There is an interesting dialogue going on these days as to just what the Christian vision of the future really is. On the one hand there is a popular apocalyptic view characterized in such books as the Left Behind series . This view tends to hold that there is little hope for history (or the future) because things will only get worse until God has to destroy the world.
Some have wondered if this is not, perhaps, a self fulfilling prophecy, distorting the Biblical picture of God’s purpose for us and supporting politics of polarization, violence, and extremism. This has lead to an alternative view, which states that Jesus came “to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil. Through his life and teaching, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he inserted into human history a seed of grace, truth, and hope that can never be defeated. This seed will, against all opposition and odds, prevail over the evil and injustice of humanity and lead to the world’s ongoing transformation into the world God dreams of” (Brian McClaren, Everything Must Change, pp. 81-2).
How one decides on this issue will determine how they interpret the first couple verses of today's Scripture passage. Is it a literal description of God destroying the earth (nuclear apocalypse?) or apocalyptic language with its characteristic outlandish imagery referring to a radical transformation from one state to another?
Personally, I find myself increasingly inclined to the latter these days. I think that best fits this passage, because then the moral character of our lives described in the following verses is an essential aspect of the “ongoing transformation” that God is doing and that will one day bring about the glorious future “where righteousness dwells.”
These verses teach us, then, that we are those who have something to look forward to, and that is the reason we are to "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (Jesus)."