In the third chapter of Peter’s second epistle we find that the heavens and earth are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and that they are to be burned. Many insist on a literal interpretation, but this leads to unscriptural conclusions.
We’ll first look at verses 5-7, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” The world that was destroyed in the flood was the people, not the actual globe, for we live on the same planet today. Verse 7 commences, “But”, a conjunction directing our attention to the world that perished, definitely make a contrast with that which follows. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now,”—the people of this age are reserved against the day of judgment. This expression, “the day of judgment,” also tells us that it is people under consideration, for it is people that are to be judged, not rocks, trees, mountains, and everything else material on the earth. Whatever was destroyed in the flood (and we know it was the people), the same, this verse tells us, is reserved unto judgment.
Some have difficulty in realizing that heavens and earth are words sometimes used to describe people, but this is common Bible language. In Deuteronomy 31:19-21, God told Moses to write the words of a song that was to be a witness against the children of Israel. In verse 28 Moses gathered the elders and officers of the tribes, and in verse 30 he spake the words to the congregation of Israel. Moses begins the song in Deuteronomy 32:1, “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” Moses wasn’t talking to the literal heavens and earth, he was talking to the rulers of the tribes (the heavens—ruling powers), and the congregation (the earth—the people ruled).
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Author: The Herald Press
Keywords: Kingdom of God, Kingdom of heaven, heavenly kingdom, day of judgement, day of judgment, heaven and earth, reserved for fire, earth burned up, heavens burned up, heavens burn up, heavens on fire, earth destroyed, destruction, destruction of the earth, heavens melt, heaven melts, melting, fire, judgment fire, judgement fire
Bible reference(s): Deut. 32:1, Ecc. 1:4, Psa. 78:69, Psa. 104:5, Isaiah 1:2, 2 Peter 3:7
Source: Scriptural Studies: The Kingdom of God (Houston, 1975).
Page indexed by: inWORD Bible Software.