The day of the Lord, (aka: the Last Day) which the first century saints expected to come as a thief in the night in their generation, would be Christ’s judgments carried out. This included both the EARTH and the WORKS that are in it being burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10).
Now, we identify the EARTH (nation of Israel, city of Jerusalem, and the temple) and the WORKS (the animal sacrificial system, instruments, objects, and the efforts and deeds of the non-believing Jewish people) in it as being burned up in the Jewish-Roman war. This occurred in the first century at Christ’s second coming Parousia ending in AD 70 in which not one stone of the temple was left upon another. There was total destruction by fire of Jerusalem and the temple, which were left desolate.
The Greek word for “earth” here is “ge” (Strong’s #1093) = country, ground, land, world. The Greek word for works” is “ergon” (Strong’s #2041) = deed, effort, labor, work. Therefore, this action of God’s wrath to burn up the earth and its works means the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple and all of its ceremonial apparatus; along with the deeds, efforts, and works of the non-believing Jews, which all missed the mark of obeying and pleasing God.
Some of the other uses of this word “WORKS” in the New Testament are:
- Paul wrote to Titus and said that the unbelievers are defiled. They profess to know God, but in WORKS they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work (Titus 1:16).
- Paul told the Corinthians that in the Day of Judgment, each of those transition period saints would have their WORK revealed by fire to test what sort of WORK it is (ie: fleshly works or spiritual works). This was talking about the first century believers, who could have fleshly-oriented works, but still be saved, because of their faith in Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 10 Study on 2 Peter 3 vs. 1-13”]