetition. Indeed, when the time is full, the entire construction of the heavens and earth will be dismissed, the earth and all its works being burnt up (II Peter 3:10-15).
That is the end of fiddling in things divine without faith, being bogus, impostors, scorners, scoffers, meddling where ONLY GOD is operative, INTRUDING where only God has given, where man is irrelevant in will as in all manner and type of contribution; and here lies the destiny of the acting thus in the phase and manner of FALSE prophets, the due judgment set on those who do such things, and so teach, who despise the mercy and invade the word of God with its glorious Gospel, with their notions for the mind, potions for the spirit and lotions for the psyche.
As to the very genre of false prophet, debasing continually over time to more and more abusive intrusion into the realm of the divine diction, these malingerers in the milieu of the divine, mixing their abominably presumptuous and arrogant speech into the very midst of the mind of God: they are "self-willed" (whereas the scriptures came NOT according to the will of man), and "despise authority" as distinct from those who were MOVED by the Holy Spirit. Alas for them (for who cannot pity them, rude ruffians of the souls of men, though they be), in their presumption, they become the very acme of the opposite to the writers of scripture, the crux of spiritual corruption; for in their errant teaching, their own inward recesses and distinctivenesses are not merely relevant, but dominant and domineering.
Of all that you might choose to make the butt of domineering, the word of God is the LAST thing! It is the channel of your own, and only mercy; for as Christ is the Saviour, and this word is the pointer, so the lost pointer sends souls amiss, like those taking off in an aircraft, but having used the wrong door, only to find that it is a descent, not ascent, and to a perpetual morgue, not to a blessed dawning of everlasting day.
So is the contrast between the writing of the scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit and the phenomenon of false prophets, past and to come as foreseen in the day of Peter. This now, is the very perfection, in the Greek sense of completion of whatever it was that was in process, of evil. The declivity from the divine is in these ways 'perfected' or consummated, just as Jeremiah 23:16-22 predicted would occur in "the last days".
The intense pathos, in the troubled milieu of pollution, and contemptible corrosion of mercy itself, is to be seen in that very passage from Jeremiah.
"Thus says the Lord of hosts:
'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘The Lord has said, "You shall have peace";
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘No evil shall come upon you.’
Notice the essential perversity of this lèse-majesté, this arrant arrogance, and
giant deception, the lassitudinous lounging of spirit, behind this invasion of truth.
The text goes straight on, and we resume.
"For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord,
And has perceived and heard His word?
Who has marked His word and heard it?"
Here we see the gaunt desolatory failure of mankind, gaining a sense, in context,
of the indifference, pre-occupation or hazardous self-affirmation of man, free of
truth, otherwise engaged. Well does one remember the word of an exceedingly rich man who, when asked whether he had left the church when younger, because of any offence, candidly replied, No, there was no offence; it was just inconvenient!
We return directly to our text in Jeremiah.
"Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury -
A violent whirlwind!
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.
In the latter days you will understand it perfectly."
The mischief is not to be limited to Israel, nor to ancient time, we here learn from Jeremiah, but will have what we might now call a cyclotronic effect, with pandemonium its outcome, reaching its culmination in the days when the coming of Christ to rule (cf. Joel 3, Habakkuk 3, Isaiah 11, 59:14-20, Micah 7). The Lord then continues His divine exposure of the inherent problem, the loosing of feet which He did not send, of tongues which He did not cause to speak, and brings out more abundantly than ever, the poignancy of grief at the folly, the soul-damaging, heart grieving shame of it all, that in the very face of loving mercy, vaunting dreams and press releases of the merely personal, the idios, should be thrust into the mouth of God, if it were possible, pretentiously given some sort of vainglory.
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.
I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
"But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings."
You see, and so does this extensive expression of the contrast show all over again, the precise nature of the initial claims, concerning the nature of scriptural inspiration (1:20). Then comes the character it sustains from past performances which type it is the tracing of its basic background in the prophets of old (1:21). Then arrives the exemplificatjion of the befouling of such proper procedure in presumptuous arrogance on the part of those who, being not called, yet run, being not loosed, yet set off.
Thus in more intimacy, we see again in all of these components, their logical structure and sequence, each part confirming the other, and all in an exact terminological, logical and chronological sequence.
Grisly indeed is the situation for these false prophets, specified in II Peter 2:1, who deny the Lord. They are partially awakened (returning to their vomit from a little jaunt - II Peter 2:22), they are like those specified by Jesus the Christ in Matthew 13, where the seed falling on shallow ground - the heart below yet rocky, the phenomena all superficial - did indeed lead to rejoicing for a SEASON. The parable shows however that THIS DID NOT LAST. How could it ? it was a rootless, fruitless situation, where the hard earth precluded that taking hold which would have led to a sound plant.
The joy indeed did not last, since the seed did not penetrate. The ground was never broken up, and that, it stands for the heart, for the seed is the word of God. The ground is not converted and then unconverted: for it was at all times hard. Rather the seed, the word of God BEGAN to affect the person, but the heart remained unrepentant, rocky underneath.
In another metaphor, in Hebrews 6, the thing was tasted, but there is no attestation that it was swallowed! It was all slender involvement, as in much modern pseudo-Christianity, where the external symptoms, like Pentecostal dog-barking exercises in 'church' by people, not that more appropriate in actual dogs and such farcical hilarities, can defame awe in the presence of the Lord, defile mangling practitioners and become a psychological fantasy, and good watching for those who like comedies of this type, or oddities of this order.
Such things so readily displace the required reverence (Psalm 89:7, I Corinthians 14:13-14, 26), just as the parallel performances of irreverent irruption with other words, other thoughts, other ideas, additional points, into Holy Writ diverts from the truth, like some spy blowing up industrial equipment in his victim country, his quarry!
Thus these, who might indeed have declared with emotional fervour, "I know the Lord," or "I have found the Lord," or "The Lord has redeemed me!", in such cases give mere verbal effervescence, like calf love emotional. Readily do such become bursting balloons, sad fables of their pretended faith - yes, then they deny "the Lord who bought them".
The irony here is violent, apt and incisive. It is precisely in the realm of Isaiah 29:13, where the people draw NEAR WITH THEIR LIPS, but in deeds they deny Him. We dwell in this field, with those who cried to the Lord, but not with their hearts! (Hosea 7:13-14). These are the 'me too' brigade, still suffering from the idios, the idiosyncratic fruitlessness of their desires, avoiding the will and word of God selectively, as may best please them, using God to fulfil themselves, and adjusting 'Him' as they hope they may, by entering into His word and manhandling it, with a maximum of will, and an idios coming near to idiocy itself!
This then is the unholy opposite of the apposite, the way of the false, in explicit and prolonged contrast to the true, the procedure with false prophets, giving by the negative field which they occupy, the greater definition of the true, which immediately preceded this excursion of II Peter 2. This indeed, begins by telling us, having mentioned true prophets giving by the grace of God, to humanity the scriptures themselves, that there WERE FALSE PROPHETS ALSO.
The 'also' here is critical. The prophets were there; the false ones also.
Hence we indeed find this double definition of what is Peter's topic, but positive affirmation first in 1:20, of its generic nature; then in 1:21, of its historic foundations; then in 2:1, of its historic antithesis, false prophets. The true acted with GOD ONLY as source, and His word ONLY as criterion. The false ? of course did it differently. Not for them was the entire thrust of the divine Holy Spirit, who drove them into this inspired output and outcome, choosing to reveal both topic and words (I Cor.l 2:9-13). No, in the very point of antithesis, we find defined the point of the thesis: ONLY the word of God, ONLY as given, with ENTIRELY the former prophets as the criterion in their CONTRADISTINCTIVE transmission of the word of God, in entire differentiation from ANY other activity.
What, then, I Peter 1:19-20 IS not PRESENTING, IS
anything of a lower order to scripture itself
anything intrusive into scripture itself
anything NOT scripture itself s guide, criterion or determinant in ANY degree or respect.
THAT is reserved for II Peter 2 and 3, by express contrast, for condemnation instead of inspiration.
Small wonder in view of the CERTAIN coming of precisely this modern variety and multiplicity of false prophecy, Peter gives such vigorous and repeated WARNINGS (II Peter 3:2, 14-15, 17), and by contrast, such a positive exhortation with this in II Peter 3:18. Here we find that growth and vigour are needed, not false faith, spurious and furious substitutes, intrusive and self-willed words, filled with the buoyancies of deluded personalities. These, the opposite of the nature of scripture in its own coming into being, have the opposite outcome to that of the mercies of God (II Peter 3:9).
How these latter day lassitudes of spirit have come like a crop of tares, flourishing and well-fertilised by the media, and many governments. Alas this is the case, even in South Australia in its atrocity of affliction perpetrated against children in the educative assault on the name of God cf. That Magnificent Rock Ch. 8), a matter brought up to successive governments, whose inaction in the field, to reform, is equalled ONLY by their entire failure to give any reason for their misbehaviour towards the young, defiling truth with opinion, and religion with their vapid generalisations, for which neither is ground given, nor is it available, nor is debate accepted under challenge, now in place for years.
Let us then consider various types of this false prophecy evil. There may be found, now not a few, such as these.
the political pomposities, as in China (cf. News 37, 97, 98),
which seek to force registration of churches so that they may suffer destructive intrusion,
to be controlled and so made irrelevant to Christ as Lord by diverse persecutions,
prohibitions and slanders often reported,
the existential flits of those who want God in their idios pocket, individualised, custom built,
circumscribed and awakening as if part of their spirit or of some other creation,
(cf. SMR pp. 867ff., 842ff., 699ff.,687ff., 864ff.)
those who appear to want the word of God subjugated to their own air-flow,
minus the designation of sinner deserving the wrath of God,
but instead equipped with new and oily,
sweet and superficial substitutes, as in the crystal-palace trend,
uniformitarian christs, in servitude to congregations who have been filled
with the irrationalism of secular myths, because of their spiritual indolence or rebellion or both
(cf. Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3),
redefined christs as in neo-orthodoxy( *2),
diplomatically revisionist christs as in neo-evangelicalism, where you say,
but do not need to APPLY what is written, in fact able to join merrily
with forbidden cults, doctrines, persons or churches, in ecumenical surrealism,
socially defined christs, as in the Liberation Theology of communist manipulation, or
clown christs as in some of the irrationalistic tics
which inhabit like moving wax-works, some kind of a pantheon, more and more,
who visit the stage, at so advanced a stage of human ... development,
to contribute oddities of outrage to the assault on awe and the ascription of adoration:
all of these have qualities in common.
They are characterised by the departure from the conditions and results of biblical prophecy, the word of God written, the Bible; as from the Christ of God, declared through the power of the Holy Spirit in that Bible; and these deviations clutter the earth, ask for judgment and have judgment specified where the case develops, in II Peter 2-3.
All of this is contrary to
ACTUAL CHRIST, who is depicted as in II Peter 1:15ff.,
whose majesty included
His fulfilment of this same prophecy with precision and power, and
whose word it is stated so
emphatically to be,
as it is indeed, the sure and secure guide to the latest reaches of the Church Age, before judgment.
That word, it is the beginning, and also the end, of all creation, and ends the beginning of those who become His adopted children, with the gift of endless eternity (cf. Revelation 7:14ff., Titus 3:4-7, John 10:27ff.).
It is well therefore to end where His written word points (John 5:39ff.); as it is to HEED this warning of Peter, instead of helping in its fulfilment, in the darkening clouds of sinister delusion and rebellion.
Life is real - it is not a plaything. To some, then ? quit playing; and to others ? proceed with working, the outcome of faith*4. If this is your way, the rest assured, your labour is not in vain in the Lord (as Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:54-58.
"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?"
"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
See Defining Drama Ch. 9, and Let God be God! Ch. 4.
The Biblical Workman Appendix 3, Light of Dawn Ch. 2
Jeremiah in chapters 6 and 23 has some designations for false prophets and their evil works. "the prophet, even to the priest, every one deals falsely", "they have healed the daughter of My people slightly, saying Peace, when there is no peace."
Then moving in 6:27, the Lord declares Jeremiah's role, before contrasting the antithetical and indeed antagonistic role of the frauds and fallen, covered with the shame of sin.
"I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people,
That you may know and test their way.
"They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers.
They are bronze and iron,
They are all corrupters;
The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
The smelter refines in vain,
For the wicked are not drawn off.
"People will call them rejected silver,
Because the Lord has rejected them."
In Jeremiah 5:30-31, indeed, we hear that there is a combination of interest in what is false, which is culturally acceptable, and foreign to truth:
"An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
people love to have it so.
"But what will you do in the end?"
In Jeremiah 23, these words occur concerning the phenomenon of false prophecy. Let us list some of these in order the more readily to compare them with the words of Peter.
Thus we read such denunciations and characterisations as these, in Jeremiah 6 and 23.
"... both prophet and priest are profane,
yes in My house I have found their wickedness ...
I will bring disaster on them ... I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies,
they also strengthen the hands of evildoers ...
All of them are like Sodom to me..."
"They make you worthless, they speak a vision of their own heart,
not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me,
The Lord has said, 'You shall have peace.'
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken
yet they prophesied. I have heard what the prophets have said
who prophesy lies in My name, saying,
'I have dreamed, I have dreamed' ...
they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart."
" 'Behold I am against the prophets,' says the LORD,
'who use their tongues and say,
" 'Behold am against those who prophesy false dreams,' says the LORD,
'and tell them and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness.
‘Yet I did not send them or command them:
therefore they shall not profit this people at all,'
says the Lord."
It is at once apparent that the spirit, tenor, atmosphere, vigour, vehemence and denunciatory majesty in Jeremiah is intimately parallel to that in II Peter.
Peter also refers to them in terms of empty wells, and lost clouds, naming them
"presumptuous, self-willed" and
"not afraid to speak evil of government: as those who
"like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand",
The apostle declares that -
"they will utterly perish in their own corruption,"
and will "receive the wages of unrighteousness",
as those who "have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam",
that sinuously swayed prophet who became mixed with the rewards offered and the duties required, and ultimately brought vast shame to Israel (cf. Jude 11).
The inspired Peter proceeds to designate them
"wells without water" (parallel to Jeremiah 2:13),
"clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness foever",
sent off with their "great swelling words".
But what says Jeremiah of the same spiritual mscreants ? It is this:
"DO NOT LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS,"
thus closely mirroring II Peter 3. Again, we read in Jeremiah 32:15:
"Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall:
for from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land."
Pre-emptive judgment is in view, eternal shame, for the bombast, the recklessness, the inventive audacity of their God-forsaken spirits, people blasters, like mosquitoes in swamps: like radioactive pools, they bring disaster, and will find it for their destinies, in this frame of deceit, be it self-deceit or other; for they have wandered, like stricken animals, ready for slaughter. Everlasting reproach and a perpetual shame is for one and all, the leader and the led, in this foul frame, says Jeremiah (23:40), entirely in the mode of II Peter 2:17.
Thus there is a spiritual, an evaluative, a verbal and even at times a phraseological resemblance in the parallel words of Jeremiah and of II Peter, as they approach the similar topic of false prophets. Further, this link-up is explicit, since Peter compares false prophets to come with those of old, and moreover, parallels, in procedure, their condemnation with that of Jeremiah's witness, moving as does Jeremiah
from the true to the false,
from the sent to the not sent,
from those commissioned to run and
from those released from the Lord's by His own authority, and those whose releases are merely the dreams of their own hearts.
Some are sent, commissioned, the divine words released, unloosed to their hearts, and they being called, run with the booty of divine mercy and knowledge. Yes, sent, they RUN (Jeremiah 23:21). Loosed from the barrier, they GO! as Peter indicates in speaking of this as a derivative (II Peter 2:20) of the divine commission (II Peter 2:21).
In just the same way as Peter, moreover, Jeremiah dwells briefly but powerfully on the NATURE of the authentic and its profitability, while denouncing its opposite, as one sees readily in Jeremiah 23:25-32, where the ineffable value of the actual word of God is contrasted categorically, past all comparison or interference, any action or invention of man, any other thing whatsoever, with what is NOT the actual word of God, so sent, so scripturally donated, from call, to commission, to release, to sending and running..
As indeed in II Peter, we have the negative exposed, then the positive, the authentic; and then there is the parallel and contrasting extensive application given to the nature of the negative, its destiny and its detestable contemptibility: since it brings shame where deliverance lay, and pollution in the place of available purity.
What, asks Jeremiah in the midst of this, is the chaff to the wheat ? it is the word of God which is the hammer which breaks rock! (Jeremiah 23:28-29). There is no other. There is ONLY the false and the true, the most mercifully true, and the most blasphemous false, which in the flight from truth, brings many to shame in surreal presumption, like those who dream while they walk, and stagger as they proceed.
Thus the parallel is complete: the imagery, the vocabulary is intensely similar, and even the sequence is of the closest character, in these two places, in comparison with II Peter.
Indeed, Peter is engaged by the Lord, explicitly, even in citing the Old Testament, which in many ways his epistle here so closely follows, as it moves away from his description of what OUGHT to be understood and followed, the word as given by God, in a procedure which does not alter (v. 21), and which is always the guarantee of strength and truth (II Peter 2:20), as a result of which there is no change in the certainties: for since it comes in the way it does, by divine infallibility, therefore it is not autogenous, but a work of the very autonomy of God.
Peter moves, like Jeremiah, away from the vigorous presentation of this positive, this pure, this majestic word, this magnificent mercy of the Lord, in the Messiah (Jeremiah 23:6, II Peter 1:16ff.), to ponder by contrast, and that with a most extensive critique, the opposing way of error, fraud, falsity, almost innumerable in its defilements and defaults, leaving but one answer: the word of God as given by God in the first instance, and inviolable in its integrity, inviolate in its purity, direct from God, for mercy to man, for instruction, correction and hope; for here lies the answer, not in multiple session chat.
Cf. Sermon on James 1, and SMR pp. 520-532.