It’s time for more eschatology, people.  (Just giving the public what they want.)

I was just reading Gale Z. Heide’s (Montana Bible College) 1997 article, “What Is New about the New Heaven and the New Earth?  A Theology of Creation from Revelation 21 and 2 Peter 3” (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 1997, pp. 37-56).  It’s a brief study that concentrates on whether John the Seer and Peter anticipated the total destruction and re-creation of the earth from scratch or some kind of renewal or refinement.

Towards the end of the piece, Heide provides an interesting interpretive translation of the controversial 2 Peter 3:10-13.  His translation seeks to provide the insight that relevant research might uncover.

But first, check out the translation the NIV, my governess, provides:

[10] 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 in it will be laid bare.  [11] Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives [12] as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  [13] But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Now, compare Heide’s translation:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens as we know them will pass from sight with a roar and the order of this world will be refined with intense heat, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare for judgment.  Since all things are to be refined in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, anticipating and hastening the day of God, when the heavens will be refined by burning and the impure order of this world will melt in the intense heat of judgment!  But according to his promise we are looking for renewed heavens and a renewed earth, in which righteousness dwells (55).

There is not space here to go into the details of Heide’s research, though it is enlightening.  Besides you can read it for yourself here.  Nevertheless, I do appreciate the emphasis on renewal and transformation.  Plus, the notion that God intends to refine those things which have been corrupted, as in the flood (cf. 2 Ptr 3:3-7), fits well the God who redeems the righteous, while judging the evil.

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Conflagration…Conflagration!

  1. Excellent! I think that fire should not be interpreted as literal in prophecy but as a metaphor for God’s judgement and/or purging.

    1. Hi and welcome, RJ. In my mind, it’s not unlike the process we undergo in a journey with the Lord, in which the Lord strips away all things that are not of Him – sanctification. Pretty cool to think that God would do the same with His whole creation. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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