Friday, October 21, 2011
"What does the Bible say about the end of the world?"
Answer: The event usually referred to by the phrase “end of the world” is described in 2 Peter 3:10: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” This is the culmination of the events referred to in the beginning of that verse as “the day of the Lord,” the time when God will intervene in human history for the purpose of judgment. At that time, all that God has created, “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He will destroy.
The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium. During these thousand years, Christ will reign on earth as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33) and ruling in peace but with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be released, defeated again, and then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). At this point, the end of the world described in 2 Peter 3:10 occurs. The Bible tells us several things about this event.
First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Then God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), which will include the “New Jerusalem” (v. 2), the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness, which will come down from heaven and descend to the new earth. This is the city where the saints—those whose names were written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 13:8)—will live forever. Peter refers to it as “the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
Perhaps the most important part of Peter’s description of that day is his question in verses 11-12: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” For Christians, this means we should live our lives in such a way that we reflect our understanding of what is going to happen. This life is passing away quickly, and our focus should be on the new heavens and earth to come. Our “holy and godly” lives should be a testimony to those who do not know the Savior, and we should be telling others about Him so they can escape the terrible fate that awaits those who reject Him. We wait in eager anticipation for God’s “Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).