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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, November 11, 2001

"The elements shall melt with fervent heat" (II Peter 3:10).

The Los Angeles Times had a front-page story last Wednesday with this headline: "Bin Laden Seeks to Gain Nuclear Arms, Bush Says" (L.A. Times, November 7, 2001, p. A1). The news story goes on to give us this frightening information:

President Bush said Thursday that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist networks are trying to obtain nuclear…weapons, and he urged other nations to adopt the war on terrorism as their own.

On Saturday, President Bush spoke at the United Nations. He said, "No civilized nation can be secure in a world threatened by terror" (ibid., quoted in advance from a preview text).

Yesterday (Saturday, November 10, 2001, p. 1) the Dallas Morning News reported:

Bin Laden Claims to Have Nuclear Arms for Defense. [Bin Laden said]: "I wish to declare that if America uses chemical or nuclear weapons against us, we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons…"

Think of it - this madman bin Laden is procuring atomic weapons and nuclear bombs right now - according to President Bush and according to his own statement yesterday!  Today, the Los Angeles Times has this front page headline:

The former Soviet stockpile is seen as a likely source
of weaponry for terrorists.  Specialists cite lax security,
missing materials and attempted thefts...In the former 
Soviet Union highly enriched uranium - usable for a 
nuclear bomb - has disappeared.  Among the buyers...
Osama bin Laden.  Graham T. Allison, Assistant Secretary
of Defense under President Clinton, said, "We have every
reason to expect that there will be an act of nuclear
terrorism in the next decade - maybe sooner" (Los Angeles
, November 11, 2001, p. A1).


How long will it be before Los Angeles is burned up by an atomic bomb? Nuclear bombings of American cities are a distinct possibility in the next few months. This is a frightening and uncertain time in which to live if you are not a true Christian. This city could be set on fire by a small atomic bomb in the trunk of a terrorist's car. The whole world could be set on fire by an atomic bomb, or a hydrogen bomb dropped on the oil fields of the Middle East - by some madman bent on destroying the world.

What will you do when the world is burned - as the Bible predicts? Where will you hide when Los Angeles goes up in flames? This is not the time to live in sin and miss church. "In times like these, you need a Saviour!" Get back here to church next Sunday! You need to be in this church every Sunday in these uncertain times.

Now, tonight I am going to speak on the atomic bomb, and nuclear war, and how the earth will be burned up - according to the Bible. And I will mention three things in this sermon:

1. First, atomic energy.

2. Second, atomic warfare.

3. Thirdly, the world on fire in Bible prophecy.

I. First, think of atomic energy.

Before I explain how the world will be destroyed by fire, I want to talk to you about the atom. Our text says:

"The elements shall melt with fervent heat" (II Peter 3:10).

The words translated "the elements" in our English Bible are "ta stoicheia" in the original Greek. "Stoicheia" comes from "stoichos" which means "things arranged in a row" like the letters of the alphabet, or the elements of nature. Greek Commentator Reinecker says, "Here it clearly means physical elements…the atomic particles which are the basic structure of nature" (Fritz Reinecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980, p. 781).

"The elements [the atoms] shall melt with fervent heat"

(II Peter 3:10).

The term "fervent heat" means "a conflagration from internal heat, such as a volcano" (Joseph B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. Jude and the 2nd Epistle of St. Peter, Baker, 1965).

"The elements [the atoms] shall melt with fervent heat [like a volcano]" (II Peter 3:10).

But the verse continues:

"The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10b).

Atomic bombs work by the atoms breaking apart. Hydrogen bombs work by the atoms fusing together. The sun is a great hydrogen bomb. An atomic bomb is often used to set off a hydrogen bomb. Both of these bombs work by melting the atoms. It is astonishing that the Bible gave us a clear picture of atomic energy two thousand years ago, in II Peter 3:10!

Dr. M. R. DeHaan said:

These are the amazing words of Almighty God given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter. These words are true and faithful, spoken by God who cannot lie. A few years ago this description of future destruction by fire might have seemed fantastic to some. Today…it is not only possible, but probable. Scientists have warned us that man is now in possession of knowledge concerning atomic and cosmic energy which may well result in the destruction of this entire world (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Zondervan, 1951, p. 134).

"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" (II Peter 3:10).

II. Secondly, think of atomic warfare.

Dr. DeHaan said:

This age will go down in the history of eternity as the atomic age, the age in which man, by God's permission, has solved the secrets of the universe, and now has in his hands a power which, if God would permit it, completely to destroy himself and the world. This secret is not ours alone, but is also in the possession of our enemies. The power to destroy the world is in the hands of wicked men. This is indeed a sobering thought to contemplate. It seems that, with this knowledge, man forever would shun war and outlaw the ravages of war once and for all. It seems that in the light of all we know now about atomic energy, men would realize that our differences must be settled by peaceful means, or all must be destroyed together. Such is the depravity of human nature and such is the deception of Satan, however, that man instead of seeking to avert war is pressing it with greater abandon than ever before in all history (ibid.).

"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" (II Peter 3:10).

Those who know the Bible may scoff and say, "This is all in the future. It doesn't apply to us!" It should be remembered that scoffers like this are spoken of in verses 3-5 of this same chapter, in II Peter 3! The passage in II Peter 3:10 speaks of the certainty of judgment by fire, not the time. It is absolutely certain that

"The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up"

(II Peter 3:10).

Then, too, the Bible warns us of war and turmoil as signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the Rapture. Jesus said:

"Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom"

(Matthew 24:6-7).

Again, regarding the signs leading up to the Rapture, Jesus said:

"And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven" (Luke 21:11).

"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).

"Men's hearts failing them for fear…for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." That doesn't sound very happy and promising to me! It sounds to me like we could be in for a terrible nuclear war, set off by Osama bin Laden, perhaps bringing in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and other nations that are now developing the hydrogen bomb, and already have the atomic bomb!

A terrorist could bring what is called a "dirty bomb" in the trunk of his car and press a button, and Los Angeles would be contaminated. Radioactive material would be sprayed into the air, and would settle across the city in a fine dust. Anyone breathing or touching this dust would be poisoned by radiation. The poison would rage through their bodies. Their eyes would rot. Their blood vessels would leak. Their internal organs would fail. They would gasp for breath, and choke to death in the vomit of their own blood. You will not die a pleasant death. You will die a horrible, painful death, if one of these terrorists explodes a "dirty" atomic bomb in the Los Angeles area. And the poison dust would be just as deadly for many years to come.

And the most dangerous thing about this poisonous dust is that you can't taste it or smell it. You won't be able to tell where it is. And you will be in danger of touching or breathing it wherever you go.

Remember, this is not science fiction! This is reality! President Bush warned us last week that Osama bin Laden is working to get "nuclear weapons" right now. He may already have these nuclear bombs right now - tonight! Even as I am speaking, right now, bin Laden may be thinking and planning to bomb Los Angeles! This is no joke!

III. Thirdly, think of the world on fire in Bible prophecy.

Our text says:

"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" (II Peter 3:10).

The world on fire! The thought of nuclear war deeply frightened me as a child. In the fourth grade, in Sunnyslope, Arizona, I saw a newsreel about the atomic bomb falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, at the end of World War II. The teacher told us that we were all in danger of the Soviet Union dropping atom bombs on us. I was deeply and strongly troubled by all of this during the fifties and sixties. Your generation has not, until now, known the terror of the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. It makes my hands sweat even now, tonight, thinking about the constant fear of a nuclear holocaust that we lived in constantly during the height of the Cold War.

At 5:30 A.M. on July 16, 1945, a light brighter than a thousand suns illuminated the desert sands of New Mexico. One scientist who was watching wept. "My God," he exclaimed, "we have created hell." From that day on our world has not been the same. We entered a new era of history - perhaps the last era.

(Billy Graham, World Aflame, Doubleday, 1965, p. xiii).

"My God, we have created hell." That scientist was partly right. The fire of Hell itself could pour out on our nation and our city if Satan puts it into the mind of Osama bin Laden to bomb us.

Are you prepared? You say, "What can I do?" The most important thing you can do is to be prepared spiritually. The Bible says:

"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

If you are not prepared to meet God, no other preparation can help you.

You are a spiritual, as well as a physical, being. Your soul will live on for thousands of years after your body is dead. And your soul is the most important thing you have. If you lose your soul, you have lost everything of value. Jesus said:

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

What is your soul worth to you? If your soul isn't saved, you are not ready to meet God when judgment falls on you.

That's why you need Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross so that your sins could be forgiven. He died in your place - to pay for your sins.

The Bible says:

"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures"

(I Corinthians 15:3)

"He was buried, and…he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:4).

I am asking you to turn away from your sins, and I am asking you to turn completely to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ is alive - up in Heaven. Turn to Him and believe on Him totally.

And knowing Christ begins by regularly attending a local church like this, where the gospel is preached. If you are truly serious about becoming a real Christian, don't let anything keep you from coming back to this church next Sunday!


Scripture Read Before the Sermon: II Peter 3:10-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"There's a Great Day Coming"
  by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"The elements shall melt with fervent heat" (II Peter 3:10).

I.   Think of atomic energy, II Peter 3:10.

II.  Think of atomic warfare, Matthew 24:6-7;
Luke 21:11; Luke 21:25-26.

III. Think of the world on fire in Bible prophecy,
II Peter 3:10; Amos 4:12; Matthew 16:26;
I Corinthians 15:3-4.