Feeling Oppressed, and The Rapture in 2 Peter :: By Matthew Rice

I am feeling oppressed by the blatant lawlessness in my beloved country, and I know that you are too. Regenerate and unregenerate people alike are using descriptors such as: insane; crazy; irrational; it makes no sense, etc. The perception of lawlessness is universal.

As a young believer in the early 1970s, I was excited to be in the “terminal generation”—that group of blessed believers in the Lord Jesus who would be caught up to meet Him in the clouds in the air! But living out the increasingly violent Braxton Hicks contractions (i.e. the birth pangs) mentioned by our Lord in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is actually quite uncomfortable—and that is from an American perspective. For many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere it has been nothing short of terrifying.

Abraham’s nephew Lot found himself in a similar situation. Having chosen the choicest land for himself, he eventually winds up living in Sodom. But he, like his famous uncle, was a man of faith. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3), and so did Lot. Three times, Peter calls Lot righteous (2 Peter 2:7-8). And Lot was oppressed and tormented by his culture’s sensual, unprincipled and lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Just now while writing this article, my wife said, “Oh my!  They just found a bag of human remains on Luna Beach in West Seattle!” A generation ago this would have been an unbelievable tragedy. Today, most of us are totally hardened to it. Or are we? I find myself feeling just like Lot: vexed, oppressed and longing for the righteous reign of King Jesus on this earth.

We are living in the days of Noah: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah,” (Matthew 24:37) said our Lord There will be normalcy: eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Suddenly destruction hits.

We are living in the days of Lot: “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building, but on that day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

Peter prophetically warns our current generation of what is about to fall upon their heads, while at the same time providing tremendous encouragement to all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.  After explaining how God preserved Noah and condemned Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, “having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter,” (2 Peter 2:6) he then switches to righteous Lot as an example for the terminal generation.

Peter’s logic is beautiful to behold! “If God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell…and did not spare the ancient world…and He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction…and rescued righteous Lot…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9).

Grammatically, this is a conditional sentence (“If”) where the conclusion (“then”) is 100% certain. We see the same grammatical construction used by Jesus: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28), and by Paul: “If by the transgression of the one [Adam], death reigned through the one, (then) much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

These are 100%, rock-solid certainties. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to the Jews of His day.  Paul states that it is 100% certain that all who have been saved by grace will reign with the Messiah in the coming Millennium.

And here is where I believe Peter, under the inspiration of the prophetic Holy Spirit, is pointing to the rapture of this present generation of believers. Look at this! It is in his great phrase of 100% certainty: “then the Lord knows how to rescue (hruomaito draw to oneself, hence to rescue or deliver) the godly from (ekfrom out, out from among, from) temptation…” (2 Peter 2:9). I believe the “rescue” Peter has in mind here is nothing less than the rapture of the church!  The core definition of “rescue” is “to draw to oneself.” God rescues His beloved church by drawing them to Himself, to meet their Lord in the clouds in the air!

And He rescues them “from” (ekout from) temptation by literally taking them out from, away from the present temptations on planet Earth to meet Him in the air! Using the same preposition (ek), Paul states that the great Restrainer, the Holy Spirit in Christ’s church, will restrain the lawless one “until He is taken out of (ek) the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) at the rapture of His church!

I want you, dear brothers and sisters, to be encouraged! I know your souls are tormented and oppressed by the lawlessness that whirls around us constantly. Jesus said it would be this way just before He returns. As one writer put it, “We are a kitten’s whisker away” from the “upward call of God”!

Jesus is at the door! He will rescue you from this temptation to despair. Any day now we will hear the booming shout of our Savior and the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, “and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!”