CHRISTIANS: Can Imperfect Humans Save the Earth?

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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The Bible prophesied that man would ‘ruin the earth.’ (Revelation 11:18) Will humans completely ruin the earth? How much damage will imperfect humanity cause? Is there a point where the earth cannot be restored? Worriedly, we ask, will we ruin the earth to the point where it will be beyond repair? Don’t some Christians teach that the earth is slated for destruction anyway, so why does it even matter?

Will Human Government Solve Man’s Difficulties?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Difficult Times In the Last Days
3 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power; avoid such men as these. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various desires, always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.

The “last days” is not some future event to which we look. It is now, Jesus Christ initiated this epoch, and it will continue uninterrupted until his return. Paul defined this expansive time period as “terrible.” God’s extravagant grace also characterizes this era, establishing salvation and the church. But these days unleash Satan’s wild attempts to destroy and undermine God’s redemptive intentions. In giving us this information, Paul desired that believers maintain a readiness of spirit and life. The battle will rage. What each believer must decide is whether he will prepare for the promised difficulties or given to personal safety and comfort. – Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 300.

Difficult times will come – Times of danger, of persecution, and of trial. On the general meaning of this passage, and the general characteristics of those times, the reader may consult The Man of Lawlessness and THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS: The Removal of the Restraint and read 1 Timothy 4:1-3. There can be no doubt that in all these passages the apostle refers to the same events.

What Hope Is There?

The Bible furnishes us with confidence that the future of the earth is safe and will not be harmed to the point of no return. The Bible further reveals that human efforts are fine for the time being but they will not be enough in the end to save the earth, as imperfect humans in this wicked age are mentally been toward evil (Gen 6:5; 8:21), who possess a treacherous heart. (Jer. 17:9) However, fear not, as the Bible outlines that changes are coming. In time worldly governments will be replaced with Jesus Christ and his heavenly kingdom that will rule over the earth for a thousand years.—Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:10; Revelation 20:1-10.

NTTC 2 PETER 3:7, 10: Will God destroy the earth by fire?

Some Bible Verses About the Earth

Genesis 2:15: And Jehovah God took the man and set him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it.

Meaning: God assigned humans with taking care of their home, earth.

Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Meaning: The divine blessing is now pronounced upon man. It differs from that of the lower animals chiefly in the element of supremacy. Power is presumed to belong to man’s nature, according to the counsel of the Maker’s will. (Gen. 1:26). But without special permission, he cannot exercise any lawful authority. For the other creatures are as independent of him as he is of them. As creatures, he and they are on an equal footing and have no natural fight either over the other. Hence, it is necessary that he should receive from high heaven a formal charter of right over the things that were made for man. He is therefore authorized, by the word of the Creator, to exercise his power in subduing the earth and ruling over the animal kingdom. This is the meet sequel of his being created in the image of God. Being formed for dominion, the earth, and its various products and inhabitants are assigned to him for the display of his powers. The subduing and ruling refer not to the mere supply of his natural needs, for which provision is made in the following verse, but to the accomplishment of his various purposes of science and beneficence, whether towards the inferior animals or his own race. It is the part of the intellectual and moral reason to employ power for the ends of general no less than personal good. The sway of man ought to be helpful.

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Isaiah 45:18: For thus says Jehovah, who created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah, and there is none else.

MeaningFor thus says Jehovah – This verse is designed to induce them to put unwavering confidence in the true God. For this purpose, the prophet enumerates the great things which God had done in proof that he alone was Almighty, and was worthy of trust. He has established it – That is, the earth. The language here is derived from the supposition that the earth is laid upon a foundation, and is made firm. The Septuagint renders this, ‘God who displayed the earth to view, and who, having made it, divided it (διώρισεν αὐτὴν diōrisen autēn) that is, parcelled it out to be inhabited. This accords well with the scope of the passage. He created it not in vain – He did not form it to remain a vast desert without inhabitants. He did not create it to be destroyed. He did not create it to then have Satan, a created spirit creature undermine his work and his purpose. He formed it to be inhabited – By man, and the various tribes of animals. He makes it a convenient habitation for them; adapts its climates, its soil, and its productions, to their nature; and makes it yield abundance for their support. The main idea, I think, in the statement of this general truth, is, that God designed that the earth at large should be inhabited; and that, therefore, he intended that Judea – thru lying waste while the captives were in Babylon – should be repopulated, and again become the happy abode of the returning exiles. So Grotius interprets it. The Jews, from this passage, infer, that the earth shall be inhabited after the resurrection – an idea which has every probability, since there will not be fewer reasons why the earth shall be inhabited then than there are now; nor can there be any reasons why the earth should then exist in vain any more than now. And there is none else – (See Isa. 45:6).

Psalm 104:5: He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.

Meaning: Who laid the foundations of the earth – Referring still to the creation of the earth. The margin is, “He has founded the earth upon her bases.” The Hebrew word rendered in the margin “her bases” means properly a place, then a basis or foundation. The idea is, that there was something, as it were, placed under the earth to support it. The idea is not uncommon in the Scriptures. That it should not be removed forever – So that it cannot be shaken out of its place. That is, it is fixed, permanent, solid. Its foundations do not give way, as buildings built by man. but it abides the same from age to age – the most fixed and stable object of which we have any knowledge. (Compare Psa. 78:69) God’s purpose concerning the earth has not changed since he created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. It will be inhabited by people who will do what he originally intended. Satan did not thwart God’s plans for humans and the earth when he attempted to usurp God’s sovereignty.

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Job 38:4: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

MeaningWhere were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? – The first appeal is to the creation. The question here, “Where were you?” implies that Job was not present. He had not then an existence. He could not, therefore, have aided God, or counseled him, or understood what he was doing. How presumptuous, therefore, it was in one so short-lived to sit in judgment on the doings of him who had formed the world! How little could he expect to be able to know of him! The expression, “laid the foundations of the earth,” is taken from building an building. The foundations are first laid, and the super-structure is then reared. It is a poetic image and is not designed to give any intimation about the actual process by which the earth was made, or the manner in which it is sustained. The image here is that the earth was designed by God with the intent that it and its inhabited will be here forever upon it. If you have understanding – Margin, as in Hebrew “if you know.” That is, “Declare how it was done. Explain the manner in which the earth was formed and fixed in its place, and by which the beautiful world grew up under the hand of God.” If Job could not do this, what presumption was it to speak as he had done of the divine administration!

Psalm 98:6-8With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.

Meaning: In time God’s rulership will be without the hindrances of Satan and this wicked age that we have lived in for thousands of years, and humanity will no longer be hampered by human imperfection, resulting in good conditions for the environment and the restoration of the earth.

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Revelation 11:18: The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and holy ones, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” 

Meaning: That is, all who have, in their conquests, spread desolation and destruction over the earth and who have persecuted the righteous, and all who have done injustice and wrong to any class of people. Compare Rev. 20:13-15. This verse would include those who have mismanaged earth: atmosphere, land, water, biodiversity. Thus, the Bible prophetically takes humans into the future where we are on the brink of destroying the earth. However, it also shows that man will not take the harming of the earth to the point where it is beyond repair. how much damage will be done? It would seem that humanity will walk right up to the edge of the cliff so to speak and it is at that point God will step in and destroy those destroying the earth. Jesus Christ and his kingdom will rule over the earth from heaven and the earth will be retored to its original perfection throughout the thousand-year reign.

Revelation 5:9-10: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God and the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

Meaning: These verses have a high level of theological content. It either says that Jesus and his co-rulers are going to rule from heaven, over the earth or on the earth. It is theological bias to have several cases of similar context and the same grammatical construction, rendering the verses the same every time, yet to then render one verse contrary to the others, simply because it aligns with one’s theology. Whether that is the case here or not, the readers will have to determine for themselves. The point regardless is this, either way, Jesus is ruling the earth, and we are blessed to have had his ransom sacrifice and resurrection.

Psalm 19:1: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Meaning: The heavens make known the work of his hands. The idea is that God had made those heavens by his own hands, and that the firmament, thus adorned with sun, and moon, and stars, showed the wisdom and skill with which it was done. (Compare Psa. 8:3). Here we see that God, again, did not create something that declares his glory to have it be destroyed and have his will and purposes thwardted.

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The New Earth: The Earthly Hope

In the O[ld] T[estament] the kingdom of God is usually described in terms of a redeemed earth; this is especially clear in the book of Isaiah, where the final state of the universe is already called new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22) The nature of this renewal was perceived only very dimly by OT authors, but they did express the belief that a humans ultimate destiny is an earthly one.[1] This vision is clarified in the N[ew] T[estament]. Jesus speaks of the “renewal” of the world (Matt 19:28), Peter of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Paul writes that the universe will be redeemed by God from its current state of bondage (Rom. 8:18-21). This is confirmed by Peter, who describes the new heavens and the new earth as the Christian’s hope (2 Pet. 3:13). Finally, the book of Revelation includes a glorious vision of the end of the present universe and the creation of a new universe, full of righteousness and the presence of God. The vision is confirmed by God in the awesome declaration: “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:1-8)

The new heavens and the new earth will be the renewed creation that will fulfill the purpose for which God created the universe. It will be characterized by the complete rule of God and by the full realization of the final goal of redemption: “Now the dwelling of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3).

The fact that the universe will be created anew[2] shows that God’s goals for humans is not an ethereal and disembodied existence, but a bodily existence on a perfected earth. The scene of the beatific vision is the new earth. The spiritual does not exclude the created order and will be fully realized only within a perfected creation. (Elwell 2001, 828-29)

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What have we learned so far in this article? God created the earth to be inhabited, to be filled with perfect humans, who are over the animals, and under the sovereignty of God. (Gen 1:28; 2:8, 15; Ps 104:5; 115:16; Eccl 1:4) Sin did not dissuade God from his plans (Isa. 45:18); hence, he has saved redeemable humankind by Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. It seems that the Bible offers two hopes to redeemed humans, (1) a heavenly hope, or (2) an earthly hope. It also seems that those with the heavenly hope are limited in number and are going to heaven to rule with Christ as kings, priests, and judges either on the earth or over the earth from heaven. It seems that those with the earthly hope are going to receive eternal life here on a paradise earth as it was originally intended. It also seems that the mismanagement of the earth, that the destroying, i.e., damaging the earth will not go to the point of no return, in that, man will not ruin the earth to the point where it is beyond repair but will be stopped in the end, and God will destroy those destroying his creation. Throughout the thousand-year reign of Christ and his Kingdom, there will be a renewal of the earth.

You can anticipate that Jesus and his Kingdom heirs will bring about these transformations. For more information, read the article “Has the End of All Things Drawn Close?

[1] It is unwise to speak of the written Word of God as if it were of human origin, saying ‘OT authors express the belief,’ when what was written is the meaning and message of what God wanted to convey by means of the human author.

[2] Create anew does not mean a complete destruction followed by a re-creation, but instead a renewal of the present universe.

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