Sunday, January 22, 2012

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

It has been generally believed that Peter here is saying there will be a new physical heaven and earth after the old earth and solar system are destroyed. At first glance, it looks as though Peter was saying just that. But are the physical world and universe, what Peter had in mind? There is a lot more to this statement of Peter that meets the eye.

In order to understand what Peter is trying to convey about the “new heaven and earth” we need to think like an Israelite who was familiar with the flood of Noah. The Jews had another understand of the heaven and earth, then our modern literal understanding.

Let go back to 2 Peter 3:5-7 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of “old,” and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth, which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Notice the context of what Peter writes in these verses 5. The “old” heavens and earth (that then existed) are the same heavens and earth that rain destroyed in Genesis. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis7:12)

So, the post flood heavens and earth that then existed are the “old” heaven and earth when Peter was writing. The reason the “old” heaven and earth were destroyed in the days of Noah was because of ungodly men who were thoroughly corrupt upon the earth in God's sight. Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

The “heavens and earth” that existed after the flood, Peter calls the “now “ heaven and earth in (2 Peter 3:7). Peter also says the reason for the destruction of the current heavens and earth was ungodly men. Peter continually links the two events together. The difference between the two events are the method of judgment. The heavens and earth of Noah’s day were destroyed by water and the heavens and earth Peter refers to are destroyed by fire. Some, who take the literalistic interpretation approach to all prophecy, apply this to the end of the world's history. But prophecies like this actually applied to spiritual things the passing away of the old order, and the transformation of things into newness of life.

Here are two dilemmas with our old modern interpretation that the heaven and earth Peter is referring to are the material world, and universe that will be burned up. Why should we think that fire will destroy (the Glob and Universe) when Peter uses the example of the “old” heavens and earth (that existed) were destroyed in Noah’s flood? We need not. The flood did not destroy the literal heavens and earth, as Peter refers to its destruction. (2 Peter 3:5) The people came under judgment by water. The literal heavens and earth were not destroyed. Peter explains the earth was standing out of water and in the water.

The second dilemma. Have you ever thought to yourself if the literal heaven and earth were destroyed in the days of Noah's flood were did the “now” heaven and earth that Peter mentions will be destroyed by fire come from? It's obvious that Peter had something else in mind other then the literal planet and universe burning up.

ISRAEL was the heavens and the earth that God had formed, and some day that same heavens and earth would pass away as described in (2 Peter 3). In Isaiah 51:13 God said that He had "stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth" Once again, is God speaking here of the literal heavens and earth?

Read on in this same passage to verse 16: "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people."

This could not be talking about the formation of the literal heavens and earth, for that had taken place more than 3,000 years before! The verse explains itself. He is talking about "Zion." He is talking about "my people Israel" In other words, He is talking about the formation of Israel or the creation of Israel.

In Jeremiah 22:29 God says, "0 earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord." And in verse 1 (along with verses 11, 18 and 24) we read that the words were for the people of Judah, concerning the time when they would be taken "into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans" (vs. 25). It was not the whole physical earth, God was talking to, but the people.

The new heavens and earth that Peter mentions where righteousness dwells are based upon "GOD’S PROMISE" The only prophecies "promise" that Peter referred to are in the Old Testament that specifically mention the new heavens and new earth are found in Isaiah 65:17 and Isaiah 66:22.

These are the only two places in the Old Testament where this promise of a new heaven and a new earth can be found, and neither of these speak of a literal heavens and earth passing away. Nor do they speak of a literal new heaven and new earth.

The heaven and earth, in which Peter is referring to in Genesis and 2 Peter 3 are Bible language referring to change or transformation, from an old order and making into a new thing, of God's people.

The Old Covenant was obsolete and growing old and ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13) In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.