The End of the World? #1

Thursday, December 27, 2012

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36 KJV).

We take the remainder of the year to contemplate the term “the end of the world.”

Last year, May 21 was heralded as the “end of the world.” When that failed to come to pass, it was changed to October 21. December 21, 2012 was the latest “apocalyptic” hoax. The serious Bible student does not know the next date that the sensationalists will set regarding the “end of the world.” Nonetheless, he or she does know that much of that prophecy preaching and teaching—both in the secular world and the professing church—is grossly in error. Doctrinal integrity is of little to no importance when there is much to gain: record book sales, large television and radio audiences, a following, a name, and… an early retirement!

In common English, “world” can mean several things, such as the universe, the planet earth, this present life, a time period, society and its practices and customs, a system of related things, and the nations of the earth. The King James Bible uses the term “world” 289 times, in various different senses (the meaning being dependent upon the context).

Oftentimes, when people speak of and think of the “end of the world,” the classic imagery is—the planet earth blown to smithereens, and the human race and all other life forms on earth entirely wiped out, usually by a meteorite, biological or chemical warfare, a global natural disaster, and so on. While the Bible does speak of God’s future destruction of the present universe—the heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3:10-13)—it also anticipates a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1), the latter verse (understandably) ignored by the “doom and gloom” sensationalists.

Our King James Bible uses the term “end of the world” seven times. We will examine these instances, to understand how God’s Word utilizes this expression and what it means in light of God’s purpose and plan for heaven and earth. We will also briefly discuss other ways in which the Bible uses “world.”