Will Our Earth Ever Be Destroyed?
HAVE you ever wondered, ‘What is the future of our earth?’ Because of what they see happening to our beautiful planet, many people believe that our earth may not survive.
Indeed, today the earth is being ruined by the abuse of precious resources, such as water, forests, and the delicately balanced atmosphere. Also, some scientists warn that the earth and all life on it may be threatened by such things as a large meteorite, an exploding star, or the exhaustion of the sun’s hydrogen fuel.
Scientists believe that the earth will gradually—perhaps over many billions of years—lose the ability to sustain human life. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes this as “the irreversible tendency toward disorder.”
Happily, the Bible assures us that Jehovah God will not allow our earth to be destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. As Creator, he has limitless “dynamic energy,” so he can sustain the universe indefinitely. (Isaiah 40:26) Thus, you can put faith in these words: “[God] has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” “Praise him, you sun and moon. Praise him, all you stars of light. . . . For he himself commanded, and they were created. And he keeps them standing forever.”—Psalm 104:5; 148:3-6.
God’s Purpose for the Earth
It was never God’s purpose that the earth be abused and polluted as it is today. Instead, God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, and placed them in a beautiful garden. Of course, their Paradise home would not have remained beautiful on its own. God assigned them “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Genesis 2:8, 9, 15) What delightful and satisfying work God gave to our once perfect parents!
But God’s purpose for the earth involved much more than caring for that original garden. He wanted the whole earth to be transformed into a paradise. That is why God gave this command to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”—Genesis 1:28.
Sadly, God’s purpose was opposed by a proud angel who came to be known as Satan. He craved to be worshipped by Adam and Eve. Using a snake as his mouthpiece, Satan got them to rebel against God’s rulership. (Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9) How their selfish lack of appreciation must have hurt our Creator! But one thing that their rebellion did not do was change Jehovah God’s purpose for the earth. He states: “My word that goes forth from my mouth will . . . not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11.
For good reason, Jehovah has allowed Satan’s rebellion to continue down till our day. During this time, mankind has been able to experiment with many forms of self-government, and the results have proved that independence from God, as promoted by Satan, is a total failure.*—Jeremiah 10:23.
On the positive side, during the millenniums that have passed, God has blessed certain upright humans. He has also preserved in the Bible a record of the consequences of either obeying God or rejecting his rule. In addition, Jehovah has done wonderful things for our future benefit. He has lovingly provided mankind with a Savior by sending his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us the best way to live and to give his life for us. (John 3:16) Because Jesus did not deserve to die, his death has been used by God as a legal basis to buy back what Adam and Eve lost, namely, the prospect of everlasting life in an earth-wide paradise.* To that end, Jehovah God has established a heavenly government to rule over all mankind, and he has appointed his Son, the resurrected Jesus Christ, to be King of that Kingdom. This marvelous arrangement will ensure that God’s purpose for the earth is fulfilled.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
Thus, you can have absolute confidence in these wonderful promises recorded in the Bible: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” “‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’ And the One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’”—Psalm 37:9, 29; Revelation 21:3-5.
The Bible Does Not Contradict Itself
Some, though, may wonder, ‘How can we harmonize the above-quoted Bible texts with other verses that seem to speak about the earth’s coming to an end?’ Let us consider some examples. Such an examination will demonstrate that the Bible does not contradict itself.
Long before scientists recognized the “tendency toward disorder” in all physical things, a Bible psalmist wrote: “You [that is, God] laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”—Psalm 102:25-27.
In recording these words, the psalmist was not contradicting God’s everlasting purpose for the earth. Rather, he was contrasting God’s eternal existence with the perishability of all the matter that God had created. Without God’s eternal renewing power, the universe—including the solar system that we depend on for stability, light, and energy—would descend into total disorder and ultimate destruction. Thus, if left to itself, our earth would “wear out,” or come to a permanent end.
There are other verses in the Scriptures that may also appear at first glance to contradict God’s stated purpose for the earth. For example, the Bible speaks of heaven and earth as ‘passing away.’ (Revelation 21:1) Surely these words do not contradict Jesus’ promise: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) What, then, does the Bible mean when it speaks of heaven and earth as ‘passing away’?
The Bible frequently uses the expression “earth” in a figurative sense, meaning human society. For example, consider the following verse: “All the earth continued to be of one language and of one set of words.” (Genesis 11:1) Obviously, “earth” here refers to the people who were living on the earth. Another example is Psalm 96:1, which according to the King James Version states: “Sing unto the LORD, all the earth.” Clearly, in this and many other passages, the word “earth” is used figuratively to refer to people.—Psalm 96:13.
The Bible sometimes likens the ruling powers on earth to the heavens or to heavenly bodies. For example, the oppressive Babylonian rulers were described as being starlike because they elevated themselves above those around them. (Isaiah 14:12-14) As foretold, the figurative Babylonian “heavens,” or ruling class, and “earth,” the supporters of that rulership, came to an end in 539 B.C.E. (Isaiah 51:6) This allowed repentant Jews to return to Jerusalem, where a “new heavens,” a new ruling body, ruled over “a new earth,” a righteous society of people.—Isaiah 65:17.
The Bible’s words about heaven and earth ‘passing away’ apparently refer to the end of today’s corrupt human governments and their ungodly supporters. (2 Peter 3:7) That will open the way for God’s new heavenly government to bless a righteous new human society, for “there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God’s] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
Thus, you can have faith in God’s promise that our earthly home will last forever. Moreover, the Bible shows what you must do to share in that wonderful time when the earth will be transformed into a global paradise. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Why not make it your goal to examine what the Bible teaches about the future of the earth and humankind? Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be delighted to assist you in this regard.
For a discussion of why God has allowed suffering, see pages 106-14 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For more information about Jesus’ sacrificial death, see pages 47-56 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?
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The Bible promises that our earthly home will last forever
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Background globe: NASA/The Visible Earth (http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/); polar bear: © Bryan and Cherry Alexander Photography