But the heavens and the earth which are now
In being, in distinction from, and opposition to the heavens that were of old, and the earth standing in and out of the water, and the world that then was when the waters of the flood overflowed it:
by the same word are kept in store;
that is, by the word of God, as in ( 2 Peter 3:5 ) ; and the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "by his word"; by the same word that the heavens and the earth were made of old, or in the beginning, are they kept, preserved, and upheld in their being; or "are treasured up"; the heavens and the earth are a rich treasure, they are full of the riches God, as the God of nature and providence; and they are kept with care, as a treasure is, not to be touched or meddled with at present, but must continue in the same position and use; or they are laid up in the stores, and scaled up among the treasures of divine wrath and vengeance, and will be brought out another day, and made use of, to the destruction of the ungodly inhabitants of the world, and to aggravate and increase their misery and ruin: for it is further said of them, that they are
reserved unto fire;
for though the world is, and has been preserved a long time without any visible alteration in it, yet it will not be always so preserved: and though it is, and will be kept from being drowned by water again, through the promise and power of God, yet it is kept and reserved for a general conflagration; see ( 2 Peter 3:10 2 Peter 3:12 ) . And as the old world was put into a natural situation, so as to be drowned by water, there are now preparations making in nature, in the present world, for the burning of it; witness the fiery meteors, blazing stars, and burning comets in the heavens, and the subterraneous fires in the bowels of the earth, which in some places have already broke out: there are now many volcanos, burning mountains and islands, particularly in Sicily, Italy, and the parts adjacent, the seat of the beast, and where it is very likely the uersal conflagration will begin, as Aetna, Vesuvius, Strombilo, and other volcanos; and even in our own island we have some symptoms and appearances of these fires under ground, as fiery eruptions in some places, and the hot waters at the Bath, and elsewhere, show; from all which it is plain that the heavens and earth, that now are, are not as they always were, and will be, but are reserved and prepared for burning; and that things are ripening apace, as men's sins also are, for the general conflagration. Josephus F23 relates, that Adam foretold that there would be a destruction of all things, once by the force of fire, and once by the power and multitude of water; and it is certain the Jews had knowledge of the destruction of the earth by fire, as by water: they say F24,
``that when the law was given to Israel, his (God's) voice went from one end of the world to the other, and trembling laid hold on all the nations of the world in their temples, and they said a song, as it is said, ( Psalms 29:9 ) , "and in his temple doth everyone speak of his glory": all of them gathered together to wicked Balaam, and said to him, what is the voice of the multitude which we hear, perhaps a flood is coming upon the world? he said unto them, "the Lord sitteth upon the flood, yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever", ( Psalms 29:10 ) . Thus hath the Lord swore, that he will not bring a flood upon the world; they replied to him, a flood of water he will not bring, but (va lv lwbm) , "a flood of fire" he will bring, as it is said, ( Isaiah 66:16 ) , "for by fire will the Lord plead",''or judge: and hence they speak F25 of the wicked being judged with two sorts of, judgments, by water, and by fire: and, according to our apostle, the heavens and earth are kept and reserved to fire,
against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men;
the time when God will judge the world is fixed, though it is not known; and it is called a "day", because of the evidence and light in which things will appear, and the quick dispatch of business in it; and the "judgment" spoken of is the future judgment, and which is certain, and will be uersal, righteous, and eternal, and when wicked and ungodly men will be punished with everlasting destruction: the bodies of those that will be alive at the general conflagration will be burnt in it, though not annihilated, and will be raised again, and both soul and body will be destroyed in hell.
F23 Antiqu. Jud. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 3.
F24 T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 116. 1.
F25 Zohar in Gen. fol. 50. 4. & 51. 1.