Good morning, brethren. The title of this sermon is When the Elements Dissolve. Today we are going to look at a difficult passage of Scripture in which it appears that the elements of the earth and the heavens dissolve in fervent heat. You probably know exactly where I am going. It is a question that needs to be resolved, because a lot of people are in great fear and anxiety over the destruction of the earth.
We are turning now to II Peter chapter 3, and we will read this passage of Scripture that is kind of difficult to make sense of. It is very fearful if you don’t understand it properly. II Peter chapter 3, verses 10-13. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
At first blush, this would appear that everything we see out there is about to melt here at the end of the age in fervent heat. That is a common thought. It is a common doctrine and common understanding. Of course, that is frightening to contemplate, but that is a concept that is hard to reconcile with many other Scriptures in the Bible.
A MILLENNIUM OF PEACE IN A DESTROYED WORLD?
For instance, how do we have a millennium of peace if everything is melted and dissolved? How does anything physical survive? Of course, to understand these things is critical because people are very fearful that there is only one way that they have to find in order to survive all of this stuff and to be standing. But where do you stand? What is there to inherit? What is left if everything that we see around us is burned up and dissolved?
In order to study this subject of this passage of Scripture, we have to employ solid biblical principles of study, or we are never going to comprehend it. Obviously, this does not square with a beautiful Millennium on this earth with millions and millions of people forming an innumerable multitude. You can’t have an innumerable multitude if virtually everything is dead, so we need to understand this. What principles are we going to use?
The number one principle is let the Bible interpret the Bible. The second thing we want to do is don’t jump to conclusions. Especially when you are dealing with frightening Scriptures, conclusions are usually very physical in nature. We want to know how to survive, so our explanation and the benefits for ourselves are based on fear and self-preservation. That results in wild speculation, accusations toward other people, and harsh judgement toward other people who we feel should not survive such an event!
We want to ask God for spiritual tools that He makes available to those who want them. We want ears to hear and eyes to see. Of course, we are speaking spiritually. If there was a great noise and everything was to melt, we would have ears to hear and eyes to see briefly, unless God was to miraculously whisk us off to some place. This is how come we have various theories of how to survive like being raptured or escaping to a place of safety or going into outer space. There are all kinds of theories about how people will survive such an event if earth melts.
The fourth thing we want to do is use some common sense like asking how does this square with other prophecies that are so beautiful such as a beautiful Millennium of peace on this earth.
We are going to use these principles to analyze this set of Scriptures. First I want to pause, as well as all of you listening. Pause for just a few seconds, and let’s pray to ourselves, asking God for ears to hear and eyes to see. Ask for the spiritual help that we need and not to be clouded by the paradigms of our own thoughts. Let’s take a few seconds, and pray that prayer each person to themselves.
Now I want to read again step by step defining key words in these Scriptures, so that we can understand the language of God regarding this upcoming event. Let’s start again in verse 10 of II Peter 3: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat…”
What does it mean that the heavens will pass away and melt? “Heavens” here is the Greek word ouranos (#3772, Strong’s Concordance, 1995), and it is the same as, and comes from the word, oros (#3735, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) only it’s through the idea of elevation. What does oros mean? Oros means a mountain as lifted above the plane. Ouranos means the sky, by extension heaven, or by implication happiness, power, or eternity.
All of a sudden right off the bat we see this is not just exactly what we thought about the earth melting, because now heaven is involved here in some way. But it is not the heaven that we think of necessarily where God’s throne is sitting, because it is a mountain that is lifted above the plane, the sky, happiness, power, and eternity. You have some concepts there that are huge, but far beyond heaven where God exists and God dwells with His temple and His throne.
Then comes the words “pass away.” Parerchomai (#3928, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) is to pass away, to come to an end, to disappear, and to be taken away. Obviously God’s throne in heaven is not going to come to an end. It is not going to disappear or pass away, and neither is His power. God’s power never ends, and His kingdom never ends.
Now we are seeing there is more to this than first met the eye. Usually when people talk about these Scriptures, they skip the whole part about heavens in the first place. They just talk about the earth melting, because it is more convenient just to pass by these parts that we don’t quite grasp right away.
ELEMENTS OF SATAN’S POWER
Then we come to the phrase “elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Elements is stoicheion in the Greek (#4747, Strong’s Concordance, 1995). Stoicheion means something orderly in arrangement, a fundamental constituent. It comes from the word stoicheo (#4748, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) which means to arrange in a regular line, to march in military rank, to walk in step. It has nothing to do with the elements that we think of that form the earth like iron, cadmium, and manganese. We are not talking about the physical elements here. We are talking about something that the earth has that composes a situation here that involves war and marching to war in lines as in battle.
Now when we see that the elements are going to melt, it is some sort of warfare that is taking place here, and it dissolves something that is in order of military rank and marching as a battle line. The word “melt” is luo (#3089, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) which means to loosen, literally or figuratively, to break up, destroy, and dissolve. You compare it to the word rhesso (#4486) in the Strong’s Concordance which means to break, to wreck, to crack, and to sunder.
All of a sudden we are talking about a military power that God is going to destroy on the day of the Lord! Obviously that is not the physical earth, and it is not the mountains of the earth that are physical like the Himalayas or the Rockies. We are talking about something on the earth that is very powerful that God wants to destroy. We begin to grasp that a little better when we contemplate the fact that the earth and the works that are in it will dissolve.
Works is the word ergon (#2041, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) which means to work, to toil, as an effort or occupation, by implication the act or the deed. God says what He sees taking place on the earth, the works, the toil, the acts, and the deeds that are implicated in this war effort, are going to stop. They are going to be dissolved! Now let’s read verse 11.
LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY NOW
II Peter 3, verse 11: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”
In verse 11 we are talking about a way of life. He says since all of this is going to come to an end, why don’t you lead a righteous way of life?
What is melting away is a spiritual military—the forces of Satan’s evil empire—which have brought about evil works upon the earth and who have held the earth in a tyrannical grasp like an army that has conquered and occupied. In other words, Satan and his power is going to be dissolved, helping us to live righteous lives.
Here we are told, why don’t you lead a righteous life now since you know when the day of the Lord is here, all this is going to come to an end. The arrangement of things that you see out there which is Satan’s way of arranging the earth against God and God’s way of life, is going to come to an end. Why don’t you start leading a righteous life now? That is the concept.
SATAN IS OUR ENEMY
Where is the spiritual support for this idea that Satan’s kingdom and his mountain are going to come to an end? Where do we see where his military authority, his occupying force on the earth that leads men astray, will get replaced by a righteous form of government? Now we are hitting the nail on the head! That is what the whole Bible is about! That is what the gospel is about! It is about how we get set free from Satan and his kingdom, and how God does establish a beautiful Millennium. Satan and his evil forces eventually get locked away forever.
Let’s turn to Ephesians chapter 6 to look at this army that we are against. We are going to Ephesians chapter 6. We will start in Ephesians 6, verse 10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
This is the warfare spelled out, and our enemy is spelled out. It is Satan and the other wicked forces in heavenly places, which means above the earth. It is the sky surrounding the earth. They are no longer in heaven’s abode where God is. They are no longer at the throne of God. They have been cast down. We have studied that before. They surround the earth. They are like a mountain rising above the plains of the earth influencing mankind to do all sorts of evil. We certainly see that in spades today around the world.
Let’s turn to a few more Scriptures to substantiate our point. Turn to I Corinthians chapter 2, verse 6: “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.”
If you were to go on and read that whole chapter, you would find that God speaks to those with ears to hear and eyes to see. They are those who have asked and received the forgiveness of God, the blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, so that they can understand the truth of God.
We are against the rulers of this age—this time. It is Satan’s time.
Go to the next book of II Corinthians chapter 4, verse 1. “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age [notice god is spelled with a little “g”] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
Now it’s getting spelled out. The god of this age is Satan. The demons underneath him who work to influence mankind and cause misery around the world are part of his mountainous kingdom, and that’s what needs to be dissolved. It is the truth of God that will help dissolve it. Those of us who are involved with the truth ahead of time have a very important job to get this world ready to receive the gospel of truth and to form up an innumerable multitude at the end of the age. As it forms, it will literally dissolve Satan’s mountain. Matthew chapter 4 talks about that mountain.
Turn to Matthew chapter 4. This whole section of Scripture, and this whole chapter pretty much, is about Satan tempting Jesus Christ, at least the first half of it. We are not going to read all the temptations that Satan did to tempt Christ, but I want to focus on verses 7-11.
Matthew chapter 4, verse 7: “Jesus said to him, [to Satan], ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
What is this high mountain from which Satan could show Christ all the kingdoms of the world—probably from the beginning of time until our time today? He said I will give all this to You. It’s mine, because I am the god of this world [god with a little “g”]. You don’t have to suffer and die if you let me rule over you, if you worship me, and let me become part of the Godhead. Of course, Jesus Christ would have none of that. He put Satan in his place with none other than the word of God—the light, the truth, and the heat that that light generates. Satan slunk away, and the angels came to minister to Jesus Christ.
Turn to the Old Testament to Ezekiel chapter 35 for another reference of this mountain. We won’t read the whole chapter, but let’s start in verse 1. Ezekiel 35, verse 1: “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir and prophesy against it…’”
The first two verses of Ezekiel 35 talk about a mountain and a prophesy against it. You can’t prophesy against the Rocky Mountains or the Himalayas or the Andes.
Continuing in verse 3 of Ezekiel 35: “…and say to it, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you; I will stretch out My hand against you, and make you most desolate; I shall lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you. Thus I will make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it the one who leaves and the one who returns. And I will fill its mountains with the slain; on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those who are slain by the sword shall fall. I will make you perpetually desolate, and your cities shall be uninhabited; then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”
What’s going on here? There is a mountain that is deserving of a very harsh prophecy. This mountain has hated God’s people. To this very day it has sought the extermination of Israel and the Jewish people, and by extension the spiritual Jews—the Christians. This mountain is the one who influences people to do all the crazy things we see in the news today. That’s why it has to be destroyed and dissolved.
Mount Seir is very interesting. When you look into the name “Seir” and define it in the ancient Hebrew, you will find that it is a rough, shaggy he-goat, a devil, that causes the world to shiver in fear. The blood that will pursue it is the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ will pursue Satan and the people on the earth who live His way until they are converted. Or if they refuse to convert, they will be destroyed. That will be such a small number, as people learn the truth of who Satan is and what he has done to mankind. As people get converted and repent around the world and receive the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus Christ will literally melt Satan’s kingdom with the truth and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Another Old Testament reference to this terrible mountain that needs to be dissolved is in Isaiah chapter 34. Isaiah 34 is often used to describe a horrible end-time event in physical terms. But when we understand what is meant in II Peter, we can better understand Isaiah 34. We are going to read verses 1-4.
Isaiah 34, verse 1: “Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people!”
We are talking about people getting spiritual hearing here.
Continuing in verse 1: “Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it. For the indignation of the Lord is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.”
As the world gets converted and people get spiritual hearing and understanding, they die in Christ. We know this from Galatians. When we die in Christ, we have lost our usefulness for Satan. He can’t use us anymore. From his point of view, every time one of us is converted and receives the sacrifice of Christ, his mountains and hills shrink a little bit more. You could never shrink or melt the mountains of the earth with human blood. There isn’t enough to even melt one small hill. We are talking about a spiritual battle here involving the physical nations of the earth who will be led by the spiritual nations above them that are part of Satan’s influencing kingdom.
THE END OF TYRANNY
This idea of how God is going to set us free is actually the story of the Bible and why the gospel is called the gospel of peace and the good news. We are set free from this tyrannical empire of Satan’s that has ruled over us for far too long. When we understand these Scriptures, it takes away the fear and the anxiety, and we know how to pursue our lives and become part of the solution and not of part of Satan’s power. Simply convert and let the blood of Christ enter us. It will wash away our sins and give us the Holy Spirit, and then we can watch Satan’s power diminish around the world.
Let’s go back to the New Testament now in I Corinthians chapter 3. This is described again there. I Corinthians chapter 3, starting in verse 9: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
We are seeing the consuming fire here at work. It’s the refiner’s fire. It is the Holy Spirit working in mankind and each of us individually melting the dross out of our lives and removing Satan’s power over us. This is the fire that is talked about, and the source of it is the Holy Spirit—the fire that descended upon the saints on that first Day of Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. This is what’s going to cleanse the earth. It is not a great fire that melts this whole planet physically. It is what melts the host of heaven above us, Satan’s demons, who torment the earth and lead us into all kinds of strange behaviors that we see on the news every night. That is coming to an end, and Satan knows it! His time is short, and he is fearful right now. He is getting backed into a corner, because more and more people are starting to understand the concept of what we are talking about here.
Turn to Hebrews chapter 12. This whole idea is spoken of again and clearly stated here. Hebrews 12, beginning in verse 25. “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven…”
God is starting to share this knowledge around the world, and we must listen.
Continuing in Hebrews 12, verse 26: “…whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.’”
In other words, Satan’s mountains get shaken down, and God’s kingdom—His holy mountain—rises up.
Verse 28: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
That is the fire we are talking about. It is the fire that will wipe out Satan’s mountains, his kingdom, and it will purify this earth, so we can have a beautiful Millennium. As long as Satan has influence on this world, we are going to continue to see the things that we see on the news at night. We will continue to see the physical nation of Israel pummeled by people who do not understand that they are being used and driven by Satan himself.
Anytime you see murder and pillaging, you know who is behind it. It is not God. God is going to cleanse this world of these behaviors wherever they are. Races will get along, and peoples will get along, so we can indeed have a peaceful Millennium.
The last Scripture I want to use is in Matthew chapter 5. It is The Beatitudes. Matthew chapter 5, starting in verse 1: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”
Here we see that the earth and the beautiful things that God created on it will have peace someday. It is those who are compassionate, meek, and kind that will inherit the earth and the kingdom of God. It is Satan who wants the earth dissolved and destroyed, so we have nothing. God’s promise is that that won’t happen. Instead it will be Satan’s mountain and his kingdom that will be dissolved, and mankind will inherit a beautiful earth that will be just as the Garden of Eden was intended to be. That’s what lies ahead!
That clears up this difficult passage of Scripture and helps allay the fears and the anxiety that Satan is trying to promote around the world. With this understanding, share the knowledge with your friends. For those who would ask, always have an answer straight out of the gospel for those who are confused.