GOOD NEWS FOR A MODERN WORLD
WHAT IS GOD'S PURPOSE FOR THE EARTH?
October 6, 2012
The Bible tells us that God created the earth to inhabit life:
“For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited —he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
– Isaiah 45:18
The earth is certainly fulfilling that purpose; our planet is teeming with life – sea creatures, flying creatures, creatures that walk on the earth, and, of course, man. This scripture also tells us that God does not create things ‘simply for nothing,’ so we can safely assume that while some planets are formed for other purposes, there are many planets that were formed to be inhabited like ours, and likely are currently inhabited by various forms of life.
When we look into our universe, we see billions of planets, all spherical like our earth. Thus, we conclude that it is God’s purpose that His various living creations would be domiciled on spherical planets like earth. We cannot imagine that the angels must perpetually fly. The Father is merciful enough to provide roosts for the birds. (Matthew 8:20) Surely, angels, too, must have planets that were formed for their habitation.
But earth is not the only home for mankind. Jesus told us:
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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 14:2-3
Yes, Jesus is preparing other abodes, other homes or dwelling places, for Sons of the Kingdom!
Earth is Not The Paradise of God
When Adam and Eve first arrived on earth, they were placed in a beautiful garden that came to be known as the Garden of Eden. But it was never known as a paradise. Our research reveals that there was a specific Hebrew word for “paradise” and it was not used in reference to the Garden of Eden.
However, the Bible does refer to a place called “paradise” in three specific instances:
(1) As Jesus’ kingdom, the promised destination for those who exercised faith:
“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”
– Luke 23:42
(2) As a heavenly place where the Apostle Paul apparently visited:
“And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:3-4
(3) And as the heavenly place of God:
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
– Revelation 2:7
Each of these references identify paradise as a place located somewhere other than earth. While the earth has the potential to be truly beautiful, that would not be the equivalent of a true paradise. We are told:
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9
The Restoration of the Earth
As shown above, Paradise has never been on the earth, therefore, it could not be ‘restored’ to a paradise. However, there are many prophesies that point to a time when the earth will be a beautiful paradise-like home. For example, the prophet Isaiah perceived that at a future time, the earth would exist in peace and abundance:
“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
– Isaiah 2:4
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus...Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow."
– Isaiah 35:1, 6-7
“‘They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.”
– Isaiah 65:21-25
These are beautiful prophecies that will eventually be realized and perpetuated forever. As the psalmist wrote:
“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.”
– Psalms 37:29
Yes, our troubled planet will someday be healed and will serve as a comfortable, enjoyable, and enduring first residence for mankind until the time they take up the new heavenly abodes prepared for them by Jesus. (John 14:2-3)
How the renovation of our planet will be accomplished is a question of the ages, from generation to generation. Some believe it will be accomplished by an all-out war where God will send his angels to destroy all who oppose God. But that in itself would not change our planet into a paradise-like place. Such a war would more likely devastate it and probably leave it in a far worse condition than it is in now. So we wonder if maybe Christianity’s current interpretation of the Book of Revelation is accurate.
But whatever will occur in the future, we are certain that the education work Jesus started is an excellent step in the right direction! By preaching and teaching the true Good News of the Kingdom, we will be expanding the spiritual brotherhood of man right now, turning enemies into friends, and thereby changing ‘swords into plowshares and spears into pruning shears.’ (Isaiah 2:4) And person by person, we can change the spiritual climate of our world until the Father determines to effect another planetary intervention.
Suffering on Earth Will End
Suffering is associated with earthly life and arises in proportion to the extent to which we and those around us do not know or reject the Good News of the Kingdom. Some of our brothers are especially fraught with suffering and must endure untold anguish at the hands of those who could potentially be our brothers, but have not heard or responded to the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) Thus we can minimize some suffering by spreading this Good News throughout our communities.
This type of suffering has been the plight of mankind since Adam and Eve defaulted in their commission to uplift and subdue our planet. (Genesis 1:28) But this detour only delayed the Father’s purposes. There has always been hope:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
– Romans 8:18-25
It is by means of our sonship that we will have our freedom from all ‘groaning’ and suffering. So while it may take some time for our planet to be transformed into a paradise-like environment, we know that upon ‘the release from our fleshly bodies,’ all our suffering will end.
Since the true Paradise is in the heavens, only those who pursue the heavenly hope will have the privilege of living in it. The Christian writings repeatedly counsel us to pursue the heavenly career:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
– Philippians 3:13-15
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
– Philippians 3:18-21
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”
– Colossians 1:3-6
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
The message of the Christian Bible writers is clear and decisive. There is no room for doubt. As Jesus said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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
Therefore, all who seek to live in the Paradise of God must follow the Christ into the heavens as Sons of the Kingdom!
“Your Brothers in Faith”