Read 2 Peter 3
Focus on verse 10
Many years ago when our boys were still preschool and elementary age, we had the opportunity to borrow a fishing boat from a friend for a few days of vacation at one of the many lakes in Wisconsin. I was a little hesitant a first to agree to borrow this friend’s boat, but when I expressed my concern to the owner his response was; “Don’t be ridiculous, the way I look at it everything I have is not mine anyway, it’s the Lord’s so if something happens – you’d have to take it up with Him.” Then he added, “besides, its all eventually gonna burn anyway!” I couldn’t help but respect this man’s attitude toward his earthly possessions. He understood what it means to hold what God entrusts to us loosely – with an open hand. I have never forgotten that experience, and we had a wonderful, trouble free time with the boat, and the kids at the lake.
In today’s reading the Apostle Peter reminds us that all this stuff we see around us, that make up the physical world that we live in, is temporary. The day is coming when it will all come to an end. Peter, like many other writers in the Bible refer to this day as “the day of the Lord”.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.(v. 10)
What a terrifying yet strangely wonderful day that will be. It can be nothing but terrifying to envision the universe around us melting away as if it has been thrown in a furnace, particularly for those people who have no hope of eternal life. At the same time it will be a glorious thing for those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to finally see Him face to face. I’m not quite sure glorious is the right word… I suspect there will be a certain amount of apprehension even for those who know Him well.
C. S. Lewis describes this mix of awe and love and fear by depicting the person of Christ as a Lion in his Chronicles of Narnia. It is interesting to me how he uses the different ways that the many different characters in the stories respond and interact with this lion named Aslan. At one point one of the characters who has not yet met Aslan asks another character who had met him whether Aslan is a tame lion. The response is very descriptive. “Tame lion? Heavens no! He’s no tame lion…but he’s good.”
Lucy, the youngest of the four main characters, has a very close and innocent relationship with Aslan, while Edmond, her older brother, is deceived into believing Aslan is evil for a time by the White witch who plays the role of Satan in the story. In the final book, titled “The Last Battle” Lewis gives us a few insightful glimpses of his own eschatology, and the land of Narnia does melt away as the characters transition to his description of heaven. As the old land of Narnia begins to burn up around them they step through a doorway to what appears to be a small stable. They discover that on the inside it is bigger than the outside as they enter a new Narnia that is larger and more lush an beautiful than the old Narnia ever was.
I am not certain Lewis has this right, it is merely his description of what he thinks the “day of the Lord” might be like. From what I have understood in regard to what the Bible has to say about it, I suspect it will be a mixture of terror and amazement as our presuppositions and theories of what comes after this life are met with the reality of what will be. One thing that seem fairly clear from the Bible is that the old will pass away, and the new will be better than the old for those who choose to repent and believe…and pretty terrifyingly awful for those who continue to rebel.