God’s Word at the End
Jesus said, “31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; [f] for you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:31-33). No one knows! When it comes to the end of everything, Jesus asserts when cannot be known.
Scientists don’t necessarily agree. National Geographic author Andrew Fazekas reports on a study that is based on science that projects the sun will grow hotter before burning out.[i] The increasing temperature will burn out life on earth about 2.8 billion years from now. And, the expanding sun may get so big it eventually engulfs our planet.
Can you imagine heat that obliterates an entire planet? It is too big for me to be able to grasp the whole idea. The author of 2 Peter did not have such conceptualizing difficulty. Consider 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.”
I have previously read the projections from scientists that Fazekas cited and I have no reason to doubt them. Based on the readings, perhaps the astrophycists are thoroughly correct. What surprised me was how similar their description of the earth melting after the sun matures to “red giant” stage is to the way the Biblical author depicted the day of the Lord. It is as if 20th century physics caught up to what Christians in the earlier first century already knew.
Of course I am being a bit playful here, but the point is God is in control. Second Peter 3:8 says “with the Lord is like a thousand years.” Some readers try to a make a code out of that and predict things. So if we read in the Bible that something is going to happen in 3 days, that really means it will happen in 3000 years. I think this may not be the best way to read 2 Peter 3:8. I believe that verse is an indicator that God is not subject to time. God’s purposes happen at God’s initiative and time has no bearing.
We are subject to time. We cannot transcend time or space. God can and does. God is unaffected by the possibility that the sun will heat up and expand and burn off our descendants a few million years from now. Perhaps that is the way scientific observation accounts for what God has been planning all along.
Second Peter 3 is one of the prescribed readings for the second week of Advent (December 7, 2014). These words about the end are joined to Mark 1. There we see John the Baptist “preparing a way” for the Lord (1:3). He was the set-up man. Jesus is the Savior. Because Jesus lived under God’s authority and is God in the flesh, the resurrected one, our hope suffers no setbacks by the realities of science. In fact, when we are in Christ, our hope brings hope the entire world, in fact, to the universe. God created this universe with all the natural phenomena in it. God made it “good” and it will continue to exist under God’s watchful eye.
In Advent, we remember that God is sovereign. Through Jesus, the all-powerful God invites us into relationship. We can celebrate the wonders of the universe and at the same time rejoice in our standing before God.