Is the Earth Going to Burn Up? (A fresh look at 2 Peter 3)

In 2 Peter 3, doesn’t the Bible say that the universe is going to burn up when Jesus returns?

If the perspective I am presenting is accurate, it has to harmonize with all Scripture. (Such is the case for any perspective about the Scriptures, mind you.) If all Scripture doesn’t agree, either:

  1. Scripture isn’t divine and therefore can’t be trusted;
  2. GOD is a liar; or…
  3. We must have misunderstood somehow.

For me, the passage that seemed to most clearly teach that Jesus’ second coming would be the last day of life on planet earth was 2 Peter 3.

As I was studying these things and coming to the realization that Matt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 were fully describing the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem, I knew I had to closely reexamine 2 Peter 3.

It just seemed so clear. How could I possibly have misunderstood a passage that seemed so easy to understand?

So I reexamined it. And now I’m going to show you what I found.

Welcome to the 35th post in my series of rethinking Christian eschatology. Because these posts build upon each other, if you’ve not already done so, I invite you to read the previous posts in this series before continuing here.

Let’s dive in…

2 Peter Overview

It’s important to read the full letter of 2 Peter to have the context of chapter 3. It’s unfair to yourself and the text, otherwise. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to read, even for a slowpoke reader like myself.

Therefore, I recommend pausing and reading the text now.

The theme of 2 Peter is Peter’s final reminders to his fellow first century Christians as his death approached.

The letter is believed to have been written around 64 A.D., just a couple of years before the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Jewish war.

Indications of Near-term Fulfillment

As we saw with Paul in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, Peter also made several allusions to a near-term return of Jesus and judgment in this letter. They are somewhat more subtle than we find in the Thessalonian letters, however.

  • Like Paul in Rom. 13:12, Peter refers in 2 Pet. 1:19 to the day that is about to dawn and a morning star rising in the hearts of his primary audience. I believe that this was a reference to the judgmental prophecy in Mal. 4:2, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
  • The false teachers of the first century, Peter said, were “bringing swift destruction on themselves” (see 2 Pet. 2:2). Peter followed this statement by adding, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Pet. 2:3b). Even more interesting, Peter followed these comments with a reminder of the judgments in Noah’s and Lot’s days.

    Peter’s conclusion to these things was:

    9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
    (2 Pet. 2:9 NIV)

    Thus, Peter connected the punishment of these first century false teachers directly with the day of judgment, which he said (by inspiration) would be a “swift destruction.”

  • Lastly, we have Peter’s familiar words about the mockers regarding Jesus’ promised coming:

    With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
    (2 Pet. 3:8b-9 NIV)

Reexamining 2 Peter 3

With this context, let’s zoom in to analyze 2 Pet. 3.

Observation #1: Recall the words of the prophets

2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
(2 Pet. 3:2 NIV)

Peter begins his statements regarding Jesus’ second coming by telling the primary audience that he was reminding them of what was said before, first by the Prophets and then by the Lord Jesus.

Don’t miss the importance of this point:

Peter was not giving a new teaching here, but reminding them (throughout the letter) about what had already been written.

Which prophets was Peter referring to?

I was once discussing this text with a Christian brother when he told me he’d always understood 2 Pet. 3:2 to be a reference to the prophets that were in the early church (see Eph. 4:11, for example).

I’d never heard that view before, so I examined the possibility. Here are 3 reasons why I’m convinced Peter was referring to the Prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures:

  1. Peter said the words were spoken in the past. The prophets of the early church were alive around the time this letter was written.
  2. I’ve been unable to find any other Scripture where the first century Christians were instructed to recall the words of the first century church prophets. Not to mention, Peter was apparently writing to a geographically dispersed audience (see “my second letter to you” in 2 Pet. 3:1 in combination with 1 Pet. 1:1). The examples we have of first century Christian prophets were localized prophecies, not widespread written messages distributed to all Christians (outside of canonized Scripture, that is).
  3. It would be unique, if not inappropriate, for Peter to reference the prophets of the early church before Jesus in terms of calling these things to his primary audience’s minds. In other words, if Peter were referring to the prophets of the early church, he’d have said, “the command given by our Lord and Savior … and the holy prophets…” The order would be reversed. But it seems clear to me, rather, that Peter referred to the holy prophets first because their prophecies preceded Jesus’ prophecies. We see this chronological approach used often in the Scriptures (e.g., “Moses and the prophets” because Moses came before the prophets).

Implications of Peter’s call to remember the prophets’ words

Here’s why it is important that Peter instructed his readers to recall the past words of the Prophets:

I can’t find one reference in the Old Testament to planet earth burning up and the universe ending.

Like I said up front, all Scripture has to harmonize. If Peter were referring to the universe burning up when Jesus returns, then according to him, the prophets must have said the same thing. And I can’t find that anywhere. And I’ve searched hard.

Similarly, Peter harkened the reader back to Jesus’ teachings about His return. I have shown in the 10 or so articles I’ve written regarding Jesus’ teachings about His second coming that Jesus never taught that the universe is going to burn up on a final day when He returns.

We’ve badly misunderstood Jesus’ teachings about the second coming.

Observation #2: One day is as a thousand years

In this series, I have shown repeatedly from the Scriptures that there exists a tremendous sense of urgency throughout the New Testament.

It is indisputable that the first Christians were taught that a judgment and coming of the Lord would occur in their lifetime.

Yet, when we consider any references to a near-term coming of Jesus, this statement from Peter nags at the back of our minds:

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Pet. 3:8-9 NIV)

Might I be wrong in asserting that Jesus has already returned?

Might the timing of Jesus’ return indeed be 2,000+ years in the future from these writings?

Perhaps. But we have to consider the totality of the evidence.

And the totality of the evidence is what I’ve been trying to lay out for you. It’s too voluminous to consider in a single sitting. Our minds can’t process all the information at once.

As soon as we spend time shining the flashlight of study in one corner of the Scriptures, we tend to quickly forget other important information from other corners.

If, in fact, Jesus’ coming were still out in the future, why then did He plainly and repeatedly say that He would return in the lifetime of those standing listening to Him speak (see Matt. 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 26:64, for example)?

And if there are 3 “comings” of Jesus, why then did Peter say that Jesus would remain in heaven until the time came for Him to restore everything (see Acts 3:21)? And why does the Bible not clearly mention that there are three comings?

And why would GOD have sent “Elijah” (John the Baptist) to prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus (see Mal. 3:1-5; 4:1-6) only to wait 2,000+ years after John’s death for that coming to occur?

And why would Daniel be told to roll up the scroll which concerned the distant future of about 500 years (see Dan. 12:4, 9), but John be told not to roll up his scroll because the time was short (see Rev. 22:10), if there were yet 2,000+ years until its ultimate fulfillment?

And why would Paul say that the wrath of GOD had come—in connection with the Lord’s return—upon the wicked Jews who persecuted the righteous (see 1 Thess. 2:14-16)? And why would Paul say that GOD would keep the Thessalonian Christians’ bodies blameless until Jesus’ return (see 1 Thess. 5:23)?

Need I go on?

If we are intellectually and spiritually honest, the evidence is overwhelming!


Yes, GOD could make a really long delay (with Jesus’ second coming) sound like a really short time and it be no big deal for Him. But that is entirely inconsistent with the way He provided revelation to man throughout the Scriptures.

Throughout GOD’s recorded interactions with man, GOD always provided exactly the revelation that was needed, to the people who needed it, for a specific purpose. And that purpose, though often unclear at the time of the revelation, became crystal clear in hindsight.

Therefore, when we consider the evidence, the possibility that GOD could delay a long time by no means negates the weight of all the evidence that He did not do that.

Observation #3: The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire

5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Pet. 3:5-13 NIV)

It’s difficult to persist in discussing only a subset of this section of verses, but I’m going to because I think it’s important.

So we’ll dwell on these verses a bit, but in iterations with a different focus each time.

The word “earth” can be translated “land.”

The word translated “earth” in 2 Pet. 3:7-13 can also mean “land.” I’m convinced that “land” is the more accurate/clear word here.

Peter was referring here to the old physical land of physical Israel, with its capital of physical Jerusalem and its physical temple.

See how in verse 12-13 Peter contrasts the then-present heavens and earth with the new heaven and earth/land.

It is clear that Peter was alluding to the teachings of Jesus regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which we’ve previously studied.

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
(Matt. 24:30-35 NIV)

Jesus plainly taught that the Law of Moses would be in existence until “heaven and earth” passed away:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
(Matt. 5:17-18 NIV)

See, the Law was in effect in the eyes of GOD until Jesus’ return when the temple was destroyed, proving the end of GOD’s acceptance of the Mosaic system.

13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
(Heb. 8:13 NIV)

That Scripture was written shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 

The “elements” refers to elementary principles of the Mosaic system

8/13/2023 Note: I have since come to understand that Peter was more broadly speaking of the “elements” in reference to the fundamental system of governmental rule set forth under the Second World, ruled by angels, established by GOD at the tower of Babel. Go here for a deeper explanation on this.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word translated “elements” in 2 Pet. 3:10 means, “fundamentals, like with the basic components of a philosophy, structure, etc. … i.e. the elements of religious training or the ceremonial precepts…”

It wasn’t talking about the elements that comprise GOD’s creation, such as the periodic table of elements, as I used to imagine.

What things were going to burn up during the judgment upon Jerusalem and the temple?

  • The copies of the Law
  • The veil of the temple
  • The holy/most holy places
  • The temple fixtures
  • The temple treasury
  • The priestly garments
  • The altars
  • The old sacrifices
  • The Levitical priestly system and records

All of those were elementary principles. As Paul expressed it:

24 so that the law became our child-conductor — to Christ, that by faith we may be declared righteous,
25 and the faith having come, no more under a child-conductor are we,
(Gal. 3:24-25 YLT)

The Law was for the purpose of keeping and growing—tutoring or babysitting—children. Once Christ came, there was no more need for a tutor.

So GOD took away the child-conductor.

The destruction and end of physical Israel by fire was foretold in the Song of Moses

19 The Lord saw this and rejected them
because he was angered by his sons and daughters.
20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said,
“and see what their end will be;
for they are a perverse generation,
children who are unfaithful.
21 They made me jealous by what is no god
and angered me with their worthless idols.
I will make them envious by those who are not a people;
I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.
22 For a fire will be kindled by my wrath,
one that burns down to the realm of the dead below.
It will devour the earth and its harvests
and set afire the foundations of the mountains.

40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear:
As surely as I live forever,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand grasps it in judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and repay those who hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
while my sword devours flesh:
the blood of the slain and the captives,
the heads of the enemy leaders.”
43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
and make atonement for his land and people.
(Deut. 32:19-22, 40-43 NIV)

Do you see? The Song of Moses referred to the same events as 2 Pet. 3!

Need more convincing? Look at Joel 2-3. Look at Malachi 3-4:

3:16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

4:1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
(Mal. 3:16-4:6 NIV)

All of these Scriptures are talking about the same judgment! They’re all talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Observation #4: The new heavens and new earth/land

Peter contrasted the passing away of the heavens and earth/land with the anticipation of the arrival of the new heavens and earth/land:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Pet. 3:10-13 NIV)

Peter said that GOD had promised this new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.

Where did GOD promise the new heavens and new earth?

The answer is found in the close of Isaiah’s prophecy:

65:1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—

Note: Paul quoted Isa. 65:1-2 in Rom. 10:20-21 during his lengthy discussion in Rom. 9-11 about how spiritual Israel is comprised of the faithful children of GOD, both Jew and Gentile. Therefore, we know right away Isa. 65-66 is dealing with first century fulfillment.

3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
4 who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.”
8 This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it,
there is still a blessing in it,’
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
I will not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them,
and there will my servants live.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
for my people who seek me.

Note: Verses 8-9 sound a lot like Deut. 32:36-43 and Mal. 3:16-18, don’t they?

11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.
14 My servants will sing
out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit.
15 You will leave your name
for my chosen ones to use in their curses;
the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,
but to his servants he will give another name.
16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.

17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.

Note: In v.18, GOD promised to create a new Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, which we’ve previously observed is the church.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.

Note: In heaven, nobody dies. The death of the hundred-year-old in v.20 is further evidence that GOD was speaking of life on earth, just in the church. The infant of Isa. 65:20 would be a baby in Christ (a new Christian, not a physical child). A new Christian has eternal life even if he lives but a few days after putting on Jesus in baptism.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Note: These verses are speaking of dwelling in a spiritual land—spiritual Israel—not a physical land. The spiritual land (the church/the kingdom of Jesus) is the new heavens and new earth. (See also Gal. 4:21-31; Heb. 12:18-24; Rev. 21.)

8/13/2023 Note: I have since come to understand these things more accurately I believe. The “spiritual” and “physical” are not inherently opposed. For example, the resurrected Jesus was spiritual yet also possessed a physical body that could be touched, ate food and had scars.

New Earth is not merely a spiritual place, but also a physically tangible place. New Earth is the land that GOD promised to Abraham and his seed way back in Genesis 12. It’s a place that can be seen with eyes, touched with hands, and experienced with all senses. New Earth is what Christians refer to as heaven.

There is significant value in continuing this series. However, if you would like to skip ahead to future lessons where I explain these and other important truths, watch this YouTube series.

66:1 This is what the Lord says:

“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
2 Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at my word.
3 But whoever sacrifices a bull
is like one who kills a person,
and whoever offers a lamb
is like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
is like one who presents pig’s blood,
and whoever burns memorial incense
is like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,
and they delight in their abominations;
4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring on them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

5 Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your own people who hate you,
and exclude you because of my name, have said,
‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy!’
Yet they will be put to shame.
6 Hear that uproar from the city,
hear that noise from the temple!
It is the sound of the Lord
repaying his enemies all they deserve.

Note: Here we have another indicator of the timeframe of this prophecy of Isaiah: the destruction of the temple.

7 “Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children.

Note: What country is GOD speaking of? The new earth/land. Keep reading and you’ll see…

9 Do I bring to the moment of birth
and not give delivery?” says the Lord.
“Do I close up the womb
when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice
and you will flourish like grass;
the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,
but his fury will be shown to his foes.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,
and his chariots are like a whirlwind;
he will bring down his anger with fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For with fire and with his sword
the Lord will execute judgment on all people,
and many will be those slain by the Lord.

Note: This is the judgment accompanying Jesus’ second coming, spoken of in Matt. 25 and Joel 3.

17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow,” declares the Lord.

18 “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.

19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.

Note: These who were sent to distant nations were the apostles and first evangelists of the early church. The bringing back of the people in v.20 is referring to the second gathering under Jesus’ kingship

20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
(Isa. 65:1-66:24 NIV)

Note: Does v.24 sound familiar? Jesus quoted part of this verse in Mark 9:48.

It is clear from reading Isaiah 65-66 (plus the other cited Scriptures) that the new heavens and new earth was not a reference to heaven at the end of time, but to the firm establishment of the new covenant as the replacement to the elementary principles (i.e., elements) of the old covenant.


Whereas on the surface, 2 Peter 3 appears to teach that planet earth will burn up on a future day when Jesus returns, when we dig under the surface and examine the text more closely, that is not what this passage is teaching at all.

Peter was not delivering new teaching, but reminding the reader what Jesus and the Prophets had said.

Everything discussed in 2 Peter 3 harmonizes perfectly with what we’ve studied so far.

Continue to the next post where we study what Paul wrote regarding the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.

Got questions or comments? Leave them below. (I’m truly happy to help. But please, carefully read the entire series first.)


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