“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.”
in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise
“Pass away” carries the idea of come to an end, disappear. It is the “heavens” that will disappear. Revelation 20:11 pinpoints the time of this event.
Re 20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.”
The first century Greek used the word “noise” for the whistling of an arrow. It carries the idea of “rushing sound,” as of roaring flames, with a hissing or crackling sound, with a roar, with great suddenness. This would be like a detonation or explosion. The “Day of the Lord” will be catastrophic. This takes place at the conclusion of the Millennium.
and the elements
Two possible interpretations are conceivable about the extent of this conflagration of the universe. This may be a limited renovation of the earth or the complete annihilation of the universe.
The word “elements” primarily signifies any first things from which others in a series, or a composite whole, take their rise. These are the elemental particles of which the universe is constructed. In modern language, this might be the word “atom.”
The word “element” denotes a first principle in Greek. The building block of nature is the atom. This is the basic element from which everything material in the universe is made, the universe’s chemical elements. The basic element in the universe is the atom. The “a” is not, and “tom” is divided. An atom is something that is not divided. We can get down to something in the universe that cannot be divided. However, we know the atom can be divided. When that happens, we have a nuclear explosion.
will melt with fervent heat
The word “melt” means to melt down the elements of creation, i.e., to dissolve. Literally, “melt” carries the ideas to loosen, to loosen what is bound together.
“Fervent heat” means to burn intensely. This is the destruction of the physical universe. Keep on burning intensely. The building blocks of nature (atoms) will be consumed by heat. They will “burn down.”
Atomic fission of the atomic bomb is energy liberated by changing the nucleus of an atom as the fission of heavy nucleus — loss of mass. Atoms break up into component parts, unbind. The energies of the atom will be released, causing a fire. If man can cause nuclear fission, what kind of nuclear fission can God do in the universe? Jesus said that “Heaven and earth shall pass away (Ma 24:35).” There will be no waste products left at all. The destruction will be complete and total far greater than any nuclear reaction of man.
both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up
In the day of God, the earth will melt. The Greek word for “burned up” means to disappear. The elements of earth will no longer be found. The New Testament uses this term for burning with great heat.
This burning up could be either fusion or fission. This event will be greater than any thermonuclear reaction. The end of the world will finish in catastrophic conclusion.
Virtue comes from a perspective on God’s catastrophic world-events planned for the future.
This verse reads the same way before we learned to split the atom. We accepted the dissolution of the world by fire by faith before science. Now we can see scientifically how the elements can dissolve by fire.
The works of earth will go up in smoke. The Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, and all the great works of man will burn to ashes. This will end civilization.
God put up with a great deal before the flood. There was immorality, sex perversion, violence, and blasphemy, yet God gave them many years to repent. God is patient with our generation as well. However, the patience of God will run out one day. He will have exhausted His longsuffering. When this happens, a day called “the day of the Lord” will come. This is the judgment on a world that turned its back on God.
The only reason this judgment has not come is that God still wants to save some souls. When the last soul is saved, then the end will come. First, Christ will catch His waiting bride away. Following this event, great devastation will fall upon the world. Unparalleled misery will come upon an intransigent world.