In February 2005, a scientific symposium on avoiding dangerous climate change through the stabilization of greenhouse gases was held at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, in Exeter, England. It attracted 200 renowned scientists from some 30 countries.
The conference warned that, if action to reduce emissions is delayed by as few as 20 years, the rates of emission reduction may need to be three to seven times greater than they are now in order to meet the recommended temperature target. As a result of the revised opinion on the “safe” atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gasses, environmental pressure groups and some political parties began demanding that the British government set a goal of cutting emissions by 70 to 80 percent by 2050.
These and other environmental concerns are no longer being ignored by the world community. We are being forced to take seriously the calls to action regarding the future of our planet. They are like hurricane or tornado sirens, warning of imminent disaster if nothing is done to address the issue of the destruction of the earth.
Creation and Destruction
The Bible says that God created our world. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Then follows a brief description of the seven days of Creation. The beauty of the earth as it came from His hand is beyond our wildest ability to understand. It far exceeded mere utility. God went over the top in His creative imagination, providing for the meaningful and joyful fulfillment of our human lives. At the end of the Creation week God looked over all that He had made and declared that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The crowning work of God’s creation was two human beings, a man and a woman named Adam and Eve. After creating them, He conducted their marriage ceremony. Then, in an amazing gesture of faith, the Lord of the universe entrusted the supervision of this planet to their care. He told them to “ ‘rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’ ” (Genesis 1:28). “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
Of course, you know the sad story: the tree, the fruit, and the snake. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and He had to cast them out of their beautiful garden home. The consequences of their disobedience even affected nature. God said, “ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you. . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you’ ” (Genesis 3:17, 18).
Yet even in this situation, God promised that if the human race would keep a heartfelt covenant with Him, He would protect their land, their crops, and their animals. (Deuteronomy 28:4, 5). The climax of their faithfulness would have been the reconstruction of their broken earth into its original splendor (Isaiah 35; 65:17–25).
Unfortunately, we humans have not obeyed God. Instead, we have sought independence from Him. We have been more preoccupied with wealth, display, and ease at any cost. Thus, God has removed His protecting hand, and over the centuries a relentless, increasing tide of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, hurricanes and droughts, and desertification has afflicted us.
Eventually, because of our rebellion, God will destroy our planet. Revelation describes His warning as coming from a trumpet. Speaking of the end time, Revelation says, “‘The nations were angry; / and your wrath has come. / The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets / and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great— / and for destroying those who destroy the earth’ ” (Revelation 11:18, 19, italics added).
Peter predicted that a day is coming when “the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. . . .
“That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:10, 12).
The New Earth
Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. Peter goes on to say that “in keeping with [God’s] promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (verse 13). And Jesus promised that “‘the meek will inherit the earth’ ” (Matthew 5:5).
In spite of what we’ve done and are doing to our planet, God is still in control. Standing in a small boat that was being tossed about in a howling tempest, Jesus ordered the wind and waves to “‘be still,’ ” thus assuming the role first given to Adam as ruler over creation. And, amazingly, nature yielded to its Maker (Mark 4:39).
Jesus healed sick people (Matthew 8:30–32; Luke 5:4–7). He wept over the death of a friend and then ordered Him out of the grave (John 11:35, 43). And in a crowning superiority over His creation, Jesus Himself rose from the grave with a human material body (Luke 24:37–43).
What’s more, His intention for our created world is that we, too, will one day be resurrected, and that our bodies presently afflicted by sin, age, disease, and deformity, will be transformed to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
Building on that reality, He sought to comfort His bewildered disciples on the night before His crucifixion with these immortal words: “ ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’ ” (John 14:1–3).
That place is described vividly in the closing chapters of the Bible. In a mirror image of the original creation at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, the Word of God closes with a corresponding picture, a recreated earth (Revelation 21; 22).
Our destiny doesn’t lie in struggling to exist in a devastated world. Rather, He has indicated that He will start over: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. . . . That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10–13).
Jesus’ victory over death is our assurance that earth has a future, and He invites every human being to be a part of it!