I have found that prophecy can be perplexing regarding some of the passages that speak of judgment, fire, and the heavens and earth. Basically, the confusion lies with determining what judgment, fire, and heavens and earth the Scriptures are speaking of.
Could the prophecy be describing the Second Coming of Christ – with the devastation of the heavens and earth during the Tribulation – and the ensuing Millennial Kingdom’s revitalized heavens and earth, or could the prophecy be portraying the coming Great White Throne judgment and the new heavens and new earth – after the old heavens and old earth have passed away – that follows the Millennial Kingdom of Christ?
Both are somewhat similar, so this confusion is quite understandable.
Within this particular study, we are going to be examining 2 Peter 3:7-13 to try and determine what “The Day of God” truly is.
“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” – 2 Peter 3:7
“The heavens and the earth, which are now,” is what is commonly known as the old heavens and the old earth that God created in the beginning and has been under the curse ever since the fall of man. Though Christ will restore this present earth and heavens – after the beating, the earth and heavens will absorb during the Tribulation – into pristine conditions, they will still be the old heavens and the old earth.
When Peter says, “by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire,” we should be reminded of Psalm 33:
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” – Psalm 33:6-9 (emphasis mine)
It is this same Word of God that created and sustains creation that has “kept in store” these same heavens and earth and “reserved” them “unto fire against the day of judgment of perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).
The Greek word for “against” is 1519 εἰς “eis” and means to or into (indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, purpose, result), toward.
Therefore, the fire that will purge the old earth and heavens will have reached its appointment in time when “the day of judgment of perdition of ungodly men” takes place. When will this be?
We know from the book of Revelation that “the day of judgment and perdition (destruction from the presence of God, ruin, loss) of ungodly men” will ultimately occur at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
The Lord’s love is certainly magnified in this verse. All throughout the plans of God – through creation to consummation – God’s one purpose of will has always been the salvation of every man and woman who will, of their own free will, come to Him and His Son’s redemptive provision through His sacrifice of love for them on the cross.
Even in the wonderful Millennial Kingdom of Christ, when all people will live in true peace, security, justice, mercy, love, and, most importantly, in the presence of Messiah Yeshua Himself, people will struggle with their sin-natures, and Christ will be there for them through it all to help them understand exactly what salvation is and how He obtained it for them.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” – 2 Peter 3:10 (emphasis mine)
This great verse essentially bookends the Day of the Lord for the reader. Spoiler alert: The bookends of 2 Peter 3:10 are the rapture of the church and the passing away of the old heavens and earth.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;” – Revelation 21:1a (emphasis mine)
It is important to note that the “pass away” in 2 Peter 3:10 and “passed away” in Revelation 21:1 is the same Greek word, 3928 παρέρχομαι “parerchomai,” and is best understood in context as “pass out of sight, pass away, perish.”
The details of how the old heavens and earth will “pass away,” though, is actually defined for us in 2 Peter 3:10, “with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
The writer of Hebrews, quoting Psalm 102:25-26, also mentions this event:
“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” – Hebrews 1:10-12 (emphasis mine)
The Greek word translated “perish” is 622 ἀπόλλυμι “appolumi” and means to destroy, fully destroy, to destroy utterly. And the Greek word for “changed” is 236 ἀλλάσσω “allassó” and, in this context, would be better rendered “exchanged” – the one for the other.
In this account, the writers of Hebrews and Psalm 102 assign an analogy to the passing away of the old heavens and earth as that “they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed (exchanged).” This description seems to assure us that the new heavens and earth will be true to the original heavens and earth created at the beginning of creation. And why shouldn’t they be? They were perfect then, before the fall, and they shall be perfect again!
Interestingly, other than the New Jerusalem being present on the new earth, there only seems to be one physical aspect of the old earth that will not be present on the new earth, and that something is revealed to us in the last portion of Revelation 21:1:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” – Revelation 21:1 (emphasis mine)
A Rapture Ready reader asked me about this very thing – whether this will really be the case or is there another allusion to there being “no more sea” – and here was my response:
There is nothing in the text that should give us any reason not to interpret it as is. There will be no sea in the Eternal Kingdom.
A couple of reasons, I believe, for why this would be:
- The waters were the element that God used to destroy the earth and all life during Noah’s flood.
- The very last time we read about the sea is when it gave up the bodies (resurrected bodies) from it. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:13-15(emphasis mine)
These resurrected dead, of course, are the unsaved dead who will be judged at the Great White Throne judgment just before the Eternal Kingdom.
From these two points, we can surmise that the sea has caused much death on the earth – divine and earthly. There will be plenty of water, though, coming from the throne of God in the New Jerusalem, which I would think would contain much marine life.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” – Revelation 22:1-2
So, even though many of us enjoy the sea today, I have every confidence, supported by Scripture, that what the Lord will provide for us will be beyond anything we could ever think.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” – 2 Peter 3:11-12
Now we are introduced to “The Day of God,” a phrase which, as far as I can ascertain, is never mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament.
Notice that 2 Peter 3:12, “the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved” and 2 Peter 3:10, “in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” are speaking of the same event, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” in Revelation 21:1.
Therefore, “The Day of God” will follow the “day of the Lord” that will end with the dissolving the old heavens and old earth, and this will, in turn, be followed by the Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in 2 Peter 3:7.
All of this will be in preparation for “The Day of God” when God will create the new heavens and the new earth for His Eternal Kingdom, which is the consummating kingdom that began with His Salvation Kingdom. This is the context that we need to keep in mind when considering the phrase, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,” which might be better understood as a parenthetical statement within the verse.
Many Bible teachers claim, because of this verse, that we can “hasten” the Lord’s coming for His church – but we cannot. In any case, as we have observed, this is not even the context of the passage, as the dissolving of the old heavens and the old earth will not even occur until after the Millennial Kingdom, over 1,000 plus years after Christ’s Second Coming.
The Greek word for “hasten” is 4692 σπεύδω “speudó” and, depending as always on context, can mean hasten, urge on diligently or earnestly, desire greatly, to await eagerly, hurry.
When combined with the phrase “looking for,” we should be able to appreciate that a proper translation of this word within this context would be desire greatly, eagerly await, or some other like derivative.
Here are several translations that properly translate 2 Peter 3:12:
[while you earnestly] look for and await the coming of the day of God. For on this day the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the [material] elements will melt with intense heat! – Amplified Bible
as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. – Holman Christian Standard Bible
looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? – American Standard Version
While you expect and eagerly desire the coming of The Day of God in which the Heavens, being tested by fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements, when set on fire, shall melt. – Aramaic Bible in Plain English
eagerly looking forward to the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens, all ablaze, will be destroyed, and the elements will melt in the fierce heat? – Weymouth New Testament
looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, because of which coming the heavens shall dissolve in fire, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. – Anderson New Testament
Looking for and longing for the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being tested with fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? – Lamsa Bible
Expecting and seeking earnestly the presence of the day of God, during which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements going to be burned are melted away? – Smith’s Literal Translation
Truly, there is nothing man can do to “hasten” the program of God along, as He is omniscient and knows exactly how history will play out within His great plan of redemption and consummation.
The Eternal Kingdom is our ultimate destination and, as Peter declares, we should be looking forward, greatly desire, and eagerly await our final destiny which will only come after the elements of the old heavens and earth will melt with fervent heat, be dissolved, and flee away – followed by the Great White Throne judgement – all of which will prepare “The Day of God” with the creation of a new heavens a new earth where righteousness will reign supreme, God will make His tabernacle with men, and He will dwell with them! (Revelation 21:3)
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13
Peter concludes by showing us that he has, in fact, been speaking all along of the new heavens and the new earth, after the passing away of the old heavens and old earth that will usher in the Eternal Kingdom.
Though Christ’s Second Coming can be found lurking within the bookends of the day of the Lord in 2 Peter 3:10 – along with a multitude of events that span over 1,007 plus years – there is nothing in the rest of this passage of Scripture that alludes to the Second Coming of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom of regeneration or restoration (Matthew 19:28), something that many people see as the subject matter of this entire passage.
While the Millennial Kingdom will be glorious, in and of itself, it has a dreadful end after the 1,000 years will have been completed (Revelation 20:7-10).
The Eternal Kingdom, on the other hand, is where our hearts should always be as citizens of heaven, where heaven will finally be realized upon earth, and Christ’s illustrative prayer for His disciples will finally be realized:
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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