A Little Perspective

Hebrews 1:10-12 – End of the World 2012? What does this passage say about the date of December 21, 2012? Is it a prophecy of the future end of the planet? This is what we call covenant eschatology. It is about the end of the a covenant. It is not cosmic in the sense of a physical destruction of the world. Note the passage, then we will offer a few reasons why this text says cannot be predicting an event of 2012 or other such event.

And: ‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same and Your years will not fail.’

One would certainly have to admit that on the surface this appears to be the end of heaven and earth as we know it. Such conclusions are drawn by those unskilled and unfamiliar with the language of the prophets. Paul quotes from the Psalms, 102:25-27; and Isaiah chapter 50:9 and 51:6. Those passages form the background for understanding the text.

Two Worlds

First, observe the contrasting worlds. Heaven and Earth stands over against the Lord. The heavens and earth would perish, but the Lord would remain. What does this mean? It means that two covenant worlds are being contrasted and compared as to their duration. A figure of speech called metonymy, (a change of name) is employed here. One should ask, why is the passing of heaven and earth compared with the Lord remaining?

The answer is because the Lord represents a “heaven and earth” which does not remain. In other words, to live in Christ is to live in a new indestructible world. It is to have a covenant relationship with him which does not perish. The Apostle is employed figures of speech. The Lord is named for the new heavens and earth. The old would perish, the new remains. See Rev. 21:1.

The Promised Stability of the Physical World

It is also important in establishing the world that perishes, to understand that God has promised never to destroy the physical world. Understanding this, helps us to further identify the world that perishes. Let’s note a few passages.

After the world suffered the trauma of the flood, God made a promise to Noah that never again would he destroy the earth as he had done. “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” (Gen. 8:21). Now that should be sufficient for any reader of the Bible that God is not interested in destroying his creation. His mercy and love of mankind can be seen in the expression, “although man’s heart is evil from his youth,” I will never again destroy the earth.

Now some misunderstand this promise and believe that God is interested in methodology versus mercy. They believe all that God meant was that he wasn’t going to drown everyone, but rather he would burn them with fire. How is this an expression of God’s mercy through the rainbow he gave Noah as a “sign of a covenant” between Himself and the earth?  That would be cruelty versus mercy.

When we observe the latter part of the promise the language is clear that God said he would never again destroy life as He had done in the flood. “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22)

Has the earth ever experienced a lack of harvest, seasonal change, or the “rising of the sun” and “glowing of the moon at night” since the flood? Never. Is God keeping his promise? He has up to this very moment.

The Continuance of the Physical World is the Surety, the Guarantee of the World of Christ

God has made his promise of the continuance of the physical world so sure, that He made it the foundation for the continuance of Christ and his throne. Observe that God says the throne of Christ endures forever, and is without end. See Isa. 9:7, Dan 2:44; Luke 1:32-33. Now let’s notice the assurance or guarantee, i.e. the proof that God says we can take to the bank.

“Nevertheless My loving kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Psalms 89:33-36.

Now, did you catch the power of that? God said he swore by his holiness. He would not lie. David’s seed (Christ) would endure forever and his throne as the sun. It would be established forever like the moon, even the faithful witness in the sky. If the material creation, the sun and moon ceases, then God’s kingdom will cease! That would mean that if God were to ever destroy the world, heaven, i.e. the kingdom of God would no longer exist!

This is simply a reiteration of the promise made to Noah, seed time, harvest, day and night (sun and moon) shall not cease. God made this promise as the surety of Christ’s kingdom.

Hebrews 1:10-12 – End of the World 2012?

That brings us back to the current text. Since God says he would never destroy the earth and since that promise is inseparably connected to the eternal reign of Christ and the kingdom, then what does he mean by “heaven and earth” shall perish?  Well, one thing it cannot mean, is a destruction of our physical world. I have completed a booklet and companion audio recording of this study, which is too long to communicate here. This makes a great tract and addition to your eschatology library. You can order a copy by going here now.