Aug 15, 2010

Restoring Planet Earth

Jack KelleyBy Jack Kelley

Jesus said to them (the Disciples), “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)

He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” Then He said, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 21:5-6)

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

The End times judgments will be devastating in the extreme, and the Lord warned that if He didn’t bring them to a close at the appointed time, not a single soul would survive (Matt. 24:22). But for the sake of the elect, He will bring them to a close and when He does the restoration will begin.

I believe one of the ancillary functions of the end times judgments will be to begin the process of returning Earth to the condition it was in just after the creation, as if the Great Tribulation is the demolition phase of the restoration. This is hinted at by phrases like “every island fled away and the mountains could not be found” (Rev. 16:20) and “there was no longer any sea” (Rev. 21:1).

Comparing verses like these with the return of long life spans indicated in Isaiah 65:20, I have concluded that Earth will once again become a single land mass surrounded by water, the way Gen. 1:9 described it. Scientists call this original land mass Pangea, and Genesis 10:25 makes mention of its division into today’s continents. We can see other evidence of how radically the Earth’s topography was changed during and after the Great Flood, and now it will be time to put things back the way they were. I think most of the present seas will either return to their underground origins or rise into the upper atmosphere to re-establish the water vapor canopy that once surrounded Earth (Gen. 1:6-7) and enabled the long pre-flood lifespans.

The mountains will be lowered, the sea floor elevated, and the continents rejoined at their seams. Streams and rivers will flow through lands that have been parched for thousands of years. The great desserts will become verdant plains again.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.(Isaiah 41:18-20)
The current tilt of the Earth’s axis causes extreme differences in the world’s weather and makes large areas uninhabitable. I believe this will be corrected at the time of the 2nd Coming. The axis will become upright again and the year shortened to its original 360 days. Earth will once again enjoy a world wide sub-tropical climate like it did before Adam lost it and the terrible effects of sin were loosed upon it. This is something the creation has been waiting for ever since.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons 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 glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
When the Lord Returns in glory the wait will be over, and soon afterward the creation will once again resemble a lush garden. He will make her deserts like Eden, her waste lands like the garden of the Lord (Isaiah 51:3)

Some people are troubled by all this because they’re so in love with the creation as it currently appears. I even read a book review recently whose author is asking God to be left behind at the rapture because she can’t imagine anything being more beautiful than this present Earth, not even Heaven. People like this are limited in their thinking. In the first place, they don’t stop to think that if the Earth is this beautiful while under a curse how much more so will it be when the curse is lifted and it’s restored to its original condition?

And second, they don’t realize that the Lord has spent the last 2,000 years “preparing a place for us” in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). The Church will no longer call Earth home but will dwell with Him there. Do these folks really think that after the rapture, when we see all eternity spread out before us, we’ll be disappointed with our future and long to go back into this fallen creation? Is that what they think the Lord has in store for us?

But our focus here is the restoration of Planet Earth, where Israel will once again be the pre-eminent nation. One of the clues we get that the Kingdom Age on Earth features Israel and not the Gentile Nations, or even the Church, is that almost all the descriptive passages are in the Old Testament, and for the most part center around Israel.

From them we learn of the desert bursting into bloom (Isaiah 35:1-2), of the land being so fertile that before they can complete the harvest it will be time to begin planting again (Amos 9:13). Peace will flow like a river and the wealth of the nations like a flooding stream (Isaiah 66:12) In Jerusalem men and women of ripe old age will sit in streets filled with playing children (Zechariah 8:4-5). And in the country side,
“Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.” (Micah 4:4)
Peace will prevail in the animal kingdom as well. Predators and prey will live side by side, and their young will lie down together, all of them existing in perfect harmony with each other and with mankind again (Isaiah 11:6-8). This will be another reversal of a post-flood condition, when fear and dread of man fell upon all the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air (Gen. 9:2-3).

And so the time of restoration will have come, and in every way Earth will be like it was in the beginning. Wherever one goes there will be peace on Earth and good will toward men, like the angel Gabriel promised to the shepherds so long ago. The Lord Himself will rule, assisted by the Church.
The mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law (Torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 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 2:2-4)
But like it was at the beginning, the seed of rebellion will still exist in the heart of natural man. Even though he’s been given every conceivable advantage in this, his last best chance to live in peace with God, within a generation or two that seed will begin to germinate as the children of Tribulation survivors come of age. Some will choose to follow their parents to the foot of the cross and receive their personal redemption. But with each generation an increasing number won’t. This will happen even though Satan will be bound, the Lord Himself will be their King, and God’s Law will be their law.

You see, there is no condition or circumstance that will allow natural man with his sin nature to live in peace with God. As the end of the Thousand Year Kingdom approaches, unbelievers will vastly out number believers again, especially among the nations. When Satan is released they will mount up as one and march across the breadth of the Earth to surround the camp of God’s people and the city He loves in a final attempt to kick the Lord off the planet. But fire from Heaven will devour them, and Satan will be captured again, this time to be thrown into the lake of fire forever. (Rev. 20:9-10)

And so for the seventh time, God will enter into covenant with man in an attempt at coexistence. And for the seventh time all but a remnant will refuse and the covenant will be broken and end in judgment. These seven attempts by God to live among His creation are called dispensations, and if this is a new idea for you, here’s a brief description of each.

The Seven Dispensations

The first attempt has been called the Age of Innocence. Between the Creation and the Fall of Man God interacted freely and personally with man. Man was created immortal and while he had agency (the power of choice) he didn’t have a sin nature. God placed Adam and Eve in His garden and gave them only one restriction. But they violated this restriction and were expelled from the Garden. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent who beguiled them were all judged, the Creation was cursed, and sin entered the world.

Then came the Age of Conscience. From the Fall of Man to the Great Flood, God allowed man’s conscience to rule without Divine interference. Because of man’s newly acquired sin nature, the result of this was “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) After repeated warnings, God destroyed all but 8 members of the Human race in the Great Flood.

Next there was the Age of Human Government which lasted from Noah’s Flood to the Tower of Babel. After the Flood, God allowed man to establish his first system of government. But the people disobeyed God’s commandment to go forth and replenish the Earth, setting about instead to build a great city and a tower to protect themselves from another flood. They also used the tower to study astrology, a corruption of the Gospel that God had written in the stars using the names of 12 constellations. So God gave each of the 70 families of man a unique language that other families weren’t able to understand. This caused confusion and distrust among the people and they drifted apart to be scattered through out the world, and God destroyed the tower.

The fourth attempt was called the Age of Promise. God set Abraham’s descendants apart as His Chosen People and promised Abraham and Sarah a son through whom He said He would bless the world. But they grew tired of waiting for Him, and they produced a son on their own, calling him Ishmael. Later, when God gave them Isaac, the son He had promised, Ishmael was sent away causing bad blood between Ishmael (Arabs) and Isaac (Jews) that continues to this day.

Number five was the Age of Law which lasted from Mt. Sinai to Pentecost. After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave Moses the 10 Commandments and offered the Jews the land He had promised to Abraham along with a life of peace and plenty if they obeyed His Law. After 2000 years of vacillating between obedience and rebellion that resulted in them rejecting the Messiah, God finally had enough, expelled them from their land, and dispersed them throughout the world. (But not forever. The Age of Law was interrupted seven years short of its allotted time while God created the Church. After the Rapture, the final 7 years, also known as Daniel’s 70th Week Israel will have one final chance to live in obedience to God and accept their Messiah.)

The Age of Grace, also known as The Church Age, was God’s sixth try. No longer requiring that righteousness be earned through obedience to the Law, God imputed His own righteousness to man by grace through faith in the completed work of the Lord Jesus, promising eternal blessing and a place in His own house to all who accept. It was the most outrageously lavish gift ever bestowed, free for the asking. But by the end of the Age of Grace most of humanity will have rejected His gift, choosing instead to live on their own terms, betting that either God doesn’t exist, or if He does He’ll allow them into His kingdom anyway. After removing the relative few who have accepted His gift so they’ll be safe with Him, He’ll punish the rest through the most severe time of judgment ever visited on Earth.

And finally the Kingdom Age, number seven. This is the 1000 Year Reign of the Lord, also known as the Millennium, that we’ve been discussing. And like the previous six, it will end in failure and judgment. Seven attempts, seven failures, seven judgments. Enough is enough.

After the Millennium, God and man will enjoy a new beginning, called Eternity. We’re not given any information about this because the Bible effectively ends at the end of the Millennium. In Rev. 20, John skipped ahead after verse six to describe the final destinies of Satan and all unbelievers while he was on the subject. (Rev. 20:7-15) Then in Rev. 21:1-27 he went back to the beginning of the Millennium to show us the New Jerusalem, and in Rev. 22:1-6 gave us a glimpse of Millennial life on Earth. We know this because Rev. 21:1 is a direct quote from Isaiah 65:17 where the context is the Kingdom age in Israel and Rev. 22:1-6 is a summary of Ezekiel 47, also a millennial passage.

As part of the Church we’ll effectively have a head start on Eternity, as will resurrected believers from both Old Testament times and Daniel’s 70th Week. But we’ll have to wait at least until the rapture to see what it’s going to be like. All we know for now is that it’ll be the greatest adventure ever designed for mankind, and we’re at the head of the line.

Related Links

The Dispensations of God - Ariel Ministries (Arnold Fruchtenbaum)
Millennial Kingdom - (Tony Garland)
What is the Millennial Kingdom, and should it be understood literally? -
Who’s on Earth During the Millennium? - (Jack Kelley)
Children's Stories of the Bible The Adult Version - Jack Kelley (Book)