Doesn't all the devastation described in 2 Peter 3:10,12 take place just before Jesus Christ returns, and then the earth will remain desolate and barren for 1,000 years?
In 2 Peter 3:10,12, Peter talks about a vast destruction and devastation of the elements by fire when the day of the Lord comes. Doesn't this happen prior to Jesus Christ's return to earth, like for instance during some of the trumpet judgments, and then the earth will remain desolate and barren for 1,000 years?
There are many who place 2 Peter 3:10,12 at the beginning of the Millennium. The assumption is that as soon as the "day of the Lord" begins, the surface of the earth will be destroyed by fire and will be laid bare—a "shaky foundation" upon which they construct many of their defective theories about the Millennium.
There are many Bible verses where a lengthy period of time has passed between one sentence and the sentence that follows, or even between two portions of the same sentence. One such example is in Daniel 12:2, where it desribes how some of the dead will awake to everlasting life (Revelation 20:4), while others will awake to shame and everlasting contempt (20:12-15), with a 1,000-year span between these two events. Likewise, I believe there is a 1,000-year span of time between the first and second parts of 2 Peter 3:10.
Let's look at the entire context of this passage:
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. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ... 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 [in some versions, "burned up"]. ... That day [of the Lord] will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:7,8,10,12,13)Notice, the following:
Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. ... Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. ... Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. ... He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Revelation 20:11,14, 21:1,5)All of the things in 2 Peter 3:10,12,13 will not happen at the beginning of the day of the Lord but, rather, at the end of the day of the Lord period—that is, at the end of the Millennium. To think that this present heavens and earth will merely "catch fire" and be "laid bare" is a considerable oversimplification of what actually is going to happen, which will be a complete annihilation of this entire Creation. There certainly is nothing described in the Seals, Trumpet Judgments, or Bowl Judgments within the book of Revelation that would explain a total burning up and destruction of the present heavens and the earth, prior to the Millennium.
At the end of the Millennium, everything that we know and see on this earth, and everything in the vast universe that astronomers have observed billions of light years away, will be completely burned up with fire and utterly annihilated. That is, everything that God created the first time—other than saved believers—will completely pass away and become nonexistent. Look at what King David and the author of Hebrews wrote about this:
In the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you. (Psalm 102:25-28)They indicated that the earth and heavens will wear out and be tossed out. That is, everything that God has created—from the foundation (not just the surface) of the earth, to the vast heavens above—will perish, being discarded like old, worn-out, useless clothing that has served its purpose and no longer is needed anymore. Perhaps everything will have been thrown into the immeasurably immense lake of fire, into which the devil, death, hades, and all whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be thrown (Revelation 20:10,14,15). Only God will remain and along with Him, by His grace, His saved servants.
In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Hebrews 1:10-12)
After all of this has been discarded and has passed away (which will end the lengthy seventh "day" of His rest in which we now exist), God will go into "creative mode" again; He will create a new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). These will not be merely "renovations" or "transformations" of the old heavens and the old earth, because the latter will be eternally gone.
Something that is literally "new" has not been "renewed"; it is something that has just come into existence, for the first time. God said that He will "make all things new" (Revelation 21:5). This means that all of the things made, at that point, will be brand new. Furthermore, nothing in that brand new, pristine, perfect Creation ever will deteriorate, nor will it ever be tainted or contaminated by sin, which will have been tossed into the lake of fire, along with Satan, death, and everything else. For more about all of this, see the old and new Creations section in Part 2 of my Creation commentary.The Millennium will be a time for Jesus and glorified believers to rule and reign over mortal beings on the earth "with an iron scepter" (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15), because the ability to sin will still be within mortal people during this time. We know this because it will not be until the very end of the Millennium that death is thrown into the lake of fire (20:14), and death is the wage of sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus will reign, for a thousand years, until all of His enemies have been placed under His feet, with the last enemy being death (1 Corinthians 15:25,26). Another purpose of the Millennium is to prove to mankind that, even without the temptation of Satan and demons, mortal man is fallen and sinful within himself; and, apart from God, he is unredeemable.
During the Millennium, only those mortals who humbly accept the rule and reign of God/Jesus on earth, and who acknowledge that they are undeserving sinners, will be able to enter the new, pristine, and unspoiled heavens and earth that will be created after the Millennium is over (Revelation 12:1,5) and after this present creation has been destroyed (2 Peter 3:10,12). This new heavens and earth will be part of a brand new Creation, out of nothing, and it will be perfect for eternity, never to be spoiled or infected by sin.
Once this creation has been destroyed, all of those destined to enter the new Creation will be taken into the new heaven. Then they will descend, in the New Jerusalem, down to the new earth. Very possibly, the New Jerusalem may be in existence now, in the present heaven, and will escape the destruction of this present creation and be brought into the new Creation to come.
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