New Heaven, New Earth

2 Peter 3:10-18

10 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. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

I really hate to keep a passage so big like this, but I’m afraid Peter’s point would be dissected and misunderstood if we didn’t read the whole thing.  As Peter signs off of what is known has his final letter before his martyrdom, he gives us the whole point of his letter.

We must remain steadfast and be ready for the return of Jesus.

Verse 10 has become a common phrase to counter prophecies of Jesus’ return.  While it is a good piece of scripture to cling to, Peter didn’t say it just to argue against false prophets.  He is telling us not to slack in our preparation for the coming of the Lord.  But what does that mean, exactly? He tells us how violently everything he just talked about previously (mockers, distorted truth, persecution, suffering, etc.) and therefore we should strive to refrain from involving ourselves with that which is to be destroyed.  I love, however, how Peter makes sure to tell us what to focus on: the hastening of the day of God.  He doesn’t tell us, “don’t do this, don’t do that,” rather he tells us, “do this, and you’ll be alright.”  It’s a lot easier to focus your attention on something than it is to not focus on something, isn’t it?  So what is it we have to look forward to?  To what should we affix our gaze and attention?

We have something glorious and eternal in which to hope.

Peter mentions the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth.  We see the physical description of this in Revelation 21, but I really like what we read from the prophet in Isaiah 65:

 

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.
21 “They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
23 “They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for calamity;
For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord,
And their descendants with them.

Isn’t that wonderful?  There is nothing else greater to look forward to!

We should continually grow in our relationship with God.

Peter’s dying words here are to remain steadfast in the faith and continually grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The only concept I have found that is more difficult than developing something to a certain point is to maintain where you are.  I follow a well known body builder for my health and fitness information and he always says that we shouldn’t try to emulate someone who can get in the best shape the quickest, but rather that maintains a high level of fitness the longest: longevity and steadfastness.  This is what Peter calls us to in our faith and relationship with God.  He doesn’t tell us to gain the most faith as fast as possible, rather he encourages us to maintain and grow our faith with God.

I mentioned earlier in this letter that our faith in God is about putting trust in Him.  We can only maintain and grow our faith by continuing to put our trust in Him and increasingly trusting Him with more of our lives.  Another way to describe this is the word sanctification.  I haven’t described it in this way before: surrendering our lives to God in every aspect instead of trying to control things on our own.  It is through this process that we increase in our relationship with Him.  The more we trust someone, the stronger our relationship with him or her.  I believe this is Peter’s meaning of growing in His grace; by trusting Him more we understand more the gravity of God’s grace and love for us.

 



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