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

Last week, we looked at 2 Peter 3:10 to see if it supports the belief that the earth will be burned up and completely done away with. We saw that it is better to translate the word as “exposed” or “found”, and the language fits well within a purification understanding, like in the refining process. This week we will look at the surrounding context to see if that translation fits.
There is more to support understanding Peter as speaking of fire purifying rather than completely destroying or annihilating this creation. Recall that Peter referred to God’s judging the earth before with water and drew a comparison between that former water judgement and the upcoming fire judgment.(v5-7) Peter says in v6 that “the world that then existed” before the flood “was deluged with water and perished.” This is paralleled to “the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire” in v7. There was in some way a death and resurrection/renewal/restoration of the world. Peter uses the language “perish”, in Genesis, God speaks of the flood destroying the earth (Gen 6:13 and 9:11).   Destruction happened but we know this doesn’t mean that God completely destroyed or annihilated the earth. After the flood there was in some sense a new world (the world that existed then (v6) compared to the world that exists now (v7)). But we also know from scripture that there was a lot of continuity as the account of the creation and the flood in Genesis and our own experience tells us. The flood is seen more as a purifying judgement than a total and utter destruction.
I think that since Peter is making the comparison, we are to see the judgment by fire functioning and happening in a similar way to the water judgment. We are to see the destruction of the world by fire like the destruction of the world by water. There will be “destruction” in some sense (melting, burning dissolving etc…), but not total and utter destruction, where everything is destroyed to nothing and God starts from scratch. There will be some changes yes, “the heavens and earth that exist now” v7 will become “a new heavens and new earth” v12. But new, is to be understood as renewed or restored, transformed, even improved.  This understanding of new is seen in other places where we are described as a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) the old has passed the new has come. We aren’t completely and totally new, but we are different as we are being renewed to God’s original purposes for humanity. We can see this also as we look at Christ’s resurrected body as a pattern for our Resurrection body, 1 Cor 15. There is continuity and discontinuity, but it wasn’t completely and totally new, people still recognized him, he ate, etc…. but it will be gloriously new.
I think this understanding is confirmed by Rom 8:15ff. The creation longs to be restored, set free from bondage and corruption. It doesn’t long to be utterly destroyed and annihilated to be made again from scratch. The OT prophesies about the new heavens and new earth speak more of restoration than annihilation.
I think this also makes better sense of the flow of Scripture. God’s purpose was for mankind to dwell with Him, in His land, under His good law (rule). We made a mess of that as did Satan. But the Lord has not abandoned His purposes. Sin and Satan will not have the last word. This creation is the creation that the Lord intended mankind to dwell in for His glory, and He will insure that His purposes come about. God is concerned about His creation, of which we are a part. Creation, the flood, the call of a people for himself (Abe, Moses, Israel, David etc….), the life death and resurrection of Jesus, and His return to judge and reward, to destroy and purify, to do away with the old and bring about the renewal of things in line with His purposes forever.
There are many implications to draw from this, as Peter does in the conclusion of the letter. The reality of this should impact how we live our lives now. Does this impact how you live your life now? We weren’t created for Heaven. We were created for earth, this earth, and we will dwell here for eternity – God’s people, in God’s land, under God’s rule. Evangelism is more than just about getting people into heaven, because the Gospel is more than just about people going to heaven. If the gospel is just about “personal” salvation and a “personal” relationship with Christ, then that is a small gospel. The Good News, is that Christ’s finished work has implications for the entirety of His creation. Our Gospel message and our Gospel living should reflect that. As far as the curse had impact, and as far as sin brought destruction, Christ will bring renewal. It also means that what we do here matters. If it isn’t all going to burn up as Peter and Paul affirm, but our works will be tested by fire, then it matters how we work and live and carry about our lives now, all for the Glory of God.
How will this Good News influence your life?
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One Response to Will Creation Be Restored or Will God Start From Scratch? Part 2

  1. Bob Lee says:

    Hmmmmm,
    Interesting thoughts, good stuff to help push us out of our selfish, safe envelopes of personal salvation and share the Good News with our neighbors of humanity.

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