Rebuilding the idea that it is “all going to burn.”
When I was a young fresh-faced Christian navigating my way through the church world one of the phrases I would often hear is “it’s all going to burn.” Usually this followed some careless act that disregarded the natural world or in response to seeing someone enjoying the prosperity the person calling down fire really wished they had if they were honest. Where did that idea come from? Is God is coming back to vaporize this sin saturated planet and make a new one for the righteous few to inhabit? This mindset has fostered a neglect and even contempt for the natural world even going so far as, I believe, to curse it and prevent us receiving from creation in the measure the Creator intended both spiritualty and physically. According to scripture it is all going to burn yes, just not like we may have been taught.
First let’s look at a couple verses. The main verse in question here is 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will pass away with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be burned up.” Well that’s encouraging. Burned up? What about all the puppies and baby goats!?
I would like to offer up a few verses elsewhere in the bible to meditate on that may shed some new light on this. Genisis 9:11 God makes a covenant with man and animals not to destroy the earth again. And, in 8:21 another covenant not to destroy all life as he had done. One could argue he was saying he wouldn’t destroy the earth again via flood but said nothing about torching the joint. Enjoy that rainbow … bing! Why would that covenant be of any value or comfort at all if destruction was destined to come another way? Let’s look further.
Hosea 2:18 God includes the animal kingdom in his covenant of restoration saying they will enter into his rest.
Psalms 37:20 & 104:5 Says the earth will endure forever.
Matt 5:5 The meek shall inherit the …. earth. Awe, just what we wanted, a crispy briquette. You shouldn’t have. Meek interestingly enough, can be interpreted as restraining one’s power to make room for others. Sounds like Jesus to me.
Romans 8:19-27 Creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Is creation eagerly awaiting getting vaporized? Remember in the first chapter of Genesis the Creator called his creation good and very good. When someone called Jesus “good teacher” he said “why do you call me good? No one is good but the God alone.” If God himself called creation “good” what does that say about the created world? Is there a purity to what God created that we fail to recognize? Man as we know has been under the curse of sin and death the natural world merely subject to it. Eagerly awaiting us to figure out who we are so it can be liberated. What we know about God is he is a consuming fire. A refining fire that tests human hearts like precious metal removing the impurities and leaving behind what is pure. What is good, what is pure doesn’t burn in God’s consuming fire.
Maybe it’s time to take a look around again and notice that at least some of the Kingdom of Heaven has been hiding in plain sight right under our noses. Oh, Hello dog. Sorry, I didn’t see you embodied faithfulness and unconditional love. And you dolphins … you have that joy and encouragement thing down to a science, don’t you? Teach us that will you.
Luke 9:54 James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire and consume the Samaritan village that would not welcome him and her rebuked them saying that they did not know what spirit they were of. Perhaps we should check our hearts if we are eager to jump ship and watch the world burn down while stroll down the streets of Gold to our opulent heavenly mansion.
Investigating 2 Peter 3:10 again this is, from what I have come to understand from a more thorough searching out of the words contained therein, a more accurate interpretation of that verse.
“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in which the heavens will approach earth with a loud noise and the conformity/piety (aka religion) shall be dissolved with fervent heat and the works that are there in shall be exposed.”
Interesting. That kind of changes things. Now let’s look at Psalms 104:30 “He will send forth his Spirit to renew the face of the earth.” And, Revelation 21:2 “I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first had passed away and I saw the Holy City coming down from heaven and Jesus will dwell with men and be their king.” The word new here is kainos. The same word used in 2 Corinthians “if anyone is in Christ he is a new (kainos) creation.
How many of us have gone through God’s purification process, being baptized by the fire of his Spirit and here we still are. A new creation being transformed from glory to glory or “intensifying glory” we are not destroyed but renewed in Christ. Luke 3:16 “John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” God is in the restoration business. Perhaps what we have misunderstood is that the earth will not in fact be destroyed but be taken from glory to glory purified by the same refining fire that God puts us through as we are transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Take heart, God is working all things out for good. It’s all going to burn … yay!