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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.