“But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgement and of destruction of the ungodly people.” 2 Peter 3:7
One of the central doctrines of the Watchtower is that the earth will remain forever. They often quote Psalms 119:90 to prove it: “You have solidly fixed the earth, that it may keep standing.” Also Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:5 is pretty much self explanatory .God’s original purpose for an earthly paradise will be fulfilled.Speaking to a Jewish audience during his earthly ministry Jesus proclaimed: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”(Matthew 5:5)
With these verses in view the Watchtower has created a theology around the end of the world that seems to indicate that the end of the world will only affect the wicked mankind and its governments.Based on Revelation 7:9,14: ” After this I saw, and look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues…these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.” The great crowd seeing in the book of Revelation are simply walking through the end of the this system of things into the next! What are the specifics though of this transition? Will the earth be affected in any way? Will the devastating disasters described in the book of Revelation have any impact on our planet ?
There is a verse in the Bible that seems to indicate just that .The apostle Peter in his second letter discussing the end of the world and the inability of the people of that time to appreciate their critical times had this to say: “”But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgement and of destruction of the ungodly people.” (2 Peter 3:7) This seems to be pretty conclusive, the earth will be destroyed by fire! Is that really the case though?Are the apostle Peter’s words to be taken literally? According to the Watchtower , they are not and here is why! According to the article: “Will the Earth come to an end? w12 2/1 p. 25 here is why :
No, they are not. Why not? Because the interpretation of these verses must line up with the context of Peter’s letter and with the rest of the Bible. A literal view of those texts would mean that the heavens, or universe
—billions upon billions of stars and other matter— will be consumed by fire because just one speck in its vastness contains wicked humans. Would you destroy miles of shoreline of sand because one grain is not to your liking? That would not make sense! So neither would Jehovah destroy all of his created universe because rebellion erupted on just one of his creative works.
Besides, such a view is in direct conflict with the words of Jesus Christ, who said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5;Psalm 37:29) Would a loving father handicraft a comfortable house for his family only to burn it down? (Psalm 115:16) That would be unthinkable! Jehovah is not only the Creator but also a loving Father.
—Psalm 103:13; 1 John 4:8.
Peter uses the term “earth” in a figurative sense, referring to human society
—in this case wicked human society. Note that Peter draws a parallel with the Flood of Noah’s day. (2 Peter 3:5, 6) On that occasion, only wicked mankind was destroyed; the earth itself and righteous Noah and his family survived. By the same token, Peter’s use of “heavens” would also be symbolic. In this case, “heavens” refers to human rulership over the ungodly. Thus, the incorrigibly wicked will be gone, as will all wicked governments, which will be dissolved and replaced by God’s heavenly rule, or Kingdom. —Daniel 2:44.
The Watchtower is giving you the impression that their interpretation is solid and came about only after having considered the surrounding text and the rest of the Bible.This is not the case at all! You really have to pay attention on what they’re doing here and the reader should confirm for himself these statements.
According to Bible.org one of the principles in interpreting the Bible is to always consider the immediate context.The nearest context must be given the most weight in interpretation. First, there is the near context of the sentence, then the paragraph, then the section and then the book and even author. The interpreter should look at all these circles of context to be able to correctly assess the meaning.In other words, the immediate context of 2 Peter 3:7 carries the most weight and then other parts of the Bible not the other way around.The Watchtower is using a deceptive methodology to support their flawed doctrine.First, they consider Psalms 119:90 and Matthew 5:5 and then the immediate 2 Peter 3:7 context, or so they say!
Interpretations must be done in the context of the passage. What does the following mean? “It was a ball.” Well, the answer depends on the context. Consider the following sentences: The baseball umpire saw the pitch drift to the outside and said, “it was a ball.” We went to the dance last night, in fact it was so formal “it was a ball.” As I was walking along the golf course I spotted something small and white in the tall grass, “it was a ball.” I had so much fun at the game night, “it was a ball.” In each case the word ball means something different. Therefore, context determines meaning! The nearest context must given the most weight in interpretation. First, there is the near context of the sentence, then the paragraph, then the section and then the book and even author. The interpreter should look at all these circles of context to be able to correctly assess the meaning.
So what does the immediate context in 2 Peter has to say about the earth being destroyed by fire?Let’s consider the whole body of text relevant to 2 Peter 3:3-7:
First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires 4 and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.”5 For they deliberately ignore this fact, that long ago there were heavens and an earth standing firmly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God;6 and that by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was flooded with water.7 But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgement and of destruction of the ungodly people.
Peter is using a comparison between the world of Noah’s days and the world of our times. In order for a comparison to work the things compared need to be of similar kind or nature.Now, what is Peter talking about here? He speaks of the ” earth standing firmly out of the water and in the midst of water” in Noah’s days, that earth was destroyed by the Flood.There is no mention here of the wicked human society living at that time being destroyed as the Watchtower would like us to believe.The verses are conclusive, Peter is referring to the physical earth being destroyed! Although earth as a planet was not destroyed at that time the whole constitution of the land and the immediate atmosphere changed forever. Peter used the word (gē=
γῆ) for earth which according to Strong’s Concordance in this context means the physical earth and (ouranoi=οὐρανοὶ) for heavens which according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon is the vaulted expanse of the Sky with all the things visible in it.In other words both words here “earth & heavens” refer to the physical realm and nothing to do with a figurative usage. The actual planet was not destroyed during that time though but the earth’s constitution both land and heavens were altered forever. How so?
Well, the antediluvian earth was a very different planet from the one we know today.Firstly the heavens were different, Gods had created the watery canopy that engulfed the whole planet and provided stable weather conditions around the planet.Also, the land was different, the whole landmass sat on top of the abyss, the watery deep of the book of Genesis.That is why when the Flood started the earth was covered so fast with water, the water canopy that engulfed the planet collapsed and the physical heavens of that time dissipated.The same happened with the earth, or physical land of that time, the springs of the abyss broke loose covering the earth and altering the landscape of our planet forever, The earth or physical land mass of that time came to an end.We read in Genesis 7:11:”In the 600th year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the 17th day of the month, on that day all the springs of the vast watery deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.”
We live today on a very different planet from the one Noah and his family lived, the watery canopy is gone and so it the watery abyss of that time.In a similar way, our physical “heavens” our immediate atmosphere and the “earth” the current land masses and continents as we know them will come to an end and will be replaced by a new arrangement in the new system, the “new heavens and earth”.The earth as a planet though will not be destroyed and the “meek ones will (ultimately) inherit the earth” as Jesus promised.
This leads to a profound realization especially if you have been brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness with this image build in your mind of the great crowd simply strolling from the devasted old system to the new system with their meeting clothes intact.The earth will be destroyed by fire!.In fact, the 24th chapter of Isaiah expands on Peter’s words and confirms the fact the Lord will destroy everything with fire(Isaia 24:1-20) and not only that but it makes a clear distinction between literal and metaphorical earth being destroyed(Isaiah 24:21,22).Now, it is of great interest that extra-Biblical sources make mention of the destruction of our planet by fire.The Jewish historian of the first century Josephus in his well known book Antiquities of the Jews , a document that retells the story of the Jewish nation from the beginning of creation had this to say about Adam ,the first man and his sons:
They [the Children of Seth] also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies, and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>water, they made two pillars, the one of brick, the other of stone: they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind; and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of Siriad [i.e. Egypt] to this day.
In other words the prophesy of 2 Peter is not unique to the Bible but as strange as it sounds it was a revealed to Adam the first man and in his capacity as God’s prophet on earth ,although having sinned, he had access to information about the future that is crucial for our times.
So, will our planet be destroyed for the second time? Will it be destroyed by fire completely as the earth was once flooded completely in the days of Noah? The answer is a confident, yes!