There is a lot of talk about the end times. But where and when in the scripture does it recount the world actually being destroyed? In the end of John's Revelation we have the new heaven and earth, and at the beginning the old. More specifically, at what event and by what means are the old heavens and earth destroyed?
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The precise moment seems to be:
It's probably best to think of this as an image of what will happen rather than a detailed description.1 However, the image is that the throne of God fills the space that the heavens and earth2 currently fill and completely supplants them. Precisely what happens to them seems not to matter in the culmination of history. Only the people, who are judged at this time, remain from the former world.
Immediately on the heals of the arrival of God's throne and the disappearance of the old world, comes:
I've bolded the critical phrase. N. T. Wright says on the topic:
According to the New Testament, the world isn't so much destroyed as renewed or replaced. God will make it His dwelling place with us.
If I am understanding St. Paul correctly, he's telling us that there is no way to know when this will happen -- that indeed the angels don't even know -- and that our preoccupation with it is of no consequence if we are not ready to meet and be judged by God on that day.
The second epistle of St. Peter does suggest fire though:
2 Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth, and the works that are in it, shall be burnt up.
I'm not sure that a cataclysmic event (or series of events) that necessarily leads to annihilation, or some other form of the annihilation of the world is a biblically defensible position.
The "new" could be a reference to a restoration of the created order to its original intended state.
edit: I stand corrected http://www.gotquestions.org/end-of-the-world.html
This guy has an interesting take.