What will be the final fate of our planet?
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus spoke of a time which was a "renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne..." (NIV) The King James Version referred to it as "the regeneration." I always give especial credence when the Bible is quoting Jesus' own words. The original Greek scriptures agree that Jesus is speaking of a regeneration of all things.
This regeneration is confirmed in the Old Testament. A favorite passage is the first two chapters of Isaiah where we get a picture of this regenerated world. In Matthew, Jesus places this renewal during the time of his rule on earth. Isaiah agrees with this.
The 4th chapter of Micah speaks of a regeneration of the affairs of men. Under the reign of the Messiah we shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. There will be no more war between the nations.
But is there a renewal also for the Earth itself?
Ezekiel 47 speaks of a river which flows from the temple during Christ's reign. Wherever this water flows the earth is made alive. Even the Dead Sea, which is salt, will turn to fresh water and teem with life! And of course the Bible speaks of a change in the way animals relate to each other, and to humanity. On God's holy mountain, at least, there will be harmony with nature.
And the other side of the story? New earth proponents point to the strong statement of Rev. 20:11. "Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them."
This verse is followed shortly by this one at the beginning of chapter 21. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."
The subsequent description of the new earth points to a planet with no nighttime and no moon.
In Heb. 1:10-12 (which is actually a quote from the Old Testament) it reads,
"In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."
So is the Bible contradicting itself?
I have other favorite verses arguing both sides of the question. But the question remains: which ending is the true fate of the earth?
The answer is...both!
The renewal of the earth takes place during the reign of Christ, the period we refer to as the Millennial Reign. For a thousand years the earth and its people will see peace. But after this early reign, the world we know will be discarded and a new one created for God's people.
Both events are greatly anticipated. To God be the glory!