Getting to Know God Meditations: 43. God of the End Game (1)
2 Pet 3:7 the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare
2 Pet 3:11-13 You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Limited: Perhaps there is no greater untruth that the human mind has held onto than, “This is all there is and this is all there ever will be.” In science, once upon a time, there was the belief that everything that is had always existed, but now scientists believe in a beginning. In the world today there are rumors of doomsday scenarios, the definition of which is, ‘an extremely serious or dangerous situation that could end in death or destruction.’ The possible end of this world has, in recent years, become a topic of frequent conversation. Interesting! No longer is that untruth held so strongly.
Throughout the Bible the are many clear references to both the beginning and a purposeful end to all we know, and it is clearly by the design of God. The duration of this world is thus seen in the Bible as limited, and increasingly the world is agreeing with that.
Work of Mankind? The question that must lurk behind all this talk is, is the beginning and the end a work of chance (beginning) AND of mankind (ending) or are both the design and will of God? In the ‘doomsday discussion’ the environment features largely, population explosion used to be but not so much now, but other ends at the hands of mankind also now feature largely: the continuing threat of nuclear holocaust and terrorism (may be one and the same thing, very high probability), robotics & human destruction (the Matrix scenario), ‘Star Wars’ weaponry and warfare (growth of technology to kill which, in the wrong hands may be devastating), cyborg lives (technology within the body changing us out of all recognition), superhumans (intellect/memory enhancement, ditto with all the ensuing problems, social and economic), biological pandemics (on purpose & accidental). All of these things in one form or another have in recent years become possible realities, realities that end the human race and possibly the very existence of the planet.
Work of God? When we turn to the Bible, the last book, Revelation, which is mostly a prophecy of the ‘end times’ and ‘The End’ confirms the probability (not merely ‘possibility’) of large scale destruction, seen as angelic prophetic figures apparently bring destruction, for example, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” (Rev 6:8) War, famine and plague are observable features of history, one thing leading on to the other so that when the population is wiped out, wild animals roam the earth unhindered. We also read later, “A third of the earth was burned up.” (Rev 8:7) When I was young I could not think how such destruction could be but in my lifetime so much has changed that it is easy to conceive it now.
But is God the instigator of these things, and how do they come about? Well clearly, as we have been considering with the talk of doomsday scenarios, these are all the work of mankind. What the Bible does show is that sometimes, mankind seems to get to such of rebellion against God that we find the words, “God gave them over to…” (Rom 1:24,26,28) suggesting that His acts of judgment often take the form (and we see it again and again in the book of Judges) of Him lifting off His hand of restraint so that mankind is given the freedom to do exactly what it wants – and that ends up being self-destructive – but it is our choice! The book of Revelation is, remember, pure prophecy and prophecy is sometimes literal and sometimes figurative. The angels cited above may or may not be figurative but the outcomes, we have just demonstrated, could be the work of mankind and the destruction literal.
A Glooms-day Scenario? Is this just gloomy talk or is there something more here? May I make a suggestion which I don’t think is expressly stated in the Bible yet I believe is clearly there. Again and again God sets up mankind to live and be blessed but each time the consequences of free will mean that Sin (self-centred, godlessness leading to self-destructive living) prevails. We see it in the beginning and we see it in the establishing of the nation of Israel that we have considered in earlier studies. Israel went into hiding for two thousand years (see Rev 12) but have now been restored to their land. With the development of science and technology, God has enabled us to provide for the whole world (if we will only use it for that) so that every human could benefit from it. That could have been the possibility but instead, the very presence of all these doomsday scenarios shows us clearly that we are more bent on destruction than on life and blessing and so John’s prophecies in the book of Revelation simply record that. Godless mankind, bent on doing their own thing, appear bent on their own destruction. That unfortunately includes you and me!
Is that all? So is a burnt-out earth all we can look forward to? If aliens (should they exist) turn up in a hundred years, will all they find is a scorched earth, a devastated earth that so many films portray as a possible outcome? The Biblical prophetic answer of Revelation says definitely not but to see that we will need to move on into another study to be able to cover it in the required detail.
And So? So what are we left with? We have considered a scenario where God creates this wonderful world and us on it. To enable us to be human in the sense we know, not robots, thus able to be creative, loving, thinking, reasoning, etc., He gave us free will. The truth, that has been made obvious multiple times in the Bible, is that we have used that to do our own thing to the exclusion of God and whenever we do that it has destructive consequences, often allowed by God but motivated by us. That sequence has been seen a number of times and appears to be in its final phase where the science and technology we have been given to bless the world is, in fact, being used by us to bring about greater destruction than ever before possible – our choice.
Nevertheless, godlessness still prevails and so the end will come either by the hand of God (which we’ll look at in the next study) or by the hand of man, permitted by God, but with a yet further goal in mind. The future holds questions marks but some things are clear from the Bible: first, it is not ‘out of control’, it is all happening by the permissive will of God; second, He has an ultimate ‘end game’ in mind which will be achieved; third, the duration of the existence of mankind on this earth is strictly limited; finally God’s intent is that there is yet to be something infinitely more glorious to come than we can possibly comprehend at the moment and this, too, will be the subject of the next study.