2 Peter 3 is often use to motivate for a total destruction of the earth at ‘the end of time’ or ‘the last days’. On the basis thereof many Christians welcome war, atom bombs, nuclear interaction and all other forms of mass destruction. It is because it makes us feel like we are closer to the end. And for us the end holds beauty thereafter. The horrible consequence of this misconception is that we have become fear based have almost started longing for destruction.
I do not believe that God is going to destroy the earth in order to make a new earth. He makes all things new, not all new things. I have come to know God through scripture and my personal experience as the One who processes chaos into order. It is His ‘style’ and nature.
I would like spend some time on the concept of “The Last Days” for your consideration from 2 Peter 3, to show why I believe this Scripture does not predict the destruction of the earth, but rather speaks about the transfer from the Old covenant into the New covenant. The Key to this is to understand: “When is the last days?”
- The Last Days
It is found in 2 Peter 3:3 – “…in the last days…”
The ‘last days/times’ and the ‘end of time’ are two different concepts from scripture.
The last days refer to a period from crucifixion of Christ up unto the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 AD. A period of approximately 40 years in the history of Israel. We have plenty of evidence from the scriptures that the disciples knew that they were living in the last days. Here are three:
- Acts 2:17 – The prophecy said that God would pour out His spirit upon all flesh in the last days. This as you know has happened.
- Heb 1:2 – The Writer of Hebrews declares that God in the last days spoke by His Son. This as you know has happened.
- 1 Peter 1:20 – Peter says that Christ, the lamb was manifested in the last times. This as you know has happened.
So if the Last Days already started in the times of the disciples, when did it end and what was it the last days of?
The ‘last days’ is a term that describes the end of the Levitical Priesthood and order, the Temple and all the sacrifices thereof. It was the end of an era or age. It is where God made an end of everything that was the shadow of the reality of Christ. In fact, we can historically read about how this happened in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans (70 AD). You can read more about the siege and fall of Jerusalem in the historical works of Flavius Josephus – ‘Wars of the Jews’
It seems unlikely that this era or age would extend over millennia into our time, so that we live in the last days. It just doesn’t seem logical that the last days of a 6000-year period is made up of 2000 years. It is much more likely that it stretched over a period of 40 years up and unto the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in Jerusalem.
Many times our English Bibles translates the word for ‘age’ (Greek aiōn) as ‘world’, leaving us to think that it speaks of the end of the world (end of the earth and all time), when it refers to the end of an ‘age’. An example of this can be found in Mat 13:40.
Another synonym term for ‘last days’ or ‘last times’ is ‘the end of the age’.
The Last days are characterized by turmoil in the land of Israel, Judea and at the epicenter thereof – Jerusalem. It is something we do not read about much in the Bible because most of the bible texts were written concerning accounts that preceded the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.
What we do find in the Bible is prophesy about the coming destruction. Mat 24 is a prime example of such a prophesy by Jesus. I believe that 2 Peter 3 is also a prophetic utterance by the Apostle Peter about these events. He refers back to Jesus’ words and imageries (the flood of Noah). Because they are prophetic in nature they both draw from Old Testament imagery to convey a very simple message. The end of the Levitcal order together with its rituals and temples are at hand.
When I started discovering these truths from Scripture, as a good dispensational Pentecostal believer, I was left with one massive question:
If we are not looking forward to a massive destruction of the earth, the Church meeting in caves and all hell breaking loose on earth. What does the end of the picture look like?
This was the best question I could ever ask. From that time on God started working in me, slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!!! The end is Glorious!!
Grace and Peace