Author: Ron Graham
Peter, in 2nd Peter 1:12-21, is acutely aware of the importance of being enlightned and established in "the present truth" because this world is "a dark place" (2Peter 1:12,19). We studied these same verses (2Peter 1:12-21) in a previous lesson, from the point of view of Peter's reason for writing. Now we will look at these same verses from the point of view of darkness and light.
Peter speaks of this world, and this life, and the hearts of men, as "a dark place" (2Peter 1:19). What is this darkness that so much needs the light of God to shine in it? One form of this darkness Peter speaks of in this passage. Other forms of the darkness he has spoken of in his previous letter or will go on to talk about in this second letter.
The Shadow of Death Even Christians must faith death unless the coming of Christ should cut short our lives. Peter was aware that he soon would die. He says, "Soon I must lay aside my tent" (2Peter 1:14). By his "tent" or tabernacle Peter speaks of his fleshly body (cf 2Corinthians 5:1-10). He also speaks of his death as "my departure" (2Peter 1:15). He is going on a journey through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalms 23:4). There is greater darkness in that valley than here in this world. How shall we safely pass through unless we have the light of God to shine upon the path?
The Dread of Suffering It may happen in our lives that we face some form of suffering and ordeal. Peter has already spoken of this in his first letter (1Peter 4:12-19). Heaven has no suffering (Revelation 21:1-7). Suffering is part of this world's darkness and it tests our faith and requires perseverance (2Peter 1:6).
The Night of Error Peter is very aware of the dangers of heresy and apostasy. He is about to write an impassioned warning against it. He strongly condemns "false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies" (2Peter 2:1-22). So this error that plagues the world and attacks the church is part of the darkness that so troubled Peter, and through which we must walk enlightened.
Outcast in Sin Of course the root cause of darkness in this world is sin. In his first epistle Peter has already told us the solution to sin, namely that Christ "bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by his wounds you were healed" (1Peter 2:20-25). Peter later comes back to that, and tells us that baptism into Christ is "the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." (1Peter 3:17-22).
Coming back now to our main passage (2Peter 1:12-21) we now meditate on the light of which Peter speaks.
The Father's Majestic Glory Peter testifies of the vision he had when he, with James and John, accompanied Jesus to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured (2Peter 1:17-18, Mark 9:2-8). He describes God as "The Majestic Glory" and he saw that Christ shared that glory and light. "We were eye witnesses of his majesty" (2Peter 1:16-17). John, who was with Peter at the transfiguration, says of Christ, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it... the true light coming into the world enlightens every man... We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, so that we might know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (John 1:4-5,9, 1John 5:20). In his previous letter Peter says, "you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1Peter 2:9). We should be so thankful that the Majestic Glory has shone in the darkness and enlightened us that we may walk in the light.
The Lamp of Prophecy Peter exhorts is to "pay attention to the sure word of prophecy as to a lamp shining in a dark place..." (2Peter 1:19). Peter makes it a matter of first importance that one must not follow "one's own interpretation" for that would be to impose our own darkness upon the light of prophecy and snuff out the lamp that should enlighten us. Rather we should lay aside our own thoughts and let the sure word of prophecy interpret itself to us as we compare it word by word knowing each word is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:20-21).
The Day Dawns Peter, in speaking of the lamp of prophecy, tells us to pay attention to it "until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2Peter 1:19). Whilst we certainly have enlightenment from Christ, the morning star, we still walk in a dark place as we sojourn in this world and camp in our tent of flesh. We look forward to the end of that journey when we shall see Jesus face to face (Revelation 22:4, 1John 3:2, 1Peter 1:8). When that great day dawns, how our hearts will marvel and rejoice (2Thessalonians 1:10).
The Morning Star Peter speaks of "the morning star" (2Peter 1:19), a name which Jesus applied to himself when he said, "I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). Jesus promises every follower of his, "I will give him the morning star"(Revelation 2:28). There are many stars, some brighter and more glorious than the others (1Corinthians 15:41), however the star of earth's own solar system, the sun, is so glorious when it rises in the morning, that all other lights in the sky fade before it. Every rising of Earth's morning star, every dawning of a new day, reminds us that Jesus is our light who shines in the darkness, and the darkness flees from his presence. We thank Jesus for giving us this light from himself.