And He condemned to ruin and extinction the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes [and thus] set them forth as an example to those who would be ungodly; And He rescued righteous Lot, greatly worn out and distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless — For that just man, living [there] among them, tortured his righteous soul every day with what he saw and heard of [their] unlawful and wicked deeds— (2 Peter 2:7-8 Ampl).
In days where the rise of evil is prevalent, where evil is being called good, and good, evil, and where we have not only a rise of evil unscrupulous laws being passed by governments, but also a rise of apostasy in the church, we would do well to contemplate well on this Scripture.
The wicked and ungodly will in the future be condemned, there is no question about that! But how are the righteous to endure in these perilous times of great stress and trouble, hard to deal with and hard to bear?
There are two points I would like to raise from this Scripture.
1. Do we have the fear of the Lord?
The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted and twisted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13).
Lot was greatly worn out and distressed. He was wearied and burdened. As he saw the open and shameless corruption of Sodom with their unnatural lustful living and filthy conversation, his heart was pained.
As a just man, he tortured his righteous soul on a daily basis with what he saw and heard. It was not only now and then that his mind was affected but he had a persistent and continuous daily grief at the dishonour done to God.
This implies that there was something active on Lot’s part which produced the torment and distress in his soul.
Perhaps he contemplated what he could physically do to prevent their evil conduct; perhaps he spoke out and gave warnings; perhaps he had anguishing thoughts about the consequences of their deeds; or perhaps what was more likely was that he gave earnest intercession before God.
In any case, his righteous soul felt vexation in opposition to the evil.
Do we as Christians today, feel that same burden and pain?
As we also have this constant incessant rise of evil persistently in our faces should we be passive observers?
Should there be a torturing and distress in our souls that brings us to our knees to cry out before God for those who don’t know Him and an anguish at the thought of what their destination is?
Do we weep because men do not want to know God, and many of those who do, do not obey His Word? Do we, like the Lord did, weep over our city? Are we like Jeremiah who wept over his people and their refusal to hear and obey the Word of the Lord? Like Paul, is our spirit grieved and roused to anger when we see the idolatry in our city, and even in our churches?
Streams of water run down my eyes, because men do not keep Your law [they hear it not, nor receive it, love it, or obey it]. Psalm 119:136.
2. Torment is testing
The word torture (or torment) in this context primarily means a “touchstone” and as a verb means “to rub on the touchstone, to put to the test” and “to examine by torture”.
The original sense is to test by touchstone.
A Touchstone is a black siliceous stone and was one of the earliest methods used to test (assay) the purity and quality of gold and silver and other precious metals, and to determine their ingredients and quality by the streak which was left upon the stone when it was rubbed by the metal.
It was a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of the precious metal.
The metal to be assayed was rubbed on the touchstone, adjacent to the rubbing on the touchstone of a sample of a metal of known purity.
Saints, we are in a test. Our faith, perseverance, endurance and right standing with God is being tested. We are being rubbed on the touchstone to test our purity before God, the genuineness of our faith, and the quality of life that we live before Him.
And like the gold and silver rubbed on the touchstone, it is being tested alongside a “metal” of known purity, the Word of God and the Son of Man who is The Truth, Jesus Christ. They are the plumbline by which we should be living.
Even though Lot resided in Sodom, he did not conform to their evil customs and wickedness but neither did he become indifferent. His heart continued to be affected by their depravity.
He remained a righteous man.
As we enter these unprecedented times of evil, preceding the rise of antichrist and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, how will we stand?
a) Will we bow to the pressures of the world and follow its paths because it’s the easy way?
….so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness]. (Philippians 2:15).
b) Will we succumb to false teaching?
Will we succumb to false teaching that is prevalent in Christian circles because we don’t want to be seen as “stirrers”; because we don’t want to be ostracised and condemned as we adhere strongly to the Word of God and the doctrine of the Apostles; because we refuse to succumb to the popular theories, new age teachings and direct contradictions of God’s Word that so many of the so-called “prophets” are bringing?
Will we follow the many Christian “celebrities” who are brazenly leading the Body into apostasy (defection from the faith)?
Or will we be like the Bereans, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. (Acts 10:11).
Are we willing to fight the good fight in contending with false teachers? (1 Timothy 1:18).
As the days become darker, let us remember that the testing will be greater. With the forthcoming hate speech laws, false ideologies being taught in schools, the rise of anarchy, and the rapid increase of the antichrist spirit, the net is tightening for Christians. Our faith and walk will indeed be tested and come under greater scrutiny.
So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7).
May our walk with the Lord become stronger, that we may indeed be seen as beacons shining out clearly in this generation.