The End of the World
Horror Story – or Bible Hope?
AS the sun began to rise, the truth became frighteningly clear: nothing was left. There was no-one to be seen; every living thing had been destroyed, wiped off the face of the earth.
Yet, incredibly, there were a few survivors; just one family sealed up in their home-made shelter, with enough provisions to last for over a year. They had listened to the warnings and had prepared, so that when the time came, in they went with their livestock and their survival kit.
Their minds were still full of the experience they had gone through. To begin with there had been horror; sounds outside of terror and despair, upheaval and chaos, but the family had sat tight, holding hands, safely enclosed. Later came silence and that was even worse. What now? Was it safe to open the window? What would they find? They knew with certainty that the earth outside, would be strange; a very different place from the familiar world they had left behind. Their home had gone for sure and all the landmarks. There would be emptiness and devastation. Would they be able to survive?
Perhaps, you are thinking, this is just science fiction. The chances are it will never happen. The fact is, it actually did happen to real people. It’s a true account of a family who survived when their world came to an end.
They knew nothing about nuclear war or radiation: the danger which surrounded them was caused by billions of tons of water – tidal waves and torrents which submerged the earth. Nevertheless they are of especial interest to us, for we too are faced with the possibility of world-wide disaster, a fiery holocaust instead of a flood and the fear that our world like theirs could come to an end.
Noah’s Time – Just like ours!
You can read a full account of Noah and the flood in the Bible – in Genesis (chapters 6-8). Although Noah and his family lived 5,000 years ago, their world was not all that different from ours. The history books may tell us that back in those days men were primitive and just emerging from the stone-age, but don’t you believe it! The Bible tells us that in fact they were very civilised, living in cities, enjoying themselves, getting rich, eating and drinking well, permissive in their behaviour, totally lacking in morals. There was violence and crime, cruelty and oppression and, just like nowadays, the earth had become a dangerous place.
Noah and his family were sickened with the misery and violence they saw: they wanted a better world where there would be kindness and peace. The main difference between them and the rest of the population was that they believed in God the Creator and they knew He cared about the earth and mankind.
God spoke to Noah and told him He was also grieved and angry because His earth was being spoiled and He intended to clean it up. In fact, God said He would literally wash it and wipe off all traces of the people who had filled the earth with wickedness.
God gave Noah clear instructions how he and his family could survive and when Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives went into the ark they had built, it was God Himself who sealed them in. The family lived in the ark for over a year until the flood water had drained away and God, who had brought them through that terrible ordeal, encouraged them to go out into the earth and start a new life.
The old world had certainly come to an end; there was no sign of any civilisation or of any of the things men had made, but the earth itself was safe and habitable, ready and waiting for Noah to plant seed and produce crops. God still had a purpose with planet earth. In fact God immediately gave Noah a solemn promise:
“Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:21,22).
As a guarantee God gave a sign – the rainbow which appears in the sky after rain (Genesis 9:14-16).
This promise was given even though God knew Noah’s descendants (from whom sprang all the races and nations on earth) would be no better than the people who lived before the flood, because, to quote God’s words again: “Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood”. This means every single one of us has inherited from the first human parents (Adam and Eve) a selfish core which makes it easier to hate than to love and which leads to destruction and death. Left to ourselves we are powerless to change this sinful nature and have no hope of saving the world.
God had proved to Noah he was able to save him but Noah and his family eventually died. Suffering and death still continued on the earth. so what was the point of being saved? What comfort was it to Noah to be promised that the earth would endure if he wasn’t alive to enjoy it?
We have to turn to the New Testament to discover what motivated Noah. We are told he had faith that God would reward him in the future even though he died, and he would be the “heir of righteousness” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah died in faith, knowing he would again live on the earth when it was made wholly clean, when he and all those like him would no longer be sinful, dying creatures, but would be changed to righteous, immortal beings; when the world men had made would end and the world God had designed would begin.
A New World
Although after the flood the earth seemed to continue in lust the same way as it had from the beginning, God had already begun to create His world. He had no intention of allowing the earth to be filled with suffering and death for ever. Here are some of God’s intentions in His own words in the Bible:
“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 . . . There is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Saviour . . . Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth . . . Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength’ ” (Isaiah 45:18-24).
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
God first revealed His plan to a man called Abraham, who was born in the Middle East about 1,000 years after Noah. Abraham believed in God and he was told that through his descendants, al the nations of the earth would be blessed. Like Noah, Abraham also knew the promise was an everlasting one, reaching into the future when God’s world came into its own on the earth; he knew he would be “heir of the world” (Romans 4:13).
Abraham – Ancestor of Jesus Christ
God promised to give Abraham and his descendants a country, and from Abraham came a nation of people, the Jews. When the Jews settled in the land of Israel they became a Kingdom – in fact God’s Kingdom on earth – to be an example of righteousness and peace for all nations. Their capital city, chosen by God, was Jerusalem, where the temple, God’s House, was built to His honour and glory. But the Jews as a nation were unable to save the world, even though they were shown signs and wonders and given help and instruction from God. Some of the Jews believed and obeyed but the majority preferred to go their own evil way.
The Jewish world was far from being the Kingdom of God until God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, born a Jew rind a descendant of Abraham through Mary his mother, to save His people from sin and death and to rule over the Kingdom.
The birth of Jesus was a miracle and his life was in every way unique. He showed people how they should live; how they should learn to care for others instead of only themselves and replace the hate in their hearts with love. Jesus made it clear the Jewish world of that time would have to end. The Jewish leaders were hypocrites, outwardly pretending to be godly and righteous but inwardly full of wickedness. The temple had become “a den of thieves” instead of a “house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13) and it would be destroyed, together with the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish people would be enslaved and scattered throughout the earth.
“Thy will be done on earth”
To those who believed and followed, Jesus gave a message of hope and good news about the Kingdom of God. He taught them to pray for the Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done “on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus assured his followers that God so loved the world that He had sent His only Son as the Saviour, that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16); that he was “the resurrection and the life” and would raise the dead (John 5:25-29).
Jesus told his disciples he would come “in the clouds with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30); his throne would be in Jerusalem; he would rule over the nations and his faithful followers would inherit that Kingdom, ruling with him over the whole earth (Matthew 25:31-34).
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHRIST’S COMING AND GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH