The Earth Abideth Forever

By on October 8, 2016

The Earth Abideth Forever – Bible Research Tools

Why That Is Important To Your Grandchildren

The Word of God in Ecclesiastes is crystal clear about the longevity of the earth, and its inhabitants:

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” — Eccl 1:4 KJV

In Isaiah the Lord seems to be scolding us for thinking the earth might be destroyed or rendered uninhabitable:

“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” — Isa 45:18 KJV

Yet, many Christians will deny those words, believing instead that there will be a terminal generation in which the earth will be destroyed. Too many have applied this fatalistic doctrine to our culture with an “it’s hopeless, so why bother” attitude, potentially jeopardizing the future of their posterity and others! In doing so, they ignore this proverb:

“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children” — Pro 13:22 KJV

The most valuable inheritance any father could leave his children is a stable, Christian society. So, why have many otherwise good Christians traded a promising earthly future (for all nations) for the promises of a pie-in-the sky doctrine based on the shakiest of Biblical foundations?
When asked, “Why don’t you believe Ecclesiastes?” they reply, “Peter said . . .”. But what did Peter actually say? He said:

“the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Pet 3:10 KJV

At first glance Peter’s words would appear to contradict those of Ecclesiastes. But by the miracle of faith we know there are no contradictions in the scripture. Therefore a word study is necessary to rightly divide the word of truth.
The first word that pops off the page is the word “heavens” [οὐρανοὶ]. That word variation is found only seven times in the New Testament, four of which are found in 2 Peter 3. Below are the other three passages, with some context. In the first Peter implies the world perished in the flood, which we all interpret figuratively since the earth is still here:

“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:” — 2Pet 3:5-6 KJV

But these two seem to imply the heavens and the earth will be destroyed:

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” — 2Pet 3:7-8 KJV


“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” — 2Pet 3:11-13 KJV

In the last passage, and in verse 3:10 above, Peter writes that the heavens and the earth will be destroyed at the coming of the day of the Lord, while implying that day to be imminent – in his immediate future. Paul also implied the day of the Lord was the coming of the Lord, and imminent:

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” — 2Th 2:1-2 KJV

Paul emphasized that the day and coming of the Lord would not happen until the man of sin was revealed:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” — 2Th 2:3 KJV

But he also stated that the man of sin was alive and being restrained in his day and age, and would be destroyed at the coming of the Lord:

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restraineth] will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” — 2Th 2:7-8 KJV

James also wrote the coming of the Lord was imminent, and it would be a day of judgment:

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” — Jas 5:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if the coming of the Lord is the day of the Lord; and the man of sin is revealed prior to day of the Lord, and is destroyed on the day of the Lord, then what are we to make of Peter’s prophesy that:

“the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Pet 3:10 KJV

If Peter’s statement is intended to be interpreted literally, the man of sin is not the only one to be destroyed on the day of the Lord. Therefore Peter’s statement must be interpreted figuratively; but how?
The Greek word for “elements”, στοιχειον, is used seven times in the New Testament, in two variations, στοιχεῖα (6) and στοιχείων (1). The five times the word is used in the Epistles of Paul and the Hebrews are as “rules” or “regulations”:

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements [στοιχεῖα], whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” — Gal 4:9 KJV


“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments [στοιχείων] of the world, and not after Christ.” — Col 2:8 KJV


“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles [στοιχεῖα ] of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” — Heb 5:12 KJV

Those passages are obviously not referring to the physical elements, such as Oxygen, Sulfur, and Iron; so, it is unlikely Peter’s metaphor is referring to the actual heaven, earth and physical elements.
In the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, Moses foretells the fiery consummation of the earth, but in a regional manner, in judgment both for and against his own people:

“For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” — Deu 32:22 KJV


“I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this.” — Deu 32:26-27 KJV


“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” — Deu 32:43 KJV

How could the Lord be merciful to his land if the earth was physically destroyed? A regional judgment is the only logical conclusion. But how and when?
Flavius Josephus, a first century Jewish priest and historian, labeled the three parts of the physical temple as the heaven, earth and sea:

“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.”[1]


“Now the room within those pillars was the most holy place; but the rest of the room was the tabernacle, which was open for the priests. However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God.”[2]

John B. Lightfoot explained Peter’s passage in the sense of the destruction of the Mosaic elements, along with God’s earthly habitation, city and people:

“That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt 24:29, 30, ‘The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the ‘sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2 Pet 3:10, ‘The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut 32:22, Heb 12:26 and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Col 2:20 and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses.”[3]

John Brown presented a similar interpretation, adding that the creation of the “new heavens and earth” was the establishment of Christianity in lieu of the Mosaic Law and Judaism:

“‘Heaven and earth passing,’understood literally, is the dissolution of the present system of the universe, and the period when that is to take place, is called the ‘end of the world.’ But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens”[4]

The interpretations of Brown and Lightfoot, combined with the historical narrative of Josephus, might explain this statement:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” — Mat 5:18 KJV

Substituting the physical temple for “heaven and earth”, it would read:

“Till the temple is destroyed, the law and the prophets will remain in effect.”

Or, looking back,

“The Law was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A. D. 70.”

But do other passages support that interpretation? Yes. There are many. This passage states that the law and prophets would be fulfilled in the days of vengeance which was the time when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies:

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” — Luk 21:20-22 KJV

The old covenant which contained the law and the prophets was ready to pass away when the book of the Hebrews was written (supposedly about A.D. 67):

“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” — Heb 8:13 KJV

And there are many references from the Lord during his ministry that there would soon be a changing of the guard, such as:

“When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes . . . Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof . . . And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” — Mat 21:40-42,43,45 KJV


“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” — Mat 11:12-13 KJV

There are many passages that state the earth (this earth) will last forever. The most ignored seems to be this promise:

“I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” — Gen 8:21 KJV

There is also this one:

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” — John 3:17 KJV

The word “condemn” comes from the Greek word “krino” [κρίνῃ] which also means “judge”, or “to judge”. That is consistent with other sayings of the Lord, such as:

“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” — John 12:47 KJV

There are many indicators from the Old Testament, such as:

“And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.” — Ps 78:69 KJV


“[The Lord,] Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.” — Ps 104:5 KJV


“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” — Isa 9:6-7 KJV


“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” — Dan 7:14 KJV

The New Testament also has many indicators:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” — John 6:51 KJV


“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” — Eph 3:21 KJV


“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” — Rev 11:15 KJV


“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” — Rev 11:18 KJV

That last verse is telling. If the Lord destroyed the earth, that prophecy would be fulfilled only if the Lord also destroyed himself, which is not likely. But this next set of prophecies are possibly the most ignored by the fatalists:

“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” — Rev 21:24 KJV


“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” — Rev 22:2 KJV

In the so-called “new heaven and new earth”, after all is said and done, there are still nations, there are still kings, and the nations require healing! It doesn’t get any clearer than that, except for maybe our initial passage from the Preacher:

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” — Eccl 1:4 KJV




[1] William Whiston, “The Works of Flavius Josephus Vol 1.” George Bell & Sons, 1889, Book III.7.7, pp.210-211

[2] Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works: Antiquities of the Jews.” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1934, Book III.6.4, p.175

[3] John B. Lightfoot, Exercitations upon St. John, “Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations Vol III – Gospels to 1 Corinth.” Oxford At The University Press, New Ed, 1859, Ch xxi.22.I, p.452

[4] John Brown, Christianity and Ancient Revelations, “Discourses and Sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ – Illustrated in a Series of Expositions Vol I.” Robert Carter & Brothers, 1854, Part III, Exp IV, p.157



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