Man's External Universe as Awaiting a Tremendous Crisis
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…

There is a spiritual conflagration now going on. Christ came "to send fire on the earth." His word like a fire consumes the false and the corrupt. But the conflagration in the text is a material one.


1. The agent by which it will be accomplished, "fire," is terrible. Fire, when not in its latent but active state, is the most terrible force in the world. There is agony in its touch. Forms the most beautiful it turns to ashes. Water, which destroyed the old world, is in some of its forms a terrible power, but life can subsist in it. You can touch it without pain, you can float on its surface, you can construct a vessel to bear you over its surging floods and seas. But not so with "fire." No ark will bear you over a fiery deluge.

2. The extensiveness of its scene makes it terrible. "The heavens shall pass away." "The earth also and all the works that are therein."

3. The tumult with which it will be attended is terrible. "A great noise." There are some sounds that shake one's very soul with horror. The howl of the wind rising into the tempest, the rumble of the approaching thunderbolt, the wild and dismal roar of the ocean when lashed into fury — these are all sounds more or less of terror. But there are animal sounds still more so. The groans of the dying, the moanings of bereaved love, the shrieks of an agonised heart — these are fearful sounds. What a noise is produced by a little bonfire, what a noise, too, by a little steam from the engine; but what must be the noise of burning forests, and boiling oceans, of falling cities and rocking mountains! This "great noise" will be very terrible.

4. The unexpectedness with which it will come is another element of terror. "It will come as a thief in the night." It will not come as a thief in some respects.

(1)  A thief comes without warning.

(2)  A thief has no right to come.

(3)  A thief may be resisted. There is a possibility of turning him back; but not so with this crisis. It must come.


1. It is certain that there is a point in the future that will terminate men's present connection with this earth.

2. There is conclusive evidence that this period will be attended with a conflagration.

III. THAT THE PROSPECT OF THIS CRISIS SHOULD EXERT ON MANKIND A HALLOWING INFLUENCE. The apostle states two effects which the prospect ought to produce upon us —

1. Practical holiness in every part of our life — "Holy conversation and godliness." If all our material interests are thus to pass away, with what earnestness ought we to cultivate those principles of character, those dispositions of mind, and those habits of life which will abide for ever?

2. An earnest longing of the soul for the future. "Looking for and hasting," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

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.

Elements that Will Enhance the Final Conflagration
Top of Page
Top of Page