Fervent Heat of II Peter 3
May 18, 2013 by creatorworship
I have thought about 2 Peter 3 extensively and even written about it (see “Four Singularities”). It is all amazing to me but verses 10-13 are just fascinating:
” But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (underlining mine)
Many of the words describing the demise of the created order as we now know it must certainly be metaphor. Indeed, they must be for our quantum mechanics and relativity still cannot fathom what God will do then. But our present understanding does align with what the Scriptures say and very possibly give us some insight into what God is saying through Peter. I am particularly interested as a student of science in the words I have underlined. I am fully aware that this passing away is not the main point of the passage but rather the certainty of judgment and the certainty of a future home where righteousness dwells and the result of compelling us to live for more permanent things. For these I am thankful. But I still muse on how God accomplishes His works. The word destroyed is variously translated as “destroyed” (NASB, NIV), “dissolved” (HCSB, ESV), and “melt” (KJV). The Greek (anytime I mention this it means I only have a dictionary to look it up in, not more knowledge than that) has the meaning of “loosed, released, dissolved”. “Intense heat” (NASB) is also rendered “burned up” (ESV), “fire” (NIV), “fervent heat” (KJV), and “burn” (HCSB). The word in Greek for “roar” means a “rushing sound”. The word rendered here as “elements” has the meaning of “in a row” as letters or bits of knowledge. These words strongly suggest to me properties of matter and energy. But since Einstein and E = mc2 matter and energy are really convenient descriptions of the same thing. E = m. Energy = matter. c, the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant that relates the two. Since speed of light is so large and squared in the equation, matter is seen to hold “crazy” amounts of energy. When matter is destroyed it becomes energy, and when energy is organized just so it is matter. I like to think of matter as “condensed” energy. That suggests that energy is the fundamental “stuff”. But here is where science becomes vague. What is energy? We know what energy does but we do not know what energy is. It is as Feynman said an abstract idea. Could it not be that our lack of understanding stems from viewing a spiritual matter rather than a totally physical one? The elements roar with intense heat and are released. That sounds like the destruction of all matter into energy to me. All of the particles of matter, discovered and undiscovered (muons, electrons, strange, flavors, and so on) becoming intense abstraction. But the abstraction is real, and what is it?
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:6-9)
God spoke His word and it stood fast. Out of nothing, physically speaking, but out of a substantial word from God, everything. “In the beginning God created….Then God said,” (Genesis 1:1,3) His Word was condensed into physical creation and will one day soon be “melted” into His Word. When it happens will not this Scripture be fulfilled for Creation?
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
It, that is His Word, will return to Him in an intense flame out, not empty or simply annihilated, but fully complete in His intention and accomplishment. So all of the elements, atoms in fact, lined up in their orderly fashion, controlled and compelled by fundamental forces will dissolve or melt back into energy. Am I saying energy = God’s Word? Certainly not. But God’s Word accomplishes energy and all His works return after fully accomplishing what He set out for them. It is so with man’s spirit as well:
“For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:5-7)
So it is with all things. God gets ultimate glory because all things proceed from Him and all will return to Him and be assigned to the place He has ordained for them to be in His presence or excluded from it. In the meantime His Word holds all things together. Is not this the Grand Unified Theory, the Fundamental Force?
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colosians 1:16-17)
The physical world will be destroyed by thermonuclear annihilation, coming unglued as it were:
“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the works of Your hands;
They will perish, but You remain;
And they all will become old like a garment,
And like a mantle You will roll them up;
Like a garment they will also be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not come to an end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)
These words are spoken of Jesus, God the Son, who will not end as the created order will end. He endures and so does His Word. So in the transience of the what seems so permanent I see the permanence of what I have I have seen to be transient. God’s Word is permanent.
Wow! Roar on to completion.