God’s Word for You
2 Peter 1:12-15 My exodus
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, June 25, 2022
12 This is why I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you have.
Peter’s underlying theme in this chapter is that the Christian who does nothing about his faith is in danger of losing it. Therefore (“this is why”) he pours out his ink reminding us of what we surely know already. We need this reminder because the sinful man is always inclined, leaning toward, sin and wickedness, especially if that wickedness takes on the simplest form of sin imaginable, which is doing nothing at all. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and the bandit and armed man will come” (Proverbs 6:10, 24:33). The Christian who is firmly established in the truth will want to give a full account for his faith, and will know how to do it. It begins with something as simple as the Creed, and the Catechism, and the heart that is full of faith.
13 As long as I live in the tent of this body, I think it is right to wake you up with a reminder 14 because I know that I will soon set aside this tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
Peter talks about his life in terms of a tent, the most temporary dwelling place there is. Here, near the end of the New Testament, Peter’s mind recalls Moses and the days of the Israelites in the wilderness. They lived in tents for most of a lifetime, and the older children of Israel died in those tents before they ever reached the Promised Land. Aaron, Miriam, and even Moses himself died without setting foot across the Jordan. Peter talks about death as “setting aside the tent.” Jesus had made clear to him the kind of death he would suffer. The Lord said: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). This would describe just about any Roman execution, but it fits well with the ancient tradition that Peter was crucified. There is no passage apart from the verse in John 21 about the death of Peter, or about any message from the Lord as to the way it would happen or when it would take place. But Peter was now convinced that it would be soon. He wasn’t delighted with the prospect; Christians do not need to be happy about their deaths. Those who haven’t been at a death bed imagine all sorts of strange things about it, but the Christian knows that death is not a natural part of life. It comes as a punishment to all mankind for sin, and therefore it is sad. We desire to remain in life, especially when we leave loved ones behind, but not only then. According to the spirit, we die willingly, but according to the flesh, Jesus’ words apply to us all: “Another will carry you where you do not want to go.” Some of the greatest Christian saints I have ever known said to me on their deathbed, “I don’t want to go.” But then they faced the end and gave up the ghost. They gave all the rest of us comfort because we will all say the same thing, every single one of us. But if we’ve pretended that we will go happily and with no reservation, we’re going to disappoint ourselves in the end and die with worry that we’re sinning. We’re not sinning by struggling against the punishment. But we can do it with faith and knowing we have a place in heaven.
15 And I will make every effort to see that after my exodus you will always be able to remember these things.
Peter wants his message to be remembered after his death, because it is the truth of God’s holy word. But he uses the wonderful term “exodus.” This is the Greek word; I have left it untranslated instead of saying “departure” or something life that. It means “the road out,” and it is a fine way for a Christian to describe death. Peter uses it because it also brings up the journey of Israel when they lived in their tents, and Peter is placing himself in the footsteps of Moses, laying down his life so that his spirit may enter in to the Promised Land even though his body must wait for a while. Neither Peter nor Moses saw the land of Israel as the true resting place of God’s people. It is spiritual rest in heaven that we desire. Moses did not ask anyone to come with him up to Mount Nebo; he accepted that he would not be buried in Canaan, at Jericho or the Cave of Machpelah or any other place like Joseph and Jacob and the Patriarchs. Their bones were brought back, but not the bones of Moses. And so it would be with Peter. He would be buried, so it seems, in Rome, far away from any earthly home, but only there to wait for the resurrection.
What else could a minister of the gospel ever want but this? That after my death, my exodus, you will be able to remember these things: Christ, faith, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith