by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)
When the atomic bomb burst over Hiroshima in 1945, the thoughts of Bible-believing Christians everywhere turned almost immediately to this verse. There was also widespread concern that man's newly discovered ability might get out of control and cause all "the elements to melt with fervent heat"! Seemingly, Peter had prophetically anticipated, 1,900 years in advance, the modern discovery of nuclear fission.
In this verse, the word "elements" means fundamental parts and could appropriately be applied to the basic elements of which matter is composed. The word for "melt" is usually translated "unloose," and this also is appropriate to describe atomic disintegration.
There is still widespread fear of a nuclear holocaust. The words of our text refer, however, not to something man will do, but to God's coming great purging of the very dust of the earth and all the age-long effects of sin and the Curse. At the very end of this present age, when the mighty Creator appears on His great white judgment throne, the ineffable glory of His countenance will cause the earth and its atmospheric heaven to flee away, "and there was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11).
"Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). God will make the earth new again, and the great Curse, which has permeated the "dust of the earth" (the "elements") ever since Adam (Genesis 3:17-20), will be "no more" (Revelation 22:3). This great hope is incentive enough to live now in the light of eternity. HMM