A New Earth

“We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” —II Peter 3:13

AS WE APPROACH the year 2000, or the beginning of the third millennium since Jesus was on earth, we can expect many speculations concerning what will happen at that time. A Newsweek article published September 8, 1997 briefly reviewed the setting of dates. The article said:

“If you are making plans for the year 2000, here are some predictions that you may want to factor in. Followers of New Age prophet Edgar Cayce believe that the North and South Poles will flop, causing worldwide floods and earthquakes. In his best seller ‘The Bible Code’, former Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Drosnin uses computer analysis of the Torah to divine that World War III may start in that year. Or maybe in 2006—he’s not sure. In a trailer park in Eula, Texas, 500 or so members of a doomsday sect called the House of Yahweh are hunkering down for the last, grim years of life on earth. Their ‘overseer’, a onetime Abilene cop and rockabilly musician named Yisrayl Hawkins, preaches that the last days started with the satanically inspired Middle East peace accords of 1993. The finale will arrive on October 13, 2000, ‘when nuclear bombs will block out the sun, and life as we know it will end’.”

“Hawkin’s followers probably shouldn’t stop their car payments. The end, much predicted throughout history, has never turned out to be quite so nigh as our soothsayers had hoped or feared. This has not, however, discouraged the soothsayers. Between the Woman in the Wilderness cult in 1694, whose members deployed rooftop telescopes to scan the heavens for signs of Christ’s second coming, and this year’s Heaven’s Gaters, whose telescopes were set on the comet Hale-Bopp, American prophets alone have set dozens of dates for doomsday.”


Another well-known incident was reported in depth—namely the Miller Movement, starting in 1836. Although the editors of Newsweek are incorrect in some of their statements and time-framing, the general division between the beliefs of some of the Adventist churches and other Christian churches consists in understanding the end of the world. Most Christian churches believe that the end of the world will be a complete destruction of planet Earth. Some of the Adventist churches say that it is the kosmos (Greek word for ‘world’) or social order upon planet Earth which will perish.

As the Miller movement ended with the ‘great disappointment’, several groups sprang into existence, and are classified as Adventist churches. These various groups had different interpretations of the Scriptures concerning this event. Only one group looks at the end of the world as not being disastrous, but as the end of this present evil order. The end of the present social order must come before the new order of God’s kingdom can begin. The realization of promised blessings for all the nations of the earth will fulfill the Abrahamic promise.—Gen. 22:17,18


In II Peter, chapter 3, we are told of three ‘worlds’. In this prophecy the apostle uses the Greek word kosmos, meaning ‘an order of things’. The first of these, he tells us, came to an end at the time of the Flood (vs. 6); the second ends with the return of Christ (vss. 7-12); while the third (vs. 13), which is God’s world, is “without end.”—Eph. 3:21

In keeping with the modern use of language we might speak of these three worlds as ‘the world of yesterday’, ‘the world of today’, and ‘the world of tomorrow’. The Bible uses the word ‘world’ in the same way we do, not as referring to the planet upon which we live, but to an order of things among men, and sometimes as an age, or period of time. Much of the misunderstanding of God’s purpose for the sinful race of mankind has been occasioned by a failure to recognize this fact. For example, the biblical ‘end of the world’ has been misunderstood to denote the literal burning up of the literal earth and all things upon it. This has deterred many from an investigation of the subject.

Due to this misunderstanding of what is meant by the ‘end of the world’, many have feared its approach and therefore have endeavored to project it far into the future. Others have looked upon it as a mere superstition of the Dark Ages, unworthy of being given any serious consideration. But when we realize that the Bible speaks of ‘the end’ of the present world, it means what we now see taking place. Since thinking people of our time refer to this as the ‘ending of a world’, the subject should take on an important meaning—a vital meaning—to all who are interested in what the world of tomorrow will be.


The Bible uses the terms ‘fire’, ‘earthquakes’, and ‘storms’ in the same pictorial manner in which they are used in current language to describe the catastrophic trouble that has come upon men and nations of this generation. Just as the Lord uses ‘wheat’ and ‘tares’ and ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ to illustrate those who serve, pretend to serve, or oppose him, so he uses the terms “earth” (Jer. 22:29) and ‘heaven’ to illustrate phases of organized society called ‘worlds’.

Peter speaks of the heavens and the earth which were before the Flood, indicating that they made up the “world that then was”—the world of yesterday. (II Pet. 3:6) That world came to an end at the time of the Flood, but the earth itself was not destroyed. Of the literal earth we read that it “abideth for ever.” (Eccles. 1:4) In Isaiah 45:18 we are told that God did not create the earth in vain, but “formed it to be inhabited.” This is a basic fact of truth which should be kept in mind as we trace through the Scriptures—the outline of the Divine plan. God’s plan does not involve the transfer of the human race to another sphere of life, but its restoration to everlasting life upon the earth, man’s designed and original home.—Ps. 115:16; Isa. 65:21; Jer. 31:17; Deut. 11:21; Matt. 5:5

The ‘first world’ began at the time of Creation and ended at the Flood. The ‘second world’, according to the Apostle Peter, began after the Flood and will come to an end in the destruction wrought in the final phase of the great time of trouble (Matt. 24:21,22), or Day of the Lord. (II Pet. 3:10) This Day of Jehovah follows the return of Jesus Christ, when conditions in this present evil world will be similar to what they were in the days of Noah.—Luke 17:26,27; Gen. 6:11; II Pet. 3:6,7,10

In the days of Noah we are told that the people were ‘eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage … and knew not’ of the impending Flood that was to destroy the ‘world that then was’. (Matt. 24:38,39) The Scriptures also explain, “the day of the Lord” comes as a “thief in the night”—the people not being aware of the significance of events until the destructive troubles of that day bring about the overthrow of this “present evil world.”—Gal. 1:4; 1 Thess. 5:2; Luke 21:35

The end of the present ‘world’ will not mean the end of the human race. It will mean the beginning of a new world—God’s world of tomorrow. One of the chief characteristics of the world of yesterday and the world of today is that they have been based upon selfishness, and Satan, the archenemy of God, has been their ruler. But with the ending of the world of today and the beginning of the world of tomorrow, Satan will be bound, and that new world will come under a new, a Divine rulership.—Rev. 20:1-4; 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Isa. 65:17; Obad. 21


Under the leadership of Satan, the spirit of selfishness—self-interest—became dominant at the very beginning of the world of yesterday. Sin and selfishness continued to dominate that first world, with the result that just before it ended the earth “was filled with violence.” (Gen 6:11) The same has been true of the world of today. We are already, in fact, witnessing the dissolution of the present world, and its destruction is being brought about by the violence of the great time of trouble foretold by the prophets. (Dan. 12:1) The type of violence that has erupted in Rwanda, Liberia, and Angola on the continent of Africa, and in Yugoslavia in Europe, is typical of events which will lead to the end of the world—the evil order upon earth.

God’s world of tomorrow will be under the leadership of a new ruler, Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Ps. 72:1-20) His rulership will be upon the basis of love, rather than selfishness. This is the reason the apostle speaks of that world as one “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:13) The satanic misrule of sin and selfishness has brought death, because the “wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) The messianic reign of righteousness and love will bring life, for he must reign until all enemies are put under his feet, the “last enemy” to be destroyed being “death.”—I Cor. 15:25,26

When we keep before us the fact of these three worlds and their varying characteristics, we can readily see that whatever the Bible might say about them would seem to be contradictory unless we apply its various statements to the period of time to which they belong. Of the present time the prophet says, “Now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” But of the world of tomorrow we read that “then shall the righteous flourish,” and “all the wicked will he [God] destroy.”—Mal. 3:15; Ps. 72:7; Acts 3:23; Ps. 145:20

The method of studying the Bible dispensationally seems, in part, what the Apostle Paul refers to when he instructs Timothy to be studious in applying himself toward “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15) If in our study of the Bible we endeavor to apply its various prophecies and promises to the world, or age, in which they belong, we will find a simplicity, harmony, and beauty in its teaching which we did not realize existed. The Bible itself is harmonious, and all that remains in order to understand it is for us to get in harmony with it.—John 7:17; Luke 11:9,10; Jer. 29:13

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