THE END OF THE EARTH
by Kevin V. Rutherford
This material earth upon which we live will not last forever. There are those who believe that so many millions of years into the future the sun will explode and destroy the earth. There are others who are afraid that mankind will destroy the earth through global warming or nuclear war. However, the Bible teaches us that the earth will be destroyed by God (2 Peter 3). It will stand until such a time as God is ready to send His Son back to this earth (2 Peter 3:1-9). Until then the earth will stand, and as long as the earth stands we shall see the change of the seasons each year (Genesis ).
There were some who scoffed at such teaching in the first century (2 Peter 3:1-4). These people doubted the fact that Jesus Christ would return. They suggested as evidence for their assertion that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Peter shows them their evidence is faulty and their conclusion is wrong. The world has not always been the same. It was once destroyed by a flood (2 Peter 3:5-7; Genesis 6-9). That changed the world. Concerning their conclusion that Christ would not come again Peter says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promises...” (2 Peter 3:9). In other words, the Lord promised He will return and so He shall (Acts ; John 14:1—6).
After Peter refutes the scoffers’ evidence and conclusion, he tells about the time in which Jesus will return. Jesus will return like a thief in the night (2 Peter ). The thief gives no warning signs. Jesus will give no warning signs. The thief comes suddenly. Jesus will come suddenly. Therefore, we conclude that it is impossible for men to predict the second coming of Christ. All those who do so are false prophets (1 John 4:1).
When Jesus returns He will put an end to the earth. Peter describes the destruction of the heavens first. The word “heaven” refers to that which is above. The Bible use the word “heaven” to refer to the place where God lives, the universe, and the atmosphere (or sky) of this earth. The heavens which shall be destroyed do not include the heaven where God has His throne (Revelation 4). This material universe is going to pass away with a great noise when Jesus comes back.
This passing away of the universe includes the earth. Peter says, “the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter ). This earth shall one day be completely destroyed when Jesus returns in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know or who do not obey God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Because this earth will be destroyed we are going to be in need of a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter ). That new heaven and earth figuratively refers to heaven (Revelation 21:1 ff.).
“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness...“(2 Peter )?