Friday, December 14, 2012

Will Jesus Ever Set Foot on this Earth Again?

Will Jesus Ever Set Foot on this Earth Again?

As near as I can tell from the Scriptures, we're not told that he won't, and we're not told that he will.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 gives us some hints:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.
We know from this that he comes into the atmospheric region of the Earth, but we're not told that he will actually step on the surface again. We know we'll join with him in the air, and so be with him forever, but does that mean we'll be with him forever in the earth's atmosphere (unlikely, since the atmosphere is destined for fire), or does it simply mean we'll be with him forever, wherever he goes?

I have no problem saying we have no solid evidence that he will step onto the earth's surface again; I do have a problem saying that we know he won't.

As I understand it, the cosmos, along with Adam and Eve, were designed to be eternal. God walked on the Earth at that time (Gen 3:8). Then Adam sinned, and both he and the creation itself were subjected to corruption. Now, the creation itself is eagerly waiting to be set free from that corruption, just as we await the same redemption of our physical bodies. Here's the relevant text for this, from Romans 8:
19 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Adam had an eternal physical body, but it was not subject to corruption.

Jesus' physical body was raised, and is now not subject to corruption (Acts 13:34), and he took it into heaven (Acts 1:9). He will return to Earth in a similar manner to that in which he left (Acts 1:11).

Our physical bodies, like the first-fruits body of Jesus, will be raised, and changed to be incorruptible (not replaced - changed). We will be like him.

Somehow or 'nuther in that, the current heavens and earth will be melted with fire (2 Peter 3:5-7, 10 12), in a similar manner to the destruction of the earth in the Flood (a destruction, but not an annihilation). Does this burning describe a consumption to nothing, or does it describe a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar melting into a jelly on its way to a butterfly?

As I understand it, the pre-Fall world, and the post-Return world, were, and will be, a "physi-spiritual" world, more physical than we tend to imagine, but without the corruption-capability we associate with the word "physical". It will be like the body of Jesus; his body was composed of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), was able to eat (Luke 24:43), to be hugged (John 20:17; Matt 28:9), to walk (Luke 24:15), to cook (John 21:9), to holler (John 21:5, 8), to bear scars (John 20:24-27), but it was also able to pass through solid walls/doors (20:19, 26), change appearance (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13ff) , teleport from one place to another (Luke 24:31), and float into the sky and into heaven with neither wings nor spacesuit (Acts 1:.9-10).

Will Jesus stand on a this earth again, after it's burned up and renewed, like he once walked in the garden? I don't know; the text only gives hints, without clarity. But I'm hesitant to claim I have the answer one way or the other.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

Scientifically, a planet's atmosphere is considered to be a part of the planet, not just a thing that surrounds the planet. Think of the gas planets, such as Jupiter. Nobody knows for sure that there is any "solid ground" under all that gas, but we still consider it a planet. So, does it matter whether he touches the ground or not? Once we are changed in a twinkling of an eye, will we need to touch the ground?

Will the Earth be utterly non-existant or will it be merely changed as it was after the flood? Perhaps we will meet him in the air, stay with him while the Earth is tranformed back into it's original "It is good" condition, and then we will be returned to it in our new bodies to live out eternal lives free to travel anywhere in the Universe with little effort.