Born in 1948, Michael O’Brien had a conversion experience at the age of 21, followed by several years of painting and writing. In 1996, Ignatius Press published Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, which became a best-seller and established O’Brien as a distinctive literary voice. Many more novels followed, including Eclipse of the Sun, Sophia House, The Father’s Tale, Theophilos, and several others, as well as works of non-fiction, and a beautiful collection of his artwork.
Now in his mid-70s, the prolific O’Brien has written yet another unique novel, By the Rivers of Babylon, about the mysterious 6th-century BC prophet Ezekiel.
O’Brien recently corresponded with me about his new novel, reflecting on Scripture, a dream that led to the writing of the novel, and what 21st-century Christians can learn from an Old Testament prophet about salvation, faith, worship, sorrow, and hope.
CWR: I confess that, having led a Bible study of the Book of Ezekiel a few years ago, I had some preconceived notions about what I would read in your novel. Did you, before you began writing the novel, have any preconceived notions about the Book of Ezekiel? Of the prophet Ezekiel?
Michael O’Brien: No, none. I prayed very much for light, for the “co-creative” grace, that I might tell a story about the unknown years of Ezekiel’s life before his great visions began. As I began to write, I had only the foundation of the little we know about him. Again and again, vivid images and scenes arose in my imagination that I hadn’t intended, but it soon became apparent they were exactly right for the developing story. As it began to take form, it almost had a life of its own.
At the same time, I was highly conscious that we must never try to rewrite Sacred Scripture. I think there is plenty of room for the “baptized imagination” (as Tolkien called it) to muse on unknown elements in biblical accounts, in the desire to make the past more present to us. But, above all, the writer must be careful about remaining true to the literal, spiritual, and moral truths of the biblical accounts.
CWR: Why a novel about Ezekiel? Why not, say, Jeremiah? Or King David? What led to the writing of this particular novel?
O’Brien: I have always felt a strong natural love for the dramatic lives of King David and the prophets Elijah and Daniel, but I knew next to nothing about Ezekiel. Then came a night some years ago when I had one of the most powerful dreams of my life, in which the prophet Ezekiel appeared and I was singing to him with my whole heart and soul, calling him “my father.” I awoke, still singing, totally astonished, completely perplexed by the dream.
I’ve had ten thousand dreams in my life, all of them near-instantly forgotten when I awoke. But not this one—it’s as crystal clear to me today as it was then.
CWR: What did you think the dream meant?
O’Brien: Its meaning became clearer to me shortly after, when I heard an inner voice as I was praying before the exposed Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. The words were, “Ezekiel 9.” I had no idea what this meant, or what was in that chapter. At first I shrugged it off as probably a distraction. Then, during the weeks that followed, the words came again and again with a gentle insistence, always when I was praying. I finally opened to the chapter and discovered that it refers to the Lord sending a messenger to mark a sign on the foreheads of all those who grieve over the corruption of Israel.
CWR: If this was a grace from God, why now? How did you understand that?
O’Brien: In Ezekiel 9, the passage describes the Lord commanding that the purification of Israel must begin in the sanctuary of the Temple (Ez 9:6), then move outward to the city itself, and then spread throughout all Israel. If one reads the eighth chapter of Ezekiel, which deals with the horrendous corruption within the Temple priesthood (along with the general apostasy of the people), and is the reason for the chastisements of the ninth chapter, one sees many parallels to our own times. It is worth considering that the purification of the world prophesied by Jesus and the apostles and earlier prophets may very well begin in the sanctuary, which is the Church—unless there is widespread repentance.
CWR: You’ve written novels set in a wide range of times and places, but 6th-century BC Israel, Jerusalem, and Babylon must have provided many challenges. What were some difficulties (or opportunities!) in writing such a detailed story about such an ancient time? What sort of research was involved?
O’Brien: There was an entire world to discover. My research was a plunge into a very rich body of materials that I had not known about until I began. There were, of course, the historical, archaeological, and complex religious and cultural dimensions of Judah and Babylonia. For over two years, I also carefully read several biblical commentators, including the Church Fathers, St. Eusebius of Caesarea, Josephus the Jewish historian, St. Gregory the Great on Ezekiel, and numerous others. And, most crucially, the scriptural books of Kings and Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Baruch.
CWR: I don’t want to give too much away for readers, but as I began reading the novel, I realized you had written a prequel to the Book of Ezekiel. Was that the plan from the start? And, in doing so, how were you providing flesh and bone, soul and spirit, to a mysterious prophet whose Book is so breathtaking, harrowing, and other-worldly?
O’Brien: Yes, it was surely my intended approach from the beginning. I wanted to avoid playing free with the Book of Ezekiel itself, and instead to ask, in fictional form, what makes a true prophet, why was this man chosen, how might God have prepared him for the great revelations that were to come?
CWR: One of the highest compliments I can give is that By the Rivers of Babylon really drew me into the mystery of Christ, the New Covenant, and the drama of salvation in so many powerful, unexpected ways. What can—or should—we Catholics learn from the Old Testament and prophets? From Ezekiel in particular?
O’Brien: The Babylonian Captivity was a catastrophic chastisement of apostate Israel. Yet, even during that 70-year desolation, the Lord sent words of consolation and hope through his prophets. Moreover, the Book of Ezekiel is rich in Christological signs of the coming of Christ and the New Covenant, which means that the Lord intended it for us as well.
For example, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament is both warning and consolation regarding coming chastisements. It builds upon several elements of the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, which are also about warning and consolation. Ezekiel, as is the case with the other prophets, calls us to stand firm, to keep faith when all hope appears to be lost. So, too, is the call in St. John’s Revelation, which promises the coming victory of Christ over all evil, yet never prevaricates about the severity of the trials we must undergo before the universal triumph.
CWR: There are certainly many themes or currents throughout, but two stand out to me: worship and idolatry. Is it correct to say your novel speaks to our age—to any age—because these are timeless realities: will we worship God or will we run after idols? How did this truth impress itself on you while writing?
O’Brien: I surely did not want the novel to be merely a trip down memory lane. I wanted it to speak to the very real problems facing us in our own times. My constant companion, so to speak, was a painful awareness that we are not immune to assimilation by paganism. Considering the neo-pagan social milieu in which we now live, a Christian is constantly dealing with the tension between fidelity to the Truth and the seductions of the spiritus mundi (as well as the spreading spiritus diabolus).
As I researched more into Babylon’s religious practices and pantheon of gods, I began to see just how depraved was its civilization. The Babylonian captivity was the direct result of Israel’s own apostasy and depraved indulgence in cultic practises such as divination and human sacrifice.
But what about our apostasy and depravity? Ancient pagan man lived in the darkness of diabolic idolatry before the coming of Christ. But we have known the light of Christ and have turned away from him to worship other gods—primarily the god of the Self—and that is a fundamentally different condition.
CWR: A worse condition, you mean?
O’Brien: Yes, vastly worse. Contemporary man does not worship Baals and Molechs and Ishtars by name or image, for the people of the once-Christian nations are educated and sophisticated, with a developed sense of style and aesthetics. We are not so primitive as the pagans and believers of old. We are even religious in a vague way, though accountable to no one but ourselves. When children are sacrificed on our altars, it is done with scientific efficiency, hygienically, with no ritual frenzy. We are not slaves, we think; we are the free!
But we must ask ourselves what we adore, what we implicitly believe is the source of our life, our security, our hope. What pleasures and idle luxuries are we dedicated to, habituated to, feeling that we cannot live without them? What truths will we sacrifice if a lie ensures our continued comfort? What ratiocinations will our minds perform in order to justify the betrayal? What evils have we subtly, subtly, come to call good, and what good do we now call evil?
CWR: By the Rivers of Babylon is filled with both much sorrow and much hope. How might readers better understand, or experience, the truth about both sorrow and hope in reading the novel?
O’Brien: All human beings suffer, but the crucial question for each of us is how we bear the sufferings that come to us. It’s my hope that this story will enflesh, so to speak, the real struggles of biblical characters, and show how they resisted the dark undertow of despair, prevailing in hope at a time when there seemed to be no hope.
CWR: Any final thoughts?
O’Brien: Though we are not now living in chains in exile, we live increasingly as strangers in our own land, a new Babylonian captivity that is not geographical but is a spreading psychological and spiritual enslavement. As we see the massing assaults against the Church from exterior enemies and betrayal from within, in the midst of an apostasy far greater than any throughout the past two millennia, the words of Jesus come to mind, “When the Son of Man returns will he find faith on earth?”
Our response should be, “Yes, Lord, you will.” And then we must live it, regardless of the cost.
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Thank you Carl Olsen for one of the most beautiful and timely interviews I have ever read.It gives me great hope as I believe the Church is going through a massive purification at this time.Some may drop away but there will always be the faithful and yes, Christ will find some with Faith when He returns. My life is daily centered on the Eucharist as with many others I pray for Mercy and Light for our poor tormented Church and yes, the purification must continue and it will radiate out to the rest of the world. Now is the time to be firm and hopeful amid all the suffering and confusion. This too shall pass.
“By the Rivers of Babylon” is an excellent novel. In the novel, the pagans live across the river from the Israelites. Today’s pagans are not across the river. They live next door. They are in our homes via the internet and TV. We vote them into the highest political offices and courts. We send our kids to pagan schools and colleges. And as Michael notes in the interview, we may not sacrifice our children to Baals and Molech, but they are sacrificed non the less. When the Secretary of the Treasury says abortion is good for the economy is that any better?
All I can say is that Michael Obrien is one very gifted writer. Add to that the fact that he is a faithful Catholic and you have a rare specimen of God’s grace. I have read a number of his novels and look forward to doing the same with his most recent one.
Very Good, author Michael O’Brian!
The reason Babylon falls in our future Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation, is because we still carry God’s punishment of exile even after the fall of the secular nation Babylon. God was King and Ruler over Israel from the Exodus till the fall of the House of Judah in 587 B.C.. At the Fall of Israel, God put secular power, starting with king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, as rulers over Israel. This is why ‘Babylon’, which means secular power, falls in the Book of Revelation, as Jesus takes over as King and Ruler of the world. With Jesus Ruling the world, once again we will have God Ruling over us, and there will be Peace on Earth.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever’.
In Exodus, God had placed His Presence in the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ and then in the stone temple in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 9-11, God is removing His Presence from the stone temple in Jerusalem. God then places His Presence atop His Holy Mountain. Atop God’s Holy Mountain just happens to be the same place God placed His Presence when God expelled man from His Presence, at the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.
Then the glory of the LORD left the threshold of the temple and took its place upon the cherubim. The cherubim lifted their wings and rose up from the earth before my eyes as they departed with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them.
Then the cherubim lifted their wings and the wheels alongside them, with the glory of the God of Israel above them. The glory of the LORD rose up from the middle of the city and came to rest on the mountain east of the city.
In Eden, the garden of God, you were, and every precious stone was your covering (carnelian, topaz, and beryl, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, garnet, and emerald); Of gold your pendants and jewels were made, on the day you were created. With the Cherub I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God, walking among the fiery stones. Blameless you were in your conduct from the day you were created, Until evil was found in you, the result of your far-flung trade; violence was your business, and you sinned. Then I banned you from the mountain of God; the Cherub drove you from among the fiery stones.
In Ezekiel 9, God marking the repentant with an X, is actually Catholic Priests placing Jesus’ recent gifts of Divine Mercy Sunday upon Catholics, which is described in Revelation 7 as angels placing the ‘Seal of God’ on the foreheads of Jesus’ ‘Elect’, who will survive the ‘Great Tribulation’ of Jesus’ Second Coming.
As God’s Presence is flying out of the Temple in Jerusalem, God tells the cherubim to gather fire from below his throne. This is the hot coals being thrown down from heaven upon earth by Revelation 8 angels. It is the Revelation 10 angel, reading the ‘small scroll’, which is a list of Catholic auto-anathemas, which is the hot coals raining down from heaven upon earth, along with Revelation 7 angels marking God’s elect with Jesus’ gifts of Divine Mercy Sunday, which purifies the Catholic Church on earth, and allows Catholics to ascend God’s Holy Mountain on earth.
He commanded the man dressed in linen: Take fire from within the wheelwork among the cherubim. The man entered and stood by one of the wheels. Thereupon a cherub stretched out a hand from among the cherubim toward the fire in the midst of the cherubim, took some, and put it in the hands of the one dressed in linen. He took it and came out.
Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Once the temple is purified, meaning now all Catholics will be in a state of Grace, Jesus will enter His Presence into the Body of His Church on earth, which places the Catholic Church/The New Jerusalem, atop God’s Holy Mountain on earth. Once again God’s Presence will reside on earth and God will again Rule over mankind on earth. As God divorced Israel upon Israel’s exile from the Promised Land, Jesus will now marry His Bride, the Catholic Church, and again reside within her, on earth, under Messianic Reign.
Please receive Jesus’ recent, year 2000, gifts of Divine Mercy Sunday, this April 16th.
Jesus is not King and Ruler of the world until His subjects, Catholic Apostolic successors/Combat Angels of the Apocalypse, put His Laws into enforcement on earth. After the Revelation 10 ‘small scroll’ of Catholic auto-anathemas is read, and Catholic Priests blow the seventh trumpet, Jesus is immediately crowned as King and Ruler of the world in heaven. Three Days of Darkness later, Jesus’ Presence enters into His Bride, the Catholic Church on earth, or in other words, the Revelation 21 ‘New Jerusalem’ atop God’s Holy Mountain, is born on earth.
In Daniel 2 we see the fall of Babylon, which is the fall of all secular power ruling over Israel since the time of their exile. “But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth”, is Jesus then Ruling the world, with His Presence on earth united within His Catholic Church on earth, which is the Revelation 21 ‘New Jerusalem’ atop God’s Holy Mountain, which grows to fill the whole earth.
We are presently living at the time when Jesus, “the stone that struck the statue” will strike the statue. Let’s go! Hallelujah!
‘In your vision, O king, you saw a statue, very large and exceedingly bright, terrifying in appearance as it stood before you. The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron, its feet partly iron and partly tile. While you looked at the statue, a stone which was hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it, struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces. The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once, fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer, and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure’? The man who falls on that stone will be smashed to pieces, It will make dust of anyone on whom it falls.”
Daniel 2 continued: This was the dream; the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence. You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory; men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell, he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all; you are the head of gold. Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours, then a third kingdom, of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others, just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else. The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron, mean that it shall be a divided kingdom, but yet have some of the hardness of iron. As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile, and the toes partly iron and partly tile, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay. In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever. That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain without a hand being put to it, which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold. The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.
The four kingdoms to rule over Israel between the fall of Israel and the rise of Zion, which Zion is our ‘New Jerusalem’ Catholic Church, are Babylon, Persians and the Medes, Greeks, and the fourth kingdom is the kingdom of the Descendants of Ephraim, who are the white race, who are still ruling the world today.
“Jesus is not King and Ruler of the world until His subjects, Catholic Apostolic successors/Combat Angels of the Apocalypse, put His Laws into enforcement on earth.”
And, this key statement:
Yes Carl very refreshing thank you.
The Ireland and Civilization article is not loading, error 404; same for the Comments.
And I am curious how you get a star next to your name logo there.
Two versions of the essay were published; here is the final version: https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2023/03/16/232403/
I’m not familiar with the star you mention. Where and how is it showing up?
Are you one who believes that we just suffer all these atrocities at the hands of brutal dictators, and then finally Jesus Comes riding in on a flock of nukes and puts us all to death upon His Second Coming, to rescue us?
I am with St. Louis De Montfort. Jesus will Second Coming, Come and give us an era of peace and Justice in Jesus Kingdom Come on free willed earth.
ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT, END TIMES
divine intervention within salvation history
we pass from the reign of sin to the reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts of men and women. Montfort is convinced that the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ should not be projected into the hereafter but must come into existence on earth, in this world: “Is it not true that your kingdom must come?”
Quoted from: JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT END TIMES
In Deuteronomy 28 God’s Covenant spells out that God will punish the world with all our calamities, like our Holocausts, our atrocities, our famine, and our plagues, if we choose sin. From the exile of Israel to today we have been suffering all these Deuteronomy 28 curses from God. Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus Second Coming, came and removed all these punishments from God upon us, as God has Promised He will do throughout the Bible, when Jesus our Messiah Comes, before the free willed world is ended? This removal of horrible punishments from God is what the Apostles were asking for, when Jesus said, ‘not yet’ and ascended into heaven.
When the Prophet Daniel is praying for God to end His just punishments upon Israel, did God say He would send a Messiah to nuke all free-willed people off the planet? No, God told Daniel when Jesus would (Second Coming) Come to rescue Israel from all the punishments God had placed upon us.
Acts of the Apostles 1:6
When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
Jesus could Second Coming, come and return us to the Garden of Eden, or simply just remove all the punishments God has placed upon us, or simply remove the unrepentant wicked from the earth and let the meek, humble and pure of heart inherit the earth, or Come and Rule the world with Justice. Out of all these things Jesus could do, do you really believe that Jesus is Second Coming to nuke all mankind off the planet and end human free will on earth forever?
I say Jesus is Second Coming, coming to Rule the world with Justice and Peace and take us back into the Garden of Eden where we, Christ’s Faithful, will continue on on free willed earth, and that this is what happens in our near future Apocalypse, when the Book of Revelation tells us:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever’.
Merten, in Revelation John says it will be “new heavens and earth” with the former “passed away” and the new “coming down from heaven”.
It won’t be a re-positioning where we get to live as we always imagined it should be. It will be a “new Jerusalem” with “no temple”.
In some ways it remains beyond us to know and I would say don’t do so much predicting and be on guard against over-anticipating.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 955
Today I heard these words in my soul: Host pleasing to My Father, know, My daughter, that the entire Holy Trinity finds Its special delight in you, because you live exclusively by the will of God. No sacrifice can compare with this.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 923
I delight in you as in a living host; let nothing terrify you; I am with you.
Yes! There will be no temple in Jesus’ Kingdom Come. Christ’s New Jerusalem will be like open country, with Jesus, Second Coming, to Reside within the whole Body of the Catholic Church. Jesus refers to St. Faustina as a ‘living host’, the delight of the Holy Trinity. God will have His ‘Holy City’, ‘Holy Nation’, ‘Royal Priesthood’.
Once we get as many people as possible to receive Jesus’ recent, year 2000, Divine Mercy gifts of Divine Mercy Sunday, and Catholic Apostolic Successors/Angels of the Apocalypse read the Revelation 10 ‘small scroll’, which is a list of Catholic auto anathemas, the Body of the Catholic Church will be purified and Jesus will Second Coming enter His Presence into the whole Body of His Church. Wow! God will have His kingdom of priests on earth.
You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”
Zechariah 2:5 Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Cord.
I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord* in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” And he said, “To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.” Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official: Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst. I will be an encircling wall of fire for it—oracle of the LORD—and I will be the glory in its midst.”
Bible Notes for Zechariah 2:9: Encircling wall of fire: divine protection for an unwalled Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:9 The New Jerusalem.
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.” He carried me away in spirit to the top of a very high mountain and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God…
…I saw no temple in the city, The Lord God the Almighty, is its temple he and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. The nations shall walk by its light; to it the kings of the earth shall bring their treasures.
Revelation 21:1 The New Heaven and the New Earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”
St. Peter tells us not to worry about the impending chastisement upon the unrepentant wicked, where the whole earth is destroyed with fire. St. Peter assures us that, as the world was destroyed by water in Noah’s day, and God granted a second ‘New heavens and new earth’, that God has Promised us a third ‘New heavens and new earth’, where righteousness dwells, upon the Second Coming of Jesus.
2 Peter 3:1 Denial of the Parousia.
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; through them by way of reminder I am trying to stir up your sincere disposition, to recall the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and savior through your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come [to] scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore the fact that the heavens existed of old and earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God; through these the world that then existed was destroyed, deluged with water. The present heavens and earth have been reserved by the same word for fire, kept for the day of judgment and of destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. Exhortation to Preparedness. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought [you] to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.