Those who hold to a yet future coming view of fulfilling Bible prophecy believe that God will one day bring the universe to a screeching halt. They reason that God destroyed the world in the days of Noah through a flood, but the next time, he will destroy it with fire. They appeal to 2 Peter 3 to support this claim.
Does 2 Peter 3 Teach That the Planet Will End In A Ball of Fire?
To answer this question, let's begin with the first promise, God made after the flood. "...Then the Lord said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.'" (Gen. 8:21-22)
Note that the very reason God destroyed all flesh in the flood would not be used as a reason for the destruction of all flesh. God says although man's heart is evil from his youth, I will never again destroy every living thing as he had done. Compare, Gen. 6:5-7.
Heaven and earth, the sun and moon, night and day, and the seasons have no end. When the text uses the term no end, it means it will not end. For example, Christ's kingdom and government have "no end". "Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. (Isa. 9:6-7)
The Created World Has No End, Psa. 89
Now that we have established that Christ's kingdom and government have no end, how does God view the created world? According to the Psalms, it will never end.
“My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky. (Psa. 89:34-35)
Observe that Christ's kingdom endures as the sun and is established forever like the moon in God's Presence. But, remember above, per Isaiah, the throne of Christ has no end. If the throne of Christ has no end and since it endures as the sun and moon forever, it must be the case that the sun and moon have no end. That means God will not burn up the planet.
Jeremiah Cites Genesis 8:21-22 For Proof of Non-Destruction
In Jeremiah the text says if anyone can break God's covenant with the day and night and the seasons, then they could also break his covenant with David having a son to reign on his throne. That means with Christ.
Thus says the Lord: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then my covenant may also be broken with David my servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priest, my ministers. (Jer. 33:20-21)
The covenant with day and night and the seasons refers back to God's promise in Gen. 8:21-22. To burn them with fire would mean that covenant is broken. Not only does the text make a liar of God, it forces him to break his own covenant by doing exactly what he said he would not do.
In addition, it means that, but God would likewise destroy his own Son and the throne of Christ. Such teaching is another fallacy of the futurist doctrines that deny Christ has returned, placing his coming in connection with the end of time and the material universe. Yet the Bible shows this to be a direct contradiction to its teaching.
Christ Came at the End of the "Jewish Age" in A.D. 70
Jesus' coming would be at the "end of the age" meaning the end of the Jewish age, Matt. 24:3. The "heaven and earth" that is destroyed is not a reference to the physical creation, but rather in the context, means the end of the Jewish heaven and earth, the temple and all its sacrifices. See the O.T. where these terms are used for the end of nations, such as ancient Babylon and Edom, (Isa. 13:10-12; 34:4-6). The same figurative language is used of Jerusalem in Matt. 24:29, 35. The clue to understanding it is found in verse 34, which says it would occur before that generation passed.
That is the same "world" or "heaven and earth" of 2 Peter 3. "Fire" is a metaphorical symbol of destruction. Peter had already spoken in his first epistle saying that the "end of all things" was at hand, literally had drawn near. The time of the judgment had come. (1 Pet. 4:7, 17). In the 2nd epistle he simply reminded them of what he already taught. The end of "heaven and earth" was at hand. He could not have spoken of the planet for that was almost 2000 years ago.
Jerusalem was destroyed within a few years, (Lk. 21:20-22, 32) the planet was not. (By the way, that is why all "Jesus is coming again soon" prophecies spoken after the first century end in utter failure and will continue to embarrass the church and the men who utter them.
Most who are unfamiliar with the apocalyptic language of the Old Testament prophets approach the text with the Western mindset of the planet and assume the end of the universe is under discussion. The end of the ages had come upon Paul's generation in the first century, (1 Cor. 10:11). The Jewish age came to an end. The kingdom of God and throne of Christ continue as the sun, moon and the seasons, just as God decreed as we see it continuing to this day. It has no end. For more studies in Covenant Eschatology visit my blog at AllThingsFulfilled.com