It is manifest that the Apostle is here using symbolic language. He states that the Lord comes as a thief, illustrating how quietly and unobservedly his second coming or appearing takes place, as we have already noted. Then we must conclude that the other main elements here mentioned are symbolic. The heavens taken symbolically mean the invisible power of control, consisting of Satan and his unseen agencies, as well as his visible agencies in the earth. The earth symbolically represents organized society under Satan’s dominion. The elements here meant are the various selfish elements of the earth, composed of ecclesiasticism, political parties, lodge systems, etc., that go to make up the various elements of human society; and we can see that these are all discordant and warring amongst themselves. They shall all be dissolved and shall melt with fervent heat; that is to say, during the heated time of trouble.
But the Apostle states in the thirteenth verse of this chapter: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”; meaning thereby that we look for a new invisible power of control, Messiah’s kingdom, and a new earth, society organized along new lines, to take the place of the old. The words here have no reference to the mundane sphere or globe upon which the human race resides.
The symbolic fire is now burning fiercely in the troublesome time that we see amongst the peoples and nations of the earth; and it will continue to burn until all the false systems of Satan’s empire are completely destroyed. This is a further evidence of the Lord’s presence at this time, as well as one of the purposes for which he comes.
In speaking of the proof of his presence, Jesus further stated that at that time there would be “upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea [restless humanity] and the waves [various organized parts of it] 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 he shaken. And then shall they see [discern] the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory;” that is to say, they will discern the Lord’s presence through the clouds, symbolic of great trouble, and glory, the manifestation of his justice and power. (Luke 21:25-27) No one will attempt to gainsay the fact that just now, in the year 1921, all the nations are in distress and the people in all branches of business—socially, politically and otherwise—are in perplexity and know not what to do. And men of earth who are engaged in business affairs are so fearful that their hearts are failing them, not knowing which way to turn nor what to do.