Its destructive capability is unparalleled. … so powerful that its intensity literally tears matter apart to such a level that it often reverts to its original component elements. No doubt we were all reminded of this reality as just a few days ago as we watched the spire of the famed Notre Dame Cathedral collapse in flames. Though the reports that many priceless artifacts were thankfully saved and that some of the stained glass endured, the loss of so much history and damage to a structure that stood for almost 30 generations is difficult to fathom. It will take many months to comprehensively assess the damage and find answers lying in the still smoldering ruins. And even though some wealthy businessmen have already pledged hundreds of millions for reconstruction, it will take years of design and engineering before repairs can even begin.
But as the smoke finally cleared, I found myself thinking about the description of a fire that is yet to come. In his second book, Peter turns ours eyes forward, to the long promised return of Jesus Christ. However, this time instead of bringing peace, forgiveness and salvation, His second appearance will be a harbinger of sudden, swift and sure judgment. Verse 10 reminds us that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10)
This description isn’t unique to Peter. The Old Testament contains over 20 references to this future event when God promises to eradicate sin by bring judgement against unrighteousness and declaring the condemnation of the wicked. Peter, along with other New Testament writers, reminds us that the administrator of this divine justice will be Christ Himself and in this fearful and terrible moment, the world and all the things that humanity values so much will burn away, and in their place, God will set up new heavens and a new earth that will be inhabited by all that is good, holy and righteous. (vs 13)
As believers, this is the promise that we eagerly await! The work that Jesus began on the cross which saves us from sin will be completed at His second coming by delivering us from the wrath of God and granting us rest in His eternal kingdom.
One of the most wondrous pictures from the disaster at Notre Dame Cathedral was the shining visage of the Cross upon the church’s altar gleaming through the haze of rising smoke amongst the rubble. That stark contrast between the cross and the destruction that surrounded it should serve as a blessed visual reminder that in the darkest times, promise of Calvary shines the brightest!
So as scores of believers gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and His triumph over death this Easter, let us join not only our voices together in worship, but also our minds, hearts and activities to do just as Peter instructed… that is “to live holy and godly lives as (we) look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Peter 3:11-12)