Tuesday, November 5, 2013

World Without End?

An astronomer was giving a lecture at a university. During his talk he mentioned that astronomers believe that in four billion years the sun will become so hot that all water on earth will evaporate and life will be impossible. After the lecture a lady rushed anxiously up to the astronomer. “In how many years did you say the earth would become too hot for life?” “About four billion years,” the lecturer replied. “Oh, what a relief!” exclaimed the lady. “I thought you said four million!

Whether in four million or four billion years, this earth will one day burn up from the sun’s heat, if scientists who study the life cycle of stars like our sun are correct. But this conclusion would have come as no surprise to the apostle Peter, who understood that our planet would eventually run its course.

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief," he wrote, "and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).

Not only that, but he adds, “the heavens will be kindled and dissolved” (2 Peter 3:12). Astronomers are reaching the conclusion that there appears to be no cosmic force to halt or reverse the expansion of the universe. In fact, an otherwise undetectable “dark energy” seems to be propelling its continued expansion. Thus, astronomers foresee the time when distant galaxies will move so far away from our own that they will become invisible even to high-powered instruments. The universe will “dissolve” into the darkness of space.

But Peter doesn’t stop with this scenario of doom and gloom. Instead, he asks a pointed question: “What sort of persons ought you to be?” Although “heaven and earth” are to become uninhabitable, he states, “we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” — perhaps a renewed universe operating under a different set of the “laws” of physics. Meanwhile, we have a life to live on this planet, a life to be lived according to the Creator’s plan.

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