Will Creation Be Restored or Will God Start From Scratch? Part 1

This is a good question. In a recent sermon series I made the point several times that God was going to redeem/restore/renew this earth. I also said that as God’s People, we are part of that plan of restoration and should be living out that reality now.

A very perceptive listener later asked me what in Scripture supports those statements, especially in light of  2 Peter 3:7-11, that speaks of the earth being reserved for fire in the day of judgement and the heavens passing away and the elements melting away, and that the earth and the works on it will be burned up (or exposed).

This is a very good question that over the next few weeks I hope to try to answer. First I want us to look closely at 2 Peter 3:10 to see if it does say that the earth will be burned up (or is it saying something else). Translations do seem to vary here. Then next time look at how Peter’s comparison to the flood may help us in understanding his teaching in this passage.

Part of what Peter is addressing in Chapter 3 of 2 Peter is the questioning of Jesus’ return by false teachers. They claim in verse 4 that God hasn’t intervened in this world and that things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation, so why should we expect him to intervene at all. Peter then points out that they have overlooked some things. First, that it was God himself who acted to bring this world about to begin with. He personally acted to create the world (v5). Second, God intervened in His creation to judge the world on account of sin by bringing about the flood. Therefore you can know that God will act again just has he has before to judge the world, this time with fire (v7). God does intervene and act in this world, creation and the flood are proof, therefore we can know that He will act again, the false teachers are wrong. He then moves on to say that the delay in his second coming isn’t due to God’s lack of interest or care, but it is due to his patience, that all who are his will repent and not perish. (v8-9)

 Then in v 10 Peter describes in more detail what the Day of the Lord, Christ’s second coming, the day of judgment and salvation will be like. He says,
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10 ESV)
On first reading it does sound as if he could be describing the world being annihilated. “heavens will pass away with a roar” “heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved”. (also in v12 he says “heavens will be set on fire and dissolved and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn”.) The end of verse 10 reads “and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed“. Some versions read “will be burned up“. The earliest and most reliable manuscripts of 2 Peter support the translation “exposed” as in the ESV or “found” or “laid bare” as in the NIV. The idea is more one of a refiner’s fire exposing the pure and destroying the impure. Paul speaks in a similar way of the Day of Lord, although using different words in 1 Cor 3:11-15. I think this is how we should also view the burning up, dissolving and melting at the beginning of verse 10.
Next time we will look at the surrounding context of verse 10 and see if this translation and understanding is supported.

2 Responses to Will Creation Be Restored or Will God Start From Scratch? Part 1

  1. Daniel Ray says:

    You have reminded me of the quote, “Heaven is a big deal, but its not the end of the world.” I am looking forward to the next post!

    Grace & Peace.

  2. Pingback: Will Creation Be Restored or Will God Start From Scratch? Part 2 « NewSelf

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