Shocking News About End Times Prophecy

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

 

“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.” (2 Peter 3:10)

There’s a lot of bad theology out there that frames scriptures like this one in a futurist light, as if what is being described here is some event that has never happened and still needs to occur before Christ returns. But this is the wrong way to read verses like this.

Why? Because the “Day of the Lord” was the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem that took place roughly forty years after Jesus predicted it would happen, in 70 AD.

If we read 2 Peter 3:10 with this in mind, we may also realize that the Old Heavens and the Old Earth have – metaphorically – already been destroyed and replaced with the New Heavens and New Earth.

For example, in John’s Revelation of Christ, we read about his vision of the “New Jerusalem” coming down from God out of heaven. This New Jerusalem is also called “The Bride of Christ” – which is the Church.

Notice what John says about this in Revelation 21:1-3:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

What’s especially significant here is the last part of the verse where the voice proclaims that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people…” and that “They will be His people, and God Himself  will be with them and be their God.”

These promises are directly connected to the New Covenant, which Jesus proclaimed in the upper room with His disciples:

“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood…” (Luke 22:20)

What is the New Covenant? Most Christians are sadly unaware of this, but it’s essentially this:

“This is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 33:33-34)

So, if Jeremiah prophesied that this New Covenant would be proclaimed,

and if Jesus already announced it as coming “in his blood” in the upper room,

and if the terms of this New Covenant are that:

*God will put His law in our hearts

*God will be our God and we will be His people

*Everyone will now have access to knowing God personally

*God will forgive their sins and remember them no more

The bottom line is this: The New Covenant reality is here, right now, today.

What this means is that the prophecy in Revelation about God’s dwelling now being among men has come to pass. We are now the Temple of the Living God where He dwells within every one of us.

“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:18)

Notice that Paul here directly ties this statement about us being God’s temple with the fulfillment of the New Covenant promise “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

All of this is true, right now.

So, when Peter writes about the “Day of the Lord” coming when the old creation will be destroyed by fire and the new heavens and the new earth will be established, this is exactly what he is referring to: The end of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New Covenant.

This is why Peter ends that statement by saying:

“…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

The good news is this: The old things have passed away. The new has come. As Paul puts it:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

We are living, right now, today, in the New Heaven and the New Earth where God has made His dwelling among men and women.

Jesus wanted us to grasp this truth. This is why He told us:

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

More than this, this is exactly what Jesus meant when he said:

“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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17-18)

So, did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets? Yes, he did. He completed his earthly mission to fulfill them both, as he confirms in his prayer to his father:

 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)

And as he confirms from the cross when he exclaims in a loud voice:

“It is accomplished!” (John 19:30)

Notice there were, not one, but two “untils” in Jesus’s statement about the passing away of the Law and the Prophets.

One that, “until heaven and earth pass away…” and a second: “until all is accomplished” and both are tied to the passing away of the Law and the Prophets.

So, if Jesus did accomplish his intended purpose to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, then they have passed away. This is what Paul and the author of Hebrews both confirm numerous times. (See Eph. 2:15; Rom. 10:4; 2 Cor. 3:7-11; Gal. 4:24-31; and Heb. 8:13)

But, notice also that if the Law and the Prophets have been accomplished, then Heaven and Earth may now also pass away. This, metaphorically, is what Peter and John and Paul are all referring to. Not to the literal destruction of the planet, but to the symbolic end of the Old Covenant and the coming of the New Covenant.

As John predicted in Revelation 21:1-3, the New Jerusalem has replaced the Old Jerusalem. This city is now composed of people who are in Christ. They are the Bride of Christ. They are the Temple where God now dwells. His home is now among us. He is our God. We are His people. We can all know Him directly, right now.

The Kingdom is here and it is wide open.

What are you waiting for?

**

Keith Giles is the author of “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” and the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. He and his wife are part of a house church that gives away 100% of their offerings to the poor in their community. They live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

 

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  • Matthew

    Should the harsh and “not so nice” teachings of Jesus we find in the Gospels
    also be understood metaphorically? I want to believe God is love and fully revealed
    in the person of the loving Jesus Christ, but sometimes Jesus doesn´t say the most loving
    things.

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    What a sad commentary.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Speaking about bad theology! No, Peter and John speak of totally different events. Like Isaiah speaks of a new heaven and a new earth following the judgments of God on Israel and some of the foreign nations surrounding her, John speaks of a new heaven and a new earth after the judgments on those who persecute God’s people (In 6 – How long? in 19 – It’s done, same sequence as in Isaiah.

    The destruction Peter speaks of is total – nothing left. The elements will disappear – totally different language then in both Isaiah and Revelation.

    Not quite sure how you concluded that it has to do with the fall of Jerusalem, either…

  • Evermyrtle

    And we will get a new heaven and anew earth for GOD’S people, where there will be no evil, no Satan! Revelation 21:1-27!

  • Evermyrtle

    Thus speaketh one,who has no idea what GOD’S WORD is all about, one who has no understanding about the CREATOR and/or HIS SON, and their works, which is the whole truth, that man has been guessing about for thousands of years! We will all understand, when the great day of separating the good from the evil, comes about!! HE tries to tell us, all that we need to know, in HIS WORD but we do not choose to try to understand what HE is saying! Whatever we think about it, it will come to pass, just as HIS people explains it, in HIS WORD!!

  • Patrick G Hogan

    Some of this is likely true (but this doesn’t prove that it is). And remember that prophecy in the Bible is often at least 2-layered: it will happen in the near future in one sense, and in the more distant future in another sense. Also, just because the prerequisite (‘A’) for something (‘B’) has occurred, ‘B’ may or may not have occurred yet. Furthermore, other passages imply the removal of evil from the entire world. And since scripture (especially OT ?) is just as physical as ‘spiritual’ or metaphorical, it is not necessarily too literalistic to gather that ‘something else big’ is going to happen to make all things new.

  • Funny thing about that word in the Greek – “elements” – used in the Peter passage. The word “stoicheion” is also used by Paul to talk about the Law in Galatians 4:9 and at one point he even refers to it as “weak and beggarly elements”.

  • Brad Kunkel

    I think you nailed it, Keith. “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) The only thing I would underscore is the inclusive nature of the prophecy in Jeremiah: they will all know me. Paul confirms that God was in Christ reconciling the whole world to himself (kosmos), not counting anyone’s sins, (2 Cor. 5: 19, the passage you quoted re: his insistence that it’s all about the new creation). So assuming only those in “the church” (whatever that is) have access to the new creation misses the point, I think. For me, the church becomes what the Isaiah 65-66 passage is talking about in its description of the new creation that all the NT descriptions are based on: that it includes all humanity, but “some will be priests and Levites.” I think our job is not to get people “saved” so they can escape when the whole earth is burned and go to heaven when they die, but to explain to them that they have access to it already because it exists in the here and now and help people understand the ways in which they can exist in that reality.

  • Spirit Plumber

    huh?

  • Tim

    However, prophecy in the bible doesn’t necessarily always have to do with future events, and usually not distant future, especially when the language used indicates imminence. I’m curious where you get the idea that prophecy in the bible is often “at least 2-layered” and why it necessarily follows a near future/ more distant future pattern.
    The passages that imply the removal of evil from the entire world could just as easily mean “gradually” as it could “at a fixed point in the distant future”.
    As to the final comment, the formula Paul gives us is; first physical, then spiritual. That means that if the physical part has been fulfilled (I think it’s clear that it has), then all that is left is the spiritual fulfillment; which again, could occur over time instead of as a fixed event.

  • Tim

    No, bad theology is what people who can’t grasp what Keith is addressing here believe.
    In addition to Keith’s comment below, it’s well known in scholarly circles that this type of apocalyptic language is hyperbolic and not literal.

    He concluded that because it’s quite clear that all of these prophecies refer to “the end of the (current) world (system)” involving the temple, sacrifices, etc. which concurred with the destruction of Jerusalem/ destruction of the temple. E.g., “some of you who are standing here will not taste death until all these things are fulfilled.”

  • Rudy Schellekens

    It is “quite clear” that each of the three New Heaven/New Earth passages are written in relationship to specific events. It is “quite clear” that the context of Isaiah, Peter and Revelation is not the same, and therefore, applying the same meaning and application to each is, well, bad theology.
    Since Jesus is the one who speaks of the fall of Jerusalem (Again, contextually) and since in those He never refers to a “new heaven and new earth,” to wrest” that meaning into the passages which speak of a “new heaven and a new earth,” is again bad theology.
    Since it is quite clear that some of those who hear Jesus speak would be alive to see His words fulfilled, and since at least Revelation is of a later date, it is still bad theology to make that apply to the fall of Jerusalem.

    Just thinking…

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Funny thing about Galatians 4 and STOCHEION – he is not speaking of the law, but of those things which were “not gods…”

    “8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” Since these are Gentiles, they had no relation to the Law of Moses at all…

  • Tim

    There is about equal support for early and late dating of the writing of Revelation, but regardless; much of the NT was written down after the fact anyway, so it doesn’t ultimately go to evidence that Revelation is about future events. Revelation is actually very contemporary (either near future or recent past, depending on when it was written) to whatever time it was written, and primarily symbolically describes the changes to the world and the new order of things that were made by the crucifixion and resurrection.

    While the contexts may be different, they are all speaking about the same types of change(s) to the world. They all use similar apocalyptic language, which is figurative and symbolic, not literal. The crucifixion/ resurrection, destruction of Jerusalem, and Pentecost events all play their roles in the fulfillment of these prophecies.