“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)
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.