2Pe 3:11-13 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
I realize that it is a popular idea that Peter is telling us about the end of time in these verses. If he is not telling us about the end of time, then he is describing what some refer to as the millennial reign. Peter’s statement in verse 13 causes me to reject the idea that he is dealing with end of all time.
Peter again calls us to consider that the occurrence he is describing is based on the God’s promise. The particular promise that is under consideration is the promise of His coming (2Pe 3:4). It would seem reasonable to assume that Peter is talking about His coming in the end of all time, except that he has constantly admonishes us in this letter about our Godly behavior (conversation) even as he continues to do in verse 11. The simple truth is that our godly behavior will not affect anything that is going to occur at the end of all things: otherwise, salvation is not by the sovereign grace of God. God saw the end from the beginning. From the beginning, God knew what, when, and how the end would be. This is according to His divine purpose and is not contingent upon our behavior.
At the time of this letter, the Christians were scattered and persecuted on every hand. They were made fun of and challenged about their belief that the Messiah had come, died, was resurrected, and would dwell among them here. Sometimes, in the heat of persecution, it is easy to understand how despair can come creeping to our door. Even David questioned at one time whether God had completely abandoned him “for ever” (Psa 77:7-9). However, the promise of God is sure.
The “heavens” (their fellowship with God) and the “elements” (their order of worship) were being dissolved. This is what the coming of Jesus does in our lives. Consider what Jesus told the Samaritan woman: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” (Jo 4:21). When Jesus comes, as He promised, in the person of the Holy Comforter and reveals Himself in us it changes everything. Our fellowship with God is no longer about a certain place and our worship is no longer about following a certain pattern. Instead, it becomes about worshipping in “spirt and in truth” (Jo 4:23). The Holy Spirit is continually coming into the hearts of God’s children. His appearing changes us and everything around us.
When we see God dissolving the heavens and the elements that we have relied on for so long, what manner of persons should we be? We should behave ourselves in a godly manner. We should have a heart of anticipation instead of being filled with dread. We should be looking for the Holy Spirit to make a change in our lives, to make a change in our desire to serve, to make a change in treating church like it is the same old thing over and over again. Not only should we look for it, but we should hasten to it. We should not be focusing on the “old” things that God is destroying from our lives (as traumatic as that can be). Rather, we should be looking for “new heavens” (a closer fellowship with Him) and a “new earth” (a better life of service in His kingdom here). This is the place where righteousness dwells.
The Holy Spirit coming into our lives changes everything. He breaks the chains that bind us to tradition. He breaks the chains that bind us to our own conceits. He breaks the chains that make us want people to be like us instead of desiring for people to be like Jesus. He takes away the fear when God shakes up our “earth” and “heaven” (Heb 12:26-27). We should hasten toward God’s shaking or our entire life having the firm assurance that He does so to leave us with only that which cannot be shaken.
May we approach with joy every purging that God brings into our lives knowing that we will be better servants of righteousness when He is done!