2 Peter 3:13 - We Expect a New World!
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.2 Peter 3:13
The apostle Peter wrote about Christ’s coming. Over against scoffers outside and doubters inside the church he proclaimed that the day of the Lord will come. The heavens will disappear with a roar, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (v. 10). Peter pictures the last day in bright and vivid colours: The day of God will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat (v. 12).
But the dissolution of heaven and earth is not the end. The coming of Christ is his appearance in glory and it is the hope of all believers. We expect a brand new world.
The word “new” does not mean that God will abandon his creation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He formed and shaped the universe and He will never let go the works of his hands. He does not annihilate them but He renews them. He does not replace them but He restores them. The first world was cleansed by water in the days of Noah; the last world will be purified by fire in the day of Christ. But God does not relinquish his creation. Otherwise, the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ would not be recreation but an entirely other – a different creation. Then we could not expect the resurrection of the body.
But our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about a renewal of all things, a regeneration of heaven and earth (Matthew 19:28). Peter himself preached after Pentecost that Christ must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything (Acts 3:21). The apostle Paul writes that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21). This world in its present form is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31). So the world remains but it receives another form: we expect renewed heavens and an earth renewed. Heavens and earth will receive an excellent new quality.
Indeed, we expect also a new earth. However blessed we may be when after death we will be with Christ, our full expectation is not that our soul will be in heaven. We look forward to the resurrection of the body and the restoration of our entire existence. We hope also for a new earth as our new environment, our new dwelling place and our new workshop.
This is the beautiful prophecy at the end of the Bible (Revelation 21). It pictures heaven and earth united. The apostle John writes: I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God ... John heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.”
This is the contents of our expectation. At the beginning of a new year, a new age, a new millennium, we look forward to a new world! We long for it, we groan inwardly (Romans 8:23), and last but not least, we pray for it: Thy kingdom come.
But how are we certain about this eager expectation? Is it not a pipe dream, an illusion of men, a fata morgana? No, to look at the beginning of Peter’s message: It is in keeping with his promise. It is the contents of what God has spoken. Our hope is based on his faithfulness. He who promised is faithful. God is no man that He would lie. All men are liars but God cannot lie. He is dependable and trustworthy. We have his Word. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is no cleverly invented story (1:16). God gave his promise.
The apostle Peter here uses the singular. He thinks of one specific promise and he undoubtedly refers again to the Old Testament. We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you do well to pay attention to it (1:19). Here the prophetic word is that of Isaiah through whom God spoke: Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind (Isaiah 65:17). “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure” (Isaiah 66:22).
This promise gives us comfort and consolation. There will be new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Righteousness means that you are in the right with God, in the right with your neighbour, and in the right with yourself. It is wholeness, harmony, integrity, and peace.
Here in this world there is so much unrighteousness. And if you find some righteousness, it is like a visitor; it is there only for a short while. Righteousness is like a homeless person; it does not have a dwelling place. Even the fear of the Lord is imperfect in the life of God’s children. But in the new heavens and the new earth the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. What would the new world be without God and without his righteousness? Finally we will love and serve Him in perfection.
There will be perfect harmony among men, a society of righteousness. Peace and unity between men and women, tribes and nations, tongues and races. There will be no strife anymore, no war, no arguments, no violence. David’s Son will uphold his kingdom with justice and righteousness. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7). With righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth (Isaiah 11:4).
This was a real comfort for Peter’s readers: those young congregations in Asia Minor – Turkey – were pestered and boycotted.
It is a comfort for us, who long for righteousness. Righteousness will dwell in the new world. Heavens and earth will be united by the redeeming work of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He has reconciled both what is in heaven and what is on earth. He is the Saviour of the world.
He is the LORD our righteousness. He died on the cross at Calvary and He obtained righteousness for us. Let us then lift up our hearts into heaven where Christ is. Let us look forward in Christian expectation, and let us conduct our lives in accordance with our hope.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. And your Saviour promises: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
At the beginning of a new millennium, we pray: come, Lord Jesus, Maranatha!