From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
Today’s devotional thought concludes the review of Peter’s reasons for Christians to rejoice and be happy in the midst of life’s trials. We have looked at twenty reasons from First and Second Peter for Christians to have joy inexpressible. In 2 Peter 3:13, we are given the twenty-first reason to rejoice, and be glad. Christians should rejoice because we shall dwell in the new heavens and new earth. This expression, “the new heavens and the earth,” refers to heaven itself. Christians have the hope of one day dwelling in heaven- God’s dwelling place; there is no better reason than this to rejoice. Our hearts should be filled with excitement and complete jubilation because of the expectation of dwelling eternally in the home of our Heavenly Father. Some of my favorite hymns are about heaven. Over the years, the following hymns about heaven have provided me great comfort and encouragement: Heaven Holds All to Me, Home of the Soul, I’ll Live in Glory, Sing to Me of Heaven, To Canaan’s Land I’m on My Way, No Tears in Heaven, and Won’t It Be Wonderful There among many others.
Those who are putting forth the effort to “make their calling and election sure” will enjoy two of many wonderful blessings on “the day of the Lord.” First, they shall escape the “wrath of God” and second, they will be transported to their permanent dwelling place in heaven (2 Pet. 3:12-13). The righteous, according to Peter, will reside in “the new heavens and new earth.” Allow me to explain the Biblical evidence for concluding that this expression refers to heaven. In verse 10, Peter is describing to his readers events to occur on “the day of the Lord.” When this day happens, the present heavens and earth will “pass away,” “be burned up,” “be dissolved,” “being on fire,” and “shall melt with fervent heat.” The heavens of this verse refers to the regions above the earth, including the place in which birds fly and beyond the place of the sun, moon, and stars. The earth of this verse will become the dwelling place of the unrighteous who will be recipients of God’s wrath. The Scripture describes God’s wrath in the following ways: “everlasting fire” (Matt. 18:8; 25:41), “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46), “the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:43-48), “eternal fire” (Jude 7), and a place of “torment day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). The “wrath of God” is everlasting and eternal punishment of the wicked, not for the earth’s renovation or the annihilation of the unrighteous.
The “wrath of God” is going to occur on “the day of the Lord” but one more event is going to take place on this day. God is going to grant the righteous their reward or inheritance. Jesus makes it clear in John 14 that He was returning to heaven to prepare a place for the saved. He is coming again to gather the saved to be where He is. He is in heaven and He is coming to bring together the saved to return with them to Heaven. This fits with Paul’s statement in I Thessalonians 4:16. Paul declares when the Lord returns, the saved shall “meet the Lord in the air” and “we shall always be with the Lord.” A question worth asking is “why are the saved people meeting the Lord in the air?” We will meet the Lord in the air to be transported to our eternal home in heaven – “the new heavens and the new earth.” There is no Biblical evidence that the Lord will ever step on this earth again. Furthermore, there is no evidence of the saved, after meeting with the Lord in the air, ever returning to this earth. The Lord promised the saved an eternal home where He is (Jo. 14:3). He is in heaven.
As Christians, we will have difficult days, confusing moments, and painful situations, but let’s rejoice and be happy. Why, we have the promise of an everlasting home (citizenship) in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Peter affirms our inheritance is reserved in heaven (I Pet. 1:4). Today, regardless of what we may experience; we have a great reason to rejoice. One day we shall dwell in heaven with God forever and ever. Paul says “comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:17).