Why Does the Earth Still Stand?

View of Earth from space

At the close of his second epistle, Peter told those to whom he wrote about the end of the world: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Because this day was coming “like a thief,” he wanted them to be prepared: “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12). “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). He wanted them to be living in a state of readiness knowing that the Lord could return at any time.

Approximately two thousand years later, the earth is still here. Why? It is important to understand that Peter’s words were not meant to suggest imminence (the end was soon), but unexpectedness (the end could come at any time). With this in mind, the Scriptures give three reasons why the earth has not yet been destroyed.

God Made it to Stand

Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants” (Psalm 119:90-91).

The psalmist noted that God “established the earth” at the beginning in the Creation. He “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and when He was finished “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since the Creation, the earth continues to stand by His providence. Paul said, “All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

By God’s providence, we can continue to survive here on the earth. The wise man contrasted the providence of God with two things in which people often put their trust – money and government. He said, “Riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations” (Proverbs 27:24). However, he noted that man is able to survive without these through providence. The wise man continued to describe how we have clothing, land, tradable assets, food, and family to help us survive (Proverbs 27:25-27). All of these are gifts from God (James 1:17).

Ironically, Peter said that when mockers of God’s promises would come, they would cite God’s providence (though they certainly would not call it that) as a reason to disbelieve the Lord. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Aside from the flood – which these mockers conveniently forgot (2 Peter 3:5-6) – their statement was correct: “All continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). The reason for this is that God designed life on earth to continue as He created it. After the flood, God promised, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). This continued providence is a “witness” of God to all nations throughout history (Acts 14:15-17).

The Day of Destruction Has Not Yet Come

Because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

When Paul taught the men gathered on Mars Hill about the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23), he concluded by warning them of God’s judgment. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). After this judgment takes place, the righteous will be saved and the wicked will be destroyed (Revelation 20:12-15; 22:12-15; Matthew 25:46). After this happens, then “the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Though some fear that man will somehow destroy the world or all life on it, this will not happen. The wise man said, “Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13). His point was that man cannot alter what God has established. While humans may be able to negatively affect a localized area, it is not possible for us to end life on this planet. Remember, the world stands by God’s providence (Colossians 1:16-17). We are not capable of overpowering the Lord and stopping His care for His creation.

Whenever this day of destruction might be is known only to God the Father. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). Even though God has “fixed a day” for this judgment and destruction, it is foolish for any man to claim to know the day. We do not know more than Jesus! But since the day could come at any time, we must be ready at all times (Matthew 24:44-46; 2 Peter 3:10-14).

God Is Patiently Waiting for Men to Repent

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Between warning about the mockers and telling about the end of the world, Peter gave another reason why the world is still standing – God’s patience. He is patiently waiting “for all to come to repentance.” Why? It is because He wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Man has departed from God and has chosen to sin (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:29). Repentance is a prerequisite for salvation. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). Paul said, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). Of course, repentance is not the only condition of salvation – we must also believe (Hebrews 11:6), confess (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (1 Peter 3:21), but repentance is absolutely essential.

God takes no pleasure in destroying the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but He will do it. So even though His patience has allowed the earth to stand this long, we must not think lightly of this great blessing. Paul wrote, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Romans 2:4-6). If we need to repent of anything, we must not waste time in doing that.

Conclusion

Though God is patient and will continue to bless man with those things which are necessary to sustain life, the end will come someday. Since we do not know when that day will be, we must be prepared at all times so that we might be rewarded and not punished by the Lord in the end.


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Comments

  1. Andy,

    Your excellent article on the end of all things is a warning to the wise. The earth still stands because God wills it so. As you menitoned He is desirous of all men coming to the truth and only the truth can save them. The truth reveals God’s plan for our redemption and explains every step so clearly. Why do men fight God’s plan? Why do they pick and chose the point or points they like best and ignore the rest?

    Thanks for some food to think on.

  2. Thanks, Wayne. I appreciate your comment.

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