Well it may have startled you a little bit that I decided to talk on the end of the universe this morning; and that was really not in the big plan. But I began to listen to some of the rhetoric early in the week about this climate change conference over in Glasgow, Scotland—the Glasgow Climate Change Conference; I guess they call it COP26—and the more I heard, the more I felt it was necessary to set the record straight. Somebody needs to tell the truth about what’s going to happen to the Earth, and it’s not going to be told by that group of people or anybody connected to them. The Word of God gives us the truth, and I want you to understand what’s going on around you. So many lies, so much deception, so much chaos; and we want to always go to the Word of God to find the truth.
We have heard now for a long time, and it’s being reiterated in particular this week, that the climate change is the greatest threat to humanity and the planet. This is the ultimate threat of all threats, that we have somehow to figure out how to cope with rising seas, to cope with more powerful storms and deadly heat waves and deadly cold waves, and rapidly changing ecosystem—that we’re near the end. In fact you can hear anything from twenty-five to a thousand years as the date for which the Earth is going to go out of existence if we don’t do something.
President Biden said, “Climate change is ravaging the world. It is the existential threat to human existence.” And then he closed his talk by saying, “God save the planet.” The chairman of the event called for the end of all burning, drilling, and mining, because “we are digging our [own] graves.” The Chief of the UN said, “Save humanity, and protect the plant.” David Attenborough, the famous British naturalist, said, “Working together we can save the planet.” And even Prince Charles weighed in, “The hopes of the world are upon you.” All of this nonsense going on is an impossible approach to total destruction to life as we know it in this society and in the world.
Peter gives us the right answer to the future of this planet—so turn to 2 Peter 3—by revelation from the Lord. By the way, let me make it very simple. The Earth is a disposable planet. If you want an illustration, you wouldn’t really try to save, permanently, a Styrofoam cup, would you? Relative to God’s plan and to eternity, this planet is a Styrofoam cup that has a very brief usage.
Now to understand Peter’s passage, we need to go to verse 10 and look at the main term here: “But the day of the Lord will come.” The Day of the Lord—we’re talking about a technical term; the Day of the Lord is a technical term. It is a term that we find at least nineteen, twenty times in the Old Testament prophets. Eight different prophets make reference to the Day of the Lord; it’s a technical term. Sometimes it is used for a judgment of God in time, a temporal day of the Lord when He comes in judgment at some Old Testament historical event. Primarily however, as you’ll see, it refers to final judgment.
Listen to Isaiah chapter 13: “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. . . . Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with [fire], burning anger.” Ezekiel 30—Ezekiel 30 says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Wail, “Alas . . . !” For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.’” Amos chapter 5, the Day of the Lord will be darkness and gloom. The prophet Obadiah says, “The day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. . . . Your dealings will return on your head. . . . They will . . . become”—the nations will—“as if they never existed”—they’ll go out of existence. Zephaniah says, “The great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly.” And Malachi refers to the great and terrible day of the Lord. So you can tell by all of those reference that this is referring to a final time of judgment.
A good place to see this summed up is in the prophet Joel. Joel chapter 1 and verse 15, “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.” And then in chapter 2, verse 1, “Blow a trumpet in Zion, sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” And the next verse, “The fire that consumes.”
The end of that chapter, verses 31 and 32, “The sun”—well, verse 30, “I will display wonders in the sky and on earth, blood, fire, columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered.” There will still be deliverance available, even when history comes to its near conclusion.
One other prophet, and that would be Zechariah—in chapter 14—gives us a picture of this same day of the Lord, verse 1, “Behold, day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in the middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half the mountains will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee”—speaking to Israel—“by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
“In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. It will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.
“And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”
There’s coming a judgment, and it’s twofold. First, it comes—as Zechariah tells us—at the time when Christ becomes king. So it comes at the end of the time of great tribulation. It is a devastating judgment that affects the planet and its topography and its geography, followed by the millennial kingdom. And at the end of the millennial kingdom comes the final destruction, a complete uncreation of the universe as we know it; and we’ll see more about that in the creation of the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth.
The Day of the Lord is not just in the Old Testament, it is in the New Testament as well. Peter refers to Joel’s prophecy in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. And the apostle Paul, in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, writes this: “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you’re all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness.” So the believers escape, and the rest of the world feels the full fury of God’s wrath in the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord then is mentioned in chapter 3 of 2 Peter and verse 10: “The day of the Lord will come.” Isaiah and Jeremiah call it a day of vengeance. Paul refers to it as a day of wrath. Peter refers to it in his first epistle as a day of visitation. And summing it up, Revelation 16:14 calls it the great day of God Almighty, the great day of God Almighty.
Human history ends with judgment. It ends with judgment that devastates everything that we know of, in our created world. There will be a first judgment that will come at the end of the time of the Tribulation. In fact during the time of the Tribulation, the destruction will be epic—unheard of in the history of the world. It will come to an end as the Lord returns and destroys the ungodly, changes the face of the planet, and establishes His thousand-year kingdom. At the end of the thousand-year kingdom, He will completely uncreate the entire universe and replace it with new heavens and a new earth. And we’ll see that in a few moments.
This is what the Bible teaches, and teaches it unmistakably. This is what we believe, because we believe the Word of God. But there are people who find it very difficult to hang on to that, even Christian people. You have to recognize, in the current climate in evangelicalism, there is very little interest in this because people can be knocked off their confidence so easily by skeptics. They don’t like to say, “Well, Jesus is coming. He could be coming any minute,” because they know they’re going to hear some arguments that are going to make it difficult for them to answer. They’re going to say, “Well that’s a ridiculous thing to believe. There’s no reason we would believe that.” And of course, rejecting the Bible, they would have no basis to believe that.
Peter is concerned that Christians not lose their hope, that they not give up the confidence they have in the return of Jesus Christ, any more than the Jews of the Old Testament would give up on the confidence that the promise of His first coming would be fulfilled. And so Peter is writing to believers to help us understand that Jesus is coming, and not to fall victim to the teaching of the false teachers and the people who are indifferent, even among Christians, with regard to the return of Christ. Peter wants to establish with absolute certainty in the life of believers that Jesus is coming, and that He is coming to destroy this universe and to establish a new heaven and a new earth. And the leadup to that is going to involve massive destruction and devastation on this disposable planet. If you think we’re messing it up, you haven’t seen anything until you see what Jesus is going to do to it.
So let’s look at Peter’s text here. And we’ll look, first of all, at the attacks of the rejectors, the attacks of the rejectors, verse 3. “Know this first of all”—“Let’s start with this,” Peter says—“that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking.” And then jump down to verse 4, “Saying, ‘Where’s the promise of His coming?’” “Mocker”—this is skepticism. This is sarcasm. This is ridicule. So this is the attack of ridicule; and it can be very, very difficult for many Christians to hang on to their hope for the return of Christ if they are ignorant and are being ridiculed.
I’m absolutely shocked at how many Christians are caught up in the environmental effort to protect the planet and preserve the planet and save the planet. That would be evidence that they don’t believe God’s prewritten history. So there’s an attack by ridicule, which is kind of scoffing and mocking of people—laughing, as it were. So he starts by saying, “Look, let’s start with this. You need to know this. First of all, this is your priority. You have to expect people to mock the Second Coming; you have to expect that.” Sadly, you even have to expect some who would claim to be Christians to mock the idea of the second coming or stay away from it all together.
We need a strong confidence in the coming of Christ. We need that because “he that has this hope in him purifies himself,” right? We—and we’ll see more about that later—we need a strong confidence in the Lord’s return. We need it to survive. We need it to make it through the chaos and insanity of this life. We need to know there’s something better coming, and we don’t need to be knocked off our confidences by the attacks of those who mock and scoff at the thought that Christ would return.
So back to verse 3: “Knowing this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking.” Now what is “the last day”? The last day started when Jesus arrived; and you can see that from Hebrews 1:1, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways”—that’s the Old Testament—“in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” So the last days began when Christ arrived, and the last days are the days between His first coming and His second coming.
So throughout that entire period of redemptive history, there will be mockers who will come and ridicule the idea that Jesus is returning. And if you haven’t experienced that ridicule, it may be because you haven’t told anybody that’s what you believe. But if you find any of these supposed elite scientists who are caught up in this climate nonsense, they would laugh you to scorn over the notion that Jesus was coming back and He was going to do what the Bible says He was going to do to this universe.
Mockers have been ubiquitous throughout all of redemptive history since Christ’s first coming. They “come with their mocking,” mockers with mocking—that’s a very strong form in the original language. They take advantage of those who doubt; they take advantage of those who are ignorant. And as your pastor, I don’t want them to take advantage of you. I don’t want you to get caught up in this insanity with regard to trying to protect the planet. I want you to know that you have to have the hope in Jesus Christ’s return that He expects you to have, so that you can live your life in light of that reality.
So first of all, there’s the attack from ridicule. But secondly—and this is what really is behind all of it—is the attack from immorality. If you go back to verse 3, “Knowing this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking.” And why do they do that?—“following after their own lusts.” So what is behind the mockery is lust. “Following” is literally “walking the course of their epithumia”—the course of their sexual desires.
In chapter 2 we have a very, very clear description of false teachers; and you will notice how false teachers lure people into their false doctrine. If you wondered how they do it, go back to chapter 2, verse 2. “Many will follow their sensuality.” False teachers know what attracts fallen people; they know the strength of sexual temptation and sin. So they offer sensuality.
In chapter 2 and verse 10, these false teachers come, and they “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority”—certainly divine authority. In verse 13 it says, “They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime”; they don’t even hide their immorality. “They’re stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you.” Verse 14, they have “eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing.” Down in verse 18, “They entice by fleshly desire, by sensuality.”
So this is how false teachers work. They follow their own lusts. The people who reject God—who reject Christ, who reject the Bible—reject God not because it’s reasonable, but because it’s where their choices for sin has to take them. I mean if you’re going to live any way you want, you don’t want a God being your Judge; you don’t want final punishment, you don’t want hell, you don’t want accountability. You don’t want any transcendent, holy Judge.
So the pattern for the behavior of humanity is laid out in Romans chapter 1—if you go back to it—and verse 18. God’s wrath is going to be unleashed; we know that. But I want you to see the kind of people who receive that wrath—or really, the commonality of all the people who will be under divine wrath.
This is what it says in Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”—men suppress the truth, the obvious truth about God, because of their love of unrighteousness—“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” How did He do that? “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
It is obvious to any rational mind that you can’t have the entire universe and no cause. You can’t have personhood without a person creating it. You can’t have personality without a personality. You can’t have intellect without an intellect. It’s insane to think Nobody times nothing equals everything. But it’s a form of necessary insanity for people who don’t want accountability, don’t want a transcendent Judge, don’t want to be held to a standard of moral law.
And so they know God, verse 21, because He’s visible in His creation. You look at the microcosm or the macrocosm of creation—and we know so much about it now because of science. They know God in the sense that they know He’s there; it’s obvious. But, “They didn’t honor Him as God or give thanks,” they became empty—they emptied their minds of God, and so their minds were fully emptied, “and their foolish heart was darkened”—the lights went out. “Professing to be wise, they became”—what?—“fools.” They’re all fools. All those people collected over there in Glasgow, Scotland, trying to save the planet, who reject God—are fools. They are fools.
We’re supposed to believe that the planet is to be protected and preserved permanently? We know there’s a law called the law of entropy, which says that everything is disintegrating and tending toward disorder. But they want to rise above that and assume that there’s no God, there’s no authority, there’s no Judge, there’s no law; and there’s no guilt, and there’s no punishment.
So understand that the people who mock the Second Coming of Christ do so to protect their sexual immorality. Very different than Christians. And that I mentioned a moment ago, but let me read it to you—1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it has not appeared as what we will be. We know that when He appears, we’ll be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Those who know Christ is coming find that that knowledge of facing Him and seeing Him and being held accountable is motivation for virtue and godliness. We look for the Son of God to come; that motivates us toward holiness. Hedonistic immorality mocks the idea of divine judgment, eternal punishment. And by the way, they’re not reluctant to say this.
Notable evolutionist and denier of divine creation, denier of divine intervention, and denier of judgment, of course, was Aldous Huxley. Huxley was the grandson of Thomas Huxley. Thomas Huxley was called Darwin’s bulldog; he was rabid for evolution. But his grandson Aldous came along and was a nineteenth-century evolutionary agnostic/atheist. And in 1966 Huxley wrote Confessions of a Professed Atheist. This is the testimony of a man who’s speaking not only for himself, but all of his friends.This is what he wrote; this is quoting Aldous Huxley: “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning. Consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he also concerned to prove that there’s no valid reason why he should personally not do just what he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously a liberation from a certain political and economic system and a liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”
That’s a philosopher’s view. Of course we get it, of course. Of course it’s not intellectual. You’re an idiot to say that nobody times nothings equals everything. It’s insane to say there’s an effect without a cause. It’s irrational, and the irrationality is prompted by your desire for freedom in sexual behavior. So they are not driven by reason, they are not at all; they are driven by sinful desires. They don’t want God interfering, with His law or His judgment.
So, number one attack is the attack of ridicule. Number two is the attack of immorality. They don’t want to tolerate the notion of accountability to a coming Judge because they want comfort in their sins. But there’s a third argument, a third attack: It’s an attack from uniformity. At some point they’ve got to act like they have some science, they’ve got to act somewhat rational, so they come up with this, verse 4. They say this after they’ve said, “Where’s the promise of Your coming?” which is ridicule. They say, “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
This is the idiocy of their argument, but it’s the argument of uniformity or uniformitarianism: Everything continues exactly the same all the time. Everything is a process of evolution, and it’s all moved at exactly the same speed. That’s why they say, “It may have begun with a big bang of nothing, 2.5 billion years ago, and it just keeps going and going and going, and it’s millions and billions of years. It’s all the same.”
They have to have some explanation, so they come up with evolution, which is equal to saying you’re a potato chip; it has no more insanity than that. It denies the record of the Earth found in the fossils, and it certainly denies the Word of God. Uniformity is a ridiculous argument. “Everything continues the same way”—how do you know?
I read this week that some say there may have been a dramatic sort of mass event 2.5 billion years ago. Really? Who gave that report? Somebody else says, “No, there was one 450 million years ago.” Somebody else added, “No, it’s 375 million.” “No,” someone else said, “252 million.” Someone else said, “201 million.” And I found all those numbers. And finally, “There probably was one 66 million years ago. But since 66 million years ago, everything’s just gone the same.”
So they ridicule: “Where’s the promise of His coming?” They don’t want Him to come. They don’t want a Judge. They sound like they may be Jewish people saying this, because they talk about the fathers. “The fathers”—that’s a Jewish phrase for the patriarchs in the book of Genesis. They’re going back to Genesis and back to creation. God spoke through the fathers and the prophets, Hebrews 1. So their argument is, “Everything has been the same since the patriarchs, nothing has changed. Everything—there’s been no divine judgment. No.” So they argue from ridicule, immorality, and uniformity, denying the coming of Christ in final judgment.
Now listen to the answers that Peter gives. Powerful, irrefutable answers. Number one: the answer from Scripture, the answer from Scripture. Go back to verse 1 now, “This is now, beloved, the second letter”—obviously 1 Peter the first one—“I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
First thing he says is, “While these false teachers come along and try to confuse you about the return of Christ, and while they come doing this kind of thing to mock and ridicule you so that they can feel free to live their wretched sexually sinful lives, don’t listen to them. Listen to Scripture, listen to Scripture. I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.”
Back in chapter 1, he said that was going to be his goal. Even in his ministry, chapter 1, verse 12, of 2 Peter, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I’m in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.” Any faithful pastor knows we have to keep reminding you. “I’m reminding you.” Of what? Of what? Verse 2, “Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets.” That’s Old Testament. “Remember what the Old Testament said.”
You could go to Psalm 2: “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed”—that’s Messiah—“saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’”—“We don’t want God, and we don’t want a Messiah putting any kind of legal cords on us.”—“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.” They mock Him; He mocks them. “Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I’ve installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’” He’ll come in judgment on them, terrify them in His anger, and then establish Christ in His kingdom.
“I will tell you of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You’re My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I’ll surely give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’
“Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Forget saving the planet, and save yourself, save yourself.
Many other Old Testament passages speak to this. One comes at the end of Isaiah chapter 66, verse 15, “For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord will execute judgment by fire and by His sword on all flesh, and those slain by the Lord will be many.” Massive slaughter at the end of time, human history.
The Old Testament closes with this—the last chapter of the Old Testament, Malachi 4: “‘Behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.’” There will be nothing left of humanity or of anything else in the created universe. “But as for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing.” Those who believe in the Lord, those who have come to Christ, those who belong to God, they will escape this final judgment.
So you, first of all, have to listen to the prophets of the Old Testament. Secondly, notice the end of verse 2, also “the commandment”—the entolē, the law—“of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” And Peter referred to Paul over in verses 15 and 16 in his letter as being Scripture. So you listen to what the Old Testament says about the Day of the Lord, and what the New Testament says about the coming of Christ.
By the way, there are twenty-seven books in the New Testament; twenty-three of those books make reference to the Lord’s return. Three of the four remaining ones are only one chapter long, and the fourth one is the book of Galatians, which alludes to His coming in chapter 1 and verse 4, where it talks about us being rescued from the future wrath, and in chapter 5, verse 5, where it talks about our hope. The specific description of His return is given in Revelation 19, 20 and then in 21 and 22 the establishment of the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth. So Peter says, “Look, you don’t need to fall victim to those who are denying the return of Christ. What you need to do is remember the Scripture, the Old Testament and the New Testament”—an argument from Scripture.
Secondly, an argument from history; look at verse 5. This is amazing, an argument from history. “When they maintain this”—what do you mean? When they maintain this crazy idea that everything continues just as it was from the beginning of creation, when they go this uniformitarianism idea, everything is the same. “It escapes their notice”—and by the way, that actually means they shut their eyes on purpose—“it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” Did they forget? Did they forget the account of creation? “It escapes their notice”—they shut their eyes to the facts; they are willingly ignorant; they have no interest in the truth. They have no interest in the fact that there has been massive, massive action taking place since God began to create; and I’ll show you that.
Go back to Genesis chapter 1; it’s just an amazing way to look at it through the eyes of Peter in this chapter. In Genesis chapter 1 we have the statement of creation in verse 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” OK, that’s the statement that summarizes everything coming in chapters 1 and 2. But at first, would you please notice this: “The earth was formless and void, formless and void.” That’s exactly what it means to say. It had no form; it was simply a mass of unformed water. How do we know it’s water? “Darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” So the original creation of the earth started with God creating some formless waters, and they were as total darkness because light had not been created.
So Peter puts it this way—just read it—that “the earth was formed out of water and by water.” So God created the earth from water. The earth started as a mass of water, from which it was formed. And on the first three days of creation, God gave form. First, in chapter 1 of Genesis, verse 3, “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” That was the first day. And then in verse 6 the Lord said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So some waters are below, and some waters are above, and there’s an expanse in the middle. So God is separating the water.
“God made the expanse”—in verse 7—“separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and morning, a second day. Then God said,” in verse 9, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” Seas began to form. The dry land is called earth, in verse 10, “the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.”
So the first three days of creation, God takes the formless mass of water in the darkness, and creates the earth and the seas and the waters in the heavens. And the waters in the heavens would be a massive expanse of water over the earth, a canopy, if you will, over the earth. The result of that canopy over the earth was ultraviolet lights were filtered out, and that’s why everybody lived to be so long—lived to be 900 years plus; we see that in the genealogies here. Adam lived over 900 years; Methuselah lived 969; and so it goes.
The earth was benign compared to what it’s like now. That earth had the properties of divine creation. And before sin came, that earth would have sustained itself under the power of God’s creation. But He’d made it out of water; and that’s what Peter wants you to understand.
So go back to 2 Peter and look at chapter 3, verse 7. God had something in mind even in creating it from water. Verse 6, “Through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” God used the very material that He created the earth from, to destroy the earth. And that’s, of course, in Genesis 6.
You know the story of the universal flood, verse 5, Genesis 6, “The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was very sorry He had made man on the earth, and grieved in His heart. The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things to birds of the sky; I’m sorry that I have made them.’ Noah found favor”—grace—“in the eyes of the Lord.” Verse 10 includes his three sons and their wives.
In verse 11, “The earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” And what happened? “God looked on the earth,”—verse 12—“behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
“God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I’m about to destroy them with the earth.’” “So make a boat, because I’m going to use water to destroy the entire earth.”
“Flood came” in chapter 7, verse 17, “for forty days, water increased, lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.” And the only thing that was preserved were the animals, two by two, and Noah’s family. “The water prevailed” above everything; it covered the entire earth. Verse 23, “He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from man to animals to creeping things to birds of the sky, they were blotted out of the earth; only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.”
So if you think everything has continued the way it was from the creation, you are wrong. And that’s why you find mastodon remains in the northernmost part of Canada, near the Artic Circle; and when they cut them open they find tropical food in their stomachs, preserved in the tundra, because at one time the whole earth was benign under the canopy of protection that water around the earth provided. That’s why people lived so long. But God used the very agency—water—by which He created, to destroy the creation because of sin.
So back to 2 Peter 3. You’re blind willingly, because fish fossils are found all over the place, far from oceans and seas, because at one time the whole earth was covered with this flood. But notice verse 7: Just as by His Word the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and by water—and by His Word the world was destroyed with water. “By His word,” verse 7, “the present heavens”—this is the second heaven and earth; the first one was destroyed in the Flood. And after the Flood, people’s lifespan was shortened because the conditions were so different. But “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men”—fire.
So what is at the core of the earth? Fire. Fire—they say 12,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest melt point for metal is tungsten, at 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The core of the earth is 12,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes we see it belch forth in a volcanic explosion. There is coming a firestorm; we’re in the second form of this earth, and it’s reserved for a firestorm, the properties of which are already in its creation.
In the original location [JS1] when the Flood came, the fountains of the deep, it says, in the earth were opened up, water poured out, and water came down as God broke up what contained the water in the sky; and it all hit the earth and drowned the whole human race. The next one’s going to be fire. That’s why God gave a rainbow—to remind us He’ll never destroy the world again by water.
But it’s being reserved. This earth is reserved; God has a reservation on it. He has a date stamped on this earth for its destruction and the judgment of ungodly men. The Day of Judgment is coming. So Peter answers back by saying, “If you think everything has continued the same way, you’re wrong; it has not, and there’s evidence all over the planet of that flood.”
There’s a third argument from Peter, a third answer; it’s an answer from eternity. This is wonderful. Look at verse 8: “Do not let this one fact escape your notice”—“while we’re trying to straighten you out here, don’t let this escape your notice—“beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” If you’re caught up in thinking, “Well it’s been so long; it’s been a couple thousand years, and Jesus hasn’t come,” there’s an answer from eternity. Do you think a thousand years is anything with God? A thousand years is like a day, and a day like a thousand years with God. That, by the way, is drawn out of Psalm 90 and verse 4. God transcends time. He’s not operating on time; He transcends time, He transcends time. God is beyond time. God is eternal. Don’t hold Him to your kind of time-controlled thinking.
Well, you say, what’s He waiting for? Well that’s the answer from salvation; look at verse 9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to”—what?—“perish but for all to come to repentance.” Peter says, “Scripture says He’s coming.” History says He comes in judgment, and He did once in the great Flood—used the very material by which He made the first creation as its form of destruction. And He will use the material to the second creation as its destruction.
It may seem a long time to you, but if you’re the eternal God, a day is no different than a thousand years, or a thousand years a day. And more significantly and more importantly, it’s not about the Lord being slow to an act as promised, like some people might be; He’s patient toward you. And here he identifies the “you”: you believers—“not wishing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” You know why He hasn’t come yet? Because all of the elect have not yet come into the kingdom. All the elect have not yet come into the kingdom.
So go down to verse 15, and pick it up where it says, “Regard the patience of our Lord as”—what?—“salvation.” That’s why I say forget saving the planet, save yourself. You cannot save the planet. With one word, God destroyed the entire planet with the very material from which He created it; and with one word, He’ll do it again. Save yourself, not the planet. To save yourself, you have to come to Christ; there is no other Savior.
God is not delaying because He doesn’t keep His promises, He’s not delaying because He’s indifferent; He’s delaying because all have not yet come to repentance, all whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. So Peter says, “Don’t you let anyone cause you to lose confidence in the return of Christ.”
Verse 10, he sums it up, “The day of the Lord will come”—it will come!—“it’ll come like a thief.” How does a thief come? He doesn’t send you a text, “I’ll be there in two hours”; he comes like a thief: suddenly and unexpectedly. And when He comes, “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.” And it’s actually repeated in verse 12, “The heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” This is the final judgment.
“The heavens will pass away with a roar”—it’s an onomatopoetic word that sounds like what it means. It’s sort of rhoizēdon, like a whistling, whirring, crackling sound of fire. Hebrews 12 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.”
“The elements”—what are elements? Stoicheia, things in a row; the structures that would be atoms. We know the power of splitting an atom, do we not? It releases power like no other weapon. And when God literally uncreates the entire universe and all the atoms are split, the holocaust is unimaginable. And everything dissolves with fervent heat—that’s putting it mildly—“and the earth and its works will be burned up.” Revelation 20:11 says the “earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place for them.” They went out of existence.
Then in verse 13, after that, “According to His promise we’re looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells, new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Isaiah spoke about that new heaven and new earth.
Now, this whole universe is disposable. It’s a Styrofoam cup; never was intended to last. It’ll all be burned up. Its final end is certain. A thousand years before it’s all burned up there will be judgments, judgments through the time called the Tribulation.
Just prior to Christ’s return to set up His kingdom, we read in the book of Revelation that these are the things that are going to happen: A fourth of the entire population of the world will die; a little later, a third of the entire population of the world will die. The world will be hit, Revelation 6, with famine, pestilence, cosmic disasters. In chapter 8 of Revelation, vegetation will be burned up, sea life will be destroyed, waters will be contaminated. In chapter 9, deadly plagues. In chapter 16, terrible sores. Chapter 16, seas and rivers turn to blood, scorching heat, darkness, pain, drought—total devastation. And that’s going on in the seven-year period of Tribulation—at the end of which the Lord comes, hits the earth again, splits it open, sets up His reign for a thousand years. And at the end of the thousand years, He uncreates the entire universe; it goes out of existence. And I would say to you, we’re nearer to this than we’ve ever been, right? And I can’t see anything in this world going on today that doesn’t fit a perfect scenario for the things that are described in the book of Revelation, including the rise of Antichrist.
Peter quoted Paul, and so let me quote Paul again in 2 Thessalonians 1, verse 6, “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” Did you get that? For those who persecute His people will be persecuted by God, judged by God “to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day.” When He comes to be glorified in His saints, He comes to destroy the ungodly.
So what’s the practicality of this? Look at verse 11, “Since [the entire creation is going] to be destroyed in this way”—by fire—“what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness”—that makes sense, doesn’t it?—“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!” Verse 14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” There it is. You ought to be holy in your conduct, verse 11, godly; verse 14, “in peace, spotless and blameless”—and that’s only provided to you through faith in Christ, isn’t it, who covers us with His righteousness. You want to be protected in this judgment; and in order to be protected, you have to be covered with the righteousness of Christ that is given to those who repent and embrace Him by faith as Savior and Lord.
And then he gives a final word of exhortation in verse 17, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand”—now you know—“be on your guard that you’re not carried away by the error of unprincipled men.” Don’t join the climate club. Don’t get “carried away by the error of unprincipled men” who’ve found a way to live that is both insane and sinful, and tumble from your own steadfastness. Live in eager anticipation, looking—back to verse 14—looking for the end, looking for the coming of Christ. And in the meantime, verse 18, “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.”
You want to waste your opportunity in this world, try to save the planet. What’s infinitely more important is to save yourself from divine judgment. That salvation is only in Christ.
Father, we thank You for this clear, powerful word from heaven. Help us not to get so caught up in this temporal, passing world; but to set our affections on things above, as citizens of heaven, waiting to be glorified, to receive a body like unto His glorious body who rose from the dead. May we be marked by holy conduct and godliness. May we live in peace. May we follow the path of righteousness. May we live in hope, grow in grace, and do all that we do to the glory of the One who saved us and is coming to take us to be with Him. It’s in His name we pray. Amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.
This sermon series includes the following messages:
Please contact the publisher to obtain copies of this resource.Publisher Information