Will the Earth Remain?
Text: Psalm 37:1-22
I. I believe that all here understand that the earth was never created to be a permanent home to mankind
A. In contrast to Jesus’ words, the earth and its heaven will cease - Mark 13:31
B. God is eternal, but the world He made will wear out and be cast away - Hebrews 1:10-12
C. The physical world is temporary - II Corinthians 4:18
II. II Peter 3:10 - The very elements, the substance of the world, will be destroyed
A. The Jehovah Witnesses object saying it is like the flood. The people were destroyed, but the world remained to be repopulated.
1. However, look at verse 6. The word “world” does refer to the population, but the in verse 10 the word is “earth.”
2. Not only is the earth destroy, but also the heavens. In the plural sense this refers to both the sky and outer space.
B. Another attempt is to translate “destroyed” as “discovered”
1. Actually, some variant manuscripts do include the word “discovered” at the end of verse 10.
2. However, the variants still contain “in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat”
3. In addition II Peter 3:12 reads the same, even in the variant manuscripts.
4. If “discovered” was the proper ending in verse 10, it would mean “discovered for destruction”. Its presence does not alter the overall meaning of the text.
III. A subtle piece of evidence
A. Genesis 8:22 tells us that as long as the earth remains, the cycle of day and night will not end.
B. Yet in end, there will be no night in the new Jerusalem - Revelation 21:23-25
C. You can’t claim it is just in heaven - Revelation 21:10
D. With the ending of night, the implication is the ending of the earth
IV. Verses used to support the claim of an eternal earth
A. The claim is that God’s purpose in creating the world was to create a paradise that was lost by Adam and Eve.
1. God’s purpose cannot be thwarted. Hence, God will accomplish His plan in the future.
2. The problem with the argument is that the Bible doesn’t say that God intended to make this world a paradise.
3. The blessings are in the heavenly places - Ephesians 1:3-4
4. God’s eternal purpose is in Christ, not in the earth - Ephesians 3:10-11
5. It was God’s eternal purpose to save mankind through Jesus - II Timothy 1:9-10
B. Some use Isaiah 45:18 and argue that the earth cannot be destroyed because God made it to be inhabited. If it was destroyed then it was created in vain.
1. The fault here is that the earth has been inhabited and God’s purpose in using this world has been accomplished.
2. When a house is built, it might stand for generations, but eventually it becomes too old to maintain. Eventually it is torn down to make room for something else. Does this mean that the builder of the home made it in vain? Of course not, it served as a dwelling for many years. It served its purpose.
3. Recall Hebrews 1:10-12 - The world will wear out and be discarded.
C. Another favorite verse is Psalm 37:9-11
1. The argument is that meek have not yet inherited the earth, so it remains to be fulfilled in the future. Thus, they claim, the earth will remain forever (see verse 18).
2. First, the word translated “earth” is a general term which can refer to the earth as a whole or in part.
a. For instance it can be translated “land” as in Psalm 105:42-45 which refers to Israel inheriting the land of Canaan after their wanderings in the wilderness.
b. That inheritance would remain so long as Israel remained faithful - Deuteronomy 16:20
c. If they sinned, God would remove them from the land - Deuteronomy 28:58-64
d. If they repent, God would return them to their inheritance - Deuteronomy 30:1-5
3. Such did happen to the Israelites
a. The northern tribes were removed from their inheritance - II Kings 21:13-15
b. The southern tribes’ inheritance was given to others - Lamentations 5:1-2
c. Yet God promised to let Israel return to its inheritance, but the nations who lived in the land could remain if they turned to God - Jeremiah 12:14-17; Ezekiel 47:13-14, 21-23
d. It was the faithful, the meek, the righteous who were allowed to return to the inheritance. - Zephaniah 3:10-13; Zechariah 8:6-12
D. A similar verse is Matthew 5:5
1. In this verse, no mention is made of eternity
2. God gives favor to the afflicted, the humble or the meek (depending on your translation) - Psalm 147:6
3. As we showed “inherit the earth” is an allusion to possessing the land of Canaan - Judges 18:9-10
4. It was the land of rest - Deuteronomy 12:10
5. Israel did not remain faithful and could not possess the land of rest, so such a place of rest remains - Hebrews 4:3-11
6. That rest will come when the first things (this world) has passed away - Revelation 21:4
7. Our inheritance is in heaven - I Peter 1:3-4
E. But God said the earth abides forever - Psalm 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:4
1. The word “forever” does not necessarily mean eternity.
a. The same word is used in Ecclesiastes 1:10 to describe the ancient times before. The world had a definite starting point. It has not existed eternally.
b. Sacrifices were “forever” - Leviticus 24:9. Yet those sacrifices came to an end - Hebrews 9:25-28
c. The temple was built to be used forever - II Chronicles 2:4. Yet that temple no longer stands
2. In reality the word is defined to mean a long, indefinite period of time.
F. Those looking for an eternal earth, ignore the fulfillment in the New Testament - Isaiah 11:1-10
1. They point out that the lion hasn’t lain with the lamb
2. But note that Paul quotes this passage and applies it to Christ - Romans 15:12
G. Probably a more humorous passage used is Isaiah 65:21-25
1. A beautiful description of paradise.
2. But notice the verses prior - Isaiah 65:17-20
3. Think that this is describing heaven or as the Jehovah Witnesses claim, a paradise on earth? Look again at verse 20. There are sinners present! (By the way, even the New World Translation mentions this.)
4. In heaven, righteousness dwells - II Peter 3:12-13
5. Sinners are not present there - Matthew 25:46
V. No, the earth is not meant to remain for eternity
A. It has a purpose and will one day wear out.
B. God has promised to destroy it
C. Yet a promised land of rest remains. One that is truly eternal.
D. It is reserved for the faithful, the meek, the righteous.
E. Will you not become a child of the promise? - Galatians 3:26-29