During the whole rapture fiasco of May 21st I linked to my 7 reasons why I left behind a pre-tribulation rapture. That, and the fact that Harold Camping is a false prophet and horrible exegete, left me with little expectation of a rapture on May 21. Now we have this little gem from Camping:
"Five months from now from May 21, as we learn from the Bible is Oct. 21. We are not changing the dates at all. We are just learning that we have to look at all this a little more spiritual[ly]. But it won't be spiritual on Oct. 21 because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world will be destroyed altogether. But it will be very quick. It won't be a five-month difficulty as we have learned."
There are probably a good number of people that will share a bit of Camping’s eschatology but balk at his date giving. I’m not one of them. In fact I don’t think the earth is going to be destroyed. Not on October 21st and not at the return of Christ.
So I give you now my top 7 reasons that the earth isn’t going to be destroyed on October 21st or ever. Renewed, yes. Radically changed, yes. Destroyed, no.
- Revelation 21-22 helps us to see the end of the story. The picture is not of us floating around in the sky as disembodied spirits playing harps on a cloud. The picture here is of heaven coming down and transforming earth. Notice in 21:2 that while the “first heaven and the first earth have passed away” this new city is “coming down out of heaven from God”. It’s not the other way around. Which is ironic because the place that we often turn to find out about the “end of the world” actually tells us about the “restoration of the world”. We don’t ultimately “go up”, God “comes down”.
- The “obliteration passage” like 2 Peter 3:10 is probably, *gulp*, mistranslated in the KJV. The ESV is probably closer to the original, “the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed”. As Christopher Wright comments, “we should not see in this passage an obliteration of the universe, but a moral and redemptive purging of the universe, cleansing it of the presence and effects of all sin and evil.
- The meaning of kainos. Drawing from 1 Corinthians 15, my trusty ESV Study Bible says the meaning of kainos here is probably “best understood in terms of something that has been qualitatively transformed in a fundamental way, rather than as an outright new creation ex nihilo as in the case of God’s original creation.
- Jesus is better than Plato. Yes, Jesus had a pretty sweet new body that could do some “other-worldly things”. But he also ate a piece of fish. Spiritual=good, material=bad isn’t from the mouth of Christ it’s from the teaching of Plato and the Gnostics. Therefore, there is no need for the earth to be destroyed. It’s not in rebellion—we are. Which leads to my next reason…
- Creation longs for redemption not destruction. Romans 8 doesn’t make much sense if when we receive our reward creation gets annihilated. Paul says that creation was subjected to futility in hope that, “the creation itself will be set free from bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God”. Sure doesn’t sound like a fireball blowing up the whole earth to me.
- The Storyline of Scripture. There are several threads of a beautiful story that are weaved all throughout Scripture. One of these is the Garden/Temple as the Presence of God with man. Again the picture in Revelation 21 is a restored Garden. The theme of Scripture isn’t that God starts over completely with is covenant community and that his “new” is ex nihilo. Even with Noah—God brought a sinner into the ark and it was a sinner from the same flesh as Adam that was brought out of the ark. But Noah was a sinner now in covenant with the LORD. God doesn’t start over He transforms.
- It Simply Makes More Sense. This isn’t the best argument and certainly should not stand alone, but this view makes more sense of my desires. That’s dangerous isn’t it? But this gets me excited, “Think of the prospect! All human culture, language, literature, art, music, science, business, sport, technological achievement—actual and potential—all available to us. All of it with the poison of evil and sin sucked out of it forever. All of it glorifying God. All of it under his loving and approving smile. All of it for us to enjoy with God and indeed being enjoyed by God. An all eternity for us to explore it, understand it, appreciate it, and expand it.” (Christopher Wright, The God I Don’t Understand, 203). The problem with creation isn’t creation—it’s sin. God removes the curse and redeems. How amazing will that be?
Maybe the earth will be completely destroyed and for a few short days we’ll be floating in space. Perhaps God will then create a new (ex nihilo) that is nothing like what we could ever even imagine. Maybe. But maybe He’ll just show His awesome power by turning all evil, sin, death, etc. on its head and completely redeeming this very same earth that you and I are walking on. Maybe the oxygen we breath will not be consumed by fires but rather redeemed.
Maybe heaven will be more like picking strawberries without the chance of a rotten one and less like playing an spiritual harp on an spiritual cloud with my spiritual fingers.