By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
“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 a fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Peter 3:10
Perhaps most people currently are not concerned about the destruction of the earth, our present home. Of course, many scenarios have been proposed by doomsayers and other futurists of how that could possibly happen: nuclear war, collision with an asteroid, universal flood, incredible drought, or the most prominent today, Climate Change, and its predicted result, the earth “burning up.”
At first, it was “Global Warming,” but the facts did not bear that out exactly. So the purveyors of alarmism changed the semantics to “Climate Change” so that any weather alteration or storm whatsoever is now blamed on man’s own actions and not on God, who truly rules the weather. The “man-created Climate Change” must be artificially and very expensively “controlled,” bringing severe harm to the economy and, most terribly, to the poor of the world, among many other dire results totally unwarranted.
Interestingly, the Book of Revelation in the Bible predicts the destruction of the earth AND the heavens by all-consuming fire after Christ’s Return; a very warm end indeed. In fact, the heat is of such intensity that the elements melt. A complete destruction that the doomsayers cannot even approach imagining. It is the God who alone created it, who destroys it. Only He, and not man, can cause such a cataclysm.
The New Testament in 2 Peter, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation, especially, describes the earth’s last days and its catastrophic end. That is, all prior to the creation of a whole new “Heavens,” and a brand new earth, amazingly enough in a timeless occurrence, and not over millions of years as the first creation allegedly happened through eons of evolution. Or, in God’s time, “a thousand years is as a day, a day is as a thousand years.” (2 Peter 3:8). I rather think this really means our experience of and our sense of time is irrelevant to God’s actions then. He does as He wills irregardless of time, within the timelessness of eternity.
There is no doubt, according to these passages, no matter the eschatology you believe or choose, that the present earth meets a catastrophic end. The passages say “the heavens too,” but I do not know if this really means the whole infinitely expansive universe or not. All of this is in God’s hands and purposes, and by His Spirit, He directed His Word to be written as it is.
This is to say, both we, His people, in fact, all of humanity, are in His hands, as is the chronology of the “end times” and the disposition of the earth and the heavens. Hebrews 1:10-12 speaks of “the earth and the heavens perishing and being rolled up like a garment when it grows sin weary and is soon to be replaced.” The Spirit chooses language we can understand to describe actions of God that are beyond our comprehension. But the action of God is no less catastrophic, even with the more simple description of what actually happens. Imagine the earth being “rolled up like a garment.”
Of course, we are concerned with where we and our loved ones are when the world is thus destroyed. Precisely, where are we? Wherever Heaven is located. It is a safe place to be while we await our new eternal bodies and the creation of our new home, a “new heavens and a new earth.”
The Second Coming has occurred, and all people are being made ready for the Great and Final Judgement. The destruction of the earth and the heavens take place after history has come to a close with the Coming of Christ. There is no habitation on the old earth any longer. There is only “Hades,” the place of the unbelieving dead and remaining living, awaiting Judgement, and there is Heaven, the location of all believers.
The Providence of God rules all people and events, and He is working His purposes out within and according to His own plan. He allows us a glimpse in His Word of all this, but we shall actually see the end occur and the new created all within God’s timing, and the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ will be central and paramount in all God does.
“Every island, sea, and mountain, heav’n, and earth shall flee away; all who hate Him must, confounded, hear the trump proclaim the day: Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment, come away!”
(3rd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending