The World on Fire
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise…

I. THE LAST GENERAL CONFLAGRATION. In this Epistle there is one truth very plainly taught, namely, that this present world is to be consumed by fire. We learn also that this conflagration will take place in connection with the judgment, for "the heavens and the earth which now are, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." We gather also from our text that this fire will burn up all the works existing upon the earth — everything which man has constructed shall perish. Chemists tell us that the great noise which Peter speaks of would certainly accompany such a combustion. The whole world shall become one molten mass again, and this terrestrial firmament shall cease to be. We may here note that the prophecy that the earth will thus be consumed with fervent heat is readily to be believed, not only because God says it, but because there are evidently the means at hand for the accomplishment of the prophecy. Pliny was wont to say that it was a miracle that the world escaped burning for a single day, and I do not wonder at the remark, considering the character of the district in which he spent much of his time. In visiting the country around Naples the same thought constantly occurred to me. Yonder is Vesuvius ready at any moment to vomit fire, and continually sending up clouds of smoke. Then go across to the Solfatara on the other side of Naples, stand at the vent of that ancient volcano and listen to the terrific rumblings which attend the rush of steam and sulphur; then stamp your foot or dash a stone upon the ground, and hear how the earth resounds; it is evident that you are standing over a vast cavern. Look around you and remark how the earth steams with sulphureous exhalations. Observe, also, how the earth in some places has risen and fallen, again and again. Yet this volcanic region around Naples is but one of the many ventholes of the great fires which are in the bowels of the earth; three hundred or more burning mountains have already vomited flame. According to the belief of many geologists, the whole centre of the earth is a mass of molten matter, and we live upon a thin crust which has cooled down, and is probably not so much as one hundred miles thick. The probabilites are that the whole internal mass is in a liquid, and, perhaps, in a gaseous state. Astronomers tell us that within the last two hundred or three hundred years some thirteen fixed stars have disappeared, and according to their belief they have been burned up. If such things happen in other worlds, is there anything improbable in the belief that the like will occur to us? But if there were no internal sea of fire, and no instance of other worlds being consumed by fire, who can guess the power which lurks in electricity, and other subtle forces? God's dreadful armies lie in ambush everywhere. He has but to speak the word, and the servants of His omnipotence will rise, terrible in their destructive power. Earth is as a pile of wood, and the torch-bearers .stand ready to kindle it at any moment. Although we read of the world being burned by fire, we are not told that it will be annihilated thereby. We believe from various things which are hinted at in Scripture, though we would not dogmatize, that this world will be refitted and renovated; and in that sense we expect new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Luther used to say that the world is now in its working clothes, and that by and by it will be arrayed in its Easter garments of joy. One likes to think that the trail of the old serpent will not always remain upon the globe, and it is a cheering thought that where sin has abounded God's glory should yet more abound.

II. The apostle has drawn PRACTICAL INFERENCES. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" What connection can there be between the burning of the globe and holy conversation and godliness? The first connection is this. Our position as Christians is at this moment like that of Noah before the destruction of the world by water. What manner of person ought Noah to have been? I should suppose such a man, daily expecting the rain to descend and the flood to burst up from beneath, would lead a life very free from worldliness, a life the very reverse of the rest of his fellow-men. Now our life ought to be like that of Noah. Look around on the beauties of nature, and when you enjoy them say to yourself, "All these are to be dissolved and to melt with fervent heat." You understand that the things which are seen are but a dream, that the things unseen are alone substantial. Therefore sit loose by all things below the moon, and clutch as with the grasp of a dying man the things eternal which God has revealed to you. Such conduct will separate you from your fellow-men. As there is down deep in your heart an object different from theirs, and as you set a different estimate on all things, your conduct will be wide apart from theirs; being swayed by different motives, your life will diverge from theirs, and they will misunderstand you, they will impute ill motives to you. I remark further, that the nearness of the Lord as suggested by the fact that the world is to be destroyed, according to His word, suggests holiness. The sinner finds a reason for sin when he says, "God is not here: everything goes on in the ordinary way: God does not care what men do." "No," says the apostle, "He is not away, He is here, holding back the fire forces; He is reserving this world a little while, and by and by He will let the fires loose and the world will be destroyed. He is not far off: He is even at the door." How can ye sin against One who is so close at hand? The apostle says, "What manner of persons ought ye to be?" Remember he was talking to saints, and he teaches us that even saints ought to be more saintly than they are. We have not attained to what we ought to be, and I may say to the best child of God here this morning, "There is a yet beyond." And then he goes on to specify two branches of holy life. "In all holy conversation," that is to say, all holy behaviour towards men; "and godliness," that is, all pious dealing towards God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

WEB: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

The Heavens Shall Pass Away with a Great Noise
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