If God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. – 2 Peter 2:4-10
See how the Lord swiftly and determinately sends destruction upon the wicked but withholds judgment when His chosen are present. He waited over 100 years to destroy the earth, giving Noah enough time to complete the ark and seal himself, his family, and the animals inside before sending the destructive dirge. He waited for Lot and his family to leave the city before sending the fires of judgment upon those people for their many depravities. And now He waits for all humanity, offering every possible moment for sinners to repent and look to Jesus, even though the world continually celebrates depravity and wickedness more and more.
But we must also accept that judgment will certainly come. The Lord may choose to patiently hold back judgment in order that His chosen be protected and brought to faith, but this patience does not mean a lack of interest or concern. The wicked and those who practice evil will be judged because the Day of the Lord is near. The ungodly, the unbelievers, the defilers, the God haters and those who demean His Church and His people, they will not inherit eternal life. But the Lord will restrain their destruction for the sake of His people and we who are being saved must remain patient with Him.
What was it with the people before the flood that deserved them God’s wrath? Were the people not morally empty, breaking every command and committing horrible acts? But what was worse was their disregard for the first table of the law. They appeared righteous, godly, and appeared to have the true religion, yet all the while they polluted themselves with horrible lusts and carnal passions, and ultimately filled the world with bloodshed and oppression. And what about the men of Sodom and Gomorrah? How was God’s judgment against them well-deserved? As St. Paul writes, they knew God, but glorified Him not nor gave thanks, but in their thinking, they became futile and they depraved themselves to such debase acts, doing everything they could to live contrary to God’s law, to parade in their wickedness and pretend they had conquered God.
These events in history are for our good learning but also to warn those who abuse God’s gifts. God gives His people good and gracious gifts to be used rightly, for His glory and for the service of others. He gives everything, family, home, career, money and wealth, clothing, protection, wisdom and understanding, food and health, a faithful church, faithful pastors, and everything else, just as He did long ago before the flood. Thus, it is our duty as His people to thank and praise Him for all His gifts, to serve and obey Him in all we do, and to use His gifts to help and serve the neighbor. Let us look at these events of old, repent of all sin or behavior unfitting of a child of God, and trust in the forgiveness and mercy of Christ who gives you His Spirit to strengthen you and sanctify you. Thus, listen to those whom God has put in authority over you, especially your pastors and bishops. They are there for your good, to teach you in your youth, correct you when you err, console you in your distress, and encourage you when you fear. And for the sake of your souls, do not grieve God’s servants sent to you or cause them harm or trouble. Only, pray for them and help them, for they suffer for each of you daily, working to assure that you escape judgment and enter enteral life.
Heavenly Father, keep me from the evil that possessed the people of old before the flood destroyed them, and keep me steadfast in Your Word so that I might live by your grace, die daily to sin, abide in You and serve my neighbor. In Jesus’ name. Amen.