You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week Peter told us to stick to the truth that Jesus is returning again. We don’t know the date, but we do know He’s coming back. Don’t delay your obedience by pursuing earthly desires and dreams – pursue God. This morning, Peter tells us how Jesus will return.
2 Pet. 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”
Peter begins with another contrast. Jesus’ return is going to happen despite what the false teachers say, despite what the scoffers say, despite what the doubters say. Peter states with authority, “The day of the Lord will come.” Peter is basing his statement on the foundation laid by the words of the holy prophets and apostles. The verb, “will come” emphasizes the certainty that Peter speaks with. The Day of the Lord is a familiar phrase to the people Peter is writing to and it should be a familiar phrase to us. There are many days of the Lord in Scripture, in the Old Testament mostly mentioned in the prophets. They often signify an event in which God intervened like the day of Egypt in Ezekiel or the day of Midian in Isaiah. But in some O.T. Scriptures, the Day of the Lord refers to an event so significant, so catastrophic that it signifies the ending of an era or age. Sometimes it refers to a country or a people group.
As you shift to the New Testament, the Day of the Lord is the Day of Christ and refers to a cataclysmic event that will usher in a new age. Phil. 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” This day will be a day like no other. This day, “Will come like a thief.” This is similar to what Paul wrote in 1 Thes. 5:3 where he said, “The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” There are some things you can do to prepare for a thief. You can make educated guesses about when thieves might come. You can install security lights and dead bolts and alarms, but the truth is you will never predict exactly when a thief will come. Since you can’t predict when a thief is coming, you make preparations prior to the event. You don’t wait until you’re burgled to install locks on your doors. Don’t assume since you live in a certain type of house or a certain neighborhood that you’re immune to a thief. Everything around you may suggest you’re safe and secure, but the reality is thieves can strike at any time. That’s the point Peter is making. We don’t know exactly when the day of the Lord will occur only that it will occur so we need to make preparation prior to that day. The false teachers and mockers will be humiliated in a grand, “I told you” so kind of way, but Peter wants his readers to be ready right now.
How will the Day of the Lord arrive? Peter says three things are going to happen on that day. First, “The heavens will pass away with a roar.” This goes back to vs. 5 and 7. God created the heavens and He can destroy them. Pass away means cease to exist. The heavens will disappear. Is. 34:4 says, “And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll.” The heavens will be gone. Second, “The elements will be destroyed with intense heat.” Think fire when you hear this phrase. When you put it in context to what Peter is talking about, elements refer to the basic building blocks of life on earth as we know it. Peter is certainly talking about oxygen, nitrogen, silver, gold, carbon, lead, and iron and all the other elements listed on the periodic table, but he’s also talking about the things we need to sustain life. Finally, “The earth and its works will be burned up.” Since the heavens will disappear and the elements will be destroyed, it stands to reason that the earth will follow suit. Of the three, this is probably the most difficult to explain. When we consider v. 7, the earth being burned is the result of God judging the ungodly. What comes forth from this refining process will be pure. “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.” (Dan. 12:10) This is all a result of God being involved in our lives, in the lives of all men, and in maintaining our world.
The physical world as we know it will be destroyed, but it will pose no issues for those that are true children of God. And don’t forget that, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9) We don’t need to get so hung up on the end game that we forget what’s going on now. If you have made a conscience decision to follow Christ, don’t worry about the fire. Be concerned with keeping other people out of the fire that is sure to come.