11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Melting in the Heat
Today it is 14F in McHenry, Illinois. No chance of the ground being scorched by fire, or the asphalt melting away. However, summers here can get hot. The weather might help us to experience variations in heat and cold, but the end of time will be more like a nuclear blast. From the videos I have seen of life under the mushroom cloud, there seems to be a white-hot detonation of the warhead and then a heat that radiates quickly away from the core and melts and burns buildings, cars, and life for miles around. I found a website that allows you to see the destruction that would occur when dropping a nuclear warhead on various locations http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ . I hope that this will never be a reality, but we do have the capacity to destroy life on a scale that was unimaginable a hundred years ago. Of course, the scale of God’s final destruction is universal and just as complete. The material universe will be either completely destroyed and recreated or completely transformed.
How should we live in light of this? We would want to be those who experience the recreation on the side of the one who creates. We would not want to be those who are burned up as part of a creation that did not reach its potential. Whilst the day of destruction is horrific for those who have opposed God and resisted him through ignorance and defiance, it is a new beginning for those who have longed for God to do all that he has desired.
I know that you say this world is not all there is. It will be renewed or recreated. You want us to live with the blueprint of what is to come in our minds. To look forward, we must look back to the peace and the harmony in the garden. Help us to live in the light of the new world that will be created rather than the old world that is decaying and must be melted away.
- What points does Peter make that set up these verses?
- What will happen to the world in the end times?
- Is the world destroyed by fire or refined by fire?
- How do we engage with environmental issues if it will all go up in flames?
- How do we place value on possessions in the light of end times?
At the end, God will recreate the Heavens and the Earth. I think that the fire implies more of a destruction and that our works will be tested by fire, not the world so much. At least, this is with what passages I can remember right now. With the world being taken and destroyed with fire (perhaps the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit–God’s unmitigated presence through the Holy Spirit?)
In the mean time, we are charged with caring for the earth that God has created and put us in. God gave Adam the task of caring for it, and that did not go away–though it did become harder on account of his sin. I do think that the fact that it will all burn (global warming, if you will) does take off a bit of pressure from us. Knowing that our efforts, while important for now and the future, it is all ultimately in God’s control, and He’s going to recreate the Earth.
Also, we know that we cannot take material possessions on with us into new life–God will provide all that we need–true satisfaction will be had. We should rest in this fact knowing that God is working toward this end–He does and will continue to care for us.
Peter makes these points in this passage: (1) We are to live holy and godly lives since all will be destroyed, (2) We are to live holy and godly lives as we anticipate the return of the Lord, which that day will consist of destruction from fire, and (3) We are promised by God a new heaven and earth that is not tainted by sin.
The passage states that the world will be destroyed by fire. We are to still be good stewards of God’s creation, although we know this will take place. Destruction is in God’s timing and by His own doing, not in our timing and by our own doing. Our possessions should be in open hands, especially in light of the end times. They are tools, like money, but they are not things to wrap our heart around or to cling tightly too. Jesus is the real prize, and He ought to be the treasure of our souls and delight of our hearts.
That picture above is terrifying. I think a grave danger in watching so many movies is that we become desensitized. How many movies has the average person seen on the end of the world? Okay maybe it depends on whether or not you’re a science fiction nut, but still.. I think in seeing so many movies, the truth that the world will one day end in fiery judgment pronounced by God doesn’t seem real..we don’t truly believe it…Or what’s worse we’re entertained by the thought? That’s scary to me.
I recall seeing a modern day film of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” In the beginning of the story, as in the book, Christian, not yet a Christian, is frightened out of his mind at the thought that his hometown (The City of Destruction) would be destroyed by God’s coming wrath. He’s given a scroll by “Evangelist” to “Flee the wrath to come” and long story short, ends up having his burden of sin rolled off at the cross.. Throughout the movie, there is great joy, but also great suffering and Christian is serious and resolute, steadfastly determined to walk the path, though that’s not to say he never wanders. This allegory has been so helpful for me. I think we need to be more serious in light of the coming fires that will consume our neighbors and co-workers who do not know Jesus. Man, how ought we to live? I agree with one of my professors that there’s been too much of an emphasis, or perhaps a wrong emphasis (at least in some circles) on Christian freedoms to do as one pleases. What ever happened to foregoing some of our pleasures here to store up treasures in Heaven? The Gospel wasn’t given to make us comfortable in our complacency. I find the below quote sobering..
‘A Communist Looks At Christianity:
“The Gospel is a much more powerful weapon for the renewal of society than is our Marxist philosophy.
All the same, it is we who will finally beat you. We are only a handful and you Christians are numbered by the million.
But if you remember the story of Gideon and his three hundred companions you will understand why I am right.
We Communists do not play with words. We are realists, and seeing that we are determined to achieve our object we know how to obtain the means. Of our salaries and wages we keep only what is strictly necessary; we give up the rest for propaganda purposes; to this propaganda we also consecrate ‘all our free time and part of our holidays.’
You however, give only a little time and hardly and money for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. How can anyone believe in the supreme value of this Gospel if you do not practice it, if you do not spread it, and if you sacrifice neither time nor money for it?
Believe me, it is we who will win, for we believe in our Communist message and we are ready to sacrifice everything, even our life in order that the social justice shall triumph. But you people are afraid to soil your hands.”
-from PAIX ET LIBERTE, A French Communist Publication.
Peter started this chapter by talking about the false teachers who denied that Christ would return again because nothing was happening–they scoffed at those who remained faithful. Peter reminded them of the world’s history. God made everything and has sustained it. His judgment comes when He wishes it to come (like the flood) and there will always be scoffers who are put to shame. If God has done such things in judgment of evil in the past, and judged angels too, God will surely judge those who are scoffing and teaching falsehood in the future. Peter has also been reminding the readers that God is also perfectly capable of preserving and keeping the righteous who trust in Him safe through the judgment. We have hope. God is not delaying nor has He forgotten–His timing is not ours because He transcends time and wants to bring others to repentance. These verses seem like the bottom line. The day of the Lord is coming and it will be pretty terrifying for unbelievers. For the faithful it will be a day to look forward to because the devastation of everything is followed by recreation and renewal for them. In the mean time, we are to act in accord with Christ and thereby draw others to repentance. We were created to love God, each other, and take care of creation. The kingdom of God is about coming back to our purpose. While the environment will be changed anyway, our taking care of it is in line with who God is and who He created us to be. It also points forward to the future glory.