What does the Bible say about the end of the world?
There are almost as many questions today about the end of the world as there are about the beginning of the world. Some think that the world will never end. Others think that pollution and global warming will end the earth. There are even some who think that aliens are coming to destroy our planet. Amidst these speculations we must ask, “What does the Bible say about the end of the world?”
The Bible teaches us quite a bit about the end of this present world. It does so in order to have an ethical effect on our lives. That is to say, the study of last things (eschatology) will impact the way we live.
2 Peter 3:10-14: 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. 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, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…
The fact that the Lord is coming back should motivate us to obey Him, and to live our lives with a proper perspective.
The study of last things (eschatology) can be divided into two categories; individual eschatology, and cosmic eschatology. Individual eschatology deals with the future of the individual, and answers questions like “where will I go when I die?”
The following issues are the primary concern of individual eschatology:
Death – Physical death is not the end of a human being. After the death of the physical body the soul will continue to exist.
Luke 16:22: Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom…
Application: Death is to be expected by all peoples, believer and unbeliever. Unless we are alive when Jesus comes back we are all going to die. It is important that we understand how fragile we are, especially when compared to God.
Intermediate State – Between death and the final resurrection there will be an intermediate state for both believers and unbelievers. In this intermediate state believers will experience the presence of God, and unbelievers will experience the absence of God.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8: Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Application: Christians do not need to fear death! We can be confident that when our physical bodies die our souls will be escorted immediately into the presence of Jesus.
Resurrection – After Jesus comes back a second time Christians will receive a new glorified body that will be suited for glorifying God throughout all of eternity.
Philippians 3:20-21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Application: We can eagerly look forward to the time when Jesus will come and transform these sin-marred bodies into a body that conforms with His own glory. At that time there will no longer be sickness or death.
Judgment – God will finally and completely judge all men.
Jude 14-15: It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all…
Application: All have sinned and thus all deserved to be punished in God’s final judgment. However, because Jesus redeemed those who trusted in Him by becoming a sacrifice for them they can face this final judgment with confidence.
Final State – All who accepted Jesus will spend the rest of eternity in the presence of God where all joy will be made complete. All who rejected Jesus will spend the rest of eternity in hell where the wrath of God will be fully unleashed.
Application: The joy of heaven and the misery of hell should motivate us to press forward into God’s kingdom, and see as many people accept Jesus as possible.