Why will both the Earth and the Heavens be destroyed by God?
The event usually referred to as “the end of the world” (eschaton) is described in 2 Peter 3 “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
This is the culmination of a series of events called “the day of the Lord,” the time when God will intervene in human history for the purpose of judgment. At that time, all that God has created, “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He will destroy.
The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium. During these 1000 years, Christ will reign on earth as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32–33) and ruling in peace but with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be released, defeated and then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10). Then, after a final judgment by God, the end of the world described in 2 Peter 3:10 occurs. The Bible tells us several things about this event.
First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe — the stars, planets, and galaxies — which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, unlike a nuclear or atomic reaction, but will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Biblical versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Then God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), which will include the “New Jerusalem” (v. 2), the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness, which will come down from heaven to the new earth. This is the city where the saints — those whose names were written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 13:8) — will live forever. Peter refers to this new creation as “the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
Perhaps the most important part of Peter’s description of that day is his question in verses 11–12: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:11–12