“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.” (2 Peter 2:17)
As we continue to study the Epistle of 2 Peter, and chapter two in particular, it is not lost on me that Peter continues to attack the character and behavior of false teachers. Some might conclude he is being neither gracious nor kind. Perhaps. Peter, however, is taking no chances that false teacher may become influential within the church. He is sounding a dire warning of which the church should take heed.
One of my favorite authors is Louis L’Amour. He has been called America’s foremost storyteller of the authentic west. He wrote dozens of books, many of which have been made into movies, chronicling the adventures of the brave men and women who settled the American frontier. Several of his stories, e.g. Hondo and The Burning Hills, are set in the desert of the American southwest.
In his novel The Burning Hills L’Amour writes, “In the moonlight even more than by day, the desert is a place of weird and strange beauty. One can live in the desert. There are plants that provide food; there are plants and places that provide water. But if one does not conform to the desert’s pattern, one can die in the desert.”
Peter identified false teachers as being waterless springs. He uses a figure of speech called an oxymoron. It is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. In the case today’s text, the oxymoron is “waterless springs.” The apparent contradiction here is that a spring is usually not waterless. However, the word for spring (πηγή; pege) can also be defined as a well of water.
Peter was saying that false teachers are like a dry well. There is the promise and hope of refreshment and life sustaining nutrients from their teaching, but unfortunately they are like a dry hole in the ground. One commentary says that, “Barren wells were worse than useless; they promised water in the arid East yet did not deliver on their promise.”
Peter also called false teachers “mists driven by a storm.” The anticipated refreshment of an early morning or evening mist or fog is unrealized because a whirlwind has driven away the weather pattern of moisture.
What false teachers do have is a reservation from the Lord. Their reservation is the gloom of utter darkness. In other words, hell.
Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “In both cases one would look for some benefit or blessing (a cool drink from the spring; a refreshing shower from the clouds) but in each case he is disappointed. The very nature of hypocrisy is that one does not have what he pretends to have. Once again (cf. 2 Peter 2:1, 3, 9, 12–13) Peter wrote of their coming judgment. The blackest darkness (lit., “blackness” or “gloominess” [zophos; cf. “gloomy” in v. 4] of darkness) is reserved for them (cf. Jude 13). This blackness is presumably hell.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Just as water sustains physical life, so true spiritual teaching nourishes spiritual life (Proverbs 13:14; John 4:13-15). This is a vivid image in a culture where water was a treasured resource. Like the dry well that only disappoints the thirsty (Jeremiah 14:1-3), the false teachers can only deceived and disappoint.
Take time today to guard your heart against the influence of false teachers and their instruction.
Soli deo Gloria!