The Second Coming: It’s Not the End of the World

One of the difficult tasks of all Bible students is to harmonize texts that seems, at first glance, to say contradictory things. When comparing the following texts which one determines the meaning of the other?

” . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21)

“The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Pet. 3:10)

I have chosen to buck the seemingly predominate view of the total annihilation of the earth, by teaching that the fire of 2 Peter 3 (literal or not, I don’t know) will purge all evil thus enabling the liberation of the earth to finally be what Isaiah, 2 Peter, and Revelation all refer to as the “new earth.” The End Times pictures that I get most excited about come from the book of Isaiah. The new earth is seen as a place where fear has no presence, where current unnatural alliances are completely natural, where war is no longer a reality, and the predominate emotion is joy. Peter seems to have no quarrel with this as he borrows Isaiah’s phrase “new heavens and new earth” when speaking of what happens after Jesus returns (See 2 Peter 3:13 and Isaiah 65:17).
No wonder the earliest Christians prayed, “Maranatha!”, which means “Come, Lord Jesus!”

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.

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3 Responses to “The Second Coming: It’s Not the End of the World”

  1. avatar Jeremy says:

    Your post addresses the question that I had. Your preemptive strike was quite effective.

    It is an issue that I have struggle with, and it is not directly related to this topic. The issue is interpretation. How do we know when to take which text literal or figurative? Especially when they can affect the meaning of another text?

    Slightly related to this is what we consider the nature of inspiration to be. Is inspiration limited to principles, ideas, and concepts? Does it go down to the case, number, and tense of the words? How much freedom in writing did the original authors really have?

    I think that the answer to those questions affect how we answer the first set. A rule that I have kind of followed is to try to use clear texts to illuminate unclear ones. That becomes a bit more difficult when speaking of the eschaton. There are not many clear passages to use to illuminate the rest. And the stance one takes on those beginning verses greatly affects how one understands the rest.

    I have long thought that the end of the world was not what I had been taught it would be. I just was afraid of being accused of being too much like the Jehovah Witnesses to say anything. I also felt that eschatology was too big a study for me. I kind of took an agnostic stance toward it.

    Now, what about Hell? Most of the agnostics or atheists that I know have a huge hang up about hell. Is it what we were taught it is? Or am I getting ahead of myself?

    Oh, I love the picture that Isaiah paints about the end. It is just a general picture to give us an idea of the peace that will be present, the security that we will have, but can you imagine if it would literally be like that? That would be pretty cool. I could dig that. That being said, who says that it is not literal? If we are going to have new bodies (similar but different from our own) and life in the New Jerusalem here on earth in the presence of God, the harmony of all God’s creation living together in peace is not far fetched at all.

    A little revised R.E.M. might be in order:

    It’s (not)the end of the world as we know it.
    It’s (not)the end of the world as we know it.
    It’s (not)the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

  2. avatar Tommytwotoez says:

    I’m understanding this part of your sermon more then I thought I would, but I can clearly see that I need to take another class for understanding how different styled texts are written and their interpretation.

    I’ve always been a kind of guy that took everything literal, but I’m working on that! Thanks in part to my Comp II class, I’m learning of hidden messages and not so literal meanings in stories and poems.

    I’m also determined to keep an open mind with this topic; in the past I tended to shut it out, the thoughts of the End Times, because of the fearful images that was painted by the “old school” type sermons, that I heard as a child. I believe it was you that said that fear was only a short term solution to win a soul to salvation, because eventually the fear will diminish. I thought that that was very meaningful.

    Your sermon yesterday reminded me of the joyful celebration I SHOULD be feeling for the end. Thank you for restoring those images into my heart, and allowing me to walk away with a smile on my face!

  3. avatar gary robbins says:

    Total annihilation? Partial reconstruction? I can’t be sure…but any sermon that utilizes the Periodic Table of Elements (even in a negative way) gets two thumbs up from me!

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