“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:6–7, AV)
In my lifetime, I have heard much discussion about the end of the world. My earliest remembrance is during the Cold-War era. People were seriously concerned about the use of atomic weapons because the United States and the former U.S.S.R. were building and stockpiling nuclear arsenals that could virtually destroy all life as we know it. This threat is still with us today. The nuclear threat was largely forgotten later, during times of peace and prosperity.
Then I remember the rise of the environmental movement. There was fear over deforestation of the great rain forests. Now many are fearful of climate change due to greenhouse gasses from carbon emissions, thinking this will lead to the end of life on earth. Obviously as believers God has made us stewards of His creation and we are not to abuse the creation. However, should we be fearful that somehow man will bring an end to the earth?
Recent events in the Ukraine have us in fear again. Again, there is a fear that we could be on the verge of a nuclear war. The outcome of such a war would be assured mutual destruction. Will men make the determination on when the earth will end?
Peter gives us some insight to help us answer this question. In the passage, Peter spoke about the scoffing of the ungodly. He mentioned the days of Noah when people were excessively wicked. He mentioned that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” in his generation (2 Pet 2:5). Noah preached the righteous standards of God to people who did not take heed. It is likely that Noah’s preaching included mention of God’s displeasure with sin and a time of judgment to come. The people, by their ungodliness, scoffed at what they heard. Yet, their scoffing did not thwart the judgment of God. He destroyed the ungodly with a flood.
The point Peter makes is that there is another judgment coming upon the ungodly. Only this time, the judgment will not come through a flood but by fire. In this chapter of 2 Peter, we read of a fire that will consume the heavens and earth in verses 7, 10, and 12, which will occur prior to the creation of new heavens and a new earth. The interesting thing is that Peter tells us that now the heavens and the earth are being “reserved” until that time. The verb translated “reserved,” tereoi, means to guard (Strong G5083). The Lord is guarding the creation until that day.
As many fear that the world will end through some action of men, the Scriptures indicate differently. That is not to say that men will not mess up things a lot. However, the Lord is guarding this world for a very special time. He has a plan and the infinite power to bring it about. That day will come at the time predetermined by God. Not a day sooner or later. However, we who believe, the godly, do not have to fear. Our destiny is assured. As God protected Noah from the flood, He will also protect His own, that is the believers, from the consuming fire on that “day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”