MP3: Traveling Down the Rapture Road in 2 Peter, Lesson 5
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Continue traveling down the Rapture Road with Nathan Jones and Vic Batista in this verse-by-verse study of the incredibly prophetic book of 2 Peter! You can start at the beginning with Part 1 or listen in to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast (above).
Being Good Bereans
Vic Batista: As we’ve been studying through 2 Peter, the Apostle has been repeatedly emphasizing how important it is to ground yourself on sound biblical doctrine. We need to be educated about biblical prophecy, but only according to the Bible. Some people seem to get their theology by following certain individuals just because they are popular, or maybe because they have a lot of views on YouTube. They never stop to consider the theology behind what these so-called “Bible teachers” are preaching and so ask that vital question: “Is what they are teaching biblically accurate?”
Nathan Jones: I love what a former pastor of mine used to say: “Don’t you listen to me. Rather, go home and read the Bible for yourself to make sure what I am teaching you is biblically sound.” Unfortunately, we as Christians can get lazy and rely on a favorite teacher. We treat these teachers almost as if they were superstars who can do no wrong. But, they are people just like the rest of us. They, too, are learning the Bible and struggling with different aspects, and their views might change as they learn new things.
Instead of thinking for themselves, they will do just whatever their teachers say, but the teachers are learning just as we are learning. So, it is very important, like the Bereans, to get in the Bible and study for ourselves to verify what these pastors and teachers are teaching.
This rolls right into the topic that we are talking about today in 2 Peter, and that is false teachers. Not teachers who might be confused about an issue and correct themselves, but rather false teachers who are out there teaching wrong for the purpose of diverting and distracting people away from the truth of Jesus Christ.
Peter in 2 Peter 2:4-11 prophesies the doom of these false prophets and how God will “reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (verse 9). Verse 10 describes how awful these people are, explaining that they are “those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority” and that “they are presumptuous, self-willed” and are not “afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,” meaning the “glorious ones” or angels.
The Depravity of False Teachers
Vic Batista: Let’s dive into the next section with 2 Peter 2:12-17 where Peter provides us with a long list of depravities these false teachers exhibit, showing how we can identify these individuals. We want to encourage the reader to get their Bible and be a good Berean, following along with us to see what the Scriptures have to say for yourself.
“But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
Whoa! That’s quite an indictment there.
Nathan Jones: Peter wasn’t known for holding anything back. He was the one apostle who always seemed to have his foot stuck in his mouth after speaking up. Clearly, he was very angry while he was writing this. He is pretty much cursing these false prophets and calling them out and revealing them for what they are — in it for themselves. False teachers are in it for the pleasures money affords.
Vic Batista: How interesting that today people will get mad at you if you call false teachers out and name certain names. But, with Peter, he didn’t care. He just went for it! He explained exactly what they were. He called them in a sense “animals” because he recognized the deception that they were bringing.
Nathan Jones: The Bible strongly teaches that we need to call out false prophets and false teachers based on using the Bible as our litmus test. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 particularly points out how you can identify a false prophet. How? Because their prophecies do not come true.Nathan Jones: The #Bible strongly teaches that we need to call out false teachers based on using the Bible as our litmus test—their prophecies do not come true (Deut 18:21-22). Click To Tweet
So, there’s nothing wrong with judging somebody based on their teaching. We are not to judge based on the motive, because only God knows the heart, and so only God knows the motives. But, we know the false prophet’s motives because the Bible tells us what they are — the false prophet’s motives are for satiating their own lusts. It is what they can get out of it: money, sex, and power. They are in it for themselves. In doing so, they are going to destroy the faith of the people and pull doctrinally unstable people away from their foundation on the Gospel.
Following the Way of Balaam
Vic Batista: That is why we need to take this subject about false teachers very seriously. Sound doctrine is very, very important to the spiritual welfare of the believer in Christ.
Verse 15 says, “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” This name Balaam keeps on coming up throughout the Bible. We find Balaam in the book of Revelation in the first chapters about the churches. What is going on with that?
Nathan Jones: The biblical story of Balaam, found in Numbers 22-24, is a very interesting story. Go way back to when the Israelites were roaming around the Sinai Desert for 40 years. They hadn’t reached the Promised Land yet.
The story tells of the king of Moab, that that would be located in the nation of Jordan today on the east side of the Jordan River, and his name was Balak. Balak hired a false prophet named Balaam to go out and place a curse on the Israelites. The Moabites did not want the Israelites, who were distant relatives, coming into their land by the tens of thousands. So, the king sent Balaam out to place a curse on the Israelites. Balaam had to journey pretty far for his day to place his curse on the Israelites.
Interestingly, Balaam believed that he needed to ask God for permission to make his curse. Balaam wasn’t a God-follower, for he was a polytheist and so believed in many gods, particularly Ba’al, hence his name being Balaam. God answered to the effect, “No, you can’t.” For, as Balaam was traveling, God stops him, just like God centuries later stopped Jonah by getting a big fish to swallowing him.
We come to one of the wilder stories in the Bible. Balaam’s donkey stops, and through the donkey, the Lord spoke to Balaam. He basically told him, “You cannot go and curse the Israelites.” So, instead, God through Balaam, and certainly against Balaam’s wishes, went on to instead pronounce blessings on Israel through four very vivid messages that God had for the Israelites.
Instead of calling down a curse, Balaam ended up preaching the truth. He even spoke of future prophecies about the scepter and the stars in Numbers 24, which was a prophecy about the coming of Jesus Christ. So, what man meant for evil, God used for good. God turned Balaam — a false prophet — and made him preach a message of blessing for Israel.
Now, Balaam still wasn’t a good guy. He didn’t end his life a good guy. He was just as unstable and greedy as anyone else, and he ended up being punished for his behavior. Balaam died because he later attempted to get the Israelites to join him in becoming polytheists. So, in the end, it was still about his own lusts.
What an amazing story from Numbers, a book that most people never read. After all, how many people go to Numbers? But, there are sprinkled throughout the book of Numbers some great stories. And Balaam, well, he’s consigned throughout the Bible as the very example of a false prophet.
Vic Batista: If God can use a donkey to do His work, well that says some things!
Nathan Jones: I don’t even know if a donkey has the right vocal cords, or even mouth ability, to produce verbal words. So, clearly, it was the Angel of the Lord speaking through the donkey. It is one of those stories which, of course, skeptics are always mocking the Bible about, but it is totally believable when you think it is God speaking through the donkey. And, that’s what happened, according to the Bible. The false prophet Balaam ended up instead of cursing Israel blessing Israel. Again, he wasn’t a follower of God and he tried to entice the Israelites away through Baal worship, and he was killed for doing so.
Vic Batista: Rightly so! That’s what false prophets produce — false doctrine — and false doctrine causes deception among the people. The Seven Churches described in the book of Revelation chapters 2-3 reveal how many Christians were walking after the gods of that time because some false teacher had come in, whether it was the “spirit of Jezebel” or whatever the case might be. Read the judgments that Christ promised would place upon them because of deviating away from the truth of God. So, apostasy is a very serious topic that we are talking about.
Nathan Jones: Balaam died along with the Midianite kings in the battle described in Numbers 31:8, so he got his just desserts.
Sadly, even back before Moses passed the mantle of leadership on to Joshua, God had told Moses that the Israelites would end up falling away from Him, and they would end up following Baal. They would fall into this apostasy because they wouldn’t follow through on what Joshua was commanded to do — to destroy all of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were a grossly evil people. The Israelites were supposed to go into the land of Canaan and take over all of the lands. God placed a punishment on these evil people with His command to destroy them all. But, the Israelites over time, gave up and lost the will to annihilate them, and so let them co-exist, though they never could ever really co-exist.
This scenario is very similar to the Israelis and the Palestinians of today, a people mixed up among them who are constantly causing trouble and strife. Even to this day, the Israelis have not learned God’s lesson, and they haven’t cast out the false gods like Balaam brought with Baal, just replaced Baal with modern-day gods. The Jewish people have been punished for their sins, even having been exiled twice out of their land. Still, God always means to keep a remnant of Israel saved. And today, we see that He is bringing the Jewish people back to their land, and that means Jesus Christ is coming soon.
Vic Batista: False prophets and false teachers have really nothing to offer, and in the end, you end up spiritually empty. In verse 17 we read, “These were wells without water, clouds carried by the tempest, for whom is reserved the blackest of darkness forever.” What good is a well if it doesn’t provide water? What good are clouds if they don’t produce rain?
Nathan Jones: False prophets are, well, false. They are two dimensional in that there is nothing to them. There is no truth to them whatsoever. They bring no spiritual benefit and no message from the Lord. They are in it for themselves. And, we sure see today false prophets out there who are in it for themselves — the money and the fame. Their ministry is not about the Lord God. They use the Lord’s name to get what they want.
And, what is reserved for them? The blackness of darkness forever! That is the description of Hell, even though it is a place of flame and fire and heat, the Bible describes Hell also as a place of utter darkness. That is what Peter is saying — these people and those who follow them are destined to Hell. What a terrible tragedy!
Vic Batista: Discerning false teachers is such a very important subject matter, because there is a lot of deception out there today. And so, we need to closely follow the Word of God.
In the seventeenth part of our faith journey down the Rapture Road through the book of 2 Peter, we’ll learn even more about what Peter has to teach us about end times deceivers.