Introduction: Man has especially had an inordinate interest in the earth for several decades. When we became aware of the atmospheric damage being done by uncontrolled industry and the EPA was begun, there was put into place a preoccupation with our planet (some of the interest is good). During the last few decades Premillienial fantasies have increased and thus the interest in our globe has intensified. The New Age Movement has also contributed to man's attention on the earth. Let us go to God's word and see what we can ascertain regarding the earth.
I. God created the earth
A. God is unequivocally declared to be the Creator (Gen. 1: 1, 2).
a. The fact God created the earth is repeatedly taught throughout the Bible (2 Kgs. 19: 15; 2 Chroni. 2: 12; Ps. 90: 2; 102: 25; 121: 2; Heb. 1: 10).
b. God made the world out of nothing and in six days (Gen. 1: 31). Aeons after creation, the six days of creation is affirmed (Ex. 20: 11). Not only did God create the earth, but he upholds it by the word of his power (Col. 1: 17, Ps. 119: 90, 2 Pet. 3: 5, 7).
II. God created man to dwell on the earth
A. Again, the record of creation is unmistakable (Gen. 1: 26).
a. Thousands of years following creation, Paul preached to the philosophers in Athens (not unlike our modern evolutionists) that not only did God create "the world and all things therein," but he "determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17: 24, 26).
b. God created man in his own image and with superior intelligence and gave him dominion over the rest of creation (Gen. 1: 26-28).
c. Notice that God created man at "the beginning" (Gen. 1: 26-31). One cannot believe the Bible and accept organic or theistic evolution. Not only did God create man at the beginning, but also God created male and female (a serious problem with evolutionists, Matt. 19: 4). This earth was ideally created for man (not Mars).
III. Man's days on earth are limited
A. David said, "For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding" (I Chroni. 29: 15).
a. God told Adam, " for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3: 19). Man is not meant to dwell on this earth forever.
B. Earth itself is limited. Earth is presently running down and dying, if you will (Heb. 1: 10-12). Jesus said the earth will "perish" (Matt. 24: 35).
a. Peter in great detail described the dissolution of the earth, even to the point of the elements or components (atoms that comprise the earth) "melting" and "dissolving" (2 Pet. 3: 10, 11, see addendum).
IV. The earth of Noah's day
A. The antediluvian or world before the Noachian flood was a very different world (a fact many do not realize). Peter in describing the ancient world referred to it as the "world that then was" (2 Pet. 3: 6). In contrast, Peter writes of the present heavens and earth (world after the flood) as, "the earth, which are now" (vs. 7).
a. It appears the earth never knew rain before the flood (Gen. 7: 4, 2: 6).
b. The hydraulic forces of a flood of the enormity of the Genesis flood would have been beyond man's calculation. The climatic, atmospheric, and geological changes produced by such a flood were productive of great change, no doubt. The point is: the earth before the flood and our earth are significantly different in many ways. In fact, there would be such major differences as to account for many of the objections offered by evolutionists today, as to age, fossil, and other matters pertaining to the present earth.
V. God's name proclaimed throughout the earth
A. As seen, God is the Creator of the earth and all things therein. God is also the sustainer. Since the earth belongs to him, He desires and deserves the praise and recognition that are rightly his (Ps. 135, 136).
a. God desires his name "declared throughout all the earth" (Ex. 9: 16). The gospel that reveals God's greatness and man's salvation was to be preached to "all the world" (Mk. 16: 15). In fact, "their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (referring to the gospel, Rom. 10: 18).
VI. God's people are strangers and pilgrims on earth
A. As we have seen, this earth is not designed to be man's permanent abode (Heb. 11: 13). To be part of this world is to live according to the world (I Pet. 2: 11). Jesus said he was going (leaving this earth) to prepare a place and that the saved would be with him there (Jn. 14: 3).
Conclusion: When Jesus returns, the righteous living and the resurrected saved shall be raptured ("caught up") together in the clouds "to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thes. 4: 17). The earth they will leave behind will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3: 6 ff.). The earth will have served the purpose for which God created it, a habitation for man so man could be tested to determine man's ultimate destiny (Eccl. 12: 13, 14).
Addendum: Some contend that this earth will remain forever, time without end. They base this on such verses as Ecclesiastes 1: 4 ("the earth abideth for ever"). One word rendered "for ever" is the Hebrew word olam (erets is used in Eccl. 1: 4). Sometimes these "forever" words have reference to a long time and the idea of "age lasting." For instance, the passover is said to be "for ever" (Ex. 12: 14); Jerusalem as a place of worship was to be "for ever" (2 Chroni. 33: 4), and a slave was to serve his master "for ever" (Ex. 21: 6). The idea of "for ever" in these instances, including Ecclesiastes 1: 4, is that of as long as God intended.