The words of Peter in II Peter 1:19 are fascinating to me and cause me to stop and consider what he was saying to the Christians (v. 1). “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” Remember in the context that Peter was telling the readers (us) why the words preached by him and the other apostles ought to be trusted. They are not myths or fables, but statements of truth (v. 16). One reason we can know he spoke the truth is that he was one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ transfiguration (v. 17-18). The second reason is in verse 19. He begins by saying, “We have ALSO a more sure word of prophecy …”. Therefore, in addition to the eyewitness testimony, we also have prophecy or God’s word revealed to us.
To speak of prophecy or the prophetic word simply means what has been revealed by God. In short, Peter says you can trust what I am telling you because I was a witness to Christ on earth (v. 16-18). Yet, if this is not enough, you have all the prophetic words, the words I want to spend my life reminding you, to listen to (v. 19). Trust what has already been revealed!
Peter’s statement reminds me of things Christ said on earth. When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, we notice how Abraham rebuked the rich man and told him his brothers “have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them” (Lk. 16:29). Jesus told people that if they did not believe Him, they could believe His works for they were a greater witness than John (Jn. 5:36). If this was not enough for them, He then challenged them to, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (Jn. 5:39).
Over and over Jesus, the apostles, and all encourage us to search the Scriptures and know that we possess the truth (Jn. 17:17). God inspired all Scripture, and this makes the Bible an exceptional and unique writing (II Tim. 3:16-17). Read what is said (Eph. 3:4), test it (I Thess. 5:21), and trust it (II Pet. 1:19). This “sure word” is truth and will stand when this world is on fire (Matt. 24:35; I Pet. 1:25)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The apostle Peter declared, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Pet. 1:16). Before we dive very deep into the verse, notice that Peter changed from saying “I” (v. 12-15) to “we” (v. 16-19). Peter includes other apostles in this section. The reason why is made apparent from verse 16.
Peter assures those reading that “we” (apostles) have not followed cunningly devised fables when “we” made known to “you” (Christians) the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He insists as well, that they were “eyewitnesses of His majesty.” What are “cunningly devised fables”? This phrase means, “to continue in plausible error” (Strong’s). The word “fables” means what you think it means, “fiction, tale, myth” (Strong’s). Peter states in no uncertain terms that what he (and the other apostles) was writing and preaching is not a myth, is not in error, nor merely some tale being told about a non-existent person. Peter and the apostles did not spend time in jail (Acts 4-5, 12, 16:25-34), suffer ridicule (Acts 2:13, 17:32), and risk their very lives (Acts 12:3-4, 14:19; Jn. 21:18-19; II Pet. 1:14) for a myth!
Based on his promise of reminding the brethren of the things they had already been taught, verse 16 encourages brethren that they have not been taught a myth or some error. They were told the truth by those who have risked their lives for its preservation!
So it is today. By God’s providence, the Bible is in our hands. It tells us the truth (Jn. 17:17). It speaks of our salvation (Rom. 5:8; Mk 16:16), how to stay saved (I Cor. 15:58), and of our Advocate when we sin (I Jn. 2:1). “Cunningly devised fables” didn’t endure 2000 years of time, ridicule, criticism, oppression, tyrants, love, worldliness, faith, and obedience! Only God’s inspired word could last to this present day - and it HAS! Let us be thankful for what we have in our possession and marvel that these are not fables, but the truth! These are not writings of mere men, but the writings inspired by the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21; I Cor. 2:12-13). Let us then believe these words, obey them, and teach them to a new generation who can also marvel at the providence of Almighty God!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When the walls of Jerusalem were erected, and only the gates remained to be hung, Israel’s enemies again tried to stop the progress. Seeing that brute force would not work (Neh. 4:7-23), Sanballat and Geshem tried a more “diplomatic” approach where perhaps they could get Nehemiah to compromise with them. They asked him to stop the work and meet them in one of the villages in the plain of Ono (Neh. 6:2-3). Nehemiah was not falling for this, and refused, even though the men hounded him for a meeting (v. 4-5).
When Nehemiah refused, Sanballat sent an open letter (Neh. 6:5) accusing him and the Jews of rebellion against Xerxes. Understand, an “open letter” was a form of insult against Nehemiah. Yet, when insulted, Nehemiah spoke the truth that Sanballat made up these charges. He then prayed for God’s strength (v. 8-9). He faced yet another test when Shemiah tried to get him to hide in the Temple under the ruse that Nehemiah needed to do this to save his life (v. 10-11). Thankfully, Nehemiah refused to listen and stood his ground with his people, again turning to God in this time (v. 14).
Satan does the same to us. First, he tempts us to give in to our lusts and sin against God (Jas. 1:14-15). If temptations that lead to rebellion do not lure us, then he uses other tactics, like compromise, to lead us away from the Lord. We see this in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 when Satan tempted Christ. When other tactics failed, he tried to get Jesus to compromise. If Jesus bowed and worshipped Satan, He would have the “kingdoms of the world”! He could avoid the cross altogether (Matt. 4:8-10; Lk. 4:5-8)! Why not compromise, Jesus? Isn’t this a way to “have your cake and eat it too”?
Compromise with the truth has been Satan’s tactic for years. He wants men to feel good about their partial obedience and then justify the behavior we want to do. For example, we might not yield to the temptation to be homosexual (Rom. 1:26-27), but Satan wants us to say we love others and will accept this behavior in others (ignoring Rom. 1:32). Similarly, we might not drink alcohol (I Pet. 4:3), but Satan says we ought not to condemn others who drink and exercise their “rights” in the USA. If someone takes a stand for truth and says that there is only one way to Heaven, through the teachings of Christ (Jn. 14:6), Satan’s minions will hound us and call us “narrow-minded,” and a “Pharisee.”
Yes, when Satan fails at getting us to turn from the Lord, he will try to get us to compromise. Friend, what will we do about this? What have we done? I hope we haven’t fallen into the trap of compromising with sin, but if so, know that there is still time to repent while we live (II Pet. 3:9; Heb. 3:7-8). If you need to be baptized for the remission of sins, then do it (Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:21). Don’t compromise with false doctrine on this issue or any other! Take advantage of the time we have and do what God says without compromise or apology -- just like Nehemiah!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”
This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.
The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.
Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!
Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Solomon said, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). In a country whose conversations seem to be harsher than in the past, it is good to be reminded that a “soft answer” can get people just as far, if not farther, at times than screaming or demanding to be heard. In another proverb, we learn, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone” (Prov. 25:15). R.A. Torrey says this means, “soft and conciliating language will often accomplish the most difficult things” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge). How true! Were we aware of these proverbs?
Two (of many) that embody these proverbs are Abigail (I Sam. 25) and Esther (Est. 7). Neither woman led armies into battle, nor did they stage protests, strikes, and the like. They were not warriors in the “conventional” sense of the word. Yet, by their wisdom, their soft answers, and wise reasoning, they persuaded kings to do their will!
Abigail’s wisdom calmed the anger of King David and saved her family from his wrath when her husband acted foolishly (I Sam. 25:21-33). Esther’s wisdom saved not only her life but the entire nation of the Jews (Est. 7:3-8:17)! How did she do it? Remember, Esther had approached the king uninvited (Est. 5:1-3), and when the king asked what she wanted, she invited her husband to two parties (Est. 5:4-8, 7:1-2). She understood the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” By inviting him to these parties and making him feel welcome, she then knew she was in a position to make her request, and he listened (Est. 7:3-4).
Please do not misunderstand. A “soft answer” can still be firm and have conviction. Read Esther 7:4-6 and discover a soft, yet firm answer to Xerxes that is filled with conviction. We do not compromise with sin and error when answering in this manner. If we do, it is no longer a “soft answer,” but a “wrong answer!”
Does this mean that there is no time when fighting for what one believes in is necessary? Of course, not (I Tim. 6:12)! There is a very great need for fighting against Satan and the false doctrines of men (Eph. 6:13-18; I Tim. 4:6-9). At the same time, it is the wise person who understands when to fight hard and when to use the “soft answer.” Let us pray for that wisdom and use it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs