“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
WE NEED TO ENJOY THIS WORLD AND BE GRATEFUL FOR IT — BUT WE ALSO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S COMING TO AN END. Peter wrote of a coming day when the heavens “will pass away,” the elements will “melt with fervent heat,” and the earth “will be burned up.” It’s old-fashioned but it’s still true: the end is coming.
The earth and the heavens will come to an end, according to Peter, on the “day of the Lord.” This expression will be familiar to any Bible student. We hear it first in the Old Testament, where it originally referred to a day of judgment in which God would pour out His wrath on some city or nation. Then some of the prophets used this expression to describe the coming of the Messiah into the world, and specifically the inauguration of His kingdom and the outpouring of the Spirit. In the New Testament, we get further extensions of this terminology. The “day of the Lord” can refer to God’s judgment upon Jerusalem, and later to His wrath against Rome. But surely, the day of the Lord spoken of in 2 Peter 3:10 will be the day of the Lord to end all days of the Lord. On this day will come the final, cataclysmic termination of this entire world.
Peter says that it will come suddenly, as a thief in the night, and that ought to be a warning to every one of us. As we pursue the frantic busyness of our worldly work and play, let us beware lest we be caught by sad surprise — unprepared for the end.
From the times of its earliest use, the “day of the Lord” was always thought of as a day of judgment and destruction. But unlike the destruction wrought by previous days of the Lord, the devastation of the final one will be complete and irrevocable. “Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” There are no more decisive words of physical termination in all of the Scriptures.
My friends, I love the remnants of God’s goodness in this world as much as anybody else, but the truth is: this world is a temporary arrangement. God existed before He created this world, and He will exist after it has been concluded. Broken by sin, this world is doomed. Our hopes must lie beyond the day of its destruction!
“The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity” (Sir Thomas Browne).