THE KINGDOM OF GOD, Part 3:
The Last Kingdom On Earth
by Gerald R. Thompson*
The Accumulated Sin Debt
The Law of the Land has a cumulative effect, not just an immediate one. Over time, as bloodshed goes un-atoned for, and as idolatry and immorality increase unchecked, the defilement of the land begins to accumulate. This accumulation of defilement creates a sin debt which burdens the land, weighs it down, and puts the earth under a heavy strain – one that it was never meant to carry indefinitely. This defilement of the land – unless atoned for – never goes away. Every new defilement which is not atoned for just gets heaped on top of the previous defilements.
This has led, and will lead, God to destroy the earth from time to time. At various points in history, the accumulation of defilement on the earth becomes so great that it must be relieved (that is, atoned for all at once), or else the earth will not be able to contain it. And we are at the brink of such a time right now. That is what I meant earlier when I said the earth is about to self-destruct.
In fact, in all of human history, God will destroy the earth three times, each time to cleanse the land and reset it. The first and last of these, you are likely already familiar with. But the middle one is the one which is very nearly upon us.
The first one, of course, was the Genesis flood. I already mentioned how the violence and immorality of the people defiled the earth, necessitating God’s response. But look at what the results of the flood actually were. First, all the wrongdoers were killed. Second, the land itself was wiped clean, and the earth’s surface was reformed. Keep in mind that the Genesis flood was not like floods of today, where the water recedes and things pretty much return to normal.
Back then, the earth cracked open (think of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge). The vapor canopy covering the earth fell, and the climate of the earth changed (oh no!). Continents moved, and mountain ranges were formed. The water level of the oceans undoubtedly rose (horror of horrors!). Lakes, glaciers, and deep canyons formed where there had been none before. Sediment was piled up everywhere, and the remains of sea creatures were deposited over the entire surface of the earth to become fossilized. From a topographical standpoint, nothing was the same after the flood as it was before.
I believe – based on other biblical examples of defilement and atonement – that the primary effect of the Genesis flood was to atone for the accumulated sin debt on the earth, to wipe the slate clean spiritually as well as physically, and to put the earth in the position of a reset (or fresh start). In destroying the earth, God cleansed it. The final destruction of the earth by fire at the end of time will have the same effect, but be permanent.
For all of its destructive power and effects, the Genesis flood only took care of the sin debt problem temporarily. As soon as people began to multiply again, the defilement of the earth and the accumulation of a sin debt just started up all over again. However, the complete destruction of the present earth and the creation of a new earth will do away with the problem forever, since, sin, death and the curse of the ground will all be eliminated at that time. (Rev. 21:4; 22:3).
Meanwhile, back on the present earth of sin and corruption, the sin debt has been accumulating since the Genesis flood without any atonement, for roughly 4,300 years or so. (At the time of the flood, the sin debt had accumulated for only about 1,700 years.) No, I’m not minimizing the atoning ministry and work of Jesus when I say this. But the atonement He offers through the Church covenant is individual only. Christ did nothing to atone for the earth physically.
Thus, the earth today is under a terrible strain from its accumulated sin debt.
How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away. (Jer. 12:4).
The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. (Isa. 24:4-6).
Notice how the apostle Paul links the sin debt of the earth with the need for bodily resurrection in Romans. Both the earth and our physical bodies strain under the weight of sin, and the only ultimate solution in both cases is to destroy the present physical form by transformation via rebirth and renewal. In other words, the physical earth and our physical bodies both need to be reborn. This is the only way to achieve a permanent reset.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:22-23).
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Cor. 5:2-4).
Judgments to Cleanse the Land
I look at the prophesied judgments God will impose on the earth during the Tribulation in this light. That is, I view His judgments as the means of atoning for the accumulated sin debt, to cleanse the earth and provide a clean slate going forward. He will do this in the same basic manner as He did with the Genesis flood: 1) kill off all the wicked; and 2) remake the surface of the earth.
According to the fourth seal of judgment (Rev. 6:7-8), one fourth of the world’s population will be killed by the sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts. According to the sixth trumpet of judgment (Rev. 9:13-19), four angels commanding an army of 200,000,000 will kill a third of mankind by “fire and smoke and sulphur.” Between these two, at least half of the entire world population will be killed during the course of the Tribulation. Actually, the final death toll will likely be much higher, since there will be wars and other causes of death all going on during the same period.
And of course, Jesus will kill all of the armies of the entire world arrayed against Jerusalem (at the battle of Armageddon) merely by the appearance of His coming and the word which comes from His mouth like a sword. (2 Th 2:8; Isa. 11:4; Rev. 19:15-21). This will be in addition to the people killed pursuant to the fourth seal and the sixth trumpet.
Other Tribulation judgments will be specifically directed against the earth’s surface. In the first trumpet judgment, one third of the land and trees will be burned up, along with all green grass. With the second and third trumpets, one third of the seas is turned to blood, and one third of rivers and springs are made bitter (that is, toxic). These water judgments are later expanded – with the second and third bowl judgments, all of the oceans and all of the rivers and springs are turned to blood, killing all marine life.
I include these water judgments as part of God’s cleansing of the earth for two reasons. First, the Genesis flood covered all lakes, rivers and oceans just as much as the land areas, indicating they bore the sin debt of the earth as much as the land in the past – so why not in the future?
Second, turning the oceans and rivers to blood is symbolic of the bloodshed which has taken place on the earth. Which is to say, bloodshed committed anywhere on the globe ultimately defiles the waters of the earth as much as the land, because it is all one earth. Plus, killing all marine life will impact people worldwide (via starvation) regardless of where the bloodshed occurred – a global response to a global problem.
Earlier, when we looked at past instances of the land vomiting out its inhabitants, sometimes this meant people being killed by conquest, other times it meant the people would have to relocate. Thus Israel, when it was judged for disobedience, was not slaughtered, but dispersed. However, these instances were localized to a rather small area of land compared to the whole earth.
I don’t see a relocation option playing out in the Tribulation – with the whole world under judgment, there will be nowhere to go to escape it. At that time, expulsion from the land will mainly mean death for the land’s inhabitants.
Nevertheless, I believe these judgments on the earth will not be implemented simply to punish the people as a form of retribution. God’s judgments seem to me to be intended to cleanse the earth of its sin debt, to make a clean slate for the inauguration of the kingdom of Christ. Although, it is likely they will also have a punitive effect, because many judgments will fall primarily on the wicked.
The Great Earthquake to Come
All of God’s Tribulation judgments on the land, severe as they will be, pale in comparison to the granddaddy of all the judgments on the earth, the great earthquake. Earlier I mentioned God will destroy the earth three times. I named the first (by water) and the last (by fire), but left the second one until now. It will be the largest earthquake of all time, and also the last. Because it will be upon us soon, let’s look at it in some detail.
Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. … The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word. … Terror and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! … For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. (Isa. 24:1-3, 17-20).
But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. (Eze. 38:18-20).
This great earthquake is also mentioned twice in Revelation.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood … and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Rev. 6:12-14).
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. … And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. (Rev. 16:17-20).
I am convinced that all of these scriptures refer to the same earthquake. This earthquake will occur at the very end of the Tribulation – very possibly the final event of the Tribulation before Jesus returns.
Notice that Eze. 38 is a description of the battle of Armageddon, which occurs right at the close of the Tribulation when Jesus returns to defeat the enemies of God. Similarly, the earthquake occurs at the end of the seal judgments in Revelation, and at the end of the bowl judgments, indicating that it occurs at the end of the Tribulation. (Realize that the seal judgments, trumpet judgments and bowl judgments do not all run after each other in a linear sequence. The seals, trumpets and bowls all separately run through the entire period of the Tribulation, and some events are mentioned twice.)
I have also highlighted language in each text showing that the earthquake described can only ever happen once – which should also tell you that it hasn’t happened yet. So in Isa. 24, the earth is shaken to the point of making it empty and desolate. How many times has that happened so far in history – worldwide? Never yet. Eze. 38 and the verses in Revelation all state that the mountains will be thrown down and removed. Has an earthquake like that ever happened? Nope – the mountains are still there. How many times can this possibly happen? Only once – once the mountains are gone, they’re gone. As Isa. 24 puts it, the earth will never rise again.
Rev. 16 says this earthquake will be the largest in all of history, so it can only happen once. The evidence is pretty convincing – these scriptures all describe the same earthquake. Isa. 40 speaks of this same earthquake, and directly links it with the revealing of Christ at the Second Coming:
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isa. 40:4-5).
So to the extent the Genesis flood altered the surface of the earth forever, including tectonic shifts and the formation of the mountain ranges, the great earthquake will have the same global impact, but largely in reverse. That is, the flood formed the mountains, and the earthquake will destroy them. The net effect will be to wipe the surface clean, to atone for the defilement of the earth which has built up since the flood, and present a clean slate for the inauguration of the kingdom of Christ.
But not only will the great earthquake cleanse the earth from the sin debt, it will also have the effect of removing all the works of mankind from the earth. Think about it – every mountain and hill will fall, every cliff will fall, every valley rise up, and every island will flee away. According to Eze. 38, every wall will tumble. So, what do you think will happen to all of the buildings on the earth? They will crumble – every last one of them. Nothing built by man will be left. And this is as it should be.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made – in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. (Heb 12:26-28).
Here, Hebrews draws a clear dividing line between the things made by people and the things made by God. The things made by people can be shaken, and will be removed. But the things made by God cannot be shaken, and will remain.
That’s pretty sobering, isn’t it? To think that everything mankind has built in all of history is of no use to God when the kingdom of Christ comes. That the only way to do things right is to eliminate everything done in the past. So everyone of us can rest assured that everything we have physically built on earth in our lives will inevitably come to nothing in the sight of God.
Make no mistake – I’m not just talking about physical structures, and I don’t think the scriptures are, either. Nations and their governments – symbolically represented throughout scripture as mountains – will also be shaken and removed. Institutions, economic systems, the military-industrial complex, and organizations of every kind formed by people will be shaken and removed. Including every religious organization, church and ministry on the face of the earth. None will survive, as none of them will be needed in the Millennium.
Perhaps you have been told when the Tribulation wraps up, all that will be left is the final judgment and the end of history. It may seem logical, given the staggering amount of death and destruction taking place during that time. You might think things can be fixed only by God’s creation of a new heavens and a new earth. However, this is not what scripture indicates. The final judgment and the end of history will still be a thousand years down the road. Meanwhile, the earth and humanity will go through a period of rebirth and renewal.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Rev. 12:10).
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. … Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. … They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:1-4).
These two texts from Revelation describe how the devil will be imprisoned for a thousand years, so that Christ can rule the earth unopposed in the most glorious, and the final, kingdom on earth. You may have learned in Sunday School, or been taught from the pulpit, that the kingdom of Christ will be exclusively spiritual, heavenly, or supernatural. Not so. It will be physical, political, and earthly.
I gave two reasons for this in The Gospel of the Kingdom. First, I believe God wants to demonstrate a progression in terms of the physical manifestation of the kingdom of God. Second, I believe the Millennial kingdom of Christ will be a type of Sabbath rest – a millennium of relative rest compared to the prior six millennia of human history.
To these, I can add a third reason – God wants to keep His promises to Israel and prove Himself to not be a colossal liar. By which I refer to the many promises to Israel throughout the centuries that it will undergo a physical restoration and transformation on the present earth. If God doesn’t do that, He will be the greatest liar in history – and God is no liar. (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18).
So instead of destroying the earth in its entirety immediately after the Tribulation, God will cause the earth and everything on it to go through a process of rebirth and renewal. Actually, the theme of giving birth – especially the travail of giving birth, or birth pains – is a fairly common one in scripture, particularly in prophecy of the end times.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. … She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne. (Rev. 12:1-2,5).
Here, the word picture describes Israel as a woman giving birth to the Christ child. But its placement in Revelation is not looking back to Christ’s First Advent, it is looking forward to His Second Advent, when He will rule the nations with a rod of iron (more on this later). For now, though, Christ has been caught up to God and sits at the Father’s right hand, waiting to receive the kingdom promised to Him. (Ps. 110:1; Lk. 19:12-15; Heb. 10:12-13). In this context, the birth described in Rev. 12 relates to the coming kingdom of Christ.
Earlier I quoted from Rom. 8:22, “that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Similarly, when Jesus was describing the events leading up to his return, He said, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Mat. 24:8. Also, Mk. 13:8). These scriptures all point to the birth of the Millennial kingdom of Christ.
Most Christians are familiar with the concept of a second birth, or a spiritual rebirth. “
Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” (Jn. 3:3). The process of second birth follows a rule, “But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” (1 Cor. 15:46). However, don’t think of spiritual as implying non-physical. Instead, it is the concept of first comes the sinful (natural), and then comes the holy (spiritual) – but the holy can still be physical.
I want to discuss four aspects of second birth, or a spiritual rebirth/renewal, which will all follow the Tribulation, and which together will usher in the Millennial kingdom of Christ. Each of these will follow the rule that the natural (sinful) comes first, and the holy (spiritual) comes after. And each of these is directly tied to the future work and ministry of Christ.
1) The present earth, subject as it is to the curse brought on it by fallen mankind, will not be completely reborn until God destroys the present creation and makes new heavens and a new earth, holy, incorruptible, and no longer under any curse. However, after the Tribulation’s cleansing of the earth from its accumulated Sin Debt, the present earth will be renewed (made clean, but still under the curse of the ground) for the benefit of Christ’s kingdom.
2) The nation of Israel will be spiritually reborn. Israel was, and always will remain, an entity which is merely an extended family, being defined as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Faith, belief and redemption were never part of the equation for determining whether someone was a Jew. But all that will change at the Second Coming, when every Jew will be saved, that is, spiritually reborn. In addition, the land of Israel will be radically transformed and renewed.
3) The saints of the Church will be physically reborn with a spiritual body. You may think that is a contradiction, but it isn’t. What I mean is that all believers in Christ will, at the Second Coming, be physically resurrected, and receive a new body of flesh and bone, to replace their former bodies of flesh and blood. These new bodies, though physical, will be immortal, sinless, and incorruptible – which makes them spiritual physical bodies.
4) The kingdom of Christ will be born when Jesus returns. In some sense, it will be a second manifestation (or second birth) of the kingdom of God which was first manifested in the kingdom of ancient Israel. But this new kingdom will be much improved, being clothed in righteousness, rather than idolatry and rebellion. After all, ancient Israel was ruled by sinful men, whereas the new kingdom will be ruled by a sinless Christ. It will not be the ultimately perfect manifestation of the kingdom of God for all eternity, but it will be the last, and best, kingdom on earth.
With this context in mind, let’s look at the soon coming renewal of the earth.
If you have ever seen a post-apocalyptic’ movie, imagining what the world would look like after a global catastrophe, it is always a dismal picture. Typically, the landscape is barren, with water, food and other necessary resources being scarce. Technological advancements are thrown back a hundred or a thousand years, and humanity is reduced to a primitive tribal warfare state. Or, in some versions, all of civilized humanity is reduced to a single city under a huge dome, or within a huge wall, and the rest of the earth is untamed, dangerous, and uncivilized.
However, when God destroyed the earth and everyone living on it during the Genesis flood, that was not the experience which greeted Noah and his family upon leaving the ark. In some ways, the earth would have seemed foreign to them. Mountains existed where none were before, and storms were now a regular part of life (remember, there were no storms, or even rain, before the flood). And the animal kingdom had suddenly become more hostile.
Yet the earth itself, and all living things, must have recovered very quickly. Noah and his family did not lack for food, clothing, or shelter. God commanded them to begin eating meat, so the animals must have started reproducing rather quickly, and they did not all simply scatter and leave the people hungry. Ostensibly, the flood would have wiped out or covered over all the plants with sediment, yet undoubtedly the plants started to grow and spread again very quickly after the flood.
With the formation of the mountains also came the formation of desert areas which had not been there before. Still, on the whole, the surface of the earth did not dry up and die, but started to flourish again with the spread of plants, animals and people. Nor did people regress to a barbaric or primitive state, though they most likely started out living in caves until other homes could be built. Once the earth was cleansed, nothing remained to prevent it from becoming revitalized.
I suggest that the same thing will take place after the Tribulation, when the earth will endure horrific environmental disasters. Worldwide, land will be burned and vegetation destroyed, the oceans will be polluted and marine life killed, and fresh water sources will become toxic. People worldwide will be scorched, afflicted with boils and various plagues, tortured, and ultimately billions will be killed. And their dead bodies will lie on the ground like dung.
“And those pierced by the Lord on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.” (Jer. 25:33).
It is impossible to say how many people will survive the Tribulation as mortal human beings, but it could quite possibly be in the millions – we just don’t know. No matter how many there are, however, God is not going to allow them to survive, only to let them die of starvation, exposure, or disease immediately after. The earth, having been cleansed, will be environmentally reset to once again sustain life and allow all living things and people to flourish.
And I am sure this environmental reset, whatever else it may include, will reset the climate of the earth and take care of any global warming problems. To whatever extent the earth’s climate has been off kilter, it got that way because of mankind’s continual sinning without regard for the effect of the Law of the Land, as I observed earlier. After all, the earth’s climate is controlled by God, not by people. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22).
In any event, a worldwide kingdom of the Christ in which righteousness will dwell cannot be established on a defiled earth. “Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” (Dt. 32:43).
Even the aftermath of the battle of Armageddon must be cleansed from the land of Israel at the beginning of the kingdom of Christ. Although this will be carried out by people, not God.
“On that day I will give to Gog a place for burial in Israel … east of the sea. … For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory, declares the Lord God. They will set apart men to travel through the land regularly and bury those travelers remaining on the face of the land, so as to cleanse it. (Eze. 39:12-14.)
Not only will the earth be cleansed after the Antichrist and the kingdom of Darkness are put down, it will also be reshaped in a number of ways. I believe these topographical changes are all meant to indicate that the earth has been cleansed. No one will be able to physically see the sin removed from the land. Instead, what they will see is that the land has changed, and this will be evidence that it has also been cleansed.
Worldwide, of course, the effects of the great earthquake will be to tear down all the mountains, raise up all the valleys, and remove all the islands. And this will hold true for walls and buildings built by people, as well – all of them will be thrown down. Rev. 16:19 adds, “The great city [i.e., Jerusalem] was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell [i.e., completely].” These are all things the people of the world will be able to see, and infer a spiritual change.
However, most of the topographical changes to the earth at the beginning of the Millennium that scripture tells us about concern Jerusalem and Israel. For example, Zch. 14:4 tells us that when Jesus returns to earth, “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.”
Concurrently, according to Zch. 14:10, “The whole land [of Israel] shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site …” Isa. 2:2 adds, “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills.”
In other words, the whole world will have been flattened by the great earthquake – except for Jerusalem, and in particular the Temple Mount, from which Jesus will rule and reign over the whole earth. Don’t you think the people living at that time will notice the symbolism of the throne of Christ sitting on literally the highest mountain in the world?
Several times Isaiah mentions a highway that will stretch from Egypt to Assyria during the Millennium, which of course will run the entire length of the land of Israel. (Isa. 11:16, 19:23, 35:8, 40:3, 49:11, 62:10). The highway will be called the Way of Holiness, and it will belong to the redeemed of God. (Isa. 35:8). This is the one prophesied in Isa. 40:3 and Isa. 49:11 – “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” The key feature being that the highway will be straight and level, which would be impossible to build now, while the terrain is so mountainous.
Other changes are coming, as well. According to Zch. 14:8-9, “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth.” In other words, water will flow from Jerusalem in two directions – west to the Mediterranean, and east to the Dead Sea.
To get a fuller picture of the water flowing towards the Dead Sea, we must turn to Ezek. 47:1-5, which describes water flowing from underneath the threshold of the temple. The river is described as ankle deep 1,000 cubits from the temple, knee deep at 2,000 cubits, waist deep at 3,000 cubits, and too deep to pass at 4,000 cubits (about 7,000 feet) downstream. And it should be no surprise that the living waters flowing into the Dead Sea will have a healing and restorative effect.
“This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.” (Ezek. 47:8-9).
The Dead Sea, of course, is called that because it is toxic to life – no marine life can live in its waters. But when people see that change, so that life flourishes where formerly nothing could live, they will know that the environment has not merely changed, it has been cleansed. In fact, the whole land of Israel will be unusually blessed, environmentally.
“Behold, I will bring to [Israel] health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. (Jer. 33:6-8).
Scripture specifically tells us that some nations – notably those that persecuted Israel in the past – will be made desolate. Thus, Egypt will be made desolate for 40 years and its people exiled (Eze. 29:1-16), and the Nile River will be dried up (Isa. 19:5-8). The land of Edom (southern Jordan) will be made a perpetual waste (Isa. 34:5-14; also Eze. 35:1-15). Similarly, Babylon will be a perpetual wasteland. (Jer. 51:26, 60-64).
On the other hand, scripture tells us that certain nations in addition to Israel will be restored. For example, Moab (central Jordan) (Jer. 48:47); Ammon (northern Jordan) (Jer. 49:6); Elam (southwest Iran) (Jer. 49:39); as well as Sodom and Samaria (Eze. 16:53).
As for the rest of the world, scripture only gives a few clues. I suspect one of the consequences of the mountains and valleys all being made level will be to make much more of the earth’s surface mild in climate, and more livable and suitable for agriculture, etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the earth will be lush like a garden, but it might eliminate many climactic extremes worldwide.
* Copyright © 2021 Gerald R. Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version.