Triumphantly, 1 Corinthians 15:24 announces “the end.” What an end it will be! It will be so different from the end of the age when “the Son of man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity” (Matt 13:39, 41). The end of which Paul speaks occurs 1000 years afterwards at the end of the millennial kingdom. What an end when, having “put down all rule and all authority and power,” our Lord Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God, even the Father! It will mark the complete fulfillment of the prophets vision of a Man reigning in righteousness (Isa 32:1) – that end will have been reached. So too will the end for which the present heavens and earth were created. The afflicted Psalmist knew that they would wax old and need change (Ps 102:26). Only when they have served their purpose will they be burned up. Meanwhile, they are being “kept in store” (2 Pet 3:7). What an end that will be!
But that end, the end of the Lords glorious 1000-year reign, is the point at which God ushers in a new beginning. When Peter describes that end in 2 Peter 3:10, he shows it to be the end of the day of the Lord in which the “the heavens and the earth that now are” will be burned up. Immediately he introduces that new beginning when the day of God is come, but not before he challenges careless living.
“We have heard the crackling roar, felt the fierce heat of nuclear fission and witnessed the destruction of the world (2 Pet 3:10). Surely”, insists Peter, “we cannot stand idly by, unaffected and unconcerned.” Already within the confines of the chapter, Peter has spoken much of the evil works that lead to the final dissolution of the earth and heavens that are now. We know that those evil works are burned up (v. 10) in the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (v. 7). Evildoers will not respond to the revelation of the day of God which burdens Peter. What will be our response to such solemn truth? Peters moral imperative expressed clearly in his phrase, “we ought” (v. 11) is unavoidable. We ought to be an exceedingly excellent people.
How will that excellence manifest itself? In all sorts of ways, replies the aged Peter, in conversations (plural) and godlinesses (plural). The “conversations,” the variety of modes of behavior to which Peter directs, would each be suited to the prevailing circumstances whether in sympathy, companionship, or practical deeds. The expressions of piety would evidence a deep respect for our God, perhaps in a deepening prayer-life or in an obedience not previously characteristic of our living. (The verb translated “to be” at v. 11 is not the usual verb “to be.” It also occurs at 2:19 and carries the sense of “to be marked out.” At 2:19 “the servants of corruption” are marked out as bad; we are to be marked out as good.)
The outstanding excellence that Peter expects evidences itself in a new expectation, not normally found in the human breast. There is found the looking for and hasting of the day of God. The verbs are not synonyms and so are both necessary to our understanding of Peters description of this hope. The verb “to look for” describes an intent to receive something we esteem highly. Our understanding of the second verb is not helped by the AV translators supplying the preposition “unto.” It may carry the sense of our bringing it forward in our hearts and minds so that its implications absorb our minds and our hearts anticipate its blessings. We are to focus on the day of God.
What is the day of God that is to be before the saints? Clearly it is not to be confused with the “the day of the Lord” (v. 10). Nor are we to confuse it with “mans day” (1 Cor 4:3 Newberry) or “the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10; 2:16). Mans day began with the exaltation of Christ and continues for the moment. Both the day of the Lord and the day of Christ begin with our Lord coming for His saints at the Rapture. The day of Christ includes the Judgment Seat of Christ and the joys of heaven we shall share with Christ. The day of the Lord will run its course through the time of Jacobs trouble and the millennium kingdom and conclude in the dissolution described at v. 10. The subject of Old Testament prophecy, it is the period of Jehovahs supremacy, beginning when He arises to punish the wicked and including the public kingdom of Christ. The day of the Lord ends and the day of God begins with that same period of dissolution.
Unlike the day of the Lord, the day of God will know no end. Indeed the expression of v.18 aptly describes its continuance. It continues “to the day of eternity” (v. 18 Newberry), AV “for ever.” The Spirit emphasizes the necessity of the day of God by the use of the phrase rendered “wherein” at v 12 AV, i.e. “on account of which.” All who endeavour to live for God in a scene like this know how necessary that consuming fire will be. The consuming of all that is lawless and iniquitous will mean the end of all that is unclean in Gods sight. Only then will righteousness be at home (“dwelleth”, v 13), and not an occasional visitor. Only in the new heavens and earth will that be so. In the millennial kingdom, righteousness will reign; in the eternal state when God is all in all (1 Cor 15:28), righteousness will dwellcomplacently, never again to arise to condemn unrighteousness.
We should note at v 12 the second description of our chapter when Peter is caused to write of the fervent heat with which the old is consumed. Again the same word “elements” occurs as at v 10. Some have related those elements to the heavenly bodies above, but most likely the word describes what we would call atoms or molecules. The fire (perhaps as nuclear energy) is being stored under Gods watchful eye against this time, notes v 7. At the point when the elements are loosened (“melt” v 10 AV), the fire will consume with fervent heat. Using a different word rendered “melt” (v 12) we learn that the fervent heat will liquefy the very crust of the earth men think so stable. Men have only yet seen “the outskirts of His ways…But the thunder of His power who can understand” (Job 26:14 RV)?
How glorious the prospect the day of God presents! The day of the Lord will begin and end with fire; the day of God will begin with fire but will know no end. In the day of God “the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:3). Then “the former things” will have passed away, the things of mans sin and failure. The whole sorry catalogue of woe which sin has caused will have no place in the day of God. Only what is the work of God will enter the new heavens and new earth: “the overcomer” will be there and owned by God as His son. But no place will be found for the fearful and the unbelieving and sinners of all kinds; their portion will be in “the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev 21:8). John saw, “He that sat upon the throne” who will seal that work with the stamp of divine authenticity: “Behold I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). God will complete that great work and the universe will resound with a cry of divine finality, “Done!” Once the very caverns of the lost trembled as the Lord cried: “Finished!” This new cry will equally be heard by all. How significant it will be! Brother Jim Allen observes: “A comprehensive plural (Done) summarizes all that now has been completed to bring the purposes of God to fruition.”(1) It will announce that the day of God has come, in the which God will be “all in all.” He will remain unchallengeably:
Object supreme of all, by all adored(2).
And the new heavens and the new earth will remain:
Without a spot, a new creation(3).
In the day of God, Christ and His church will have their distinct place; there will be: “Unto Him glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph 3:21). Well might we respond with our “Amen” that His glory will fill the day of God and that His Church will lead His praise.
(1) J Allen “Revelation” in What the Bible Teaches Volume 10 Second Edition p. 509; published John Ritchie Ltd, Kilmarnock 1999.
(2) J N Darby “And is it so!” in Believers Hymnbook No. 366; published John Ritchie Ltd, Kilmarnock 1999.
(3) Elizabeth Dark “Through Thy precious body broken” in Believers Hymnbook No. 289; published John Ritchie Ltd, Kilmarnock 1999.