Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (
2 Peter 3:13)
I have three vehicles—all of them old and worn out. Two of them have well over 200,000 miles on the odometer. It seems I have one of them at the mechanic constantly. One day, they are going to become nothing but scrap metal to be recycled. That is the course of all things pertaining to this material universe. The original creation was made by God—and as God is only capable of doing, it was good. Then sin came, and with that, the curse of death. The entire universe is headed that direction. We see the evidence all about us.
The author of this letter, Simon Peter, knew there was a fixed point beyond which his physical existence would not continue. Sitting in a prison cell, waiting for martyrdom—old bones aching, skin weathered, eyes dimming, his gnarled fingers moving pen across parchment—he writes of the time when God will make all things new. He will soon be liberated from the prison his body had become—free from the torture that would end his pilgrimage—as the old fisherman would be crucified upside down. That is the church tradition concerning his death, anyway—likely accurate.
Our demise and the eventual destruction of all things—the entire fabric of the universe unraveling and incinerated—sounds like something to dread. Peter, however, is looking forward to it, and calls believers to that same anticipation. It is not dread, but delight that he feels. He knows that the end of the old creation is actually a regeneration into new heavens and a new earth—one where righteousness reigns—with sin and death forever terminated.
Egyptian mythology told of the phoenix—a bird that would age, and then would ignite and be consumed in fire. Out of the ashes, a new phoenix would arise. That is myth, but it has a grain of truth. This present world is passing away—one day all that pertains to it will go up in smoke. Yet, out of the ashes, a new creation will be reborn.
There are those, of course, who will scoff. I have heard even those claiming to be Christians warn about, “Those who are so heavenly-minded, they are no earthly good.” I suppose there are those who are immersed in charts and consumed with obscure details of end-time events. That is fanaticism. Proper perspective concerning the end of the age is actually a great motivator to evangelism and godly living. The people we reach we must reach now. Holy living today readies us for an eternity marked by righteousness. The prophetic word is a tremendous incentive to make a difference in this world as we look forward to the world to come!