“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:7)
One of my good friends ended our friendship over the subject of the wrath of God and the Lord’s judgment upon the wicked. He placed great emphasis upon the love of God whereupon there was no room in his thinking to even consider God’s wrath. This was, and is, in spite of the clear teaching of Scripture, such as Romans 1:18-20, the Book of Revelation and today’s text from 2 Peter.
My friend did not necessarily mock or scoff at the idea of God’s Day of Judgement. Rather, he outright rejected the very idea of it. He could not reconcile within his mind the attribute of a loving God with that of a condemning God. Yet, this is the truth that the Apostle Peter is setting forth in 2 Peter 3:7.
Peter articulated that as God formed the heavens and earth by the means of water by His spoken word (Genesis 1-2; Psalm 33:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-3; 2 Peter 3:1-6), by the same spoken word God will bring judgment upon the existing heavens and earth by the means of fire. This judgment is being kept (τηρέω; tereo), guarded, and retained until the Lord’s Day of Judgment.
The Day of Judgment (ἡμέρα κρίσις; herema krisis) is the period of time which God has set aside to bring judgment upon unrepentant sinners. The Day of Judgment will include the destruction (ἀπώλεια; apoleia) or ruination which belongs to the ungodly, or those who have no regard for God and His righteousness.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The present world system is reserved for future judgment, which will come by the word of God just as creation and the flood came. God will speak it into existence as well, after the present order is again destroyed. Humanity, since the flood, lives in the second world order. One of the obvious differences between the two world orders is that people live 70 years in the present world, not 900 years, which was a common age of pre-flood human beings. And Peter was making the point that there is a third form of the heavens and earth yet to come following another cataclysm.”
God put the rainbow in the sky to signify that he would never destroy the world again by water (Gen. 9:13). In the future, God will destroy the heavens and the earth by fire (cf. Isa. 66:15; Dan. 7:9–10; Mic. 1:4; Mal. 4:1; Matt. 3:11–12; 2 Thess. 1:7–8). In the present universe, the heavens are full of stars, comets, and asteroids. The core of the earth is also filled with a flaming, boiling, liquid lake of fire, the temperature of which is some 12,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The human race is separated from the fiery core of the earth by only a thin 10-mile crust. Far more than that, the whole of creation is a potential firebomb due to its atomic structure. As man from atoms creates destructive bombs that burn a path of death, so God can disintegrate the whole universe in an explosion of atomic energy (see notes on 2 Pet. 3:10–12).”
In conclusion, Dr. MacArthur states that, “The earth waits for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. The godly will not be present on earth when God speaks into existence the judgment by fire (cf. 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).”
What an incentive for believers in Christ to share the gospel with the lost. Always remember that at one time, we were included in those who the Bible calls the lost. Take time today to thank God for His grace and mercy which are received by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
Soli deo Gloria!