You are probably aware of this monumental fact: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But are you also aware that one day God will destroy the heavens and the earth with fire?
Shocking? Absolutely. Unbelievable? Not at all.
The Apostle Peter, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, delivered this staggering news to God’s people: “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 in it will be burned up … That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:10,12).
Yes, you read that correctly. The heavens will be dissolved, and the earth will literally melt in the heat.
A few verses earlier Peter described how scoffers “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s Word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:5-7).
The coming day of judgment is just as certain as God’s creation of the universe, and just as sure as the great flood in Noah’s day.
The Apostle John was given a vision of what will happen after God burns up the earth.
“Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 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, ’Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:1-5).
Every child of God will inhabit the New Heaven and New Earth with a perfect body that is incorruptible.
“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
Talk about an upgrade!
If you could choose today between going to Heaven or going to Hell, you would certainly choose Heaven, right? After all, who wants to go to Hell? But do you realize that there is only one way to be forgiven of your sins and get into Heaven?
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Peter proclaimed: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Saved from what? 1. Sin, 2. Death, and 3. Hell.
The final chapter of the Bible makes things crystal clear:
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14-15).
Those who have deliberately and persistently pursued their sinful desires will find themselves outside the gates of the city, whereas those whose robes have been washed will be allowed to enter God’s eternal city.
John described those in white robes in his vision of Heaven:
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands … Then one of the elders asked me, ’These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ’Sir, you know.’ And he said, ’These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,13-14).
Your good works cannot remove a single stain from your soul. Like everyone else, you need the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross 2,000 years ago. When you turn to Christ in faith and rely upon His death for your salvation, your robe is instantly washed clean and made white in the blood of the Lamb.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Peter informed believers: “In keeping with God’s promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
The day God burns up the earth will be terribly frightening, to say the least, but this global upheaval must take place before the Lord ushers in a New Heaven and a New Earth.
In the meantime, “God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2:4) and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.