Categories
Cosmology God's sovereignty hermeneutics

The coming new heaven and new earth

A study on 2 Peter 3 verses 10 – 18

This is the final part of a 3 part study. Part I and Part II are found here. I ended the last study of this chapter (in part II) with verse 10.

2 Peter 3:10 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.

It is worth repeating here that I do not believe that the phrase “the heavens shall pass away” describes the destruction of the starry heavens (all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos), but instead, at most, it describes a renovation of the earth and its atmospheric heavens, at the time Christ returns in judgment and to govern the earth. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Scientific evidences in the Bible: Information or misinformation?

It seems to be the eschatological position of many biblical creationists that this verse means the destruction of the entire known Universe and that all the heavenly bodies will all be burned up in the final judgment. Then God will re-create an entirely new universe. However the destruction of the starry heavens I argue (as put here) is not necessarily required by the texts. Certainly a new heaven and new earth must mean God re-creates the environment of Earth and brings His heavenly city into the picture, providing real physical heavenly mansions for us all who believe. But that re-creation need not extend beyond our solar system. This is further evidenced by the idea that the Universe may be, in fact, eternal. God introduces His sustaining power to maintain it forever. Thus is not the result of an eternal big bang universe that had no Creator, not the result of the quantum fluctuation of a meta-stable false vacuum, but an eternal Universe sustained by the Creator Himself. So at some stage God reverses entropic decay in the Universe and maintains it forever.

The concept of literal restoration of the perfect creation on Earth and its environment is not incompatible with the biblical creationist message that is illustrated in the figure above. God initially literally created a perfect physical world/universe sustained by His power. But at Adam’s sin God cursed the creation bringing about various difficulties (to say the least) upon mankind and all living species on the planet. The greatest of these difficulties was death, spiritual death followed by physical death.

The death of humans and all living sentient beings has little bearing on the “life cycle” of stars and galaxies, which are little more than an arrangement of hot gases. So it is ill-advised to speak of the death of stars resulting from the Curse. Thus to suggest that supernovae only occurred post-Fall is grossly in error. They are the result of normal operational physics and I believe have little bearing on, or relation to, man’s actions. Whereas the Fall was the direct result of a man’s action to disobey the Living God. As a result we all inherited Adam’s sin. And thus we are in need of a Saviour.

The Universe though is a creation of God, for His own glory (Psalm 19:1). We have evidence in the scriptures supporting the idea that God will maintain the Universe (the Sun, moon and stars) forever. Psalms 148:3-6 and 89:37. 

Categories
Bible prophecy hermeneutics

Final judgment in the new heaven and new earth

A study on 2 Peter 3 verses 10 – 18

This is the final part of a 3 part study. Part I and Part II are found here. I ended the last study of this chapter (in part II) with verse 10.

2 Peter 3:10 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.

It is worth repeating here that I don’t believe that the phrase “the heavens shall pass away” describes the destruction of the starry heavens (all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos), but instead, at most, it describes a renovation of the earth and its atmospheric heavens, at the time Christ returns in judgment and to govern the earth. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Scientific evidences in the Bible: Information or misinformation?

I do believe that the Lord may return at any time. Yet I don’t hold to some futuristic interpretation of Bible prophecy with its secret rapture before a 7-year tribulation under the AntiChrist. Instead I believe it is possible that we are chronologically somewhere near the period of time in Revelation 20 called the battle of Gog and Magog.  The so-called ‘millennium’ (a word not found in the Bible but derived from the expression “a thousand years” in Revelation 20) I believe is symbolic for the period of the church age, also called the time of the Gentiles.

That period is about to end with the imminent return of Christ. This is what is meant by “the Lord will come as a thief in the night”. Those who are prepared however, like the 5 wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), will not be surprised. Those who profess salvation, i.e. attend church or claim to be Christian in spite of their disbelief in the scriptures, are like the 5 foolish virgins, of whom the Lord will say, at His return, that He did not know them. The reason for that is because they are professing but not confessing Christians. They are the unsaved ‘Christians’. I think we may be surprised that there are so many.

Then we have the expression “the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” This has been taken by many to mean that God destroys the Universe down to its very foundations, the atoms themselves. I take a different view, but a view held by the Reformers.

Categories
Creation/evolution God's sovereignty hermeneutics

Time in the mind of God

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part II

Part I can be found here.

Possibly one of the most quoted and most widely interpreted verses in the Bible in relation to the chronology of the Bible from Creation to final Judgment is the 8th verse of chapter 3 of Peter’s second epistle (letter).

2 Peter 3:8 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.  (my emphasis added in bold)

Some have used this to re-scale the length of the Genesis 1 creation days from 24-hour days to 1000-year days. This feeble effort to try to get the creation chronology of the Bible to fit in with the alleged billions of years of the secular chronology is referred to as the day-age theory. But it makes very little sense as the second part of the verse reverses the order and thus using the same type of logic you would have to say that a 1000 years in the Bible really means a 24-hour day.

673px-aristotle_altemps_inv8575
Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition. Credit: Wikipedia (Public domain)

Another problem is an understanding of what time is. Since the Greek thinkers, like Aristotle, time has been given a linear deterministic feature where past, present and future are referred to in a real sequence. But that is not the way the Hebrew mind operated.

God’s consciousness is a world consciousness in which everything that takes place is treasured and held fast in the eternal and is therefore as indestructible as ‘matter’. Without a world consciousness, all the history of humanity and of the universe would end in nothing; for a people, however, for whom life and history is everything, the concept of a divine world consciousness is as necessary as the concept of eternal being was for the Greeks. For the Israelites, the world was transitory, but Jahveh [Jehovah] and his words (and deeds) were eternal (Isaiah 40.8).1

… the Semitic concept of time is closely coincident with that of its content without which time would be quite impossible. The quantity of duration completely recedes behind the characteristic feature that enters with time or advances in it.1 (Emphasis in the original)

… time is for us an abstraction since we distinguish time from the events that occur in time. The ancient Semites did not do this; for them time is determined by its content. Time is the notion of the occurrence; it is the stream of events.1

This verse, 2 Peter 3:8, was written in Greek but by the Apostle Peter, a Hebrew. Therefore we should expect he writes with a Hebrew way of thinking. Reading the verse in context with those that precede it, it simply means that God does not view time the way we do.  In the preceding verses, it is made clear that God is not in a hurry to bring about the promised judgment. Judgment may not happen immediately but it will come at the time appointed. So God was telling the believers back in Peter’s time (and us now by extension) not to be too anxious because the Christ will return at the appointed time.

Considering that God is outside of time He does not view time the way we do. More than that; it is a Greek way of thinking to see time as a linear sequence. This verse reflects a Hebrew way of thinking to see time as the contents of the events themselves. To the earth observers the events may take thousands of years to unfold, in a linear fashion, but to the mind of God, and a Hebrew way of thinking, the events have already happened. They form a whole set, because what God says will happen, in our realm, has already happened for Him.

Categories
Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

As in the Days of Noah

Chapter 5 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew [understood] not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39)

Here, Jesus is stating that life will go on as normal until the very moment of his return, just as it did when judgment came upon the ungodly in Noah’s time. The question is asked, “what was the ‘normal’ during the time leading up to the flood?” To find the answer to this question, we must turn to the sixth chapter of Genesis.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually [all the time]. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:5,11-13)

antedel

From these verses, we discover that before the flood “all flesh” was corrupt, that is, decayed, rotten, putrified. Their wickedness had become a stench in the nostrils of God. Since we know from Solomon’s writings, that there is “no new thing under the sun”, then we can probably surmise some of the sins which the antediluvians (before the flood) were guilty. Judging from the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, we could rightfully conclude that many of the antediluvians practiced homosexuality. In conjunction with this particular sexual perversion, they also probably engaged in multiple other forms of sexual sin, including, but not limited to, rapeincest, bestiality, and pedophilia.

In Jeremiah 2:34, we find an obscure phrase alluding to the sin of abortion in which Israel had become guilty of. I call it “obscure” since there is not a consensus as to its interpretation. Many take the word “skirts” in a metaphorical sense, however, I believe it should be taken literally.

Categories
Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

The Rapture

Chapter 3 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

The term “rapture” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. This fact alone does not necessarily invalidate its truthfulness, however. The word itself refers to the “catching away” of the bride of Christ, which is the Church. According to the dispensationalists, the Church will be “taken” from the earth at the “coming” of Christ, otherwise known by its Greek name, the “Parousia”. This event would necessitate people being “left behind”. A seven-year period of great distress would follow and, would eventually end at the Second Advent of Christ. Thus, a “two-stage” coming of Jesus is required.

Rapture

The word “rapture”, however, did not originate until the early part of the 1830’s when it was first coined by John Nelson Darby, the leader of the Brethren movement. This paper will not entertain the controversy of who was actually the first to expound the idea of a “two-stage” coming, whether Darby or a young Scottish woman by the name of Margaret Macdonald. Rather, I will only address the scriptural texts that have been cited in proof of this popular view referred to as the “rapture”. The most referenced biblical passage to support the “rapture” is from 1 Thessalonians.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant [unaware], brethren, concerning them which are asleep [dead], that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [die] in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [dead]. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort [encourage] one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons [dates], brethren, you have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know perfectly [full well] that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail [birth pains] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake [surprise] you as a thief… For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-4,9)

Categories
Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

The Return of Jesus Christ

Chapter 2 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

To begin our study of what the scriptures reveal, we will first consider those which speak of a certain day marked on God’s celestial calendar. Jesus and the disciples referred to this historic day as the “day of judgment”.

“Verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matthew 10:15)

“But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:22)

“But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations [trials], and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter 2:9)

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved to fire against the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)

“Herein is our love made perfect [complete], that we may have boldness [confidence] in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

“And the angels which kept not their first estate [position], but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains [eternal bonds] under darkness to the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6)

MARTIN_John_Great_Day_of_His_Wrath
The End of the World, also known as The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin. Credit: Wikipedia

As one studies these verses, it becomes obvious that a specific day is reserved to judge the ungodly of this world. The verse 1 John 4:17 alludes to the fact that even the believers will be judged on this fateful day. Furthermore, Jude 6 clearly intimates that the demons will also be held in judgment for this “great day”.